Jason Sawford, keyboardist for the Australian Pink Floyd, said his sister's boyfriend got him into the music of Pink Floyd.
"I was studying classical music at a university," Sawford said by phone from Detroit. "They had me listen to 'Wish You Were Here,' and I really liked what was being played. So, I decided to learn those songs."
Little did Sawford know that within three decades he'd be playing those songs in front of arena-size audiences and in front of Pink Floyd's own original band members. "We just started out as a Pink Floyd cover band in Australia. We got popular and then played in England. Now, we're playing in other parts of the world.
"I was surprised at how much the American people loved the show. It is a testament to how strong the music of Pink Floyd is."
Australian Pink Floyd — Sawford, bassist Colin Wilson, drummer Paul Bonney, guitarists Damian Darlington and Steve Mac — has performed in Salt Lake City twice so far.
This time around, the band has adjusted the set list, said Sawford. "We're doing some more songs from the 'Wish You Were Here' and 'Animals' albums. I think those are my favorite Pink Floyd albums. They have a lot of good keyboards on them."
Sawford said there is a certain amount of pressure making sure the concerts do justice to the real thing. "We have to make sure the sound and essence of the songs are there. Pink Floyd's music is well known all over the world. And if we're claiming to be the Australian version of the band, we need to be good."
Still, however, there is space to personalize the sets. "We input our own humor and make subtle references to personalize the show. We make it fun for us, and the audience catches the jokes."
One of the jokes is the inclusion of an inflatable kangaroo, which takes the place of Floyd's original giant inflatable pig. "We get a lot of comments about that," said Sawford.
The Australian Pink Floyd is always looking at ways to improve the concert, said the keyboardist.
"We don't want to become stagnant," he said. "We are continually making changes, adding songs, taking out songs. We have some Pink Floyd tour-crew members who are touring with us, and they have helped us make the show more Pink Floydian.
"We know how much the music means to the fans. We don't want to mar the name. Therefore, we are extra careful of how we execute the show."
Right now the band is planning to go into the studio making an album of Pink Floyd songs. "Last year we did a DVD, which was completed earlier this year. We are working on songs that will be an album."
If you go . . .
What: Australian Pink Floyd
Where: E Center, West Valley City
When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.
How much: $22.50-$32.50
Phone: 467-8499 or 800-888-8499