Page last updated at 08:42 GMT, Thursday, 27 May 2010 09:42 UK

Pink Floyd's Roger Waters revisits The Wall

Roger Waters

Roger Waters is to perform Pink Floyd's classic double album The Wall live in Europe next year.

He will take the show to more than 25 cities next May, including concerts at the O2 in London and in Manchester.

The album was last performed in Berlin in 1990. The European dates will follow a North American tour, which begins in September.

The album's mastermind Roger Waters explains its genesis, why he is reviving it now, and reveals an offer to get back together with his former bandmates.


What inspired The Wall?

All those years ago, when I was a relatively young man, there were a number of things going on in my life that made me fearful, and in consequence I tended to wall myself in behind aggressive behaviours. I guess in its essence The Wall was an autobiographical work about those central feelings and themes of my life.

Why were you a frightened young man?

I think because I lost my father when I was a few months old [in World War II]. I was brought up in a society that was all women and they weren't best equipped to deal with my brother and I.

I think I grew up carrying a burden of a huge sense of guilt. I probably felt responsible for my father's death. In fact I'm quite sure I did. I had recurrent dreams that I'd murdered somebody and I was going to get found out.

Roger Waters
I found myself getting really angry with the audiences - I couldn't quite work out why

It wasn't until I was about 40 years old that I suddenly twigged what this dream was all about. That's not to put my mother or my aunts down - my mother did a remarkable job of bringing up two small boys on her own after the Second World War.

Was it an easy album to write?

Writing the album was relatively straightforward. The trick often is that you have one moment of insight. For me that was to understand why it was that after Pink Floyd had been successful for a few years - we were touring animals - I was becoming increasingly disaffected by the experience.

I found myself getting really angry with the audiences. I couldn't quite work out why. I realised I felt this extreme feeling of alienation from these hundreds of thousands of people, all swilling beer and hooting and shouting. And so I suddenly had a visual image of an arena with a wall built across it and a band performing behind this wall.

I remember now with a smile staring down at this little piece of paper with this drawing on, thinking this is a great idea. So I started to talk to the other guys in the band about it and of course everybody thought I was completely insane.

The centrepiece of the tour is a wall being built and torn down - what's the thinking behind that?

Redemption lies in the destruction of the walls we surround ourselves with, both as individuals and nations. And it is fear that builds these walls, and it's a fear that's engendered and supported in us by our governments. It makes us much easier to control if we're frightened of other people than if we're not.

You're using the wall to honour soldiers who've died in battle, is that right?

I understand the grief that the deaths have caused to those fallen loved ones - my father's picture will be on the wall

We've reached out through the website to people who have lost loved ones in war - both soldiers and civilians. I want to try to get some more responses from the Middle East and abroad.

It seems perfectly appropriate to use images of these human beings, projected as part of the show to help get across the notion which is central to the whole piece - what's important is the individual and the individual's life, and the individual's family and their lives - and not the lines on the map, or the oil in the ground.

I understand the grief that the deaths have caused to those fallen loved ones. My father's picture will be on the wall at some point during the show as well.

Why are you performing this album now?

I decided to dip my toe back into the world of the touring rock 'n' roll person back at the turn of the century. Two years ago and the year before that I did a tour with the whole of The Dark Side of the Moon.

So last year I was thinking, well, what am I going to do? Shall I just play golf or garden or go into politics, or have I got one more of these in me? I'm 66 years old now. So I thought, I think I have got one more. And I love to work.

I shall certainly go on working but whether I'll do any more big tours I don't know. My fiancee said to me, if you're going to go out and do it again, do The Wall. That's what people will want to hear.

Are you suggesting this is going to be your farewell tour?

I wouldn't go that far, but yeah, it could be. I don't know what else I would do. In 2011 we're putting my opera on again in five cities in the south of Brazil. That's another thing that's very close to my heart. So there is always work to be done.

Why is this the right time politically?

Pink Floyd at Live 8
Live 8 was so beautiful... it was an extraordinarily moving experience for me, and if that's the way we draw a line under Pink Floyd, so be it

It may be that this piece can provide a talking point or provide some kind of rallying cry. It would be very easy for me and successive generations to sit around listening to our iPods and playing our video games and allow Rome to burn around our ears.

With information technology, we get the chance now to understand each other's predicaments across international and ideological borders and I think it's an opportunity that we haven't had before.

The most successful and popular song in the piece is Another Brick In the Wall Part II, which has the famous line: "We don't need no education." Of course I didn't mean it. It's satire. We all need as much education as we can possibly get.

The Rupert Murdochs of this world would keep all information away from us - they would feed us their propaganda and try and keep us as nice, tame consumers. That is significantly dangerous and evil, in my view. If this tour encourages people to find things out for themselves or to rebel... we can't just gorge ourselves on the candy floss of video games. If we do that, all our teeth will fall out.

Would you play it at the Berlin Wall again?

This show is specifically indoor. The place where I'd really like to do it and where I've absolutely promised to do it, if and when that wall comes down, is in Bethlehem. Wild horses wouldn't keep me from playing in Jerusalem or Bethlehem.

You're not joined by any of the surviving members of Pink Floyd - why is that?

I was approached by the Steinbrenner family to do it in Yankee Stadium. Hank Steinbrenner did say, why can't you put the band together to do it? And I said, well, I don't think David [Gilmour] wants to do anything again, and certainly not this.

He said, well, will you ask him? So I did, and he said no. Which I knew he would. And there's no reason why he wouldn't say no.

And I think Live 8 [in 2005, when the band last played together] was probably it. And Live 8 was so beautiful, and Rick [Wright, keyboardist, who died in 2008] obviously was still with us then. It was an extraordinarily moving experience for me, and if that's the way we draw a line under Pink Floyd, so be it. I won't be unhappy about that.

However, if the others wanted to do something at some point I'm always open to suggestions. So far there haven't been any.


Roger Waters was speaking to BBC News arts correspondent Rebecca Jones for BBC Radio 4's Today Programme.



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