When I catch up with Tod Weidner, the construction worker is on a cell phone in the rural countryside near Dayton, Oh. (where he was born and raised). He’s hard at work restoring an old barn.
However, within just a few short days of our lengthy conversation, the guitarist and songwriter will be onstage at a River St. music venue, bathed in colored lights and playing note for note solos as part of the seven-piece Nashville-based Pink Floyd tribute band Eclipse.
Construction worker by day, rock star by night. It’s kind of like Flashdance — only with Strats and synths instead of chairs and water buckets.
Weidner’s not the only one in this band leading something of a double life. The lineup —which is generating almost fawning praise most everywhere they go for crafting an almost eerily accurate recreation of the legendary British psychedelic rock group’s entire catalog— also contains “a nuclear medical technician, sales reps, nannies, printers and designers and coffee barristas.” Says Weidner with a chuckle, “It’s all walks of life, really.”
Perhaps the only thing the band’s current members have in common is their deep-rooted, passionate love of all things Floyd. That, and the fact they all have —at one time or another— been involved in making their own original music.
“That’s one of the great things about a group like this,” explains Weidner. “It’s a real challenge to get inside this music and find out what makes it tick. You come away with a much greater understanding of song structure, which hopefully you can also apply to your own work.”
“I’m always picking up some compositional tips from the masters, and hopefully some of that will rub off on my originals.”
For now, however, Weidner’s own tunes are taking a backseat to the job at hand: growing Eclipse into one of the world’s most well-known and respected purveyors of Pink Floyd’s infamously complex and mind-bending prog-pop. So far, it would seem that plan is going swimmingly.
Although the group was formed in 2006 by drummer Brian Kirsch, it was only last fall —around the time Weidner joined— that the group started to generate buzz for infusing note-for-note simulations of the band’s anthemic, larger-than-life sound with the kind of enthusiastic stage presence the real Pink Floyd was not exactly famous for.
“We treat the songs with reverence, but we project the same kind of energy we would if the songs were our own,” offers Weidner. “Like one of our other guitarists (they have three) says, ‘We play this stuff accurately — but we play it with balls.’ We play it like a rock band. We tend to move around a bit more than the actual members of Pink Floyd did. That’s partially because we don’t have all their lasers and props, but it’s also because we’re having such a ball up there!”
Eclipse, which features both male and female vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, drums and sax to fully flesh out the densely layered sound of their heroes’ studio albums, travels with a large array of vintage gear (“our stages are pretty full,” Weidner laughs), and a dedicated sound man who tweaks each song, adding delay and electronic effects to closely mimic the feel of a classic, middle-to-late period Floyd concert. Their setlist, says Weidner, includes most of the hits, but the group’s three-and-a-half hour long show also boasts a liberal dose of obscure, “fan favorites.”
“We play everything from their first single, “Arnold Layne,” right up to stuff off the last album,” he enthuses. “But not in chronological order. We also include the complete Wish You Were Here and Animals LPs, plus virtually all of Dark Side of The Moon.”
One thing they don’t do, however, is dress up like the fairly anonymous-looking members of the Floyd.
“This band is all about the songs,” Weidner explains. “The crowds know the records, and when you hit that next chord, they go crazy.”
Eclipse: A Tribute to Pink Floyd
When: Thurs., 9 pm
Where: Live Wire Music Hall