Written By: Mark Armstrong
(Thanks to CMP Entertainment for arranging this interview.)
Brit Floyd, a Pink Floyd tribute band formed by Damian Darlington in 2011, are about to begin another tour of the United Kingdom, and their new Immersion World Tour will help to keep the music of one of the most famous British bands of all-time alive. For Damian, this tour is the latest chapter in a long and successful career intertwined with paying respect to Pink Floyd, having previously performed on the Australian Pink Floyd Show for 17 years. We recently spoke to Damian about all of this and more, as well as Brit Floyd’s upcoming show in Liverpool on Friday March 3.
First of all, tell us about Brit Floyd.
Brit Floyd is a Pink Floyd tribute show, and we’ve been around for six years now. We’re a nine-piece band that have performed all over the world in places like America and all across Europe. It’s a very big production, with lots of lights, lasers, videos, inflatables – everything that you would expect to see at a Pink Floyd concert back in the day. We play a wide variety of Pink Floyd’s catalogue of music, from the very beginning right through to The Division Bell album, and we’re about to go on tour again around the UK in about two weeks’ time.
Had you always been a fan of Pink Floyd growing up?
Yes, from a very early age. My earliest memory of Pink Floyd was from when Another Brick In The Wall was the #1 single at the end of 1979, as a very unlikely Christmas Number One! I started seriously playing the guitar around the age of 13 where I would cover the whole album in its entirety, so that was my first real introduction to Pink Floyd. I was a fan from that point onwards. Some years later, in 1994, I got to join a Pink Floyd tribute show, The Australian Pink Floyd Show, and here I am 23 years later, still playing Pink Floyd music all around the world.
Tell us more about your musical background.
Well, I come from a musical family: I’m one of six brothers and sisters, and five of us are musicians, so it was pretty inevitable that I would follow in the footsteps of some of my older brothers and sisters. I went to a music college from around the age of 16 onwards: I did various music courses, and I was in many different bands at the time from country-western to big (brass) bands, from jazz bands to original material bands looking to get record deals; all sorts, really. I’ve had an acoustic guitar trio that I’ve been doing on the side for many, many years playing stuff from the likes of John McLoughlin. Then, as I say, I received the opportunity to join the Australian Pink Floyd Show and to perform full-time.
You were in that group from 1994 until 2011. What were some of the highlights of this period for you?
I suppose one of them was getting to meet David Gilmour (a member of the original Pink Floyd) and getting to perform at his 50th birthday party with Rick Wright. I’d also mention getting to do my first tour of the US; most musicians in the UK dream of going over to the States and trying to break America, so that was a special moment for me to start doing that in 2004. There were a lot of good moments along the way.
Have you always performed in the same capacity throughout your career, or have you transitioned into different roles over time?
I’ve always been a guitarist first and foremost, but while I was working on the Australian Pink Floyd Show I transitioned into being more of a lead vocalist alongside my guitar-playing, and as time has gone by, I’ve also become much more involved in all of the other things relating to putting the show on, such as helping the lighting and the video teams. I’ve become the musical director along the way as well. So, I’ve increased my responsibilities and gained new skills over time.
What made you decide to form Brit Floyd in 2011?
I just felt it was time to have a bit more freedom and to do my own Pink Floyd tribute show. I’d been doing the Australian show for 17 years, and although it had been very good to me – it enabled me to hone my craft – I felt I needed the chance to put on my own show and do some things a bit differently, work with some different musicians, and hopefully improve the way that this show would be produced along the way.
How has the Brit Floyd experience been so far compared to the previous Australian group that you performed for?
It’s been a lot of fun doing Brit Floyd, and it’s definitely gotten better. We’ve gotten so much better at putting this sort of show on, and that’s obviously very rewarding for me personally. I’m very passionate about doing this show right, doing justice to this amazing music, performing it in the correct way, so doing Brit Floyd has enabled me to achieve that more, I feel, than I had with the Australian show. But there’s still room for improvement, so I never become complacent about it.
What are the future ambitions for Brit Floyd?
We’d like to take the show to some other places in the world, particularly in the Far East to the likes of Japan, China and Australia. They’re on the to-do list! And it’s generally to just carry on improving the show, to make it bigger, to make it better, to make it more spectacular, and to make it a more faithful representation of Pink Floyd’s music.
What makes the Liverpool audience stand out from other crowds when you perform there?
Yeah, they’re definitely very passionate about the music. For whatever reason, there seems to be a lot of Pink Floyd fans in the Merseyside area, and it’s always been a lot of fun playing there, as it has been for many, many years. My first memory of doing a show in Liverpool was in the Royal Court Theatre in 1994, so it’s always been one of the high points and one of the most exciting places to do a show.
Finally, tell us what fans in Liverpool can expect from the new Immersion World Tour on Friday March 3.
If people saw the show last year and in the previous year, they can certainly expect to see a different set list, including some Pink Floyd songs that are brand new to us as we’ve never played them before. We’re also bringing back some songs that we haven’t played for a few years (such as Dogs, as this year marks the 40th anniversary of the Animals album and that song is a pretty iconic tune from that album). Also, we’ll be performing a lot of tracks from the very beginning, so that it’s a very representative spread of Pink Floyd’s catalogue of music. Plus, the lighting show has been redeveloped, we’ve invested in more lights, better projections, all those sorts of things, and we’ve also created new video footage for these songs for people to see too.