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Dreaming of a Big Star: An Interview with Welcome to the Machine, SEA’s Only Pink Floyd Tribute Band

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It’s a Tuesday evening and we find ourselves in an unlikely place to conduct an interview – the basement of the Excelsior Hotel, tucked away in a dusty corner amidst countless music shops and schools. We’re here today to meet with the members of Welcome to the Machine, Southeast Asia’s best and only Pink Floyd tribute band.

Comprising of six core members, each one an experienced musician in his own right, Welcome to the Machine (WTTM) has just one mission – to faithfully reproduce British prog-rock band Pink Floyd’s aesthetic and music across live shows. As true blue fans, the team’s only wish is to ensure that the band’s legacy lives on, sharing their music and aesthetic with a wider audience as the years go by, no matter how young.

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Photography by The Studiokel Collection

The band has been playing gigs for the last few years, at places from Barbershop by Timbre, Hood Bar to more recently, Wala Wala Cafe and Beer Fest. But this December, they’re planning on launching something big, with a proper full length concert complete with video projection and plenty of visuals in the spirit of Pink Floyd themselves.

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Guitarist Noel Ong

Says guitarist and backing vocalist Noel Ong: “We’ve actually had the idea for a couple of years now, but it’s only this year that we feel we’re finally ready to put it all together, with all of us now on the same page and enough time to work towards it.”

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Keyboardist Yuk Wong. Photography by The Studiokel Collection

Says drummer Laurence Bucci, who has also taken charge of multimedia: “Pink Floyd was one of the first bands to do light shows. Back then at their gigs, they’d even do things like use an overhead projector to create some interesting visuals, as if things were melting. We know we can reach the same levels, and that’s why we’re designing and doing videos and even laser projection during our show to recreate that feel.”

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Guitarist David Baptista. Photography by The Studiokel Collection

Each cracking open a can of beer, the group is relaxed, honest and it is evident that each of them are fully invested in this project, with the sole intention of putting up a good show. Says guitarist David Baptista: “It’s completely possible for a tribute band to go big scale – look at Brit Floyd or The Australian Pink Floyd show. They can fill out entire stadiums, even with high priced tickets. Of course, we’re not aiming for the same scale, but we’re trying to do our version of that and remain authentic to the Pink Floyd aesthetic and sound. We’ve been reaching out to other friends and musicians who can help out, with better vocals and even saxophonists, just so we can recreate the exact way Dark Side of the Moon sounds.”

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Photography by The Studiokel Collection

For sure though, the December show is far from the endgame for the group. Having played a number of overseas shows from Malaysia to Thailand to Vietnam, WTTM has set their sights higher still, a responsibility they’ve taken on as Asia’s only Pink Floyd tribute band to keep spreading the message that Pink Floyd’s music was and still is powerful, emotional and relevant. As lead vocalist Arindam Chatterjee concludes: “Ultimately, we just hope our audience is naturally engaged by our show, and that real Pink Floyd fans emerge and appreciate our show. We want to be real, and that above all, audiences walk out of our shows thinking ‘that was a faithful tribute band’.”

Welcome to the Machine plays at Beerfest 2018 at 6.45pm on 31st August. Tickets available here. The band is currently also planning a show in early December. For more information on the band and their upcoming gigs, visit their Facebook page here

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