Tribute bands seem to be a dime a dozen these days. Some are doing quite well. selling out clubs around the country. But none has equaled the success of Australian Pink Floyd, which comes to the Fox Theatre on Friday.
"This is going to be a bit of a greatest hits tour, although we are concentrating on 'The Wall' most of all," said keyboardist and founding member Jason Sawford in a telephone interview. "We are incorporating as much as we can into this show."
Taking its title from the lyrics of the Floyd classic "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", the 2012 "Exposed In The Light" tour will be a true Pink Floyd "immersion." New for this year is a state-of-the-art surround sound system. This incredible audio output will be bolstered by new lasers, new lights and even more jaw-dropping video effects.
Sawford, who founded the band with some friends in Austrailia while in college, says that the success of APF is something that he always dreamed of, but in a different light.
"Of course, we al dream of being that big famous rock star as a kid," Sawford said. "I just got luck that it happened for us as a whole. I'm no rock star by any stretch, but the whole APF thing is. It has a life of its own."
Sawford credits the success of AFP to the original Pink Floyd and their dedicated base of fans.
"The original Floyd was a band that was light years ahead of their time, and I think that's why their music remains timeless, and popular still today. It's certainly the reason behind our success, which goes without saying. I feel that I speaking for the rest of the band when I say that we are all so proud, and lucky, to be a part of something that is so unique within the music business."
How does Sawford feel about the recent upsurge in the number of tribute bands.
"Well, to have a tribute band I would suppose, would be the greatest form of flattery that an act could have," Sawford said. "On the other hand, it could be a horrible disaster. Look you can't just go out there put on a wig and makeup and scream a few songs and call yourself a true tribute band. Although the clothes and the wigs and all that add a lot to some of the bands, what it really boils down to is the music. If you don't have that right, then you don't have anything now really, do you?""
Sawford and the rest of the members of AFP are fans of the music of Pink Floyd, probably much bigger than most expect.
"I wouldn't say that we're fanatical,"" Sawford said, "or maybe we are, I don't know. What I do know is that we sincerely appreciate the music that is Pink Floyd, that was so unique and unfounded when they came out, and still is today. You can hear that a song is a Pink Floyd song usually with the first few seconds."
Credited to that is the immense amount of keyboard work that is involved in Pink Floyd material, which of course. is the responsibility of Sawford.
"I am the only person in the band that is on the stage the entire time of the show," Sawford said. "There are Floyd songs that may not have a bass guitar, maybe a drum portion, but there are keyboards and synthesizers in every single song. As a keyboard player, that''s the ultimate. Many bands use keyboards here and there, and are prominent in just a portion of a few of their songs. Floyd used keys in everything. That's what's cool to me."
Sawfords admiration for Pink Floyd and his dedication in presenting their music with the most accurate deliverance possible hasn't gone unnoticed with the band. They have been seen by members of the band in the audience, and even played David Gilmore's 50th birthday party a few years back. Sawford has met and conversed with all surviving members except for Roger Waters.
"We are doing 'The Wall' in it's entirety on this tour, and maybe someday he will get to come to the show if our paths cross, who knows," Sawford said.
"We can't go out there and play the songs as if we were Floyd," Sawford said. "Only those guys can do that. To be a real tribute band, every note has to be precisely as it was recorded originally, and not played with. That is the music that the entire world fell in love with, and that is the music we expect and are expected to play... and that's what we do."
Who: Australian Pink Floyd
Where: Fox Theatre, St. Louis