The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
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Interstellar Overdrive
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Song Name: Interstellar Overdrive

Artist: Pink Floyd

Album: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, Relics, A Nice Pair

Run Time: 9:41

Year: 1967

Track Number: 7

Written By: Syd Barrett, Richard Wright, Roger Waters, Nick Mason


  • An earlier, longer recording can be heard on London '66-'67. Other versions appear on various bootlegs.
  • Like the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's slightly earlier song "East-West," "Interstellar Overdrive" was one of the very first psychedelic instrumental improvisations recorded by a rock band. It was seen as Pink Floyd's first foray into space rock (along with "Astronomy Domine"), although band members would later disparage this term. Despite its encapsulation of their concert repertoire under the leadership of guitarist and composer Syd Barrett, the long, improvisational, freeform structure of the piece is not particularly reflective of the group's recorded output. As drummer Nick Mason states in his book Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd, live versions of the song featured many "sections" that didn't appear on the album, and would last more than 20 minutes. During the band's days playing in residence at London underground clubs such as the UFO (Underground Freak Out), the song usually opened their show.
  • The opening hook is a distorted, descending guitar riff played in unison by the band. This eventually segues into improvisation, including modal noodlings, percussive flourishes on the Farfisa organ, and quiet interludes. The song gradually becomes almost structureless and tempo-less, punctuated only by strange guitar noises. Eventually, however, the entire band restates the main theme, which is repeated with decreasing tempo and more deliberate intensity until it finally ends. This riff originated when Peter Jenner was trying to hum a song he couldn't remember the name of. Barrett followed Jenner's humming with his guitar and used it as the basis for the principal melody of "Interstellar Overdrive."
  • An especially powerful version of was rumored to have been cut from Ummagumma. Tapes of this performance may still exist. Roger Waters once told Barrett that the song's riff reminded him of the theme tune from Steptoe and Son.    

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