NICK Mason admits he had become tired waiting for his erstwhile bandmates Roger Waters and David Gilmour to call him about a much hoped for Pink Floyd reunion. As one of the founding members, which also included the late Syd Barrett and Richard Wright, the drummer had always held out hope for the prospect.

It’s now almost two years since he introduced Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets, which performs Floyd's early music. “In terms of who to get in, it was sort of like, who all gets on well and we decided to make a band out of that, which is rather how Pink Floyd started out.”

Joining him, Guy Pratt had previously played bass for Pink Floyd (after Waters' departure) on the A Momentary Lapse Of Reason and Division Bell tours, also singing lead for some tracks. Sharing vocals with Pratt is Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp who also features on guitar. A forthcoming DVD captures the strange, psychedelic energy of the Syd Barrett period and the lesser-known but influential long-players that pre-date Dark Side Of The Moon.

Mason suggests American audiences are, “entirely new to the old Pink Floyd material, they started with Dark Side Of The Moon. We were much less well known there in the early days. In the UK and Europe, it’s a more expert audience.”

The Live At The Roundhouse album and film saw Mason, who remains the only musician to have played on every Pink Floyd album, return to the scene of a notable early performance by the band. “The Roundhouse is a very odd building but there’s something about these round buildings that have a particular quality. It was originally where they used to turn (railway) engines around and then it was used as storage for Gilbey’s Gin.

"When Pink Floyd first played there in 1966 it was an earth floor with nothing whatsoever in it, they had just cleared the last of the cases of gin. It was an ideal party venue to launch the International Times which was the so-called underground newspaper. A couple of Beatles turned up and Michelangelo Antonioni (director of Blowup), it was quite a wild evening….a proper night out.”

A focus on the early work from that period with the original frontman, guitarist and songwriter Barrett has brought key tracks such as See Emily Play and Arnold Layne to a modern live setting as well as lesser-known and unfinished songs. “I think Vegetable Man is interesting because it’s almost like a punk record,” suggests Mason. “I think there is quite a lot of anger in it. The problem is it was never finished or finally mastered and so it’s very hard to know what Syd would have done with it if he ever got round to finishing it.

“Syd could move between two and three genres, he could write something that was quite whimsical and rural like a folk song such as The Scarecrow but he also put together a song like Astronomy Domine.”

Barrett's influence was cited by David Bowie who recorded a memorable version of See Emily Play in 1973. Bowie said of Barrett, after his death in 2006, that 'along with Anthony Newley, he was the first guy I'd heard sing pop or rock with a British accent.'

“Yes, there’s a number of people who have cited Syd’s influence”, says Mason. “That’s a good example with the English accent because we’d all become inured to the idea that any rock ’n’ roll song had to be sung like an American and using American language.”

Syd Barrett remains one of rock music’s most enigmatic figures. He would release his second, final solo album in 1970 and give his last interview the following year. That was to the photographer Mick Rock who captured Barrett looking like, as he suggested, “a beautiful burnt-out rock ’n’ roller.”

He would tell Rock during that interview for Rolling Stone magazine: “I’m disappearing” as he permanently retreated from public life. “It’s a bit like the James Dean thing,” suggests Mason. “The music still has some meaning for people and that keeps him in the public’s mind. I think the mystery of Syd is that we still don’t know and probably will never know what went wrong for him.

"There are a few different theories as to whether it was overdosing on LSD or some element in him that was already showing some signs of a breakdown. Also to be included is that he didn't actually want to be in a band and wanted to go back to painting. I think we were probably very unsympathetic to this because we couldn't imagine anyone wouldn't want to carry on being in a rock ’n’ roll band.”

Mason described him as a delightful young man when he first got to know him, how did things change? “He just became extremely withdrawn and stopped being a cheerful person. He no longer wanted to perform and carry on playing in a structured way so that his playing became totally unstructured such as detuning his guitar during a song, really that was us losing contact with him.”

Most would assert he left Pink Floyd with an otherworldly blueprint, steeped in English psychedelia and eccentricity, particularly on their debut long-player Piper At The Gates of Dawn and a lesser contribution on A Saucerful of Secrets, the latter remains Mason’s favourite studio work by the band and he suggests Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun “is one of those tracks that has room to stretch out which is great fun to play live. It’s open to being reinterpreted every time, you can extend the solos if you want to; it’s endless if the audience has an appetite for it.”

Roger Waters thrilled fans during a performance of the track last year in New York when he reunited with the 76-year-old drummer to sing lead. “It was almost a surprise for the rest of us,” admits Mason. “We had spoken about it but not worked out what he was going to do and how he was going to do it. There was an element of real surprise as to how it worked out in the end. It was an absolute delight to have him up there and a special evening.”

How do his former band members feel about Mason taking Pink Floyd’s early catalogue on the road? “Roger’s seal of approval was coming on stage. David’s [Gilmour] been tracking us on YouTube and got in touch with Guy [Pratt] to give some fatherly advice on some aspect of the show. I think generally it’s been approval all round.”

The members of Pink Floyd also came together to work on the retrospective touring exhibition Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains, a spectacular audio-visual journey that has won much acclaim from critics and fans. “I really enjoyed working on that,” says Mason. “It was that whole thing of trying to bring together what we had done over quite a long period. It was fun working with the V&A and Stufish [entertainment architects], Hipgnosis [cover artists] and the people who do our stage design.

"Walking around it made us look a bit cleverer than we were. You could just breeze through it with everything done in the right order, there was no element of the mistakes we had made. The other thing about it was because of that exhibition I was pushed more to the idea of the Saucerful of Secrets project with these other musicians. The one thing that was missing was playing and I love playing music.”

Before performing with Saucerful of Secrets, Mason’s previous live outing had been Pink Floyd’s Live 8 performance in 2005. “That was a very emotional moment, what was great was it was for the right reasons, we were able to come together and overcome differences for the common good rather than for money or whatever else.”

Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets could be read as the drummer conceding that the original members of Pink Floyd are not likely to perform again. “Yes, I think it is less and less likely and there is an element of giving up and saying, ‘let’s do something on my own’ because I could be waiting until we’re 100 but anything is possible. One should never say nothing would happen until we are all gone because there is always a possibility.”

Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets Live At The Roundhouse is released on April 17th on Double Vinyl, Double CD/DVD and Blu-ray