Nick Mason - Thoughts

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
I've been listening a lot lately to Pink Floyd. Never got to see them in concert when they were together. Since the tempos are so slow, a lot of what Nick played reminds me of what Nigel Olsson played with Elton John on the ballads.

Obviously Nick's drumming sounded good and appropriate. Also loved the sound of his drums and cymbals. It also sounds incredibly easy to play. I'm in no way suggesting the drummer should throw in stuff where it doesn't belong. But I think wow what a job ... to have played drums for David Gilmour who's vocals and guitar playing were stunning. And the incredible work of Roger Waters, and so on.

In some bands the legendary status of the drummer is that of or surpasses the others like the Who, Led Zeppelin, and so on. Pink Floyd's music didn't call for that from what I can see. In Mason's case it looked like playing simple parts that matched the song and letting the geniuses do their work. Apologies in advance if this sounds stupid on my part.

Any thoughts on Nick Mason's work? I wonder what it was like to be part of that and play the drums behind those musical legends.

And apologies in advance if I'm duplicating anything. I did search the forum for Nick Mason.
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
Well...lol...

Confession-Pink Floyd is one of my "desert island" bands so I am completely biased in favor of Nick Mason. I happen to think he is a fine drummer, doesn't get enough credit for his place in rock history or with Floyd, has always had a great feel for the song and I think a disciplined approach to his instrument.

Nick Mason, much like Charlie Watts and Ringo is one of the few people in the rock and roll business who carry/carried themselves with dignity even when surrounded by people fraught with huge ego issues, substance issues, the lure of anything and everything ugly under the sun, and you name whatever else comes to mind. Somehow these guys always seem to avoid the drama, are comfortable with themselves on stage and off, and haven't had to bust up their girlfriends\boyfriends or hotel rooms or anything else.

I think that Nick Mason did as fine a job on the Pink Floyd albums as anyone could have. Played in a way that was "for the song" yet interesting and never got boring (to me anyway). I like the fact that like Ringo and Charlie, Nick's playing is "approachable" and user friendly. Not saying it's necessarily "easy" but it has never been in any way shape or form a "look at me!" chops fest. His drumming was perfectly placed within the context of the songs and allowed you to appreciate the piece without interfering with the experience.

For me, one of the unique things about Pink Floyd is that as a unit they all managed to do that, and somehow kept their humility (well almost all of them lol). Dave Gilmour is probably my favorite guitarist and hits me emotionally and always has since I first heard him. Very few musicians can pull this off like Dave can. I truly believe he is playing from the gut every time.

Anyway, sorry for the book....but yea....

Nick Mason is great!
 

supermac

Senior Member
Not one of rock drumming's great technicians - but utterly perfect for Pink Floyd.

Much like Ringo with The Beatles, somebody flailing around the drum kit just wouldn't work with Floyd (and I generally much prefer 'busier' players).

His trademark simple ride cymbal work with space between the notes beautifully supports the trippy vibe of their music.

Seems like a thoughtful, intelligent, articulate guy, as well, when I've seen him on TV or read his interviews.

Ideal drummer for a sublime band.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Have a read of Nick Masons autobio - a very funny, egoless chap. He is the first to admit his drumming is simple and was just enough to get by, from the early days onward - absolutely perfect for Floyd. That said, playing along to Comfortably Numb, exactly like he did, with all the spaces, takes restraint and discipline, not at all that easy.
 
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force3005

Silver Member
Hi DrummerCA35. If you get a chance, pick up the book Inside Out a personal history of Pink Floyd by Nick Mason. This is a must if you are a Mason or Pink Floyd fan. Very well written and the pictures are abundant.
 

lsits

Gold Member
Another drummer who fits into this category is Simon Kirke of Free/Bad Company. He plays exactly what is required for the music. There's a reason that he has been steadily employed as a drummer since he was around 17 years old. Being able to give band leaders and producers what they want has afforded him a very comfortable life and put his kids through college. That's a huge success in my book.
 

Tamaefx

Silver Member
Floyd is also one one of my desert island band.
Try to imagine Time or Shine on your crazy diamond played by Mike Mangini...
Nick Mason isn't a technician but the way he lets his drumming breathe (pun intended) is really great and not that easy to reproduce. You need to really "enter" the song. Great feeling, I think of Echoes, Atom Heart, have a cigar, Breathe, great gig, mother, in the flesh. ...so many, The drumming is right on. A kind of relaxed stroke yet powerful, every fill in Dark side is bang on and done with taste without trying to show off.
 
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Brian

Gold Member
Maybe the most boring drummer, ever? ;) Nick Mason did however, deliver the goods, no disputing that. I can listen to PF for around 5-10 minutes before my internal drummer ADD needs some Zappa or something. ;)
 

mikel

Platinum Member
A great, great drummer. The first requirement of any drummer is to serve the music and make it better, that what Nick did. Perfectly.

And my two all time favorite drummers are Stewart Copeland and Ian Paice so its not about how little a drummer plays, its simply how they fit the music
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
When I want to listen to drumming I listen to drummers.

When I want to listen to music I listen to....musicians.
 

Icetech

Gold Member
While i completely detest floyd and find them more boring than pretty much any band ever.. (even stoned i can't listen to them).. I will say that Mason was easily the perfect man for the job. Nothing fancy but every fill is perfect.. even beat.. is exactly as needed.. i couldn't imagine someone else in that spot. And when i play along with him it's the only time i can stomach the band.

That being said. before anyone gets mad that someone might not like a band they like... i LOVE gilmour and his guitar work is just amazing. just the songs themselves just don't move me..

P.S. just wanted to add that while i can play other drummers fairly easy at this point and much faster songs easy.. i have a very hard time with Mason. playing slower to me is so much harder than just kicking ass.

I've been listening a lot lately to Pink Floyd. Never got to see them in concert when they were together. Since the tempos are so slow, a lot of what Nick played reminds me of what Nigel Olsson played with Elton John on the ballads.

Obviously Nick's drumming sounded good and appropriate. Also loved the sound of his drums and cymbals. It also sounds incredibly easy to play. I'm in no way suggesting the drummer should throw in stuff where it doesn't belong. But I think wow what a job ... to have played drums for David Gilmour who's vocals and guitar playing were stunning. And the incredible work of Roger Waters, and so on.

In some bands the legendary status of the drummer is that of or surpasses the others like the Who, Led Zeppelin, and so on. Pink Floyd's music didn't call for that from what I can see. In Mason's case it looked like playing simple parts that matched the song and letting the geniuses do their work. Apologies in advance if this sounds stupid on my part.

Any thoughts on Nick Mason's work? I wonder what it was like to be part of that and play the drums behind those musical legends.

And apologies in advance if I'm duplicating anything. I did search the forum for Nick Mason.
 

Hewitt2

Senior Member
He plays drums like a rhythm guitarist - lots of repeating motifs on his fills and a very deliberate approach to playing hats versus ride.

I was just playing along to young lust a few nights ago and was struck by how musical his choices really are. I could shut off the music and hum along to his drum parts they are so ingrained in the chords and changes.
 

rain dog

Member
nick mason did a great job with the pink floyd style of music. not sure what you would call his style but i respect him as a drummer and am glad he is still around. atom heart mother was one of my favorites.

 

spleeeeen

Platinum Member
Indeed :(

As I play more Floyd songs, my appreciation for Nick Mason grows. I even further simplify Nick's drum parts sometimes. Although it's a rough run through, here's an example where we stripped an already basic structure even further.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JV4mYhVh3N0
Sounds good Andy.

me, there's such an intriguing challenge in doing this & still keeping some sense of journey.
I really like the way you say this; this is a useful thing for me to keep in mind.
 

Ruok

Silver Member
I love Mason's overall sound. The sound of his drums and cymbals are great. Love the ride and hi-hat sounds especially. I also attribute Alan Parsons for the great sounds he got on some PF albums. Not sure how many albums Parsons was involved in with Floyd. But Alan Parsons really is great in getting great drum sounds in most of his work with his own band and on others albums too.

One song that isn't Mason on the drums is "Mother." That song has Jeff Porcaro on drums because Mason didn't have the time to learn the odd time signatures and Porcaro came in to save some time in the studio. So it is said.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
I love Mason's overall sound. The sound of his drums and cymbals are great. Love the ride and hi-hat sounds especially. I also attribute Alan Parsons for the great sounds he got on some PF albums. Not sure how many albums Parsons was involved in with Floyd. But Alan Parsons really is great in getting great drum sounds in most of his work with his own band and on others albums too.

One song that isn't Mason on the drums is "Mother." That song has Jeff Porcaro on drums because Mason didn't have the time to learn the odd time signatures and Porcaro came in to save some time in the studio. So it is said.
Andy Newmark did most of 'The Final Cut' but by then Mason was off with his cars and barely playing at all.

I've always enjoyed Floyd enormously. I remember playing along to them early on in (particularly 'Echoes', I recall) and really felt how difficult it was. Would find it difficult now to get the spaces now. Yep. Mason's cool. Always was.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I think Nick really understood the power in hypnotic drumming. I remember clearly thinking and being vocal that I felt repetition was boring when I was in my 20's and full of spit and vinegar..

It's a thing that can happen at any age, when you realize the power of hypnotic drums.

More than any other instrument IMO, the drums set the mood, and create the effect, and the very feel of the song. Like if the whole band is doing spikey reggae stabs for instance and the drummer is playing smooth 4 on the floor swing feel with a jazz ride or shuffle pattern, the tune feels more like a swing tune than a reggae song. It might sound like a reggae song but it feels like a swing tune. That's real power. Sound is easier to define than feel. The real superpower of the drums is it's ability to make people feel good. Nick knew that was plenty and had the absence of ego to just leave it there. Winning formula in their case obviously.

Nick must have realized early on where his strengths lie, reinforced by record sales. Number one hit records....back in the day anyway.. generally speaking don't have fancy drums. I'd say it's a fact that a straight drum part sells. Yet to many, a straight drum part is vilified.

Nick could be accused of non inventive-ness, but to me, keeping a great meter, at the perfect tempo, played with the confidence of the full knowledge of the subtle power it creates, it adds up to more than the individual parts alone. It's a cloaked power in a way, when a song just feels good. Substitute a show-offy drummer and watch the song crash and burn. Simple, distilled parts always work well, for the audience, for the other players, for the greater good. Being a team player, not the star of the show, gives you star quality. It's backwards.

I have to wonder how a technical wizard like Mangini would have interpreted "Comfortably Numb" if he was the original drummer and had free reign. You never know, if we were all imprinted with busier drums in Floyd songs, would we feel Nick would be not right for the music? Imprinting is powerful stuff.
 
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