Interview with Darren Whittaker

Internationally acclaimed tribute show, The Pink Floyd Experience, is headed to the Civic Theatre this Friday 17th April on their ‘Wish You Were Here’ 40th Anniversary Tour. We got the chance to have a chat with the show’s lead guitarist, Darren ‘Daz’ Whittaker, about recreating the distinctive magic of Pink Floyd…

You’ve been performing for nearly 30 years in many different bands, how did The Pink Floyd Experience opportunity arise?

About 18 years go the pub scene back in NZ seemed to be dying, so me and a couple of friends decided to do a Pink Floyd type show just to fill in the down time. We originally intended doing just one or two shows. And well, it just took off and continues to today!

The show has been running since 1997, has it changed over time?

Every time we tour, we do a brand new show usually based around a particular Floyd Album. New songs, new light show, set, video etc. This has been part of the secret to our longevity.

Did you ever dream that almost 20 years on, the show would still be such a huge hit and resonate with audiences across the world?

No, we could never have imagined what has actually happened, it’s been amazing!

On this tour you’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of ‘Wish You Were Here’. What sort of an impact or inspiration did this album have on you as a musician growing up?

‘Wish You Were Here’ and ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ were my favourite Floyd albums in my teenage years, and they had a huge impact on me. It was through those 2 albums that I discovered many other Floyd albums, plus many other bands.

The Pink Floyd Experience receives consistently glowing reviews, with most commenting on how well the ‘essence’ of Pink Floyd is captured by the band. How did you all come to achieve this impeccable resemblance to the original? I imagine there were many many hours spent studying Pink Floyd’s live performances?

That pretty much sums it up! Hours and hours spent listening to the music and trying to pick out the smallest details. It also helps that we love Floyd’s music, grew up on it and feel very passionate about performing their music to the best of our ability, while also always trying to improve upon our last performance.

David Gilmour and Roger Waters both have very distinct performance styles, in particular vocal styles, how do you personally go about capturing such a unique performer authentically?

We are very fortunate to have an extremely talented vocalist who can pretty much mimic any rock singer out there. He also has spent a lot of time listening and trying to copy their distinct styles.

Of course, Pink Floyd are known for their grand atmospheric soundscapes – Is it difficult to capture or adapt this same sonic atmosphere when you might go from performing in an intimate theatre room one night to a larger concert hall the next?

We have learnt to adapt to different venues and crowd sizes, and we also tour with our own gear plus our own stunning monitor system, so onstage no matter where we play, we have a consistency that might not be possible if we did things differently.

How involved are you in the production or behind-the-scenes of the show?

I am fully involved in all aspects of the show from the ground up to the end result. At the end of the day, we already know what we are trying to deliver and from there its just a matter of liaising with everyone else involved to keep our vision on target and to make sure the end result is as we envisioned it.

And lastly, if you had to pick just one, which would be your favourite Pink Floyd song to perform?

I had have to pick 2 songs, ‘Echoes’ and ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’. I must stress that we have 18 people on the road here in Aus, 11 band and 7 crew. Everyone one of us is passionate about the show and fully committed to delivering the best possible show we can to the highest standard possible. Pink Floyd set the bar very high and we alway strive to reach that bar or get as close as we possibly can. I think every tour we do we get that little bit closer and it really shows now that we are not that far away. This tour’s show is so close to the real thing that if you close your eyes, you could easily believe you’re at a Pink Floyd concert. If you open your eyes, your eyes and ears will tell you that you are at a Pink Floyd concert.

The Pink Floyd Experience - Written by Brittany Herron


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