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Home arrow Interviews arrow Roger Waters interviews arrow July 23rd 2003 - Channel 2 TV, Iceland
July 23rd 2003 - Channel 2 TV, Iceland Print E-mail

Grateful thanks to Hrafn for supplying the interview, and to Phil Waters who spared some time to transcribe the interview for us!


Q: Mr Waters, how was your fishing here in Iceland?

Roger Waters: It was beautiful, yeah, it's a beautiful river...

Q: Did you catch many fish?

Roger Waters: I caught... umm, I caught 17 salmon yeah, but we had a very big day on... errr Sunday; we caught 36 fish on Sunday, which is a lot.

Q: Is this a recent hobby of yours?

Roger Waters: I've been fly fishing for about... nearly 20 years I suppose. But I do very little salmon fishing. I do a lot of trout fishing in England and I love to... I love salt water fly-fishing as well. I like to fish for bone fish and tarpon and perch in the Caribbean.

Q: Ever been to Iceland before?

Roger Waters: No, it's my first time, I've heard a lot about it. I have a lot of friends who come here every year and have been doing so for 20 years or so. It was great to finally get here.

Q: Did you get a chance to visit any other parts of the country, or did you just go straight...?

Roger Waters: This was the visit. I came in, I arrived early on Sunday morning... straight in the car to ummmm... I am trying to remember what the river's called?

Q: Aðaldalur

Roger Waters: Aðaldalur it's called, yeah, straight there.

Q: Your lyrics are considered amongst the best in rock 'n' roll... Do you get ideas when you come to places like this?

Roger Waters: Umm... not so much from the landscape, or the geography or the topography. I get ideas I think from travelling often, because suddenly you're in a different place, and I always make some kind of connection with the fact that here's these people's lives are different than mine, but only in certain aspects and that we're all really the same. It just... I' m always reminded, you know, of how varied the human condition is. I think aeroplanes give you a strange perspective, an interesting perspective upon your own... the state of your own life and your relationship with other people who live in the world as well.

Q: Did you get any ideas during your visit now?

Roger Waters: No, I was fishing. Fishing and sleeping and eating and drinking and talking and... no.

Q: What are you doing in regards to your music now, these days?

Roger Waters: Well... I've got two main projects on the go. I'm working on a rock 'n' roll record and I wrote, inevitably I wrote some... two or three new songs... as a response to America and Great Britain invading Iraq. But the main work I'm engaged in at the moment, is I'm finishing an opera that I started in 1989. And it's an operatic history of the French Revolution and I never completed the work because there was something about it, that felt unsatisfactory to me. It's not my libretto, the libretto was written by a Frenchman; though I have translated it into English and I've recorded it in French and English, it's a classical opera with a big orchestra and singers and a big chorus and a children's chorus.

Q: Have you ever done something like this before?

Roger Waters: Nope.

Q: Do you see this as a part of you evolving and changing as a musician?

Roger Waters: Yeah... yeah it's been wonderful, its been fascinating to... I've had to learn such a lot to... in order to do it. I knew nothing about orchestration or how an orchestra worked really. And really I've only been able to do it because of the technological advances that have [happened] so that one can write with a computer. And it's very easy to then learn about manuscripts and how all of that works. And it has, after all been 13 or 14 years now since I started doing it. So, I've had a long time to learn!

Q: Your songs about the invasion of Iraq, what are they saying?

Roger Waters: Well I can't... I'm not sure I can come up with any specific lyrics but ummm...

Q: Were you appalled at the... about the invasion or... ?

Roger Waters: I was appalled, I am appalled... I'm still appalled. I can't... I find it very hard to believe... You know it's strange sometimes, we find ourselves in bits of history where suddenly everything goes... apparently goes wrong. In the aftermath of the Second World War I rightly or wrongly grew up with a certain pride in notions of you know, British attitudes to justice, right and wrong, and fair play and so on and so forth.
 
So... you know to find my country hanging on to the shirt-tails of an American administration that's apparently gone completely crazy. And has turned the clock back to a kind of imperialist dogma that seems wholly out of date to me now... I find it extremely distressing. I just can't believe... I find it almost unbelievable and what's coming out now about all the lying that went on in parliament, and so on and so forth; it just disgusts me. I'm totally ashamed of the whole thing.
 
That's partly about what one of the songs is about. It goes about... one of my songs is actually written against the back drop of a short story I wrote, fifteen years ago... about, when I was a kid, I, with some friends in 1961 or 62, drove an old ambulance to Baghdad. We didn't actually reach Baghdad - it finally broke down on the road to Damascus outside Beirut. But I hitchhiked home from Beirut on my own. And the first night I was going home I was taken in by a family, and given dinner, and [they] looked after [me].
 
They were a strange family; it was a man and a woman and a child, and they were all deformed in some way. He only had one leg, the wife was a hunchback and the child had an appalling squint, and they were poor. He was a clerk who travelled into Beirut every morning and he spoke French, which I speak a little as well... So we communicated in French and they were so kind to me... and I...
 
So I had written that as a short story. Never done anything with it... But I then... I set this short story against music, then it's interspersed with verses. I think one of the verses is something like...

    When I was 17
    my Mother bless her heart
    fulfilled my summer dream
    she handed me the keys to the car
    We motored down to Paris
    fuelled with Dexedrine and booze
    got busted in Antibes by the cops
    and fleeced in Naples by the wops
    but everyone was good to us
    we were the English dudes
    Our Dads had helped them win the war
    when we all knew what we were fighting for
    but now an Englishman abroad is just a U.S. stooge
    the bulldog is a poodle...
Something... ummm...
    the bulldog...
Something 'round "the scoundrels last refuge"... you know that Dr Johnson: that's a quote of Dr Johnson's who said "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" Ummm...
    America, America
    please hear us when we call
    you got hip hop... be bop
    hustle, bustle
    you've got Adicus Finch
    you've got Jane Russell
    you've got freedom of speech
    you've got great beaches, wilderness's and malls
    don't let the might of the Christian right
    fuck it all up for you and the rest of the world!
is one of the verses! So that's the general tenure... Really I should be putting the record out now but I... you know, there's fishing!

Q: Yeah, this answers the question for you "Mother should I trust the government?"

Roger Waters: Yeah, well absolutely. It is an extraordinary time when the most powerful nation on Earth is being led by a moron. Not just a moron but a moron who's the puppet of... ummm... apparently... extraordinarily powerful and very dangerous right wing representatives of big business. I cannot believe, and the way... and it's quite extraordinary to me that... Well, I nearly said: how the American public would vote such a man into office. The fact is they didn't. They cheated their way into office; they didn't actually win the election.

Q: Were you disappointed in Prime Minister Blair?

Roger Waters: Do you know what I think? I think Blair wanted to be a rock star, and that's what he really wanted, and I think this is as close as he can get... If you can't be a rock star, the next best thing is to be a war leader, Winston Churchill or Margaret Thatcher. I could... I can honestly see no other rational explanation for the way he's behaved.

Q: Are you going to come back to Iceland and do some more fishing?

Roger Waters: I'd love to come back and fish some more. I mean fishing is a wonderfully kind of contemplative activity, as well as of course as we know, being a very exciting and... And embodies exactly what it is... why I voted Tory, which is something I'd never believed ever I would do. In that I believe in the hunting gene; I think there is something in some men's make-up, and women's make-up, whereby we are kind of driven to hunt in one way or another, and fishing is just a form of hunting, so, and ummm... whether there is or isn't a God there's... something intends that we should continue to do so... that's why it feels so good...

 
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