When I interviewed Steven Wilson back in 2018, we spoke about Pink Floyd and the influence that their catalog has had on both of our lives. He said that he didn’t listen to them as frequently as he once did, because they were so ingrained in his musical DNA that he didn’t have to.
That’s how I feel, as well, but there’s still something irresistible about “Time,” “Money,” and “Brain Damage/Eclipse” that keeps pulling me back in irrespective of how intent classic rock radio is on pounding this material into the pavement. They’ve been a constant for as far back as I can remember and not even the ongoing territorial pissing match between Waters and Gilmour can sour that for me.
Given the preponderance of tribute acts that continue to ignite the local scene, I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
The Floyd Concept, for example, features seven of the finest musicians in Western New York as they coalesce to bring audiences an experience that aims to be as musically authentic as any Floyd-related project out there. I caught up with musical director/saxophonist Jack Prybylski this week to discuss the band and what people can expect when they hit The Stage in Williamsville on June 27.
MNOD: How did The Floyd Concept initially come together?
Prybylski: It’s actually an offshoot of another band called Hey You. The guitarist, George Root, was the founder of The Floyd Concept along with Michael Digaetano. I initially joined as just the sax player, but George died of cancer in 2019 and that’s when I became the musical director. We just added two new members, Ron LoCurto and Geno McManus, to the lineup, so we’re really excited to start playing shows again. We cover the whole gamut of Floyd from ‘Lucifer Sam,’ ‘Astronomy Domine,’ and ‘Arnold Layne’ right up through ‘The Division Bell’ album. The visual component is just as important as the music, so we also include video screens, lighting, and lasers into the show.
MNOD: What did the music of Pink Floyd mean to you before joining the band?
Prybylski: I’m kind of a newbie when it comes to Floyd, because they were never really my thing. As a sax player, I was more into Chicago, Blood, Sweat, and Tears, and Tower of Power. I knew ‘Us and Them,’ ‘Money,’ ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond,’ and other hits, but it wasn’t until recently that I started to dive deeper into the catalog. I regret not seeing them back in the day, because it’s really been a blast getting involved in their whole catalog. I’ve discovered that they have a really nice body of work that goes beyond just the hits. My favorite song to play live now is ‘Us and Them.’
MNOD: What makes The Floyd Concept stand out from other Floyd tribute acts such as The Machine and Brit Floyd?
Prybylski: I love Brit Floyd and they’re really good at what they do, but they come off as sterile at times. I think we rock harder and have a little more soul and grit in our performance than they do. For the sax parts, I play as close to the original as possible, but I’m definitely drawn to the Scott Page style rather than the Dick Parry style. I’m not taking anything away from Dick, but Scott’s more of a rocker and I like his edginess. People like to hear this material played exactly how they remember. When David Gilmour plays ‘Comfortably Numb’ live, he has all the poetic license in the world to change the solo if he wants, but he still plays it the same way every time. If you listen to ‘The Wall: Live in Berlin,’ Roger’s band includes a sax part on ‘Another Brick in the Wall Part 1,’ which is cool.
MNOD: What is your musical background specifically?
Prybylski: I’ve played the saxophone for 56 years. I attended the University at Buffalo and went on to be a music teacher in the Niagara Falls City School District for 30 years. I’ve played with a bunch of bands through the years such as Only Humen, The Chicago Authority, and The Patti Parks Band. I’ve also released three solo albums and been nominated for two Grammys.
MNOD: How has the audience response been now that you’ve started playing shows again?
Prybylski: It’s been great. Things are starting to pick up now that venues are opening again. We just played in Warren, PA and we have some other stuff booked for July and August. I’d say we do between three and four shows a month right now. I think people are enthusiastic for live music in general, but everyone was singing along at the last show we played. When we got to the line in ‘Mother’ where it says ‘Mother, should I trust the government?,’ everyone shouted ‘No!’ Also, Geno and Ron only had about four rehearsals before that gig, so it’s really a credit to them and the amount of work they put in that it went so easily. We’re all on the same page as a band and fully behind what we’re doing.
The Floyd Concept plays The Stage on June 27.