Syd Barrett Kraus Interview
In 1971 M. Watts of Melody Maker magazine conducted an interview with Syd Barrett. Here are my answers to the questions he asked.
MW - What have you been doing since you left The Floyd, apart from making your two albums?
K - Started a stamp collection.
MW - What would you sooner be - a painter or a musician?
K - A musician obviously, I am a terrible painter.
MW - Do you see the last two years as a process of getting yourself together again?
K - Yes.
MW - There were stories you were going to go back to college, or get a job in a factory.
K - No I have done both of those things, I don't want to do that again. I really like having all my spare time.
MW - Tell me about The Floyd - how did they start?
K - I don't know. Probably I'm not the best person to ask. They did some good songs though, I like "Have a Cigar". And the guitar solo on "Time" is one of my favourites.
MW - Your writing has always been concerned purely with songs rather than long instrumental pieces like the rest of The Floyd, hasn't it?
K - Yes, I would say so. Obviously you can do anything you want, and that freedom can be horrible. It's confusing - you don't know where to start. I admire the verse-chorus-bridge structure. It is well worked out and succinct. It holds your attention, which is important. I think rock music lost something when that was abandoned. So I generally limit myself to 3 minutes. You shouldn't leave people wanting less.
MW - Did you like what they were doing - the fact that the music was gradually moving away from songs like See Emily Play?
K - Not really. But having said that my use of the pop format is incredibly loose. I mean you could score all my songs John Cage-style by saying: "Do something for three minutes". If it gets boring in the middle, do something else for a bit (that's the "bridge").
MW - Was it only you who wanted to make singles?
K - A ha ha, no, I bet there are other people, don't you think? I would be surprised if I was the only one.
MW - Why did you leave them?
K - Leave them...who? The Futurians? I left Dunedin, that's all.
MW - Do you think the glamour went to your head at all?
K - I think it should be obvious that it didn't.
MW - There were stories you had left because you had been freaked out by acid trips.
K - Right. That's not true.
MW - Were you not at all involved in acid, then, during its heyday among rock bands?
K - No.
MW - Are you trying to create a mood in your songs, rather than tell a story?
K - I suppose so. But that's not the most important thing for me, mostly I just try to do something that is not boring. Can you tell a story with instrumental music? Not really. I did do one piece that I consider programme music, which is "Washing Dishes", on "The Facts" cassette. It's not telling a story, but it is supposed to represent or express the acts of washing dishes and vacuuming.
MW - Don't you think that people still remember you?
K - I don't think so. Why would they?
MW - Then why don't you get some musicians, go on the road and do some gigs?
K - Right, so that people would remember me.
MW - Don't you fancy playing live again after two years?
K - I guess it could be done, people sometimes ask me to play. I am not sure about it at this stage.
MW - What's the hang-up then? Is it getting the right musicians around you?
K - No, the main hang-up is all my many hang-ups.
MW - What would be of primary importance - whether they were brilliant musicians or whether you could get on with them?
K - Of primary importance would be that they liked my music. They could be terrible musicians.
MW - Would you say, therefore, you were a difficult person to get on with?
K - Fairly difficult, yes. I am just a normal, uninteresting shy nerd. I am getting better slowly.
MW - Why don't you go out on your own playing acoustic? I think you might be very successful.
K - I'm sure you would be in a minority thinking that.
MW - What records do you listen to?
K - I don't listen to very much music, except what people send me. I heard an incredible tape by Tomutonttu. I got some great stuff lately from Dolphins into the Future, JD Emmanuel, Pumice, Altar of Flies, Witcyst. Have you heard the Armpit live album?
MW - Are you going into the blues, then, in your writing?
K - Yeah, like Armpit!
MW - Will there be a third solo album?
K - I am working on an album for Ultra Eczema right now, it is going to be pretty good I think. Really a rock album, all guitars and drums.
02 January 2008.