About the Wall - Nick Mason

What gripped me first about The Wall was the narrative idea. I often think that a thematic peg is the hardest thing to come up with for projects like ours, yet for The Wall it was complete and powerful from the beginning.

I've never felt as outraged as Roger was by our audiences because, as a rule, drummers don't get outraged. In some ways I was alarmed by Roger's original theatrical idea, which involved playing pratically the whole show from behind a wall. Fortunately, he altered that initial concept in development.

The Wall is Roger's story and much of its power was generated by his personal experiences, but there were always enough instantly recognisable elements in those to give the piece a broad appeal. Not all of us have lost our father in the war, but most of us have been treated badly at school at one time or another. These elements of common ground certainly play a part in its continuing success.

I have to say that the show itself was ground-breaking. Most rock 'n' roll is conducted on the basis that there are various personalities in the band who want to show off onstage. There's nothing wrong with that, but Pink Floyd was always more interested in theatrical persentation than in promoting, as stage personalities, its individual members. This subordination of the band to images which relate to the music was always a feature of our work and The Wall in performance was the summit of that development. It pushed rock shows another step in the direction of pure theatre. Nor was this only a matter of building a wall. All through the show there were radical theatrical gestures. The opening song, for example, 'In the Flesh', appeared to audiences to be performed by Pink Floyd when in fact what they were seeing was the surrogate band wearing moulded life masks of the real band's faces. This only became apparent after the surrogate band was dramatically 'frozen', lowered out of sight, and, as the lights went back up, the real Pink Floyd revealed behind it.

One of the great things about being in a successful band is that you are able to work with people who are the best in their respective fields. Gerald Scarfe, Mark Fisher, Jonathan Park, James Guthrie...everybody was top-notch and so were their contributions.

It was a brilliant team. The team members might occasionally have fought amongst themselves, this is always the case, but there was a great co-operation and development. There had to be. It was a long recording process, with a long process of performance afterwards. The work load was immense. Often, when the pressure became huge, people divided up into little groups to do different things. Dave, for instance, might record the guitar parts in one studio and Roger would go off to do the vocals in another. This had absolutely nothing to do with how people were getting on with one another. It was pure expediency: how the hell can we best get through this colossal schedule? My satisfaction at the time was entirely in the work. All of us enjoyed it despite the pressure. There was a single-mindedness which operated over a considerable period of time.

What is immensely satisfying to me now is The Wall's obvious longevity. People still talk about the shows and the CD goes on selling. Most rock music is ephermeral, but The Wall apparently isn't. That's surely some testament to the power of its ideas, the power of its music and to its power of extraordinary theatre.

Go Back