Interstellar Overdrive

Album: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (1967)
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • This song is a prime example of Pink Floyd's early Syd Barrett-driven days, when they created mostly psychedelic rock. It features long, discordant chords on Barrett's guitar, constantly changing tempos, shifting rhythms, and few, or in this case, no lyrics at all. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Tim - Syracuse, NY
  • Piper At The Gates Of Dawn was digitally remastered and released in 2007 in two editions: A 2-CD set with stereo and mono versions, and a version that also contains a book and a CD with all of Pink Floyd's 1967 singles, along with some alternate mixes and limited release versions. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • The main riff throughout the tune was adapted from the guitar riff from Love's remake of "My Little Red Book." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Sean - Chicago, IL
  • This was used in the 2016 movie Doctor Strange in a scene where the title character is driving on winding roads.
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Comments: 34

  • Andres from Vancouver, CanadaI don't get this dislike of the panning of the music with headphones, that's my favourite part. I think their use of panning shows their extreme creativity.
  • Paul from Montreal, QcMichael from Oxford has a point about the headphones, at least when it comes to the stereo version - the panning at the end is too much. I prefer the mono version myself.
  • Paul from Montreal, QcSome interesting comments. Zero implies that this has "no structure" and no instrument is ever the anchor. Nonsense. The structure is loose, but there is one. It simply doesn't follow that a piece that doesn't have conventional chord sequences or melody is just random. Different instruments take over the "anchor" role at different points. If you really are interested you can even compare the album version to other versions to get a grasp of the structure and how improvisation occurs within it. It is also amazing how the very people who are baffled by a work of art tend to claim that "anyone could do it". More nonsense. I am a musician and I don't believe for a second that I could just get up on a stage with three random people and recreate "Interstellar Overdrive". That fact in itself isn't proof that it's any good, or that I, or you, ought to like it, but come on.

    I'll be the first to admit that it's not for everyone. It took me a few listens to get it. But that often happens. There was a time when I thought all of Bob Marley's songs sounded exactly the same. Some people never get into something, and that's OK. There's plenty of stuff I don't care for that others like. Fair enough. But the fact that you don't like it, and other people who heard it once also don't like it, is not actually evidence of its worthlessness.
  • Astronomydomine from IndiaWell, I kind of agree with the folks who consider this piece as noise, and also feel sorry for them that had to endure 16 odd mins of aural torture. Well it sure is torture for people who enjoy "melodious" and "Rythmic" stuff from Brittany Spears, boy bands, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber. I would like the people to please stick to the kind of stuff you can comprehend and not venture into such strange realms just cuz you're a wannabe rock connoisseur. Leave it to the strange and twisted ones who like "noise". There is lot of consumerist commercial crap around that'll keep you happy!
  • Zero from Nowhere, NjI'm sorry I have to agree with liquid Len on this one. Mreenal, I'm not going to say you are lying because I haven't heard every single piece of music that was ever recorded, but all the jams I have ever heard had SOME kind of structure and one instrument acting as the "ANCHOR" to hold everything together, whether it be the bass, the drums, whatever. At any rate, this song may have been meant to sound this way (and probably was) but I can't get any enjoyment out of listening to this song. (and I don't currently or ever plan on doing drugs so this song is pretty disposable to me.)
  • Mreenal from Darjeeling, IndiaWell there seems to have been a lot of arguement on whether this song is brilliant or noise.. Well Liquid Len, no offence, but seems like you know nothing about what we call "IMPROVISATIONS" in music.. you should listen to some live indian classical music or maybe free jazz or blues jams.. Here the musicians know not what they're goin to play next.. This is more of playing with your heart and mind rather than hands or voice.. Interstellar Overdrive is one such extremely improvised piece where there are no rules.. here things like harmony, melody, rhythm, key, etc. do not matter.. you just have to play what you want to at the particular moment, at the particular place, n the particular mood.. if you are a musician, try it once.. just play (or sing) anything you feel like but don lie to yourself n pretend.. n see how it feels..
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaChloe, I'm totally glad you're happy with the song. Well, maybe "glad" is too strong a word.
  • Chloe from St. Louis, Mo"Anyone who is sober and thinks this song is brilliant should stash some microphones in the toilets of their local diarrhea ward, for some really amazing brilliant music." Well, now, liquid len, doesn't sound like you're too pleased about my happiness.
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaAt any rate, if you really enjoy this song and consider it brilliant, I'm glad you found something that made you happy.
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, Canada"liquid len.....What? Are we hearing the same song?"
    Well, if we weren't, that would explain a lot. I just don't see anything amazing about this song. Where's the melody, where's the riffs (except for the crude riff the song starts with), where's the rhythm, where's the groove, where's the message, where's the harmony, where's anything? Take any four people, throw them in a studio (with vintage instruments that sound like what the members of Pink Floyd played at this time, obviously), say "play anything" and this is what you'll get. Anyone who is sober and thinks this song is brilliant should stash some microphones in the toilets of their local diarrhea ward, for some really amazing brilliant music.
  • Chloe from St. Louis, Moliquid len.....What? Are we hearing the same song? On another note, listening to 8:40 to 9:00 with the volume up on a good set of headphones is terrifying. But incredible.
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InCamper Van Beethoven did a cover of this some time ago that is simply fabulous.
    I mean, Syd, were he alive and sane today to hear it, would have been proud.
    It opens with a loud "Careful With That Axe, Eugene" bass, then crashes into a wonderful jam keeping in the spirit of the original, executed to perfection.
    If you ever get a chance to listen to it, DO.
    You will not regret it.
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InJeremy,
    I have the complete CD for "Tonite Let's All Make Love In London," and it includes the COMPLETE 16 minute live version of IO that was recorded in the studio.
    You will get a nice bonus of "Nick's Boogie," which is an interesting variation of IO that is heavy on echo and percussive sounds created by Syd banging his fists on his Telecaster.
    Love this song.
    Also, I must mention my observation that David Bowie's classic song "Space Oddity" borrows heavily from this song, particularly the live versions of IO.
    Collectors of "unofficial" recordings of early Floyd will know what I am talking about.
    ;-)
  • Jeremy from Ventura, CaA live version of Interstellar Overdrive*
  • Jeremy from Ventura, CaThe very first recording of Pink Floyd, A live version on Interstellar Overdrive which is 16-17 minutes long, can be found on the cd called "London 66-67". It was recorded for the film "lets all make love in London", but they only used bits and pieces of it. the almost complete version (minus a minute or so) can be found on that album. I get payed tomorrow, and I'm going to go buy it :)

    Shine On!
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, Canada"When you say it's slightly better than that, do you mean that the first 2 minutes or so are better, by any chance?"
    You're so quick to assume that anyone who doesn't consider this 'genius' hasn't had time to form a proper opinion of it, aren't you? As chance would have it, I have listened to that song MANY times in its entirety, enough to recognize the different sections of the song and 'hum along'. It's still nothing but noise as far as I am concerned. Back in the late 80s, I was at college and we would make 'music' like this on our 4-track cassette recorders, at 3:30 am, when we were so 'out of it' that it either sounded good, or was just fun to do (I forget at this point). I remember one time getting it played on college radio, and the next day heard some cafeteria workers talking about it. "Did you hear the awful music they were playing last night etc etc". Which I thought was hilarious.
  • Michael from Oxford, -When you say it's slightly better than that, do you mean that the first 2 minutes or so are better, by any chance?
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaNo, I compared THIS SONG to Yoko Ono. I think all the SONGS Syd wrote on Piper were great. This is just atmospheric noise at best, but frankly the sheer relief of it being over makes The Gnome all that much better. I just don't see anything amazing about this. Couldn't ANYONE play music like this? I admit, I can tell it's not played by 4 cats jumping up and down on the instruments. It's slightly better than that. But not much.
  • Tristan from Philadelphia, PaIncredible song, among my favorite Floyd songs. It never stops amazing me how under rated this album is, and how dark side (a highly inferior album) is the kind of thing pink floyd is remembered for. Then you have people like liquid len from Ottawa who comes out and starts comparing Syd with Yoko Ono.
  • Michael from OxfordI'm not budging an inch on this one. The first time I listened to a preview of this, it was very late and I decided to use headphones. Whoops... I felt so sick that I couldn't even press the "stop" button and had to wait for the sample to finish. :( My nod would have to go to Hendrix's "Electric Ladyland" (released the following year) as the first record to sound good with headphones...
  • Michael from OxfordOh, and NEVER listen to this song with headphones!!!
  • Michael from Oxford, EnglandI agree though, "Several Species" is the worst Pink Floyd song ever.
  • Michael from Oxford, EnglandUh, "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict" is by Waters, not Barrett. Sorry!
  • Achory from Warner Robins, Gayes, 9 min. 41 sec. of great music. this is one of the few barret-era songs that i actually liked. his music was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay to trippy for the most part: "Bike" "The Gnome" "Several Small Furry Creatures Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving With a Pict" etc.
  • Michael from Oxford, EnglandYes, the middle section of this song (from 2:17 to 8:22) is indeed just noise, but that makes the return to real music seem all the more enjoyable. Just thought I'd give my opinion. Anyway, it's nowhere near as bad as the Beatles' "Revolution 9"!
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaJust noise. Freaky, trippy noise, but noise. Barrett making squeaky noises on his guitar. Musical brilliance? Give me a break. If this is genius then so is Yoko Ono.
  • Shelby from The Dark SideI just heard this for the first time tonight and this has been the greatest night of my life!! Syd, we still love you!
  • Michael from Oxford, EnglandThat crescendo into the final re-statement of this song's main theme is in my opinion the most THRILLING moment on the album. It's a great album, even if kind of scary. Besides this song, I also like "The Gnome" (the most normal sounding track!).
  • Bryce from Justin, Txwhen i was ripin my bong bobby the 2nd i had this song playin and it was a crazzy hit off some dro..and the nxt bowl of chronic..nice
  • Desdemona from London, EnglandSyd Barrett was crazy... SHINE ON YOU CRAZY DIAMOND!!!
  • Nathaniel from Pittsburgh, Pa*1946-2006
  • Nathaniel from Pittsburgh, Pa9min. 41sec. Of musical brilliance. 1941-2006 R.I.P. Syd Barrett
  • Ryan from Plano, TxI read somewhere that the version of this song that you hear on the "Piper at the Gates of Dawn", was recorded twice over. What you actually hear are two different performances of the song, dubbed over one another. That's why the instruments sometimes overlap one another and it sounds like two different directions being taken simultaneously.
  • Ashley from Moncton, CanadaWhat a freaking trippy song.
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