Pink Floyd to release first single in 28 years featuring vocals from Ukrainian protest song


Pink Floyd has announced that a newly-recorded single under the band banner, ‘Hey Hey Rise Up,’ will come out Friday, with lead vocals not by David Gilmour but rather a Ukrainian singer, whose a cappella vocals from an Instagram post shot in Kyiv’s Sofiyskaya Square have been set to music by the veteran band.

The music for the new song was recorded March 30 by longtime members Gilmour and Nick Mason, along with longtime bass player Guy Pratt and keyboardist Nitin Sawhney. (Roger Waters, who split from the group in the mid-1980s, did not participate).

The vocalist grafted into the new Pink Floyd track is Andriy Khlyvnyuk of the Ukrainian band Boombox. The vocal is taken from an Instagram video he posted five weeks ago in which he sings a World War I-era Ukrainian protest song, ‘The Red Viburnum in the Meadow,’ which has seen a revival as a cry against the Russian war upon Ukraine. The final line of the song translates as “Hey hey, rise up and rejoice.” Watch above.

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Khlyvnyuk is now in a hospital in Kyiv with a mortar shrapnel wound. “I played him a little bit of the song down the phone line and he gave me his blessing,” Gilmour said in a statement. “We both hope to do something together in person in the future.”

An announcement declared that ‘Hey Hey Rise Up’ is “the first new original music that they have recorded together as a band since 1994’s ‘The Division Bell.'” The group is understood to have been basically retired as a going unit since the late ’90s, although a mostly instrumental album of adapted leftovers, ‘The Endless River,’ came out in 2014 and was declared to be their official swan song.

Gilmour’s interest in bringing the band out of effective retirement for this is personal: he has a Ukrainian daughter-in-law and grandchildren. “We, like so many, have been feeling the fury and the frustration of this vile act of an independent, peaceful democratic country being invaded and having its people murdered by one of the world’s major powers,” the singer-guitarist said in a statement.

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A music video is on the way as well, also shot on March 30, directed by Mat Whitecross while the players were still assembled for the recording session. “We recorded the track and video in our barn where we did all our Von Trapped Family live streams during lockdown,” Gilmour said. “It’s the same room that we did the ‘Barn Jams’ with Rick Wright [Pink Floyd’s now-deceased keyboard player] back in 2007. Janina Pedan made the set in a day and we had Andriy singing on the screen while we played, so the four of us had a vocalist, albeit not one who was physically present with us.”

Gilmour has known the band Boombox since 2015, when he did a benefit show at Koko in London or imprisoned members of a Belarus theater troupe along with Pussy Riot. While Boombox was supposed to do its own set that night, Khlyvnyuk was unable to attend due to a visa problem, and the other members ended up backing Gilmour on his own set, and they dedicated ‘Wish You Were Here’ to the absent singer.

“Recently I read that Andriy had left his American tour with Boombox, had gone back to Ukraine, and joined up with the Territorial Defense,” Gilmour said. “Then I saw this incredible video on Instagram, where he stands in a square in Kyiv with this beautiful gold-domed church and sings in the silence of a city with no traffic or background noise because of the war. It was a powerful moment that made me want to put it to music.”

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Gilmour said the purpose of the new Floyd single is to “raise funds for humanitarian charities, and raise morale. We want express our support for Ukraine and in that way, show that most of the world thinks that it is totally wrong for a superpower to invade the independent democratic country that Ukraine has become.”

Although Pink Floyd has not toured since the ’90s and it has been several years since Gilmour has been on the road as a solo artist, Mason is about to hit the road again with his group, Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets, that revives the late ’60s and early ’70s Floyd catalog.

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