At a recent press conference staged at London’s Mayfair Hotel, Roger Waters and Nick Mason announced The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains. A lavish look back at the band’s history, it opens at London’s Victoria And Albert Museum on May 13. The former Floyd bandmates also talked about Waters’s new solo album, Is This The Life You Really Want?, and his Us And Them world tour that kicks off this summer and will run throughout 2018.
Perhaps inevitably, conversation turned to The Wall, Floyd’s accaimed conceptual album from 1977. Waters, who wrote its storyline, voiced regret that Donald Trump, who famously promised to separate the US and Mexico with what Trump described as an “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border” in his manifesto to become US President, has made the album’s theme of isolation more relevant than ever.
Mason joked: “I did get sent a picture of Donald Trump and a wall, and it said: ‘We’re going to build a wall and Pink Floyd are going to pay for it!’”
Waters has used projections of images of Trump on screens at his shows. During a performance at last winter’s Desert Trip Festival in California, he flew an inflatable pig in the air that bore the slogans: ‘Fuck Trump, and his wall’ and ‘arrogant, lying, racist, sexist’.
“It [The Wall] has become symbolic of all kind of other situations,” Waters told the assembled media. “It’s very, very relevant now with Mr Trump, who is creating as much enmity as possible between races, religions and nationalities. The Wall that we did – the album, the show and the film – was about how detrimental the building of walls can be. We live in interesting times, and it will be interesting to see what happens at the end of this carnival that’s going on, particularly on the other side of the pond.
“There will first need to be an awakening against these far-right policies,” he continued. “The sewers are engorged by greedy and powerful men as I speak to you. Music is a legitimate place to express protest. Musicians have an absolute right – a duty – to open their mouths to speak out.”
Waters was not unopposed to the idea of staging a Wall‑themed show to voice his opposition to Trump and his policies, or other situations.
“I’ve always said I’d do it again if they ever figured out what to do with Israel and Palestine and get rid of that appalling security barrier there,” he said. “As an act of celebration, as part of an awakening towards a more human [way of life], I would be happy to put that concert on in some place that was significant, geographically speaking. People need to stand together and say: ‘No. That’s enough. We’ve seen all of this before and we’re not going to stand for it again.’”
When Waters and Mason were asked whether a new album from Pink Floyd could provide some kind of zeitgeist for change, Waters shrugged: “I’ve no idea. You’d have to speak to Nick about Pink Floyd projects.” Mason didn’t comment and the dialogue moved on.
When asked whether Floyd would have stood a chance of success if they were new musicians introducing themselves to the current landscape, Mason drew much laughter when he replied, deadpan: “God yes. We’d have been on The X Factor.”
Mason didn’t rule out the possibility of Pink Floyd reuniting to play at the Glastonbury Festival, although he was vague when commenting: “It’d be nice to add it to the list of things [to do]. I don’t think it is very likely, but yes, I would do it given the opportunity. Would David [Gilmour] be involved? We’ll have to ask him.”
“Oh, the old ‘Why don’t you get back together’ question,” Waters joked, with a mock sigh. “It’s so dull…” He then added: “The last I heard, David retired.”
“I heard he’d retired, and then he seemed to un-retire,” Mason offered, “so we don’t know.”
Waters has already confirmed the first leg of his solo world tour, which begins in Kansas on May 26 and ends in Vancouver, Canada on October 28. European dates have yet to be announced.
“It’ll be a mixture of stuff from my long career, stuff from my years with Pink Floyd, some new things,” he says. “Probably three-quarters of it will be old material and a quarter new, but it will be all connected by a general theme. I promise it’ll be spectacular, like all my shows have been.”
The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains at London’s Victoria And Albert Museum runs from May 13 to October 1. It brings together more than 350 artefacts including instruments, handwritten lyrics, posters, architectural drawings and psychedelic prints. Among its more unusual objects is the cane used on Waters when he was a student at Cambridge And County High School For Boys. His education experiences directly influenced The Wall. “I had thought we’d be short of material,” Mason admitted. “That’s turned out to be entirely incorrect. I can’t tell you how much stuff won’t fit in.”
“There are artefacts in this exhibition that have very, very deep emotional and contextual references to the work of Pink Floyd,” explained creative director Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell, who along with his Hipgnosis partner Storm Thorgerson worked with Floyd on album sleeves and more.
Tickets for the V&A exhibition are on sale now, priced £20 (Monday-Friday) and £24 (weekends): visit www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/pink-floyd to order.
In related news, a recording console used on the band’s watershed 1973 album The Dark Side Of The Moon is to be auctioned later this month. Itwas housed at Abbey Road Studios between 1972 and 1983 and was also used by artists including Paul McCarney And Wings, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Kate Bush and The Cure.