The song, titled ‘Hey Hey Rise Up’, will be the band’s first single since 1994, and will be released on Friday, April 8.
The song not only features sections by guitarist David Gilmour, accompanied by drummer Nick Mason, bassist Guy Pratt, and composer Nitin Sawhney, but will also feature samples of a performance by Andriy Khlyvnyuk, the frontman of Ukrainian rock band BoomBox who is currently in the Ukrainian military, fighting Russia.
In fact, it was Khlyvnyuk who inspired Gilmour and co. to come out of their apparent retirement and pen a new song: the legendary guitarist stumbled upon a video of Khlyvnyuk in military fatigues in Ukraine, and found it “pretty magical.”
“I’ve got a big platform that [Pink Floyd] have worked on for all these years. It’s a really difficult and frustrating thing to see this extraordinarily crazy, unjust attack by a major power on an independent, peaceful, democratic nation. The frustration of seeing that and thinking ‘what the fuck can I do?’ is sort of unbearable,” the 76-year-old told The Guardian.
While Gilmour had, in 2008, announced that there would be no more new music following the death of keyboardist Rick Wright, the 76-year-old said that the Russian invasion of Ukraine changed his mind.
“I hate it when people say things like ‘As a parent, I …’, but the practicalities of having an extended Ukrainian family is part of this. My grandchildren are half-Ukrainian, my daughter-in-law Janina is Ukrainian – her grandmother was in Kharkiv until three weeks ago. She’s very old, disabled, in a wheelchair and has a carer, and Janina and her family managed to get her all the way across Ukraine to the Polish border and now they’ve managed to get her to Sweden, literally last week,” Gilmour told The Guardian, highlighting the personal cost of the ongoing war.
Subsequently, Gilmour rang up his old-time bandmate and drummer Mason: “I rang Nick up and said: ‘listen, I want to do this thing for Ukraine. I’d be really happy if you played on it and I’d also be really happy if you’d agree to us putting it out as Pink Floyd.’ And he was absolutely on for that,” the guitarist told the publication, detailing the process that led to the new song.
“I wouldn’t do this with many more things, but it’s so vitally, vitally important that people understand what’s going on there and do everything within their power to change that situation. And the thought, also, that mine and Pink Floyd’s support of the Ukrainians could help boost morale in those areas: they need to know the whole world supports them,” Gilmour said, adding that proceeds would be donated for humanitarian relief in Ukraine.
After recording the song and shooting a video, Gilmour contacted Khlyvnyuk and shared the same, to which the Ukrainian singer said, “Thank you, it’s fabulous. One day we’ll play it together and have a good stout afterwards, on me.”
Gilmour, of course, agreed to join the singer for a drink.