Robbie Wyckoff is Los Angeles based session vocalist and recording artist whose voice can be heard on numerous films, television shows, hit records and national jingles. Robbie has recorded and performed with artists like Diana Ross, Barbara Streisand, Celine Dion and Clint Black. He has been touring with Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters for the on-going “The Wall Live” tour since 2010 and starts up again this July. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Robbie about touring with the legendary Roger Waters and what is planned next for the tour.
Mike Gencarelli: I know it is a typical question but I have to ask, what is it like working with a legend like Roger Waters?
Robbie Wyckoff: For me it is like a dream come true. Growing up I always listened to Pink Floyd, especially “Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wall”. I am thrilled to think that I get to sing with Roger now, since I was and am such a fan. It is pretty amazing.
MG: Can you take us through your first meeting with him?
RW: First of all I have to give a big thank you to Jon Joyce referring me to Roger. But after round 2 of the auditioning process at James Guthrie’s studio, I got a call back from James and he said that “Roger really loves your vocals and wants you to fly to New York to meet him and record “Mother.”He was at one of the studios in NYC where they had been working on the visuals for the Wall projections. I walked into the studio and there he was working away. It was very surreal. I shook his hand and told him that it was an honor and a pleasure to meet him and thanked him for everything. Then he said “Let’s show Robbie what we have been working on.”
MG: After over 200 performances touring with “The Wall Live”, what drives you for each performance?
RW: Well first it is just the music – the songs, they just never get old. I have been in several bands and sometimes you have to sing certain songs and you dread it. With this the music is so timeless and classic and the melodies are so beautiful. For me it never gets old, it is a treat to be able to sing them. Also just being up on top of the wall and getting that wonderful 360 degree view is just spectacular. I would love to get a chance to film a little up there to show what it is like. It is just absolutely amazing.
MG: Having been touring with this show since 2010 pretty consistently, how does that weigh on you?
RW: Roger treats us very well. He makes it very comfortable. I have so many people says to me “You’ve been touring for the last two years, it must be so grueling…” and I just say “No, it is really not”. We stay in the best hotels and fly in private jets, so it is a really comfortable tour.
MG: You are taking over vocals for David Gilmour; do you consider that a daunting task?
RW: No not really, I am a big fan of Gilmour and I have a lot of respect for him and his talent. I feel like this is a custom fit gig for me because my vocal range is very similar to David’s. But when we found out that David was going to show up sometime during the first leg of the tour, it did make me a little nervous. He ended up coming to a couple of our London shows in 2010. The first night he watched the show and the second night he sat in with us and sang the chorus’ of “Comfortably Numb.” He also joined us on the final song “Outside The Wall,” along with Nick Mason who played tambourine. Man, it was such a thrill to be on stage that night standing next to the surviving members of Pink Floyd: Nick Mason, Roger Waters, and David Gilmour. After the show David paid me a nice complement and said “you sound great and I thought that was me up there singing.”
MG: I have always wanted to know when the wall goes up; what is like performing behind it?
RW: If people could only see what we are doing behind the wall, there is some pretty funny stuff going on. We have to put this safety net over the band, to protect the us from falling bricks at the end of the show when the wall comes down. The net is probably about 12 inches over my head. On this particular night there was some static electricity going on and little did I know that my hair was sticking straight up like a unicorn. So there I am totally focused on singing “Hey You” and the whole band is laughing around me and Roger is pointing at me laughing. [laughs] I thought I was doing something wrong. Finally someone took a photo and showed me what they were laughing at. Too funny! It’s stuff like that and maybe a few other practical jokes that the background singers are famous for. We have a blast at every concert.
MG: In July 2013, you start the wave of the tour in Europe. Where are you looking forward to going most?
RW: Just being back in Europe firstly and getting to hit some of the markets that we didn’t before. We’ll be going to Turkey, Rome, Vienna and several other European cities. You can check the tour schedule at www.rogerwaters.com. I’m really looking forward to playing Wembley Stadium. That is going to be amazing! I have family in London so it will be good to see them.
MG: Can we expect a Blu-ray release of the concert in the near future?
RW: There have been talks of Roger doing a DVD release of “The Wall Live”. But I’m not sure when it will be released. When we were in Athens, Greece, we did three days of filming of the live shows and then three more days of close-ups. They hired a large movie crew and there were about 20 plus cameras. Not to mention that when we were in Buenos Aries, we sold out nine shows over there and they documented and filmed every aspect of those nine shows as well. From backstage to the show days and everything in between.
MG: Can you give a plug for your upcoming album, “Steppin Out”?
RW: My new album “Steppin’ Out” is a Big Band/Jazz Standards album and I’m very happy with it. I’ve always loved to sing that style of music and was just finishing it up before I got the tour with Roger Waters. I had all of the vocals recorded and all the tracks recorded but had to put it on hold until we finished our first U.S. tour. I just recently signed a co-publishing agreement for that album which I’m very excited about. It was produced by Willie Murillo and he also did several of the arrangements. I’m very privileged to have some of the world’s finest musicians playing on it and I’m very thankful to each and everyone of them. I have five original songs on the album. Three written by Tony Hayes and another one written by Jennifer Paige and one I wrote with Willie Murillo called “Kiss Me Again.” There are also some other great classic cover tunes by Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr., Nat King Cole, Fred Astaire and others. Now that the deal is in place, we are working on a marketing plan and should have a release scheduled later this year.
All photos courtesy of Michael Becker, Todd Tyler, Robbie Wyckoff