Roger Waters: "Attempting to move people is a huge privilege"

A press shot of roger waters

“I don’t know how twenty-five years got behind me,” Roger Waters muses. “I made Amused To Death and then I decided to dip my toe back into the live performance pond, and I’ve spent a lot of time doing that since.”

Since leaving Pink Floyd, Waters has built a rich, politically charged career, including hundreds of epic performances of The Wall, and contested support for the controversial BDS Movement (boycott, divestment and sanctions) against Israel. Produced by Radiohead’s go-to guy Nigel Godrich, Is This The Life We Really Want? delivers a commanding commentary on recent world events.

It’s an intense record.

It’s a journey about the transcendental nature of love and how it can lead us from our current predicament into a world that we might all enjoy living in a bit more.

Was it inspired by Brexit and by our election?

Nothing is inspired by Brexit. Brexit is anything but inspiring. You know, Brexit is an admission of defeat of our current development as a race of human beings – in my view. I kind of liked it when all the borders disappeared in Europe. The fact that we’re going to reintroduce them at the behest of these nationalist assholes is a matter of grave concern to me.

Did you let Nigel Godrich nudge you in any directions?

It became quite clear, within a few minutes of getting into the studio, that he had very definite ideas about what he wanted to do. And in a very quiet way he made it clear that he didn’t really want me to interfere [chuckles]. Which was great, because it is not something that I’d ever done before, you know. But I did. And I promise you, he’s made a brilliant record.

You’ve always gone for big stage productions and the big spectacle. How did you start?

Well, the first one that was sort of large in its conception was the [Floyd’s] Animals tour in 1977. And so the first thing really was the big pig over Battersea Power Station, which is still a powerful image… It became clear about that time that rock’n’roll was moving into larger venues, and I needed to provide some sort of theatrical experience rather than people having to peer at little figures from a quarter of a mile away in a stadium.

Do you ever regret giving up the Pink Floyd trademark, handing it over to the other guys?


Why not?

Why would I?


Yeah, but it was a trap, you know? Those kind of commercial umbrellas are always… I’m not saying that longevity in rock’n’roll bands is a bad thing, I’m just saying there is a terrible temptation to stay where the safety of the trademark is.

How hands-on are you when you’re setting up a tour?

We have a board up on the wall and it has all of the songs that we’re going to do, and we start writing down ideas of how it might work. We figure it out song by song, scene by scene, idea by idea, and then look at it and look at it and change it. If something’s not moving, you’ve got to get rid of it, because the opportunity of attempting to move people is a huge privilege and it’s not to be taken lightly.

Is This The Life We Really Want? is available now via Columbia Records.

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