David Gilmour has spent much of the past 20 years trying to make Pink Floyd a thing of the past. The band broke box-office records touring behind 1994’s The Division Bell, but Gilmour grew tired of the rock-star life. “The whole thing was becoming bigger than I liked,” he says. “I wasn’t enjoying the lack of connection with the audience.”
The singer-guitarist focused his energy on raising his young children and making the occasional solo album. But one piece of unfinished Floyd business stayed on his mind: their final jam sessions, from 1993. The band – who, at that point, had been without founder and chief songwriter Roger Waters for nearly a decade – cut 20 hours of tapes for a disc of ambient music to be included with The Division Bell, a plan they ultimately scrapped. A couple of years ago, Gilmour dug up the tapes and found himself pleasantly surprised. “I realized there was something good to be tweaked out of all this stuff,” he says.
To the surprise of everyone else in the Pink Floyd camp, Gilmour decided to resurrect the material. He and drummer Nick Mason overdubbed new parts and turned the old material into a new record, the largely instrumental The Endless River (due November 10th). Gilmour swears the album marks the end of Pink Floyd. “Anything we had of value is on this album,” he says. “Trying to do it again would mean using second-best material, and that’s not good enough for me.”
Fans shouldn’t expect a tour to support The Endless River – not without keyboardist Rick Wright, who died of cancer in 2008. “Without him, that’s kind of impossible,” says Gilmour. “I’m really enjoying my life and my music. There’s no room for Pink Floyd. The thought of doing any more causes me to break out in a cold sweat.”
In many ways, The Endless River is a tribute to Wright. Without any vocals, his organ comes to the foreground of nearly every track. “Roger and I always made so much noise on the records and in the press that Rick tends to get slightly forgotten,” says Gilmour. “But he was just as vital as anyone else in this thing. He created a whole sonic landscape in all the things we do. That is something you cannot reproduce anywhere else.”