eclipsed: You are celebrating your twentieth anniversary at the moment and are travelling electrically with Pink Floyd music for a correspondingly long time. With "Barefoot To The Moon - An Acoustic Tribute To Pink Floyd" you now succeed in staging the bombastic classics of the art rockers in strictly acoustic garb in a completely new way and thus bring out unknown facets. How did this concept come about?
Steffen Maier: Yes, at first you think Pink Floyd acoustically, it's like a power station without electronics. The first time I had this thought was when I read that Nick Mason would have liked to do something like this with Pink Floyd. And if that's what Nick Mason thinks, maybe it's really possible.
eclipsed: David Gilmour actually gave an acoustic show at the London Meltdown Festival in the Royal Festival Hall in June 2001, which was also released on DVD as "David Gilmour In Concert".
Maier: Yes, but we have really only now experienced and heard that in retrospect. Let me put it this way: What we do with it in contrast to mere replay is not the worship of the ashes, but the preservation of fire. Pink Floyd "Level II" so to speak.
eclipsed: How did the whole thing develop?
Maier: In 2005 we actually tried it out for the very first time at the "Hofgarten Kabarett" in Aschaffenburg at an acoustic lounge. At that time, however, under the explicit premise that this was an experiment. We only rehearsed there once. We quickly noticed that there are numbers where it works very well, but also terrible pipe bursts.
eclipsed: Where didn't it work?
Maier: "Pigs" for example was very, very bad ..
Oliver Hartmann: I've already repressed that.
Maier: At least you have seen it, it is possible. The spirit of Pink Floyd can be maintained acoustically. In the Aschaffenburg charity project "Leuchtende Kinderaugen" we then developed it further.
Hartmann: The size of Pink Floyd's music, with all the keyboard surfaces, is of course difficult to translate acoustically. So we limited it to a short set of about forty, forty-five minutes and put in what works at first sight. The opinions in the band, if this can really work, also diverged at first. Through my participation in "Rock meets Klassik", where every year rock classics are performed in orchestral garb, I got a feeling for arrangements with strings. Through our string quartet it is possible to fill this gap in space, which is difficult to fill, atmospherically again. The size and depth of Pink Floyd's music has to be brought in acoustically elsewhere. As a guitarist I like to give solo themes to the violinist or cellist, also because on the acoustic guitar not everything comes across exactly the same as on the electric guitar.
Paul Kunkel: I would like to add one more thing: I generally see "Barefoot To The Moon" as a further development of the concept of Echoes as a band as a whole. Namely, that we do not try to reproduce the original as exactly as possible, tone by tone, but rather emphasize the individual contributions. What sets us apart from the other Pink Floyd tribute bands is the fact that we have our own style. That's why it's Level II.
eclipsed: In fact, you can also create independent versions that still breathe the spirit of the template. How did you choose the songs? Especially the electronic "Welcome To The Machine", which is difficult in the original, has become a real highlight.
Maier: That's good that you say that. "Welcome To The Machine" was definitely under discussion, could it or could it not be, and it turned out so great.
Hartmann: In addition to the basic material that everyone at Pink Floyd can imagine acoustically, we tried to expand the program step by step. Everybody suggested songs.
Maier: I'm the one in the band who knows how to appreciate Floyd's early work. "Summer '68," for example, I would have loved it incredibly.
Hartmann: Sure, there were processes of coordination within the band. Careful With That Axe, Eugene has also been talked about.
eclipsed: So can you imagine spinning this any further? Is there enough stuff for a "Barefoot To The Moon," part two? How about the long pieces at Pink Floyd?
Maier: As I said, I would like to try out more pieces from the early work of Pink Floyd.
Hartmann: For this special early phase there are other tribute bands that do that. Echoes stand for a kind of best-of program with pieces, where most listeners can find themselves. I'm more of a man who likes Pink Floyd from, say, "Dark Side" to "The Wall", the classic period. But we can't do everything in time now at this acoustic show. Electrically we play from this high phase with Pink Floyd nevertheless still so some other things, which one can consider. After all the experience we've gained now, you can knit it even further. The long pieces are generally rather difficult, but "Echoes", our eponymous piece, would of course be a fat piece. That would be new territory, but there is, as you can see, freedom to do it differently. Who knows ..
eclipsed: And you have also come up with some effective gimmicks during the live implementation.
Maier: Of course we thought of Floyd's own failed "Household Objects" project during the intro to "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", which we play on glasses.
Kunkel: We decipher the famous radio intro to "Wish You Were Here" by the strings actually playing the Tchaikovsky piece contained therein.
eclipsed: How did you approach the live performance in the first place?
Maier: The live atmosphere with the burning candles is intended to provide the right setting for a kind of "intimate music theatre". And of course our four talented girls also have their own charm on the string instruments.
eclipsed: What are the reactions from the audience to this special performance so far?
Hartmann: So far the acoustic concerts have been so well received by the audience that we can imagine playing these shows even longer. At the moment, at any rate, we are driving on two tracks, one electrically with all the fuss, the other acoustically reduced with strings.
Interview: Walter Sehrer