Roger Waters Interview, 1999

Interviewed:
Roger Waters - RW

Q: With a couple days left until the commencement of the tour, how are you feeling?

RW: Feel good. Strong. I am ready. The band are ready. We're ready.

Q: In a recent interview, you mentioned that you were interested in injecting some humor into your next rendition of The Wall. Would you mind elaborating on that?

RW: Humor is a big part of my life and it's a big part of my story. There wasn't any in The Wall, particularly in the movie. There was just a certain amount I guess in the album but not very much. And consequently the movie was a trifle dure for my taste. And so, if I, we write The Wall for Broadway, which is something that I've started, a piece of work that I've started and that I guess come back to from time to time, there will be laughs in it.

 

Q: A. from Virginia writes- Are you encouraged or disencouraged by the state of popular music today, whether it be musically, lyrically or both?

RW: Well, to be honest with you, I don't listen to any except I did just get the new Randy Newman album at which I've listened to once which I think has some wonderful songs on it. But by and large I don't listen to music. I mean I don't listen to the radio, I count there aren't any radio stations that I like to listen to really and I can't watch MTV so I can't really answer that question because I don't know enough about it.

Q: What did you think of the contemporary rendition of "Another Brick In The Wall, Part II"

RW: From the Faculty, that thing? It was great. It was really good. I liked the way they treated the line "All in all it's just another brick in the wall" without any gaps in it, just running one syllable into the next. I thought that was very cool.

Q: Many of your songs express a disillusionment with the capitalist system... "Money", "Have A Cigar", "Dogs", "Pigs", and much of your solo work comes to mind....do you still feel yourself skeptical of our modern principles and priorities and do you feel that music can make a big difference in enlightening people to social issues?

RW: [I am] sure that the free market isn't the whole answer. My hope is that mankind will evolve into a more cooperative and less competitive beast as the millennia pass. If he doesn't ...... disappearing in a puff of smoke.

Q: What do you think of new methods of music distribution by computer, such as the MP3 format, and do you think that will have an effect on how you sell music in the future?

RW: I don't know what that is, but if it has something to do with downloading from the Internet I'm sure it will have an enormous effect in the future. It's inevitable and it will have a big effect. What I mean, what that effect will be, I don't know. There's something that people liked in the past was like having an object, like owning a vinyl record or even owning a CD which had a package and had, you know, paper, something tangible that you could touch and some of us enjoy that. It's obviously much more convenient to go to your computer terminal and say: "OK, i'd like to buy that" and download it onto your hard drive. But, there's a big but there as well, there's an enormous pleasure in record collections I think.

Q: Can you tell us anything about your next rock project? Anything you are working on, and can you give us a timeframe?

RW: I've actually been rehearsing one song with the band just towards the end because we learnt all the songs that we're gonna do in the show and so I thought it would be good maybe to do one new song. So I've been working with it. Whether I'll actually perform it or not, I don't know, but I have some studio time set aside next February and I've got a number of songs in the pipeline and so I'm gonna start working on a new album in February.

Q: There's been a rumor floating around for some time now that a Pink Floyd BBC sessions album would be released. Is there any truth to this rumor?

RW: Yeah I've heard that rumour. In fact there have been moves from some of my ex-colleagues I think to release something. And they sent me a cassette of those sessions and my vote was no, don't release it. i just didn't like it, it was not well played and I don't think it would have added anything to anything really.

Q: Do you have any plans of releasing "Lost Boys Calling" or your version of "Knockin' on Heavens Door" on an upcoming album?

RW: I doubt "Knocking on Heaven's Door", but I think the record company will be releasing "Lost Boys Calling". That they will put together a soundtrack album for the Tornatore movie, which is now being called "The Legend of 1900" I think, in its English version and Tornatore has finally agreed to edit it down from however long it was. It was very long in his first cut. I think he's editing it down to like two hours and so it will get a release. The movie will now get a release in North America. And when it does Sony will put out the soundtrack album and that song will be on it.

Q: Is there any possiblity that you will be releasing a live concert album or video from this tour?

RW: Yes, there is. Not from this leg. But there's a real possibility that I may film it when I do some more gigs.

Q: How do you feel about the early 1970's live shows of Pink Floyd. They are now considered by many Pink Floyd fans as the best of your entire career because you guys were obviously playing as a tight unit.

RW: Yeah, I think that's a fair comment. You know, it's what I talk about often. I talk about how the magic of those early days was overwhelmed by the weight of numbers as we became more and more popular and thus we played bigger and bigger venues and it became less and less about those magical moments of communication between musicians and an audience and less and less about that and more and more about money and numbers and ego and all of that. Right, having said that, I think The Wall shows in 1980 were pretty special. But that was a different thing, because clearly that was much less of a band project and much more of my project. So as far as a band cooperating and working together I think those pre-Dark Side Of The Moon shows, some of them were very special, we were being very experimental and we were all kind of working together towards a common goal.

Q: It's been quite a few years since your last tour. Would you consider this to be a farewell tour or can you see yourself touring again in the future?

RW: I think this is a re-awakening of something in me. We haven't done the first gig yet but the rehearsals have felt very positive and I 'm really enjoying the whole process of putting a show together and working with other musicians and rehearsing the band, doing all that stuff. It was always something that I enjoyed doing it and I'm really having fun.

Q: Where and how long did you practice the upcoming tours' songs with the rest of your band?

RW: We met on the afternoon of July 1st and we worked July 2nd through July 11th, I think. So we did nine days. Well we had a day off in the middle of that, so we did eight days in Hamptonbay's High School on Long Island and then we moved the equipment, so we had another day off and we moved to Calverton Naval Base in Riverhead, Long Island into a hangar and we worked there from the 12th or 13th until yesterday. They struck the gear yesterday, so that was erm, what day is it today, it's the 20th, is it? Yes, so we worked till the 19th. So we did a week of production rehearsals and then we've got 2 days of production rehearsals in the gig, in Milwaukee, before we do the first show. We will be ready.

Q: Is there anything left in this world that is appealing or troubling enough that you feel compelled to write about?

RW: Well, the song that I may perform live on this tour has a chorus and the line that's central to the chorus is: "Each small candle lights a corner of the dark" and so I guess the thing that I'm feeling compelled to write about is the idea of personal responsibility and personal worth and personal power in that, you know, everybody counts, I think. I mean, that may seem pretty self-evident to a lot of people, but it's very easy for us to see goods rather than individuals. Nationalities, colors, creeds rather than individuals and responsibility lies with the individual, not with the nation.

Q: We received many, many questions regarding sound and whether you plan on re-releasing albums in surround sound or DTS or the new DVD format. What's your feeling on the whole audiophile scene and we know you are very keen on sound reproduction using effects such as QSound.

RW: The Wall is coming out as a DVD quite soon and I think that might be quite interesting. I've done some interviews for it, I've done a commentary, Gerry Scarfe and I did the commentary through the whole movie and we've done some filmed interviews and things and James Guthrie has remixed the sound. I'm not really very interested in any of that. I mean it's great that they're doing that and I'm sure these things are wonderful but I don't really have time to focus on any of that. I actually don't really care about technology at all. I like QSound, because, you know, you get a dog barking in the next room and it's cool, but I'm not really interested in the technology. It's only a means to an end. And I'm certainly not an audiophile.

Q: You are touring the East Coast this year and planning the West Coast next year. Do you have any plans for the rest of the world...Europe, Asia, Japan?

RW: At the moment, yeah, because it feels so good working with this band that I've been thinking "Hey, yeah, why don't we play Europe". I haven't really thought. But I certainly have a feeling that when we hit Atlanta on the 22nd of August it won't be enough, we'll all be wanting to do more. And we will, I think.

Q: In 1975, you were quoted as saying in regards to Wish You Were Here being a sad album, "I think the world is a very, very sad fucking place and I find myself at the moment backing away from it all." How are you feeling now about the subject, and how are you?

RW: I'm actually in a very good, positive frame of mind. I feel I've worked through a lot of my own issues in the last ten or twenty years and I now feel more inside myself. I feel more me than I ever have. And as regards the state of the globe I'm encouraged by the noise that Greenpeace and other movements and Amnesty and like-minded people are making and the notice that is being taken more and more, not only of that kind of agit prop but also of work that is being done in the field of human psychology and such of personal relationships. I think individuals are getting a better chance to break the cycle that tends to run from one generation to the next because we have more information about how our emotions work and what makes us feel the way we do than we did, say ten or twenty years ago. So I'm generally optimistic that things are moving in the right direction, at least down one road. It may be a path less traveled but it is being travelled and that gives me hope.

Q: In a recent interview, you were explaining going through your back catalogue and having a setlist that would have the concert run at 5 1/2 hours. How did you eliminate some of your choices from the song selection, and what songs did not make the final cut?

RW: Oh, I couldn't list all of that. I made the choices just by listening to the stuff over and over again and sitting with bits of paper, writing out lists with a pencil and crossing things out and just kind of retiming it. I'm trying to get something balanced and something that would make a coherent piece of musical theatre when performed. It would have been very easy to, you know, consult the radio stations and say, what the people like to hear most and then I would have ended up with probably twenty of the most popular songs, but it wouldn't have...That's what it would have been. It would have been a list of my popular compositions rather than a concept.

Q: Can you tell us anything about the production values of the concert?

RW: It's actually, I had an idea before we started all of this, in fact it was the idea that I was going to use for Amused To Death, if I'd toured Amused To Death, which was to use front projected, still images. Well, they're not completely still, they can drift slowly from right to left or left to right, and using kind of minimal other light and no kind of lighting trucks over the stage. We have a bit of high stage lighting to the left and right of the stage and other lights on the stage and then this big kind of hung gray material which acts as a screen and that's what I've been doing for the last two days, it's programming the lights and the projectors with the lighting designer and the show director and the guy who's been with computers that work these projectors, they're called piggy projectors and some of the effects, I have to say, are stunning. I'm really happy about it, because it was a bit of a punt in the dark as to whether this would work or not. But it does, it looks great. And I'm carrying a quad system as well.

Q: It has been said that you might possibly be one of the best lyricists of all time. If things hadn't gone the way they did in the early days with Syd and the success of Piper at the Gates of Dawn, do you think you'd still be into music and recording if you hadn't been as popular or well-received, because it was stated that if you hadn't been offered a recording opportunity that you were all going to go on to your respected careers such as architecture.

RW: I certainly don't remember that. I think we had a lot of desire and energy, at that point, left in us. We would have gone on for years in one form or another in trying to break into the world of recording. So, I don't know. It's a kind of hypothetical question. I don't really know.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your band members, such as Jon Carin, and tell us how they are doing right now, are they excited...

RW: I think they're all very excited, yeah. The band is really working together very well and you know Jon's great. He knew some of the songs because he's been on the road with Gilmour and he's a big fan and so he knows the stuff pretty intimately and he uses a Kurtzweil and he's very good at programming and to create, to re-create rather, the authentic sounds from past songs which is really useful because there's a nice warm feeling about a song starting and you recognize the introduction because it sounds right. I'm talking specifically about things like "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" which I'm doing for the first time. Well I guess it's the first time it's been performed since the Animals tour, because we did Wish You Were Here and Animals on it. So he's great and we have another keyboard player who is a young English Hammond player called Andy Wallis, Andy Fairweather-Low is of course in the band, who is indescribibly wonderful. Snowy White is playing lead guitar, as is Doyle Bramhall II, who is great and is also singing quite a lot of the Gilmour parts. Pat Arnold and Katie Kissoon do the singing backgrounds and they're both wonderful. Graham Broad is drumming and if that adds up to nine, that's all of us.

Q: There was supposedly a recent interview which said that you were very supportive of the education field and teaching. Would you consider being involved or starting a public music education awareness program, as we desperately need to remember the foundation of our musical creativity.

RW: I didn't hear the beginning of that question, but the answer is no. I would support that emotionally but not with time or energy. I need my energy and my time to do the work that I do. I haven't arrived at a point yet where my energy is being bagged upon my work from me if you see what I mean. I am not ready to go and build a rehab clinic if you know what I mean, like Eric is doing for instance now. And he's putting most of his energy into that, and not much of his energy into his music. Good luck to him and I applaude him for that but he's doing that because that's what he feels he wants and needs to do and his energy is being drawn into that arena because that's what's there for him now. What this lady was describing is not what's there for me now.

Q: Is there anything you'd like to leave the fans with? Parting words?

RW: Well, to those of you who are coming to the shows, see you then, and for everybody else, thank you for your interest and support. It's heartwarming.