In 1985, founding member Roger Waters left Pink Floyd and called the band “a spent force.” Following Waters’ departure, David Gilmour led the band into their final tour and full-length performance in 1994, Division Bell. However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought Pink Floyd back together.
On April 8, 2022, Pink Floyd released the single “Hey, Hey, Rise Up!” based on a 1914 Ukrainian song. The new single features David Gilmour on guitar, Nick Mason on drums, Guy Pratt on bass, and Nitin Sawhney on keyboard. Notably, vocals were provided by Ukrainian singer Andriy Khlyvnyuk of the band Boombox. However, Khlyvnyuk did not record with Pink Floyd.
On February 27, Khlyvnyuk posted an Instagram video of himself singing “Oh, the Red Viburnum in the Meadow,” the WWI anthem of the Legion of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen, in Sofiyskaya Square, Kyiv. Gilmour was shown the post by his daughter-in-law, Ukrainian-born artist Janina Pedan, and was inspired to record the new single. “It just struck me that, as it is a capella, one could turn this into a beautiful song,” Gilmour told BBC.
Pedan also influenced the single’s cover art which features a sunflower, Ukraine’s national flower. “My daughter-in-law told us the story of a woman at the beginning of this conflict, giving sunflower seeds to Russian soldiers and saying that she hoped that sunflowers would sprout where they died,” Gilmour recounted. Reflecting this duality, Gilmour called the new single an expression of “anger at a superpower invading a peaceful nation,” but also a morale booster for Ukraine and a call “for peace.”
In 2015, Gilmour performed live with Khlyvnyuk and Boombox at a benefit gig in London. After recording the single using the vocals from the Instagram video, Gilmour reached out to Khlyvnyuk who has been fighting in the war. “I spoke to him, actually, from his hospital bed, where he had a pretty minor injury from a mortar. So he’s right there on the front line,” Gilmour said. “I played him a little bit of the song down the phone line and he gave me his blessing.” All proceeds from the single go to humanitarian relief.