British rock band Pink Floyd will release their first song since the 1990s in support of the people of Ukraine.
The track, called Hey Hey Rise Up, marks the first original music the band have recorded together as a collective since 1994’s The Division Bell.
It features vocals from Ukrainian singer Andriy Khlyvnuk, from the rock and pop band Boombox, who left his tour in the US in February to return home and fight in Ukraine.
The song, which was recorded last week, will be released on Friday and all proceeds will go to Ukrainian Humanitarian Relief.
Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour and Nick Mason appear on the track, as does the band’s long-time collaborator and bass player Guy Pratt, while musician Nitin Sawhney is on keyboards.
Khlyvnyuk’s vocals for the track were taken from a clip the 42-year-old posted on Instagram of him singing in Kyiv’s Sofiyskaya Square.
He can be heard singing a patriotic Ukrainian protest song, The Red Viburnum In The Meadow, and the title of the Pink Floyd track is taken from the last line of the song.
Gilmour, the band’s guitarist and vocalist, who has a Ukrainian daughter-in-law and grandchildren, said: “We, like so many, have been feeling the fury and the frustration of this vile act of an independent, peaceful democratic country being invaded and having its people murdered by one of the world’s major powers.”
The musician, 76, said he had first come across Khlyvnuk’s group a few years ago.
He said: “In 2015 I played a show at Koko in London in support of the Belarus Free Theatre, whose members have been imprisoned. Pussy Riot and the Ukrainian band Boombox were also on the bill.
“They were supposed to do their own set, but their singer Andriy had visa problems, so the rest of the band backed me for my set – we played Wish You Were Here for Andriy that night.
“Recently I read that Andriy had left his American tour with Boombox, had gone back to Ukraine, and joined up with the Territorial Defence.
“Then I saw this incredible video on Instagram, where he stands in a square in Kyiv with this beautiful gold-domed church and sings in the silence of a city with no traffic or background noise because of the war.
“It was a powerful moment that made me want to put it to music.”
Gilmour explained that he later spoke to Khlyvnyuk, who was recovering in hospital from a mortar shrapnel injury when he wrote the song.
“I played him a little bit of the song down the phone line and he gave me his blessing. We both hope to do something together in person in the future,” he said.
Last month, a message on Gilmour’s official website said that “to stand with the world in strongly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the works of Pink Floyd, from 1987 onwards, and all of David Gilmour’s solo recordings are being removed from all digital music providers in Russia and Belarus from today”.
He said that he hoped the new song would “receive wide support and publicity”, adding that the group wants to “raise funds for humanitarian charities, and raise morale.”
“We want to express our support for Ukraine, and in that way show that most of the world thinks that it is totally wrong for a superpower to invade the independent democratic country that Ukraine has become,” he said.
Director and screenwriter Mat Whitecross filmed the video for the new song, and the cover artwork for the single features a painting of a sunflower, the national flower of Ukraine, by Cuban artist Yosan Leon.
It is understood that the flower is a reference to the woman who confronted Russian soldiers telling them to take seeds from her and to carry them in their pockets so when they died, sunflowers would grow.