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Home arrow Interviews arrow Roger Waters interviews arrow November 27th 2000 - Billboard Magazine
November 27th 2000 - Billboard Magazine Print E-mail

Roger Waters Talks New Albums

A new song inspired by a soldier's act of mercy in the Kosovo conflict is among 24 tracks included on ex-Pink Floyd principal Roger Waters' new live album "In The Flesh," due December 5th from Columbia. In an exclusive interview with Billboard at his home in a Hampshire village (so small that it does not even figure on most maps), Waters described the remarkable process that lead to the new song, "Each Small Candle."

He also took the time to aim a few barbs at his former mates in Pink Floyd. Waters says the first verse of "Each Small Candle" is a poem written by a South American victim of torture, sent to the artist years ago by an Italian journalist active in the campaign against torture in the north of his own country. Waters used it in his composition after he read a newspaper article about a Serbian soldier's act of mercy to an Albanian woman during the Kosovo conflict.

He adds that until he can find out who wrote the verse, the royalties from that portion of the song will go to Amnesty International. "In The Flesh" is a two-CD momento of Waters' successful summer tour of North America. It will be followed by a state-of-the-art DVD version that Columbia hopes to release in early spring, featuring full concert footage, a 30-minute documentary, photographs, lyrics and other key ingredients of the stage production.

Waters is already consumed with two other projects: a new studio album (which will be his first since 1992's "Amused To Death") and an ambitious operatic score. But his first priority is to enthuse about "In The Flesh," which stands as a review of his entire career as a songwriter, from early Pink Floyd staple "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun," through countless Floyd classics and tracks from his solo albums, concluding with "Each Small Candle."

"In The Flesh," produced by longtime Waters collaborator James Guthrie, was selected from performances at four concerts on the 2000 tour, in Portland, Oregon; Phoenix; Las Vegas; and Irvine, California, with a band featuring guitarists Andy Fairweather-Low, Doyle Bramhall II, and Snowy White. The close-knit musical team also included vocalists Katie Kissoon, Susannah Melvoin, and P.P. Arnold.

Asked if the performance, and subsequent inclusion on the new album, of such compositions as "Money" and "Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2" felt like reclaiming his possessions from the group he left in 1985, Waters says, "I have sensed over the last two years something of a turning of the tide in terms of the public's awareness of who I am and what my contribution to Pink Floyd was, and how my philosophies, musical and political, differ from Dave Gilmour's, for instance.

"I almost never think about it, but for Dave and Nick [Mason] to be going around the world playing in football stadiums the very songs that I wrote in protest of that rank kind of commercialism felt very much to me like my children being sold into prostitution. It was very painful, and if I could have stopped it, I would have."

In April, Columbia released the double-CD "The Wall Live 1980-81: Is There Anybody Out There?," a lavish record of Waters' work with the band. That set has now sold 265,000 units in the U.S., according to SoundScan, but Waters expresses only disapproval of its release.

"I had nothing to do with it," he says. "Pink Floyd is run as a company, and the four of us own 25% of the shares each, so I can always be outvoted [on] anything that's to do with that back catalog. So in consequence, I don't even go to the meetings, because there's no point. I reconciled myself to it in the end, but I have to say, I thought the packaging was disgusting. Again, I have no input in any of that."

Meanwhile, development of the new studio album continues, but it may not be released until after the appearance, under his name on Sony Classical, of the score to "Ca Ira," an operatic history of the French Revolution that Waters has been working on since 1989. "I've just come back from New York, where I've recorded a tenor, Paul Groves, who's done all the parts in English, and he's done a great job," says Waters. "I've now got the chorus and the children's chorus recorded in both English and French. There should be a recording of 80 minutes of that out later next year."

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