by Brad Tolinski
"I'm just your average, all-round, drop-in guitarist," says Tim Renwick with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. "Average" is hardly an appropriate description for this gifted English session ace who has toured with the likes of Eric Clapton, Elton John, Mike and the Mechanics, Roger Waters and, now, Pink Floyd. However, it was probably more than Renwick's sturdy rhythm and lead work that secured his position as David Gilmour's co-guitarist.
"I go way back with the band," explains Renwick, "I actually went to school with Roger Waters and Syd Barrett. They were four years older than me, but I remember them quite clearly. Yes, they were very cool. Roger made history by refusing to join the cadet force -- he was a bit of a rebel. And Syd, believe it or not, was my patrol leader in the Scouts! He was a very impressive and charismatic bloke, as was Roger."
What about David?
"Dave was very much one of my early heroes," Renwick continues. "He went to a different school, but I used to see his band regularly. His pre-Floyd band was called Joker's Wild, and they were the hot group in town." "I actually remember bumping into Dave the that night he was asked to join Pink Floyd, which is another interesting point of reference. Little did I know that I would end up playing in the same band 25 years later."
GUITAR WORLD: How did you come to be in the Pink Floyd touring band?
TIM RENWICK: Even after we left school, I always kept in touch with Dave. He did some production work for a band that I was in years ago called Sutherland Brothers And Quiver. Later, I did a little bit of playing on the movie soundtrack of "The Wall".
GW: So what is your role on this tour?
TR: I'm basically here to cover the position. If something goes wrong with Dave's gear, I step in and fill the gap and distract.
GW: Have you gotten good at imitating David Gilmour?
TR: No, funny enough, I haven't. [laughs] I've always steered clear of learning other people's licks. I have a couple of solos each evening and I try to approach them differently than Dave.
GW: What have you learned from this experience?
TR: I kind of wished I'd really been aware when I was 20 just how serious pop music can be. I had it very much drilled into me that it was all very disposable -- that it was very much sort of a hobby thing. But, you know, these guys have always been very serious about what they do, and that is very admirable. Rock and roll has turned into the modern day classical music.
GW: What's the worst thing that has happened to you on this tour?
TR: I use two pedalboards, which are pretty ancient. They're actually Dave's very first pedalboards, and they've been known to cut out on occasion. One night we went on, and when I hit the overdrive pedal for my solo on "Learning To Fly" everything just packed in. You've got the spotlight on and nothing's coming. It was just the most horrible feeling - especially in front of 60,000 people. It was like, "And now, ladies and gentleman ... nothing!" [laughs]
GW: So you're using Dave's old pedalboard? Is that so you can accurately recreate the original guitar sounds?
TR: Basically. I think it's the actual system he used to record "Dark Side Of The Moon". It basically houses a bunch of old MXR units and some junky fuzzboxes. The effects are really cruddy, but they're great. I really prefer this system to a lot of superclean rack effects that you hear.
GW: How did you go about learning the Pink Floyd catalog?
TR: Years ago, Roger Waters employed me to go through and archive all of Pink Floyd's material. Roger was getting ready to tour behind his solo album, "The Pros And Cons Of Hitchhiking", and he wanted to play some music from the Floyd catalog. But he couldn't even remember what keys they were in! [laughs] So he got me to write out all the arrangements. I transcribed all 11 Pink Floyd albums, and, as a result, I got to know their music quite well.
GW: Were you ever stuck for some of the voicings? Did you have to call Dave for help?
TR: Yeah, there were a few tunings which stumped me. I think I rang Dave and asked him to help.
GW: Was that weird?
TR: Yeah, it was a bit weird, but he didn't mind.
GW: So what's Dave like to work with?
TR: Very, very easy. Dave definitely knows the things that he wants to hear. But, at the same time, he gives everyone a free rein.
GW: How did you hook up with Eric Clapton?
TR: We both played on Roger's "Pros And Cons" tour, and later he asked me to play on his 1985 tour. Albert Lee had just left the band.
GW: And what was he like to work with?
TR: He's great. He's actually similar to Dave -- very easygoing. I think he gave me even less instruction than Dave. I mean, Eric just didn't say anything about how he wanted me to play. [laughs] One thing that people don't know about Clapton is that he is a very funny guy. This is a good story: When I was touring with him, I got this message from my home that my wife and children had moved out of the house because it had become infested with rats! Eric thought it was incredibly funny, so he told one of the road crew to remove the "S" and "T" off my guitar, so it became "Ratocaster." On another occasion, I happened to stupidly mention to Eric that I was feeling a bit horny on the way to this gig in Richmond, Virginia. So, after the show, Eric said to me, "Would you like to go in the hospitality area?" So I walked into the hospitality area, and there were about 40 women standing there. He got the crew to round up all these women and put them all backstage! It was pretty embarrassing. [laughs]
GW: Somehow, I would imagine that Roger Waters is a bit less easygoing.
TR: Roger's a very different sort of person. I have tremendous respect for him. He's a very clever man, but he is very serious. When Eric and I toured with him, he wanted everything exactly the same as the record, which, unfortunately, kind of took the fun out of performing.
GW: It seems unusual that Roger would want someone like Eric Clapton, who tends to improvise, to be part of such a precise show.
TR: It probably wasn't such a good idea. I don't know how much to say. But Eric and Roger did have a slight falling out at one point. I mean, Eric didn't really understand Roger's slant. Roger would be fussing about with some lighting effect, and Eric would say, "Can't we just play the tune, man?" [laughs] I mean, Eric took it on as a laugh. It was like, "This is cool. Somebody else can be the boss. I'll just be the guitar player." And he did it very much in that spirit. But it wasn't the sort of lighthearted jaunt around America that it might have been. So, yes, Roger does get incredibly serious about his stuff.