- 01 Mar 23
50 years ago today, Pink Floyd released their iconic eighth studio album, The Dark Side Of The Moon – which went on to become one of the best-selling albums of all time. To celebrate, we're revisiting an extract from Dave Fanning's classic interview with Roger Waters, originally published in Hot Press in 2013...
Was it a mistake leaving Pink Floyd? Ummagumma has the four of you sitting there with the shots going back into the past but nobody knew what you looked like! I think you got it wrong because I think you forgot the most important thing – the brand is everything. So there you were in Cincinnati playing to 1,500 people and the next night Pink Floyd were playing to 70,000.
Well, that was, as I’ve said many times since, that was a very character-forming critique (playing to 1,500 in Cincinnati).
(laughs) God, you should be a politician! “You blew it!”
I was quite pissed off about that for quite some time... But the fact is, you’re truly right about brand attachment and it may be that having done Radio K.A.O.S. and The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking as solo tours after I’d left Pink Floyd and by the time I got to the Radio K.A.O.S. show – great show as it was, it sort of failed dismally, economically, partly because they had gone off touring or whatever. So I sort of gave up after ’87 and until a few years ago I didn’t do anything.
But there was a form of redemption, even for you!
Since then I’m attached to the brand in that two tours ago I did the whole of Dark Side of the Moon, which is a brand in itself. If you say ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ you get a brand, period and certainly if you say The Wall, that’s a brand and now people have begun to attach my name to it ‘cause (adopts strong Irish accent) – I fuckin’ own it!
Do you ever feel that maybe you and Pink Floyd could have met more in the middle?
Well, having done 20 or 25 years of interviews without bringing Pink Floyd up… (adopts Irish ‘begorrah’ accent again) I’ve never brought it up! However, it does seem to get brought up. No, listen! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; bands are like other groups of people. They have a life. They have a half-life or whatever it is and then it’s over and when Pink Floyd was over, it was over. People keep raking over the coals of it and people miss it and that’s absolutely fine, I don’t mind that at all, but I was there. I know the reasons why we broke up were very real and they were very right and it was the correct thing to do and I have no regrets about leaving, even on that cold night when I was playing to those 1,500 people in Cincinnati… absolutely no regrets.
In July 2005 I was in Hyde Park right at the very front and everybody was waiting. Everyone played that day from Madonna to REM, the biggest bands, everybody was waiting for Pink Floyd. U2, Paul McCartney, The Who… everyone had played and you came on, and you did a 25 minute set, it was really good but you said, ‘I just want to say that it’s a real pleasure to be playing on stage with these people’. And do you know something? You meant it.
Yeah, yeah. Well, it was. But it wasn’t something I wanted to do again. In order to achieve that evening on stage, from the minute that I made the call to David to say, ‘Come on, let’s do it’, and 24 hours later he agreed – until we actually got on stage and did it, it was a continual process of keeping my fucking mouth shut and rolling over at every possibility in order to keep the peace and allow it to happen and I went into that situation absolutely accepting that that was I would need to do. So from the set list to whatever, wherever anything happened (it was a case of) ‘Whatever you want’.
Which was the best way to do it.
I spent my life doing that because I had strong ideas about things, as I did 20 and 30 years before that. And the reason that we broke up is that we disagree about shit. Big time. But I loved it and I thought we were great. I thought it was beautiful and I’m so glad we did it because Rick died soon afterwards. I’m so happy that we got that in before Rick died. Rick was a very special part of all of that and doesn’t usually get the credit he deserved.
When people say ‘Rick Wright, keyboard player’ – it’s a lot more than that, isn’t it?
When people come to see The Wall tour now, who are they coming to see – The Wall or Roger Waters?
I dunno, a bit of each I think. I’m happy to say that I’m connected to it now and that people are beginning to understand.
Can you imagine touring other Pink Floyd albums?
I probably could, if I wanted to. I’m much more interested in other things at the moment – but who’s to say that I might not go all weird and want to do a greatest hits thing at some stage? I think it’s very unlikely because I think it would be a bit of a let-down after something like this, which is much more coherent and political. It’s much more likely that I would stand up and do something, if possible, that was even more political.
In one way, Roger, I get the impression that you have made complications for yourself when sometimes taking the easy route is often a good thing to do. Have you ever congratulated yourself for making Wish You Were Here in very tense circumstances?
I do think it’s a really good album. It was a huge battle making that album, which making Dark Side of the Moon hadn’t been.