You’ve said, “I hope that we can gain more from “The Dark Side Of The Moon” than we did back in 1973 when it first came out because it’s been part of all of our lives for 50 years, and yet we are still not yet breathing in the air. Breathe. Breathe in the air.” What do you mean precisely by that?
I mean that in 2023 we are still living under the same suffocating cloud of hundreds of years of European colonialism and at least a hundred and twenty years of US imperialism, that we were living under in 1973. The air is so polluted with the deadly influence of outdated supremacist ideologies and predatory capitalism that it is hard to breathe. “Breath, breathe in the air, don’t be afraid to care.” The important bit of that couplet is “Don’t be afraid to care”. We absolutely have to care, we have to empathize with, and care for, all our brothers and sisters all over the world irrespective of their ethnicity or religion or nationality. We need to take a deep breath and start to cooperate with one another. We need less NATO and more BRICS.
Would you please share with us a couple of your best memories from making “Dark Side of the Moon” half a century ago?
The best memory is waking one morning in 1972 with the idea that there are a number of very specific things which unduly effect and mould our lives. This is a universal phenomenon I thought to myself. Wow! Great concept for a record. I called a band meeting, which we had in Nick Mason’s kitchen and I explained my idea. They bought it. And after a lot of work it ended up like this:
- Speak to me: An overture, a beating heart the symbol of life.
- Breathe: verse 1 “Breath in The Air” The pursuit of love, verse 2 “Run rabbit run…” The pursuit of wealth.
- On the Run: The eternal battle between the pursuit of love (Good)and the pursuit of wealth (Evil)
- Time: Time keeps slipping away. Time catches up with us all. It’s always later than we think. We may have missed the starting gun.
- The Great Gig in The Sky: Religion, heaven and hell? The fear of death.
- Money: The Devil, the love of money, the Dangers of The Faustian Pact.
- Us and Them: No man is an Island, there is only one race, the human race, we are all from Africa originally, we are all related.
- Brain Damage: The air we breathe is toxic, it is all too easy to stop smelling the roses and drift towards the dark side. This was the first song of the record I wrote and is where the title of the whole piece resides. “I’ll see you on the Dark side of the Moon.”
- Eclipse: The last song I wrote, it was tacked on the end at a gig in Bristol halfway through a tour in 1972. It sort of sums it it all up. “All that you touch ……but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.” All your life will ever be? The choices you make are your own.
Another good memory is the adding of additional voices. I wanted to feature the voices of ordinary people on the record so one of the things I did was a series of interviews but with no interviewer present. We set up a mike in the studio in front of a table. On the table I put a pile of small white cards each with a single question on the back. The interviewee had to pick up a card and turn it over before he or she could read it and respond. So the answers were sequential. The questions started off completely innocuous, like “What is your favourite colour?” and ended up, at the: “Are you afraid of dying” end of the emotional spectrum. It was exciting and fun. Jerry, the Irish doorman at Abbey Road Studios was one of my favourite interviewees. “And I am not afraid of dying anytime will do”
Another favourite interviewee was the late Henry McCullough, who was recording with Paul McCartney and Wings at the time. Somewhere in the middle of the cards were these two consecutive questions. 1.“When was the last time you were violent?” and 2. “Were you in the right”. Henry’s answer to the first question was “Last night” and to the second. ”I don’t know I was really drunk at the time!” A precious memory Henry McCullough RIP.
Will we hear some songs from “Dark Side of the Moon Redux” at your concerts this time in Brazil? And are there any changes planned for the Latin America tour of “This is not a drill”?
You will hear songs from DSOTM, but not the REDUX versions. There is one new song in the show, “The Bar”, there may be changes in that one from gig to gig but apart from that the set remains the same as the North American and European tours.
The world has changed enormously in the last 50 years, and so have you. What have been your main accomplishments as an artist and a human since 1973, and what are your main regrets?
I have been too lucky to entertain many regrets in my life. I do however regret that, largely due to the inordinate greed of the ruling class, the very existence of the human race on this beautiful planet still hangs precariously in the balance.
The show will arrive in Brazil after cities in Germany attempted to stop your concerts there based on what their leaders believed were anti-semitic statements and “mock-Nazi imagery” in “The Wall”. The U.N. Israeli ambassador wrote that you “seek to compare Isreal to the Nazis.” How do you react to these accusations? And what’s your take on the state of Israel’s democracy after Netanyahu’s-driven judicial overhaul? The pro-demcoracy protests that are taking place in Israel could also help the Palestinian citizens?
Phew! Ok, where to start? I’ll start with a brief history of THE WALL. I wrote, recorded and released THE WALL in 1978/9, the first shows were in 1980. I made a movie of it with Alan Parker and Gerald Scarfe, starring Bob Geldof which was released in 1982. I put on an all-star production of THE WALL in front of 400,000 people in Berlin to celebrate the tearing down of the Berlin wall in 1990. I toured a full production of THE WALL all over the world starting in Toronto in October 2010 and finishing in Paris at The Stade de France in September 2013. Until last year THE WALL tour was the highest grossing tour ever by a solo artist. In 2014 ‘Roger Waters THE WALL’ a film based on that tour, premiered at The Toronto International Film Festival. As anyone familiar with any iteration of THE WALL will know, there is an episode in the narrative where Pink, a rock star and the central character, in a psychotic episode imagines himself to have degenerated into a ‘Nazi style’ tyrant. It is a satirical theatrical attack on tyrannical ideologies. Happily, later in the narrative, Pink wakes up from his psychotic episode and through the self-examination of a mock trial rehabilitates himself. At no time does THE WALL narrative glorify Nazism or promote anti-Semitism. So why after fifty years of complete acceptance for what it is, a thoughtful humane piece of theater, have both the work itself, and me it’s author, become the objects of mendacious and co-ordinated attacks by the Israeli lobby?
In a word?
I maybe the loudest voice in my industry raised in support of equal human rights for all the people, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion or nationality, living between the Jordan River and the Sea. That would include the Palestinian people who for the last fifty years have lived under military occupation with no rights at all. I joined the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) movement after touring the occupied territories in 2007. So it is since that date thirty years after the conception of THE WALL that the Israeli Lobby have been trying to silence me by muddying the water with their false accusations.
To address your second related question, as far as the current crop of anti-judicial reform demonstrations in Israel is concerned. I am no expert, but they don’t seem to address the overarching elephant in the room which is the question of the human rights of the people of Palestine.
In Brazil, the vice president of the Brazilian Israeli Association and president of the Holocaust Memorial Institute asked the government to ban your Brazilian concerts due to “antisemitism” and “defense of Nazism.” What message do you have to Brazilian fans, especially the ones of Jewish origin, that fear your concerts have anti-semitic content?
I am sorry that the vice president of the BIA and president of the HMI have fallen for the Israeli lobby’s ludicrous re-writing of history (See above 6.) Since you are pursuing it I must clear up one thing about my recent shows in Germany. Many photographs of a black inflatable pig with a star of David painted on it appeared in the press, claiming that those photos were from a show in Berlin or Frankfurt. It was a bare-faced lie. I did fly an inflatable pig in Germany, in Berlin and Frankfurt and Hamburg and Cologne and at the other seventy nine shows on my THIS IS NOT A DRILL tour, but there was no ‘STAR OF DAVID” on it, in fact the real actual pig that flew in all the cities on my tour was white and was inscribed “STEAL FROM THE POOR AND GIVE TO THE RICH”.
A message for my fans in Brazil? Especially those of Jewish origin? My fans are not stupid, they know I am neither an anti-Semite nor a Nazi sympathizer. Speaking of Jewish origin I received this unsolicited letter from an old friend of mine, the film director Peter Medak. Peter Darling, as I call him, has given me permission to share it:
Peter Medak’s Letter:
On Jun 13, 2023, at 1:01 AM, PETER MEDAK
Darling Roger ,
I am so sorry not to have been in touch for so long as I knew you were and are still crazy busy with your European tour .
I am so angry and upset about the unfounded, unfair and unjust Antisemitic criticism of you and your Brilliant Tour , and your music and amazing career. We last saw you here in LA September 2023. All these accusations are such unfounded bullshit. As you well know I am a Jewish survivor and have escaped with my life twice. First in April 1944, when the Hungarian SS surrounded our building in Budapest but we somehow miraculously survived it all. My second escape was in1956 during the Hungarian revolution from Russian Communism when I ended up in England and began my new life and eventually become a film director. We become great friends when we worked together on Dark Side of The Moon in 1972. Many years later when you performed in Hungary, I was there with you and you wanted to see my old house and for me to tell the stories and show you how I escaped all those years ago .
We have been friends and intimately have known each other for 50 years. You are NOT AN ANTISEMITE, YOU NEVER WERE AND NEVER WILL BE.
I have loved you all these years and I am just so proud to be your friend.
In 2018 you were openly against then-presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, calling him a “fascist” and showed an “#elenao” sign in your concerts in Brazil. In Curitiba, you were threatened with jail. You will be there again, this time with president Lula in power and Bolsonaro unable to be a candidate until 2030 due to his attacks on democracy. Do you feel vindicated somehow? And do you think the U.S. could learn a bit from the Brazilian Justice system about how to deal with Trump?
In my opinion Jair Bolsonaro is a fascist. I repeat #elenao. I tried to visit President Lula in prison when I was in Curitiba in 2018 but was denied permission. Do I feel vindicated? I feel I am on the right side of history and I believe President Lula is too. I love Brazil. I feel at home in your beautiful country. I still mourn for my friend Marrielle Franco, but her seeds are growing new shoots every day. Viva Brazil Libre! Can the US escape its supremacist hubris and learn something about democracy? I hope so. On va voir.
You said you were considering legal action against the writer Polly Samson, also David Gilmour’s wife, due to her attack on your character, calling you an anti-semite and a lip-synching singer, among other things. Are you going to take legal action? And is there any chance of being on better terms with your ex-Pink Floyd colleague in the near future?
That’s two questions. 1. No I’m not taking legal action and 2. What do you think?
You soon will be 80 years old. Is “This is not a drill” a creation of a more hopeful or more pessimistic artist, regarding the world our children will inherit?
What a good final question. And without any hesitation or doubt my answer is more hopeful. Why? Because the truth is that President Lula and I and Marielle Franco stand on the right side of History, we represent a new dawn. The hope is that the flame kindled in hearts of men and women back in the enlightenment has withstood the counter revolution of settler colonialism and corporate greed, and that the tide is turning. To quote a stanza from my Opera about The French Revolution, Ca Ira:
Cooling in the crucible
An idea forms
A nugget of belief
In the hearts of the poor
That maybe in the dawns new light
They have a right to the law.
Well, we’re not naïve, we know the fight is not over. The fight is on, we are in the middle rounds, and it’s a fierce battle. Bolsonaro and Trump and all the other fascists, too many to mention here, believe in the divine right of kings of one kind or another, but mainly the divine right of very rich. We on the other hand, President Lula and me and Marielle and her seeds, believe in democracy, and equality under the law. Our dream is of internationally agreed law, with human rights equally applied to all our brothers and sisters all over the world, irrespective of their ethnicity or religion or nationality or the depth of their pockets. Do I sound like a broken record?
On my upcoming tour of South America, THIS IS NOT A DRILL. We will be playing many old favourites, but we will also be playing one brand new song. It’s called THE BAR. It’s about meeting together and talking to one another. It’s about expressing our opinions openly without fear of censure, it’s about listening to others who may disagree with us, it’s about working on those disagreements, it’s about community, it’s about finding solutions, it’s about listening to the voice of reason, in the end, it’s about love.
My whole show is about love, that and this fight we are in against the dying of the light. Yes, we will be there in your beautiful Brazil to fight for reason, to fight for love, to fight for Marielle and to fight against the dying of the light.