Pink Floyd — David Gilmour and Nick Mason — have reunited to record the new song “Hey Hey Rise Up” in support of the people of Ukraine.
This is the first new original music they’ve recorded together since their 1994 album The Division Bell.
They are joined by Floyd touring bassist Guy Pratt, who is the son-in-law of the late Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright, Nitin Sawhney on keyboards, and vocalist Andriy Khlyvnyuk of Ukrainian band Boombox.
Gilmour tells The Guardian, “I rang Nick up and said, ‘Listen, I want to do this thing for Ukraine. I’d be really happy if you played on it and I’d also be really happy if you’d agree to us putting it out as Pink Floyd.’ And he was absolutely on for that.
“It’s Pink Floyd if it’s me and Nick, and that is the biggest promotional vehicle; that is, as I said, the platform that I’ve been working on for my whole adult life, since I was 21. I wouldn’t do this with many more things, but it’s so vitally, vitally important that people understand what’s going on there and do everything within their power to change that situation. And the thought, also, that mine and Pink Floyd’s support of the Ukrainians could help boost morale in those areas: they need to know the whole world supports them.”
They recorded the song last Wednesday using Andriy’s vocals taken from his Instagram post of him singing in Kyiv’s Sofiyskaya Square.
That song, “The Red Viburnum in the Meadow,” is a Ukrainian protest song written during the first World War. The title of the Floyd track is taken from the last line of the song which translates as ‘Hey Hey Rise up and rejoice’.
Gilmour, who has a Ukrainian daughter-in-law and grandchildren, says, “We, like so many, have been feeling the fury and the frustration of this vile act of an independent, peaceful democratic country being invaded and having its people murdered by one of the world’s major powers…
“I hope [the song] will receive wide support and publicity. We want to raise funds for humanitarian charities, and raise morale. We want express our support for Ukraine and in that way, show that most of the world thinks that it is totally wrong for a superpower to invade the independent democratic country that Ukraine has become.”
And Gilmour is no stranger to Andriy and his band Boombox. “In 2015, I played a show at Koko in London in support of the Belarus Free Theatre, whose members have been imprisoned. Pussy Riot and the Ukrainian band Boombox were also on the bill. They were supposed to do their own set, but their singer Andriy had visa problems, so the rest of the band backed me for my set — we played ‘Wish You Were Here’ for Andriy that night. Recently I read that Andriy had left his American tour with Boombox, had gone back to Ukraine, and joined up with the Territorial Defense. Then I saw this incredible video on Instagram, where he stands in a square in Kyiv with this beautiful gold-domed church and sings in the silence of a city with no traffic or background noise because of the war. It was a powerful moment that made me want to put it to music.”
While writing the music for the track, Gilmour spoke with Andriy from his hospital bed in Kyiv, where he was recovering from a mortar shrapnel injury. “I played him a little bit of the song down the phone line and he gave me his blessing. We both hope to do something together in person in the future.”