David Letterman's interview with Nick Mason about his new book "AT THE LIMIT"
October 1st 1998
DAVID LETTERMAN: Please welcome Nick Mason. Welcome to the show. Have we met before? Were you on the old show at NBC? Or is this your first time?
NICK MASON: Sadly, no. I, this is my first time.
DL: Well, good to have you here. Tell, tell us about, ah, ah, Pink Floyd. Are they together, are they not together, are they touring, are they recording, are they not, are they, are they not together and recording, are they not together and touring?
NM: Which, which one would you like me to answer first?
DL: Well, what is the current status of the group?
NM: We're, we're still together, but we're not working very hard at the moment.
DL: And, and when you *do* work, what is it, it's like you go out, you do a tour, and you make a *billion* dollars?
NM: Well, we certainly hope so, yeah, It's, it's a curious (? Sounds like logistance)
DL: How long, how long have, has the group been together? How long have you been the drummer? From the beginning?
NM: I've been the drummer from the beginning.
DL: My God! It's amazing, considering when you guys started, that any of you are still alive, isn't it? I mean . . .
DL: When you think about it, you know what I mean?
NM: Possibly, yep.
DL: Coz you guys started when, you know, it was really something else going on besides music, you know?
NM: (Laughs) Absolutely.
DL: Now, tell us about your, ah, I learned something today about you I didn't know, your father, your father was a, ah, a race driver, is that right? A club racer, kinda' thing?
NM: A club racer, he made films about, still does indeed, about, ah, motor sport. He used to race himself, and of course that's where I got the bug from. Coz I was taken to watch.
DL: When you wer a kid. What age were you when you went to your first race?
NM: Probably, six or seven.
DL: It makes, ah, it makes quite a vivid impression, doesn't it? Your first race, that first experience.
NM: It certainlt does, yeah.
DL: Because it's a combination of the sound, ah, the sight, certainly.
DL: And the smell. The smell of a race car is wonderful. Absolutely glorius.
NM: Fantastic. I mean, it's one of the things in the book that we, ah, actually talked about doing was a scratch'n'sniff . . .
NM: . . . piece to it, but, ah, that was, that was too difficult.
DL: Yeah. They smell different that Rental Cars.
NM: (Laughs) Yes.
DL: Don't go to Hertz expecting the same thing. That's a whole different sensation. Ah, the book is a collection of, ah, what exactly? What did, how did you have to qualify as a car to get in this book?
NM: Ah, basically you had to be owned by me.
NM: That was the criteria.
DL: All thse cars are in your possession?
DL: Oh, my goodness! Good Heavens!
NM: You could look at it as a sort of sales catalogue.
DL: And when you started collecting automobiles, what was the first aquisition?
NM: Ah, I think the first car I got was a, a 1927 Austin 7.
DL: I have no idea what that is.
NM: Okay, tiny - it's the English equivilant of a Model T Ford.
DL: Mmm-Hrm. And, ah, oh, and you have, you have a Model T, don't ‘ya?
NM: I certainly do. It's probably the most dangerous car in the collection. I mean, most of these cars are, ah, racing cars.
NM: And capable of 200 plus.
DL: This is pretty exciting, when I read this i couldn't believe it, but it's true. Is it absolutely true?
NM: It is true.
DL: Tell the people the heritage of this car.
NM: Well, this car has a terrific history, and its previous owners were apparantly Laurel and Hardy, and an English Clown called Coco. And it's one of those extraordinary things where, actually everything on the car goes wrong, and is *meant* to.
NM: So, ah, it's rather unusual, you take it in for a service and you complain if the doors *don't* fall off.
DL: So, the doors all fall off, the radiator explodes . . .
NM: The radiator, yeah
DL: . . . It drives its self . . .
NM: It drives its self, the back falls down, and the passenger seat goes ten foot up in the air. Which is, quite alarming.
NM: But it's unspeakably dangerous, and in fact, the guys who operate it have the most terrible wounds to show.
DL: I would think so.
NM: Becuase, what happens is you fall out the back, and the car then carries on going and goes round, and if you set it up wrongly, it runs you over.
DL: (Laughs) Well, that's no good. [Pointing to the car on the front cover of the book] And, ah, this is, is this the car that I saw you, I watched some video tape of you racing today, at ah, it looked like Silverstone, is this, was this the car you were in?
NM: That's right, the GTI.
DL: This car is worth, I dunno, 3 to 5 million dollars, something like that?
NM: Um, yeah, we hope so, I mean, it sorta' goes up and down a bit.
DL: So, so what is a middle-aged guy doin' in this car racing in the rain [possibly reign] in Silverstone, in a 3 to 5 million dollar car?
NM: It's a bit of a worry, isn't it?
DL: Yes, it it a little bit of a worry!
NM: Maybe all those things that went on in the sixties just kep sort of circling around in my head.
DL: Yeah! "It seems like a good idea, let's try it!"
DL: Have you ever busted up one of these things?
NM: Fortunately, no.
DL: Is that right? So you must be a pretty good driver, or, at least, been fairly lucky so far.
NM: Good, lucky or slow.
DL: (laughs) It's the slow guys that get run over, though, isn't it?
NM: Yes, that's right.
DL: If you're out in front, nobody bothers you. Well, it's a beautiful book, and a beautiful collection, you're a lucky man to have these, ah, to call your own.
DL: Thankyou very much for being here.
NM: Thankyou very much.
DL: Nick Mason, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Thanks to S'rah