New York Times National Edition 6-9-94

Roger Waters interview from New York Times National Edition 6-9-94


Roger Waters, the former Pink Floyd vocalist, bassist and songwriter, learned the value of a name the hard way. Although he was the chief architect of Pink Floyd's best-known recordings, his last solo album, "Amused To Death" in 1992, sold well below his expectations, and his two previous solo tours were disappointingly underattended. As a result, he has performed only once in the last four years. Meanwhile, his former band mates have sold more than three million tickets for their North American tour, and their most recent album, "The Division Bell," was No. 1 for four straight weeks.

Mr. Waters, however, has no intention of sitting on his laurels (though the increase in back-catalog album sales probably hasn't hurt his bank account). Mr. Waters said that six months ago he began work on a stage adaptation of Pink Floyd's 1979 magnum opus, "The Wall." "Writing 'The Wall' for Broadway or wherever is a very long process," he said this week by telephone from his home in Hampshire, England, "because it means digging very deep into the details of Pink's story." Pink is "The Wall's" traumatized protagonist.

"Although I love the record, I was less in love with the movie," Mr. Waters continued. "I think it lacked humanity and humor, and I think they're both very important to introduce into the piece."

Mr. Waters, who is now 49, left Pink Floyd in 1985, hoping that without him the band would disintegrate. When, in 1987, the remaining members -- David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Rick Wright -- released an album and embarked on a tour, Mr. Waters unsuccessfully sued to keep them from using the name Pink Floyd. The present tour is Pink Floyd's first since then. This time, Mr. Waters will not speak about his erstwhile band mates on the record.

When asked whether he still relishes his association with the name Pink Floyd, Mr. Waters replied, "If one was truly grown up about it, I would say no. I would prefer at this point in my life not to be burdened with that kind of celebrity. However, the infant in me still wants to go: 'Look at me, look at me. I did it.' After all, we're only ordinary men."

Though Mr. Waters is not working on another album at present, he has no intention of forsaking his solo career. "Sometimes I sit at home and play the guitar," he said, "and sometimes I think it would be nice to perform some of these songs again. There's a distinct possibility that I may go on the road again at some point in the future."

Meanwhile, his recent marriage to Pricilla Phillips, an American actress, has inspired him, for the first time, to write lots of poetry, which he hopes to publish. In one poem he contrasts the finite quality of reading a book to his love for his wife, making a statement that might also apply to his career:

"And we will never taste the final drop or turn the final page."