For almost a decade, Wish You Were Here, the locally based Pink Floyd tribute act, has put on a special holiday show at the House of Blues. Usually, the guys adopt some kind of theme for the gig, but this year, the group has decided to play classics and, as bandleader Eroc Sosinski puts it, "get deep on a few cuts." We recently spoke to Sosinski about the holiday show and the band's legacy of paying homage to one of rock's most conceptual bands.
Wish You Were Here started in 1995. Talk about your initial inspirations. Cleveland has had tremendous success with tribute bands. Back when we started doing this in 1995, there weren't that many of them around. You had Moonlight Drive, one of the granddaddies of tribute acts. And occasionally, you had a couple of bands come in from Canada. That inspired us to focus on Pink Floyd and there is such a theatrical element to the show so we didn't have to dress up and look like the guys, which you have to for the Beatles, Kiss and the Doors.
When did you first cover The Wall?
The first time we did it was in 1999, and it went over so well that we did it again four months later at the [now closed] Odeon and it sold out for two nights in a row. Back then the show was pretty simple. It evolved and then by 2008, it grew into something like what [Floyd singer-bassist] Roger [Waters] was doing with actors and characters and set pieces and inflatables. We did build a wall the first time. It was a smaller wall and it got an overhaul a few years later. We haven't built the entire wall since 2008 but we do bring sections of it that we set up for this show.
Do you have a pre-recorded helicopter sound, too?
Yes, that's part of our sound effects. We have a library of sound effects that we have created and have adapted from the original Pink Floyd sound effects. They were originally on cassette and then on Minidisc and now on iPad. That's an important part of the Floyd experience is having different sound effects and dialogue. Tributing an artist like this over the years, you amass a collection of rarities and such. In many instances, we recreated them. It's a challenge but a lot of fun, too.
So you can speak in a British accent?
I give it my best Roger Waters. You put it next to the original and go for what you can.
Did singer-guitarist David Gilmour provide some of the dialogue, too?
It's mostly Waters. It's [drummer] Nick Mason on "One of These Days" who does the part "one of these days I'm going to cut you into tiny pieces." I found that out through reading books and other research materials. I have a mini library of Floyd books and CDs and DVDs — and the occasional lunchbox.
What's your take on The Final Cut, the last Floyd album with Waters?
It was in essence a Roger Waters album with Floyd on it, well with David Gilmour and Nick Mason on it because [keyboardist] Richard Wright isn't on it. It showed the disintegration of their relationship. To me, it holds up as a Pink Floyd album and we'll do a track from it at this show. When Pink Floyd reconvened after the Animals tour, Waters presented both The Wall and The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking. The Final Cut was culled together from stuff that was leftover from The Wall as well as never stuff he'd written. That's why those three albums have similar riffs and dynamics. Having the Gilmour touch makes the difference between The Final Cut and Pros and Cons, which ended up becoming a Waters' solo album.
Is Pink Floyd as popular now as it ever was or has its popularity started to wane?
It definitely is as big as ever as you can see from the response to the reissues and to Waters touring The Wall. That was one of the top grossing tours of the past couple of years. The demand is still out there. And that's why we're still playing the top venues in town and there's a network of Pink Floyd tribute acts that tour the country. You got your Brit Floyd and you got your Aussie Floyd. They're playing Cleveland now but we're still holding our own. Some of those bigger acts have bigger productions than us because they can afford to do that, but I've heard people say they think our band is better. That's very complimentary.
Why is the music appealing?
It's got a timelessness to it in the musical and lyrical themes. Dark Side of the Moon was such a huge success and because of its themes of life, work and death is still relevant. Some of the simplicity of it is remarkable.
What are some of the deeper cuts you'll be playing?
We'll delve into something from Obscured by Clouds and The Final Cut. We'll do some [original singer] Syd Barrett and something else from pre Dark Side of the Moon. There's so much material and you try to weave that in with the classics. You want to appease the fanatics and still appease the fans that like the hits and the classics.
When it comes to solo material, do you prefer Roger Waters or do you prefer David Gilmour?
It depends on what kind of mood I'm in. Sometimes, I get on a Roger Waters kick and then other times I will listen to some of the David Gilmour stuff. They both have their elements that when they're combined make Pink Floyd so cool. They stand out on their own and are very different.
Does Pink Floyd know about you guys?
Not us specifically, but they're very aware of the tribute bands. Michael Stanley was once involved in a group interview and conference call with Roger Waters and he asked him about the tribute bands. Roger said it was flattering.
But you don't own the rights to do any of this, do you?
When you play live music, the venue pays the rights. I had an interviewer once who came on with an attitude and said, "How does it feel to be ripping off Pink Floyd?" I had to say wait a minute. We spur album sales and keep fans interested. I had to put that guy in his place.
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