Australian Pink Floyd: Not Your Average Tribute Band
Having sold over four million tickets for concerts that have taken place in 35 countries, The Australian Pink Floyd Show is not your average tribute act. The band’s guitarist and vocalist explains why Austrian Audio’s OC818 microphone is rocking his world.
“Pink Floyd created their own universe of sound – no other band has ever sounded the same,” enthuses The Australian Pink Floyd Show’s (TAPFS) guitarist and vocalist, Stephen McElroy. “It’s so important to capture not just the sound, but also the feel and the emotion of their amazing music.”
The band certainly succeeded in their mission to replicate their musical heroes as faithfully as possible, as they were once booked by Pink Floyd’s very own David Gilmour to perform at his 50th birthday celebration.
One of the original founding band members of what went on to become TAPFS, McElroy has enjoyed seeing the band grow from the early days, through to headlining at the Royal Albert Hall, Wembley Arena, Hammersmith Apollo, and London’s O2 Arena for a concert celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Dark Side Of The Moon in 2013.
Although it took them a while to get to this level, using the years to perfect their sound and showmanship. It all started in 198 iin Adelaide, Australia. Lee Smith – a local guitarist obsessed with Pink Floyd – wanted to augment his band, which at the time featured drummer, Grant Ross, and bassist, Trevor Turton.
He placed an advert in Allan’s Music store which read: ‘Vocalist and keyboardist required for band. Professional attitude expected. We only play Pink Floyd.’
McElroy and Jason Sawford (current keyboard player) each saw the ad, and before they knew it, the now five-piece band commenced a regular weekly practice – naming themselves Think Floyd.
Fast forward to 1993 and the band were known as The Australian Pink Floyd Show, playing a three-hour show as part of a Pink Floyd fan convention at Wembley that is talked about by fans to this day.
The tribute act finally got the recognition they deserved, and started to get booked on more shows, so much so that this ended with the departure of homesick founder, Smith, and ‘Bear’ Sutton.
In September 1994 came a show which changed everything: Gilmour visited the band backstage after a show in Croydon, pointing out that he’d never had the chance to see Pink Floyd perform.
“He was very complimentary, posed for pictures, and invited the band to perform at Pink Floyd’s party to mark the end of their Division Bell tour!” remembers McElroy.
Due to curfew restraints at the venue, this plan fell through, but when the phone rang not long after, the band found themselves being asked to perform a handpicked set for Gilmour’s 50th birthday.
TAPFS have since played for Pink Floyd themselves, even performing with members of the real band, and have also played at Battersea Power Station (the iconic building which appeared on Floyd’s Animals album cover).
McElroy is fiercely passionate about the authenticity of the band’s sound, and has carefully built up an elaborate replica guitar rig that incorporates much of the same equipment that Gilmour uses. (His favourite is his late 70s blue Fender Stratocaster, which Gilmour has actually played).
Naturally, the mics the band use on stage must adhere to the same level of sonic perfection, which is why TAPFS chose to use Austrian Audio OC818s while on tour.
“We were very keen to use Austrian Audio microphones,” says McElroy. “They have
hundreds of years of experience between them all and they also have the desire and passion
for their brand. We are now seeing new mic technology from Austrian Audio that will revolutionise the industry. Exciting times!”
The first thing McElroy noticed about the OC818 was the build quality:
“Straight out of the box they felt solid, heavy and robust,” he nods. “They feel like they will last a lifetime. The microphones are beautifully presented and it’s immediately apparent that they are a top quality product – surpassing the AKG legacy, and firmly rubbing shoulders with the likes of Neumann. The build quality is fantastic, and the ceramic diaphragm mount and solid body is a work of art – and also technically brilliant. Everything about their microphones oozes quality.”
The band have been using OC818s on their guitar cabinets and the drum kit while touring around the world, using the dual cardioid pattern (stereo) feature for the drum overhead channel – meaning they only have to place one microphone over the kit instead of two.
“We’ve never heard it sound so great, as there are no audible phase cancellations due to having two microphones so close together,” he points out. “The single stereo microphone is far superior.”
Read the rest of this feature in Headliner magazine at the link below.