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Home arrow Interviews arrow Roger Waters interviews arrow March 7th 2002 -, Brazil
March 7th 2002 -, Brazil Print E-mail

Roger Waters prepares a new album, but he cannot re-record Pink Floyd's history

Roger Waters arrives in Latin America as a legend of music. When he arrives on stage, fans unite to venerate a figure that musically modified lives, moments, souvenirs of some generations. The man knows this, but also does not take it too seriously: "I do not have the pretension of being better than anybody. One of the things most valuable in the world is the idea of understanding between people", he said in an interview for this part of the tour.

At 57 years old, Waters is in an interesting period of his career and is working on a new record. Curiously, due to contractual reasons, he is the only person in the world that had problems in playing and recording the works of Pink Floyd. "EMI had to talk with the other components of Pink Floyd, and I was not part of this discussion. I do not want to say that EMI are the villains of history, after all businesses are businesses. But this left me very bitter", he said.

You have not done live shows in 12 years. Now, in your return to the stage, you have opted to make a dramatic entrance: the lights coe up on the first chord of In The Flesh and show your presence on the stage. What do you intend to communicate with this?

It is a good opening, that allows that me to show, from the start, the present irony of music. Of this, I and the public can understand this irony. It is a good way to perceive that we are all in the same situation, in the same joke.

You have fans of all ages at the shows, including those that were in school at the time when The Wall was released, and those that are in school today. All of them like music in the same way. It seems that the legacy of the Pink Floyd continues to be current and important since the time that you wrote the music.

It seems that way, yes. It seems that successive generations discover the music when they enter into puberty. This is true.

Beyond singer and bass player, you are one of the most significant composers in rock. Although many classics of the Pink Floyd you have created, it seems that you had problems in recording shows of the In The Flesh tour... what happened?

I discovered that it had something strange to do in relation to my solo contract with Sony, and the contract of Pink Floyd with EMI. Due to the contracts, I turned out to be the only person in the world that could not record my music.


EMI still looks after my former colleagues, and had restrictions in relation the rerecordings of original music of Pink Floyd. Therefore, I needed the permission of EMI to rerecord the music. EMI had to talk with the other components of Pink Floyd, and I was not part of this discussion. I do not want to say that EMI are the villains of history, after all businesses are businesses. But this left me very bitter.

Has the musical industry improved or got worse since you wrote Welcome To The Machine?

It is difficult to say, because I am not very involved with the music industry lately. There are people in the industry who really like and are concerned about music, but the main one, the final objective of everything is the profit. If they could have profit without music, they would.

Everything is product nowadays?

It is much more easy to deal with somebody's personal expressions as product. It is very simple to pack and to sell anything. Currently, those that write to express themselves, that have something to say, face a hard time, not to be compromised by commercialism.

It is more difficult to start up today and to reach the great public, in comparison with how it was 30 years ago. On the other hand, it can become more easy, because practically everybody can make music in house, using the computer. Any one can make a compact disc that seems to have been recorded by live musicians. But to compose something that makes a difference is one of life's necessities, to go deep in the emotions, and this does not happen when you sit down in a cold room and think only about the money.

How is your relationship with Syd Barrett, co-founder of the Pink Floyd?

Well, we were great friends, I was 17 years old and he was 15. We established the Pink Floyd. He was extraordinarily creative and full of life, before becoming ill. Later when he left the band, it left us without this spark of creativity. It was very important in the beginning of the Pink Floyd. He showed us what it was possible to do, if people had the courage to run risks.

In this tour you are joined by some of the best musicians of the present time. It is also the first time a woman who sings the central part of "Mother". How did this come about?

Katie is a great singer, and her participation in "Mother" was very good; it is interesting to hear this part of the music sung by a woman. I hesitated a little in doing. I know, after a while, people are very used to the original recordings. But later when I heard how it turned out, I found that it made an excellent change.

One of songs of In the Flesh is "Set the Controls For The Heart of The Sun", a great choice from the start of the career of the Pink Floyd. What do the words mean to you today? Why did you decide to revisit it?

Because it was one of my first songs of Pink Floyd, and one of my first compositions. Actually, it was my first composition to be recorded. It is a piece of Chinese poetry. In truth, the only phrase of mine is the heading. All the remaining lyrics were practically lifted from this Chinese poetry.

It is still music that very much moves people, since it was originally recorded, for A Saucerful of Secrets, and I am respectful of this.

For many the guitar playing of Andy Fairweather-Low in Money is the high point of the show...

I always liked this music, and in the show it is different to the original version, with the guitar of Andy Fairweather-Low. I find that the words say everything, it is not necessary to say any more. I do not have the pretension of being better than anybody else. One of the things most valuable in the world is the notion of understanding between people. Everybody needs love. The way that I have of being loved is to be in public and to make my show, showing and saying what I think and feel.

Many people were happy for you to have included in the show four tracks from Amused To Death, because you did not tour after launching it.

I would like to have done one tour, but the public at the time did not have much reaction to the launch of Amused To Death. The record passed almost unobserved.

"It's A Miracle" speaks of the contrast between the third world countries and first world consumption, and this is a subject that really worries you.

It is important that everybody looks after what connects them, and that includes the land and our history. The way that we have to do this is keeping our cultural inheritance. What I see is this cultural inheritance being destroyed, eroded by the multinationals, as they need to spread the desire of profit for the world. I do not believe the amount of fast food sold. So many people like this garbage. We need to discover something better than the market forces that conduct our lives.

And what would that be?

This is the great question...we have that to discover. We have to discover something better to replace the free market, that has become our God. If we continue to believe that the free market is the panacea for all evils that exist, it will transform the world into one great shop, with fast food outlets in every area. The world goes on to become chaotic.

You are working on some projects currently?

I am working on a new album. One of the songs on it will be "Each Small Candle", that finishes the show In The Flesh.

Was is the story behind "Each Small Candle"?

For some years, I was in contact with an Italian journalist, who was trying to raise money and awareness for an organization called "Initiative Against Torture". We talk on the telephone, and he read a poem to me that had been written by a victim of torture in Argentina. I translated this poem into the English, added verses and I transformed it into this song. Some time later, I read in a periodical a story of a Serbian soldier who disregarded superior orders and helped an Albanian woman. This was such a humane act, passing over cultural, ethnic and national differences, and it gave a little bit of hope to me. Then I wrote some verses on this incident and joined them to the poem on torture. It was thus that "Each Small Candle" was born.

The last two songs from Dark Side of the Moon still create a huge reaction from the crowd during the show. Do you still feel that, despite them being written almost 30 years ago?

The phrase "I'll see you on the dark side of the moon", from the chorus of "Brain Damage", has become one of the most famous phrases in rock history, and I find that this happens because all we feel detached from reality, from time to time. People identify with music, and therefore it became very popular. Each time that I sing these songs, I mentally return to 1972 or 73, when I wrote them; at that moment I feel myself close to old friends, who had died or who I've lost contact with. I think about them. This music takes me back in time.

The schedule of Roger Waters in Brazil:
08/03 - 21h: Waters arrives at the International Airport of Rio De Janeiro. Flight: RG 8615.
12/03 - 11h45: Waters travels to Porto Alegre. Flight: RG 8916. Scheduled to arrive: 13h45.
13/03 - 18h: Waters travels to São Paulo. Flight: RG 2119. Scheduled to arrive: 19h35.
16/03 - 17h: Waters travels to Caracas, Venezuela. Flight: RG 8942.

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