THE surprise decision by Nick Mason to go back on the road after 24 years is hard evidence he is prepared to suffer for his art. At the age of 74, the drummer with rock super group Pink Floyd reckons he still has a point to prove. Mason has formed a new band, Saucerful Of Secrets, taking their name from Floyd’s second album in 1968. They embark on a 21-date tour this month, which includes a gig at the Glasgow Armadillo this month.

His anticipation is tangible. “It was the time to go back on the road again simply because I’m beginning to feel a bit elderly,” admits Mason. “The best thing to combat that is to get out and play … it’s the thing I really enjoy doing. Last year, we staged an exhibition of Pink Floyd’s career called Their Mortal Remains at the V&A in London and it was great fun to work on. “But you end up feeling as if you’re part of English heritage or something, so I wanted to play music rather than talk about it.

“I really miss the regimentation of moving from city to city, playing show after show. I want to get back to that. I like the camaraderie of being in a band.”

The last time Mason went on the road with Floyd was in 1994, when they played a 68-date tour to promote their 14th album, The Division Bell. It was their final tour … so far. The statistics of the shows were eye watering. Three massive stages were “leap frogged” across America, Europe and the UK, shipped in 53 trucks by a 170-strong crew.

The gigs, which culminated in 14-nights at Earl’s Court in London, were seen by a total of 5.5 million people. It was then the highest grossing tour in rock history with box office receipts of £150 million.

Mason travelled by private jet and all his rock star whims were effortlessly catered for. But this time, it will be very different as Mason goes back-to-basics on tour bus with just his four-piece band for company. He wouldn’t want it any other way. “For someone like me to go back on tour it’s an absolute nightmare because I’ve had to dispense with my wardrobe, my hair and make-up, my sushi chef and my ambience co-ordinator. I don’t know how I’m going to manage,” he says, tongue firmly in cheek..”

Saucerful Of Secrets will perform a show titled The Early Music Of Pink Floyd, concentrating on the group’s more experimental period between 1967-1972. Mason will shun their most successful series of albums, which includes The Dark Side Of The Moon (1973), Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals (1977) and The Wall (1979).

As he will explain, there are solid reasons for that.

Mason road tested Saucerful Of Secrets with several club gigs in London, which earned rave reviews. The line-up includes Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet, on vocals and guitar. He takes on the role once inhabited by Floyd’s tortured genius, Syd Barrett, who left the band in 1968. He died in 2006 after years of health problems and mental illness said to be the result of his excessive use of psychedelic drugs.

Weren’t Spandau one of a string of post-punk acts whose aim was to wipe out progressive rock? The irony is not lost on Mason. “I knew Gary as a friend and of course I’m familiar with Spandau Ballet,” he says. But to some extent he has been the shining star. People are so surprised someone who is so good in one genre of music can just switch to doing something else. But of course, a good musician can play innumerable styles.

“Over 50 odd years, we’ve had a number of bands who supposedly were going to wipe prog-rock off the face of the planet. Perhaps most memorable was the punk era. But what we have now is a situation where we, the dinosaurs, are still roaming free.”

As a founder of Pink Floyd, Mason can claim to be the only band member to have played on all 15 of their albums and every one of their live shows. Since forming Floyd with Barrett, Roger Waters and Richard Wright in 1965 – with David Gilmour joining two years later – he has been a steadying influence. While Mason has a catalogue of songs from Floyd’s acclaimed albums – book-ended by The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, their 1967 debut, and The Endless River, their final release in 2014 – he rarely gets the opportunity to perform them live. So focusing on Floyd’s early period has reignited a flood of memories. They were leading lights in the 1960s psychedelic music scene borne out of the UFO Club in London.

During their performances, a primitive light show would project moving shapes and colours on to the band, whose song improvisations could last for 15-20 minutes.

While primitive, it broke new ground in terms of the visual stage production with which Floyd would later become pioneers. “I don’t think we felt we were writing our own rule book so much as simply getting on with what we thought we could do,” recalls Mason.

“We found an audience and were almost surprised by how things took off. It was a very vibrant musical scene, but rather brief. We would play UFO on the Friday night and Paul McCartney would come down to see us which was fantastic. Then on Saturday, we’d be up in Doncaster playing the Top Rank Ballroom where the audience absolutely hated us. So you went from one extreme to the next.”

Floyd made their debut in Scotland playing two gigs at the Red Shoes Ballroom and Ballerina Ballroom in Nairn in July, 1967.

Their appearance at Green’s Playhouse – soon to become the Glasgow Apollo – on December 5 that year made Scottish rock history. For an admission fee of 15 shillings – 75p today – a package tour featuring Outer Limits, Eire Apparent, The Nice, The Move, Amen Corner, Floyd and The Jimi Hendrix Experience played to a packed house.

“It was the only time we did a proper rock and roll travelling show. But apart from anything else, I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity to see Jimi Hendrix. We knew he was something truly unique,” says Mason. “Outer Limits opened the show and did 10 minutes. Then, according to how special you were, you did 10, 20 or 30 minutes. I think Jimi played for 40 minutes because he was top of the bill. “All the shows we did with that group of people were fantastic. I’m still friends with Andy Fairweather-Low of Amen Corner.”

Mason rarely looks back, but reviving Floyd’s early catalogue was an opportunity too good to miss. In June, Waters brought his Us And Them tour to the Hydro in Glasgow and performed tracks from The Dark Side Of The Moon, Animals and Wish You Were Here. And Gilmour interpreted his choice of Floyd classics on his recent Rattle That Lock gigs. Fans also flock to see a string of tribute acts who pay a musical homage to their heroes which is almost forensic in detail. Most successful are The Australian Pink Floyd who have graduated to playing major arena venues in their own right. While Mac Floyd, a Scottish tribute act, also sell-out around the country.

But Mason feels it’s important to reacquaint fans with material which is overlooked. He says: “The rest of the band are very fond of that particular era. I certainly am. But I feel it’s maybe under explored. What with David and Roger being out on tour, and also the myriad of Pink Floyd tribute bands, it seemed that maybe this was something we could do and make our own, interpreting the songs in a slightly new way.

"When I listened back to our first two albums – The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and Saucerful Of Secrets – the most interesting thing was the songs were far more complex than I remembered. The way that Syd wrote was unique. I really had to start from scratch and go back and listen to those albums again so I could learn the parts I’d forgotten 50 years ago. There was definitely a bit of caution and trepidation. It’s a long time NOT to have done something and you are conscious there is a history there, so people expect a certain amount. I didn’t want to be a tribute band … to be judged on whether we play the songs exactly as they were in 1967. If there is room for improvisation, I’d like us to do that.”

Mason’s easy-going manner made him the ideal candidate for the role of Floyd’s peacekeeper and mediator. To describe the group’s history as turbulent is an understatement.

When Barrett quit the group in 1968, Waters took on the role as main lyricist and devised all the concepts for their albums. Wright left too in 1979 due to the dreaded “musical differences” while recording of The Wall. He rejoined seven years later for the A Momentary Lapse Of Reason album, initially as a session musician but later becoming a full member again.

Over the years, the relationship between Waters and Gilmour had become increasingly fractious. After the release of Animals in 1977, Floyd’s increasing popularity forced the group to play large sports stadiums, which some members felt was a step too far. At a gig in Montreal, Waters spat on a fan he felt was being too loud and enthusiastic. It was a low point in their career, with Gilmour stating publicly he felt there was nothing left for them to achieve.

For The Final Cut album in 1992, Gilmour’s name was removed from the writing credits by Waters, who felt he was not contributing enough. Two years later, after the release of Waters’ debut solo album, The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking, he claimed Floyd would not record or tour again.

He went the High Court in a bid to dissolve the group, which was unsuccessful. Gilmour and Mason continued working under the Pink Floyd name, releasing A Momentary Lapse Of Reason in 1987 and The Final Cut in 1994.

But in 2005, Bob Geldof persuaded Floyd to reform – for the first time in 24 years – to appear at Live 8 in Hyde Park, London. He’d organised the gig, one of 10 global concerts, to focus attention on the G8 Summit at Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire.

Initially, Gilmour refused to take part, but after a telephone call from Waters – their first conversation in two years – he agreed to put their differences aside. Their 20-minute performance of Speak To Me, Breathe, Money, Wish You Were Here and Comfortably Numb was a triumph. But Gilmour looked ill at ease, and at the end of their set began to walk off stage, before being pulled back by Waters to take a group bow.

The hysteria surrounding their appearance fuelled speculation the reformation could become more permanent. Floyd were offered £135 million for a tour but it was turned down flat. When asked if he’s like to do it again, Gilmour said curtly: “The Live 8 rehearsals convinced me it wasn’t something I wanted to be doing a lot of. I can fairly, categorically say there won’t be a tour or an album again that I take part in. It isn’t to do with animosity or anything like that … it’s just I’ve been there, I’ve done it.”

Even so, Mason has consistently maintained Floyd could work together again. He says: “I’m not sure I believe it will happen, but I just find myself unable to say that it’s all over. I might put that on my tombstone. I’m not sure it’s all over yet.”

But with Waters, Gilmour and now Mason playing their own versions of Floyd’s songs, wouldn’t it be simpler – not to mention more authentic – if they could resolve their differences and play as a band again?

“Absolutely, and if you’d like to explain that to Roger and David … be my guest,” he says finally.

Nick Mason's Saucerful Of Secrets, SEC Armadillo, Glasgow. Friday, Sep 28