Dave Kilminster, who’s been with Roger Waters’ backing band since 2006, initially didn’t know who Roger Waters was. Speaking to Phil Aston of “Now Spinning Magazine,” Kilminster recalled the decision to leave Keith Emerson’s band The Nice and ultimately join former Pink Floyd bassist’s tour.
“I don’t know if you know the story of how I sort of left,” Kilminster recalled. “I didn’t mean to leave the band, but my manager told me about an audition with Roger [Waters]. And it was for a 10-week tour. He told me the dates, and I looked at the dates, and I said, ‘Oh, I can do it.'”
“I actually got three or four Keith Emerson band gigs in the States during that time, so I didn’t think anything more of it and forgot it completely.”
It seemed that the stars were aligned for Kilminster to join Roger Waters’ band since Keith Emmerson’s tour got canceled. He continued:
“Probably about two days later, I had an email from Keith’s manager just saying, ‘We’re really sorry, we’re gonna have to pull those days, I don’t think they’re selling very well.’ So I thought, ‘This is a sign! This is a sign that I have to go for this audition.'”
But, believe it or not, Dave didn’t know how Roger Waters was. And, on top of that, he wasn’t really familiar with Pink Floyd’s legendary hit “Comfortably Numb,” featuring one of David Gilmour’s finest solos.
“No, I had no idea,” Dave replied when asked if this was true. “When my manager told me, I was like, ‘Roger who? I have no idea.’ And then he mentioned something like ‘Comfortably Numb’, which I’d honestly never heard before.”
Well, Dave admits that he was kind of familiar with the song, but he knew the version by the Scissor Sisters.
“I heard the Scissor Sisters’ version, the disco thing,” he recalled. “So I said, ‘Okay, yeah, I can play that, I guess.'”
Of course, the Scissor Sisters’ version is nothing like the original. With this said, Dave admitted that he “really didn’t know what I was letting myself in for, at all” but still decided to go and audition. But things got complicated back in the Keith Emmerson camp.
“I went for the audition because I thought that was a sign that I should go and do it, and then got the audition. And then another couple of days later, I had another email from Keith’s manager saying, ‘Oh, we’re gonna keep those gigs. The gigs are back on.'”
“I’m thinking, ‘Well, I’m just committed to doing this 10-week tour now. But don’t worry, it is only ten weeks. Don’t worry, I’ll be back.’ Then, of course, ten weeks turned into three months, which turned into six months, which turned into several years. Yes, it’s 17 years now I’ve been doing this.”
Dave’s been part of Roger Waters’ band for a long time now. But the audition itself, according to what he said in an interview earlier this year, was a complete disaster on his end. Sure, Waters is an incredibly demanding band leader and there’s no secret about it. And things went wrong in many ways for Dave.
“I never expected to get it,” Dave remembered. “But I just thought, you know, I was working on an album at the time. I thought maybe I’ll meet someone, maybe they’ll push my material, whatever.”
“So obviously, [I] went for the audition. Performed terribly. I mean, it was just hideous. I thought I was prepared. And I clearly wasn’t prepared. Because I didn’t know even about the history of the music. I mean, they said they wanted someone to play and sing like David Gilmour.”
“So we’re just about to play ‘Money’ and I’m feeling quite confident because I’ve worked out all three guitar parts. So I went to Roger said, ‘Which part do you want me to do?’ I could do the reggae thing or just follow the bass line or do the thing with the tremolo.”
“And he said, ‘I don’t mind. Are you alright on the lyrics?’ I’m like, ‘I’m supposed to sing this?’ Okay. So the first time I sang it, Roger Waters was [next to me], I’ve got the lyrics on a little stand, and I’m playing the reggae thing and trying to sing this thing. Which isn’t difficult, but it’s something that is kind of nice if you go through it a couple of times. [Laughs] Just to get your head around it. So that was a bit of a disaster.”
“Then I realized, as I’m playing ‘Money,’ I had two guitars with me, two electrics, one had 21 frets, one had 22. You need 22 to play ‘Money’ for the high bends. And I had the wrong guitar. And so halfway through, I’m like, ‘I’m really sorry, can we stop?’ [Laughs] ‘Because I can’t play on this guitar.'”
“And then we did ‘Wish You Were Here,’ and the acoustic wasn’t working. And it was just a whole… It was a nightmare. Really — a complete disaster. I just felt like such an idiot. I was kicking myself.”
Despite all these issues, Dave still got the gig, explaining:
“They liked me. I think… I’ve heard from someone that was their tour promoter. He said, ‘You did this one solo, you just went for it and the whole room kind of went, ‘Whoa!” And I had no idea. I was just in my own private hell. But apparently, that’s what they loved. It might have been ‘Comfortably Numb,’ I have no idea.”