Nick Mason celebrates Pink Floyd with ‘Animals’ reissue, return of Saucer Full of Secrets band


CLEVELAND, Ohio — After a couple of years spent, in Pink Floyd parlance, “Obscured By Clouds,” Nick Mason is happy to have his “Interstellar Overdrive” back in gear.

The Pink Floyd drummer and co-founder laid low during the pandemic, although he did release an album, “Live at the Roundhouse,” by his band Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets, and was involved in “Animals 2018 Remix,” a recent and long-awaited reissue of Pink Floyd’s 10th album.

But now he’s back on the road in North America with Saucerful, which specializes in playing Pink Floyd’s early career repertoire — ie, pre-“The Dark Side of the Moon” in 1973. The band will perform Thursday, Sept. 29, at the Akron Civic Theater. It’s a potent presentation, assisted by Guy Pratt, who played bass with both Pink Floyd and the group’s Roger Waters, and Spandau Ballet guitarist Gary Kemp, and “the Saucers,” as Mason calls the troupe, has received critical acclaim on both sides of the pond.

Mason, 78, has many other pursuits, including motor racing, record production and books (he’s written four, including one about Pink Floyd), but right now the 1996 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee is happiest behind the drum kit and playing songs. from more than five decades ago…

What can we expect from Saucerful of Secrets this time out?

Mason: Well, it’s been something like three years since we more or less said, “Good night, see you next year…” (chuckles) We’ll do a longer show; specifically, (1971’s) “Echoes” has been sort of developed, and we’re really pleased with it. We’ve just done two and a half months in Europe, so everyone’s back at sort of playing level.

The group’s been at it for a good four years now. How do you think it’s evolved as a band?

Mason: I think quite a lot of it now has to do with just getting back on it, getting the chops back, but also getting more confidence in how to approach things, whether we can take liberties with the material. In a way what’s nice is to push the envelope a little bit and play things in a slightly different way, or even in a very different way, and try to find more in the material.

This is a body of music that fans seem genuinely happy, almost deliriously happy, to be able to hear played live again.

Mason: I think that initially surprised us, but the more we’ve been playing it the more used we’ve got to the idea that this is something that people really like, particularly people who discovered Pink Floyd either early or late. Certainly, some of them had no idea some of these songs existed. With Pink Floyd we were always playing the next album; after we’d got 12 or 15 albums out you simply don’t have time in an evening to go back to 1967 because you’ve still got 1988 and whatever, and beyond.

Is there any talk about making some original music with Saucerful of Secrets?

Mason: It’s a question we’ve been asked a bit. It’s not something we’d even consider at the moment because I think we’re already knee-deep in what we’re trying to do with the early material. But certainly, Gary’s a great songwriter, so we’ve got some of the ingredients for it. But it’s not something planned, currently.

Because this remix is ​​just out, would you consider bending the Saucerful of Secrets parameters and maybe incorporating some “Animals” in the set?

Mason: I think there has to be a line drawn, and for us, the idea was we would go up to and not include “Dark Side.” I think to jump onto “Animals,” then, the next thing you know you’ll be playing “Comfortably Numb.”

The “Animals” remix is ​​something fans have been asking about for a while, and judging from the 2018 in the title it’s been waiting to come out What took so long?

Mason: Well, Covid, Brexit and everything else. Then David (Gilmour) and Roger had a major disagreement about the liner notes, and like all great world wars, no one can quite remember what it was about now and what the problem was. But there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and eventually, some sort of resolution was reached. It has taken a while, but we’re very pleased with it, I think.

“Animals” was very successful — Top 5 in both the US and the UK, 23-times platinum over here. Where do you think it fits in the overall Pink Floyd canon?

Mason: It’s interesting. People tend to know Pink Floyd through maybe three or four albums, and “Animals” isn’t one of them. I think lyrically it’s a little more complicated, in terms of what Roger’s saying in it, whereas something like “Dark Side” is a lot cleaner, and the same with “Wish You Were Here.” So maybe that’s a part of it. But I think there’s still some sort of relevance in the lyrics, and there’s certainly some very good playing on it. Each album that we made was a step forward in us being able to play the instruments better. I think that’s the case here. There’s a little bit more freedom, I think, in the playing from all of us.”

Do you have any favorite memories from those sessions?

Mason: The problem with “Animals” is I don’t remember much about sort of what I’d call the “how” we did it. (laughs) I was very much more involved in the building and the whole installation of Brittania Row, which was our very own home studio and our kind of headquarters. It is really quite extraordinary how some things lay in my memory, like how we laid the concrete for the base of the studio floor, but I cannot remember for the life of me why we did one thing or another.

Is it possible to wrap your head around the enormous history and the legacy of this band you were involved in?

Mason: I think the problem is that one still thinks of rock ‘n’ roll as being ephemeral — you’ve got a couple of years and then it will be forgotten. It’s very nice to have people say, “Ah, you’re Bach” or Beethoven or whatever, but the reality is how many bands or how much music will really be around in 50 years? The output of music — and a lot of it really good — is extraordinary now. Anyone who can write a song can actually record it or perform it pretty well in their bedrooms. So there’s an enormous amount of music available, and quite how long some of it will last, who knows?

Knowing what you know now, what would you tell the kid who recorded “Arnold Layne” and “See Emily” play 55 years ago?

Mason: To recognize the value of what you’re doing and just make sure it’s looked after properly in terms of what you give away or who you sign with and so on. It is quite sad when artists reach retirement age and have nothing left because there was no protection, or the protection failed. What you basically need is longevity. We definitely had a sort of golden age of people buying tickets, vinyl, CDs, DVDs, the whole lot. I don’t know how often that happens anymore.

Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets performs at 8 pm Thursday, Sept. 29, at the Akron Civic Theatre, 182 South Main Street. 330-535-3179 or


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