JL : Live from the studios of Q107 in Toronto, Canada. Welcome to Album Network's world premiere of Roger Waters long awaited new album Amused to Death. I'm Jim Ladd and I'll be your host for this live two hour musical press conference. Joining me in studio tonight along with Roger Waters will be Carter Allen of WBCN in Boston, Dan Near of WNEW FM in New York, Red Beard from KTXQ in Dallas, Texas, and John Derringer of Q107 right here in Toronto. You know it was 25 years ago that the world first heard of a new band out of England called Pink floyd. [Arnold Layne][See Emily Play] From this beginning, in a group which included Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Rick Wright, and Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd would become one of the most important and influencial bands in the history of recorded music. In 1973, after the departure of Syd Barrett and the addition of guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour, Roger Waters came into his own as the song witer and intellectual leader of ! ! Pink Floyd. And it was this album, Dark Side of the Moon, that would lauch Pink Floyd into the rarefied heights of rock's most important contributors. [Brain Damage] From Dark Side of the Moon to Wish You Were Here. From Animals to the epic double album, The Wall, and on through to The Final Cut, it was Roger Waters who provided the lyrical and conceptual vision for a body of work unequaled in its scope and imaginaition. [Have a Cigar][Pigs (Three Different Ones)][Another Brick][Final Cut] Roger Waters left Pink Floyd after the release of The Final Cut and went on to record two highly aclaimed solo projects, The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking and Radio Kaos. [Radio Waves] Now with the release of what critics are calling a record that goes beyond even The Wall, you are about to hear the world-wide premiere of Roger Waters' latest work Amused to Death. [What God Wants] We'll begin our musical press conf! ! erence with Roger Waters right after this.
JL : Dan Near of WNEW FM in New York.
DN : Hi Jim.
JL : Carter Allen from a historic radio station, WBCN in Boston.
CA : Hi Jim.
JL : And John Derringer of Q107 right here in Toronto.
JD : Hi Jim.
JL : And some guy named Roger Waters. How are you doing Roger?
RW : Hello Jim.
JL : Wonderful to see you.
RW : Thank You.
JL : Congradulations. I know it's been five years in the making, but tonight is the world-wide premiere of Amused to Death. How do you feel?
RW : Good.
JL : Good. Let's start with the overview of this album. Give us kind of a... (laughter) I know it's hard to do a synopsis. And I know you were looking foward so much to this question. But give us an overview of Amused to Death.
RW : Well, all i can say really is that the album has come out five years of me wondering about what is going on in the world and getting my information by sitting up late at night watching tv. So the theatre of the album is characterized as a gorilla or some other primate, like you (laughter) possibly, or carter. Umm, checking out the idiot box and taking in the information and wondering what the bleep is going on.
JL : The front of the album is a gorilla in fact watching....
RW : A baby one.
JL : Television. There is also, to kinda follow the story line as we go tonight, there is references to not only a gorilla watching television, but the alien anthropologist. Give us sort of what that's about too.
RW : (some type of sound followed by laughter)
JL : Hmmm, there he is now.
RB : I can't believe how you do that Roger.
CA : That's pretty wild.
JL : Mr. Sound Effect.
RW : Well, that's a lyric from the song 'Amused to Death,' which is the last song on the album. And it's a rather depressing scenario (monkeys screaming)...That's interesting. I wonder if that's going out. I'm going to ignore it and pretend it isn't going out. Right, and the idea is that...which is where the album title came from...which is a book by somebody called Neil Postgate (ed: actually Neil Postman). I hope that's his name. Who wrote a short book called 'Amusing Ourselves to Death.' Which is about the history of media, particularly as it relates to political communication. ie how things have changed since you had a bill to read, you know to read Lincoln's speeches. And stuff. And I had at one point this rather depressing image of some alien culture seeing the death of this planet. And coming down in their spaceships and sniffing around and finding all our skeletons sittting around our tv sets and trying to work out why it was that our end came before its ! ! time . And they come to the conclusion that we had amused ourselves to death.
JL : Interesting. So as we hear the album tonight we can keep that general premise in mind. Red Beard you got a question?
RB : Well, my question really ties into the song that we have already...has already been released to radio across North America. And that is the song 'What God Wants, Part I.' It is the most requested song at the station where I work in Dallas-Fort Worth at KTXQ, but as well as being the most controversial song. We were just bombarded with positive requests in the first two weeks and now in the third week there seems to be a contingent that's taking the lyrics of the song 'What God Wants, Part I' quite literally. And I don't want to throw a curve ball to the booth, but I think it would be great to hear the lyrics of the song right now and let me do a follow up question on it. Can we do that?
JL : If the booth is ready, we are ready. This is the first single off the album and it is called 'What God Wants, Part I.'
[What God Wants, Part I]
JL: Your listening to the world premiere broadcast of Roger Waters new, and I may say long awaited album, Amused to Death live from the studios of Q107 in Toronto Canada. Red Beard let's go back to you. You've said that not only is it the most requested song it has now become the most controversial song.
RB : Right, and the questions with those finding it controversial, Roger, seems to be some are taking it literally when you say 'God wants crack,' and 'God wants famine, ''God wants war' Who is the singer or what is the singer's perspective on 'What God Wants, Part I?'
RW : Well, it's my perspective obviously. And it is written in response primarly to the notion that human beings can own God, whoever God may be. And that changes depending upon whether you are a muslin, or a christian, or a bhuddist, or a hindu although we all have our different notions of who God is and what he does. And this song was written, I suppose, as a sort of irratable response to the idea that God can be on somebody's side and not on somebody else's side. I'm not into any specific religious dogma myself. I know that a lot of people are. If god exists my suspicion is that he's not interested whether the democrats or Republicans win the next election or whether it would be right or wrong for the allies to go and bomb Baghdad right now, or any of those questions. His mind is on other things. And that is what this song is about in the ludicrous nature of people's adherance to the idea that God can be incorporated in our side.
RB : If I'm not mistaken that's the first time an artist has ryhmed sex with semtex (laughter)
RW : It may well be the case. Interestingly enough semtex is a word that is very little know.
JL : Plastic Explosive.
RW : But it's like Hoover. Hoover all over the world means vacuum cleaner. While in Europe because of the IRA, more specifically than anyone else, and because of some of the middle eastern terrrorist activity, semtex, which is a Chzechlsovokian (sp??) plastic explosive, has come to be used or is synonomis with plastique or plastic explosive.
JL : Carter?
CA : I would like to talk about the musical aspect of that. I mean we're all sitting here playing air guitar. It's pretty obviously, listening to that, you know it's Jeff Beck playing guitar. I'm always intersted in what Jeff Beck does...And how you hooked up with him.
RW : Well, I was casting around looking for someone to play lead on this record. And he's been in the back of my mind for a long time. So, I called his people up and said 'might he be interested' and they said 'well he might be.' So, we went through a big kind of shadow boxing thing and it ended with me sending a cassette of four or five of the songs to his studios so that Jeff could listen to them. I didn't go because it's awful to have that embarrasing this, you know, Jeff Beck sitting there and he goes 'well, it's interesting.' (laughter). You know, get's in the car and goes home. But he didn't say that. He like them. This track was one of the them, 'Three Wishes' was another, and there were a couple of others that I sent. And he said 'Yeah, I really like this stuff. Yeah, when do we start?' And then he came in and started overdubbing on tracks that were almost finished.
CA : He sort of has a reputation of being difficult to work with. Did you find that?
RW : Not at all (laughter)
CA : Good.
JL : I'm sorry. I'm laughing. It would be the pot and the kettle. You have also had that reputation...
RW : Really?
JL : ...so I certainly wouldn't think that would come to his mind at all.
RW : No, Jeff like me is an absolute sweetheart (laughter). He arrives and the thing that staggered me was he opens up his case with fender in it and there's a brand new guitar with all that cardboard hanging off the end. And he takes it out and doesn't appear to do anything, there's none of that like little tuning things or anything. He just picks it up and plugs it in. He's very, very careful with the sound. And although the amplifier that he used was is bassman amplifier that he was given by Budding Going (sp??). It's a valve amplifier. It's one of the new fender amps...
JL : Tubes...
RW : ...yeah tube amp. Valve, tube.
JL : You told me that you... I'm just translating for you. We're in North America.
RW : Ok, tube amplifier. And so we worked on the sound with Nick Griffiths, who was the engineer for some time, but once he got the sound together he just said what do you want me to do and where. And he likes to be told exactly where you want it and what kind of thing you want. And then you just sit back and your eyes pop out because it's quite extraordinary.
CA : So what'd you say. 'Well, that's very interesting. Can we do it again?'
RW : We actually said quite a lot of 'that's unbelievable, can we do it again?' And we recorded thousands of tracks. Not because we needed any more, but just because it was just bliss to listen to him playing.
JL : Believable. Let's go to Dan Near from WNEW FM.
DN : One of the things about this record that struck me was your use of sound effects. I mean you've done it so well in the past, but this is just stunning. The way that you create atmospheres and moods. And you switch from one scene to another through the use of sound effects. Do you specifically record your own sound effects? I mean how do you go about getting that? And then how do you decide what is extraneous and what is essential?
RW : We record some of it and some of it we steal. (laughter) But what's important about the sound effects on this record is the QSound system, which is Canadian. And uh....
CA : Oh, you're just saying that because we are broadcasting out of...
RW : No, I think it is an extraordinary system and these guys have been working on it for a long time. And I think Sting had a record out, and Madonna had a record out, and Julian Lennon had a record out with the system on, but that was a while ago. And it's improved a lot since then. And if you sit exactly between the two speakers, well you guys have listened to it, the effect is quite extraordinary. It goes out beyond your shoulders and it improvises a very broad spectrum, so it enables on to produce drama in a wider than stereo thing that was not possible before this system was developed.
JL : For those of you listening throughout North America, if you just tuned in you got here at the right time because we are premiering the brand new world-wide release of Roger Waters' Amused to Death We are going to play now a track called 'The Bravery of Being Out of Range.' And then we'll come back and discuss that particular track. Listen to the lyrics of this one very carefully. You are going to recognize, perhaps, some American leaders referred to in this song. If not by name, certainly by description. 'The Bravery of Being Out of Range.' Roger Waters' brand new album Amused to Death.
[The Bravery of Being Out of Range]
JL : Allright, 'The Bravery of Being Out of Range.' Now you are not hearing this album, obviously, in total and you're not hearing it in sequence. There is, as with all of Roger's stuff, a very distinct story line. It is a conceptual album, but we will try to kinda keep that story line going. But that is an extraordinary song called 'The Bravery of Being Out of Range.' Red Beard, you wanted talk about that song?
RB : Oh yeah. Two points Roger. Number one, what I have been reading with the gulf war that was broadcast world-wide there is going to be a rush for people to infer that songs such as 'The Bravery of Being Out of Range,' were spawned by that event. Could you fill us in on the chronology. 'Cause I don't think that is neccesarily true.
RW : It's true in as far as the third verse is concerned. The first two verses were written in the mid-eighties sometime and are an evocation of your ex-president Ronald Reagan. But the third verse used to be about Berlin. Berlin babies sing this song it went. And that's gone. So this is the only bit, in fact, on the album that specifically to do with Desert Storm. And is in fact written after that whole thing. So the theatre of the people in the bar watching television and enjoying us winning the war is what that verse is about.
JL : Let's discuss how computer screen targets rather than actual visual targets of human beings, and smart bombs, and high altitude bombing, and missles. Do you feel it has sanatized the killing by distancing the killer from the slaughtered?
RW : Yeah I do think that that happens as it distances us. I heard Mitch Urors (sp??) thing in the introduction to this, from live aid. Kinda what's sad in a way between what happened in Ethiopia and what is happening in Somalia now is that... I do it myself, it's (missing) turn on to the next page. It has something to do with the way that we look at that stuff in such graphic detail that immures us to the effect of it...to what's going on. And we tend not to look at the root of how we feel about it or what it is that is going on because it is all part a news media who's attempt is to entertain us in order that they will get big ratings on their channels and their sponsors will go on supporting them and they will keep their jobs. And I have a nasty and sneaking suspicion that the war in the gulf was about the same thing.
JL : You know I think it should be underlined again 'cause we kind of passed over this; how prophetic this is. This was written what 3, 5 years...at least 3 years before the gulf war. And that was the first, in quotes, televised war. Vietnam was broadcast on television, but it was not on TV like this one.
RW : There is another song on the record called 'Perfect Sense, Part II,' which I don't think we are playing tonight, where I describe something that the last time we saw it was during the fall of the Roman empire. When they used to fill the collesium with sea waters and have galleons fighting each other. I have a suspicion that both the attack on Tripoli, which I descibe elsewere in the ablum in 'Late Home Tonight,' and also Desert Storm has something to do with that. It's an uneasy feeling I have that is has something to do with the arms industry and / or with creating foreign policy that is convenient in terms of the domestic situations of our leaders at home. And does not have anything to do with...just let me spit this out before I run out of breath...surpressing a brutal dictator. Why aren't we in Tibet?
JL : Well I think it has more to do with creative markets for the product, doesn't it?
RW : Yeah, but why aren't we in Tibet? Why is there all this stuff in the newspaper today about Saddam Husein being brutal to his people?
RB : I don't think they...
JL : Tibet doesn't have any oil.
RW : Ahh! Why didn't I think of that?
JL : To change the subject just a little bit. You mentioned the first couple of verses from 'The Bravery of Being Out of Range' going back to the mid-eighties. This obviously then was written over a span of time. When were the earliest lyrics and the earliest music from?
RW : The first track was cut in October 1987 in between the two halves of the Radio Kaos tour. When we decided to do a second bit of that tour the band were together and so we went to Compass Point in Nausau and we cut several tracks there. And I have been kind of mucking about with it ever since.
CA : Roger, have you ever done an album quickly? (laughter) Now fess up.
RW : No, but maybe the next one.
RB : Talking about another album which took a lot of time and if we could discuss this breifly because I know we are going to be listening to 'Hey You' coming up. The Wall album was a hallmark album and obviously you brought it to life in Berlin and I was there and it was just an unbelievable moment. I can't believe that you tied all the treads together, got all the musicians on stage, the incredible production, and the 300,000 people there, and where it was in Potsdamn Platz. Could you just talk about writing that album and how it felt to bring it alive on stage 'cause that was obviously a very important moment in your creative career?
RW : You mean in Berlin, yeah. Yeah it was. I'm glad the sun shone then. If it had rained for three days.
CA : Were you a nervous wreck?
RW : Completely. Absolutely. It completely destroyed me. They came and asked me to do it in October. We went on in July 21st I think it was. And the intervening months were an absolute nightmare. It wasn't just getting the permission. I mean when we first started talking about it there were still guys wandering around with machine guns killing anybody who walked out into that piece of land. But it was also getting the other artists together. And logistically, the team of guys on the ground that put it together; how they did it I'll never know. They didn't set foot on the site until four weeks before the show. And when they got there it was like a field with huge molehills because the East German Army had dug down to five meters everywhere they found a piece of metal to make sure it wasn't an unexploded bomb. And of course a lot of them were unexploded bombs and they dug them all up and threw them away. But yeah, it was a very bizarre thing.
CA : What was it like to record with other musicians as opposed to Pink Floyd when you recorded it originally.
RW : Well, as it turned out, it was great. I mean, I looked at the video a few months ago and I found it quite moving.
RB : It was.
RW : Particularly. Well no, I wouldn't particular anything, but with the actors at the end and just everybody with one notable exception due, but we won't talk about Sinead will we.
JL : No, we won't. No, we won't. But we are going to play a song that has always been a very moving piece of music for me. It's called 'Hey You' and we'll listen to that now and come back and talk more about Amused to Death
JL : You're listening to the Roger Waters world premiere broadcast of Amused to Death and we'll have more right after this.
JL : Welcome back to the world premeire broadcast of Roger Waters' Amused to Death live from the Q107 studios in Toronto. I'm Jim Ladd along with Carter Allen of WBCN in Boston, John Derringer of Q107 in Toronto, Dan Near of WNEW FM in New York, and of course Red Beard from KTXQ in Dallas. And let's go to Dan Near.
DN : Oh, it's my turn. Ok. We, just before the break, were talking about the concert you did...the benefit, at the Berlin Wall and the purpose behind it was to raise money for a particular fund that you established. That fund is still active and going so could you talk a little bit about what the fund is and how people, if they can,...how they can contribute to it still?
RW : Well it was, it is the Memorial Fund for Disaster Relief and it's the brain child of boot captain Leonard Cheshire who is an English airforce pilot in the second world war. In fact he was the most decorated pilot in the RAF. After the war he took a damaged veteran into his home and looked after him. 'Cause this guy had nowhere to go. What happened after the war, there there were a lot of very damaged people like there are after all wars who...they get sown up in hospitals, but afterwards there's a problem about how they rehabilitate....
DN : And mentally as well.
RW : And mentally as well. And so he established, eventually, a series of homes for the disabled called the Cheshire homes. Which are all over the world. They're in fifty different countries. And he had this idea...he's dead now, Leonard. He died two weeks ago...
DN : I'm sorry.
RW : ...Yeah, he eventually died of moten?? urine disease himself. Which was another set of people that he worked for all his life. And he had this dream to create a fund to respond quickly to disasters in the world. And the concert in Berlin was part of his efforts in raising funds for that thing, but it was meant to be a memorial to all the people who have died in wars this century. A number that, unfortunately, is rising fast even as we speak.
DN : So, if people would like to contribute to this fund, how can they do that now?
RW : Well, I don't have addresses or phone numbers on me, or anything like that, but if we all to get together -- KTXW, NEW, WBCN, and KQ107, and maybe the rest of rock radio in North America -- I'd be very happy to come in and let's make a program of that. Try to stir the thing up again. Because that concert was an extraordinary event for all of those of us who were involved in it and all the people who came to it. And there were a lot of people who came to it from North America to it. There's a couple of guys in the studio wearing t-shirts from it. And I have a strong sense now, particularly that Leonard has died recently, to make certain that his idea doesn't die.
DN : You could also still at this point buy the video, buy the cd of the concert. Because portions of the sales of those go into the...
RW : Not portions. All the royalties. Everthing from the video. It all goes to the Memorial Fund.
DN : I would very much like that we do enliven this thing. Because it's just as you have mentioned in talking about this current record. You wonder, 'Did I do everything that I could do.'
RW : Let's try and persuade MTV to play the old cut. I don't know about everybody else, but I get bored with teenagers with their hats on back to front.
(everyone tries to talk at the same time)
JL : Since you brought that up....
RW : Let's see Bryan Adams singing 'Young Lust.' It was good wasn't isn't?
JL : Exactly. He did a great job.
RW : Didn't he? Wasn't it great? Why can't we see him occasionally on the tv.
JL : Just as a plug for this thing. For those of you listening. If you have not bought this tape and put it on your television set, turned the lights down low, and turned the volume up on ten, you are missing a mind changing experience. You should do that. And also just for MTV, it would be nice if they were a rock channel again-- because they lost that a long time ago. Lets go to John Derringer at Q107.
JD : We talked quite a bit, Roger, about the Berlin Wall Show. Pink Floyd's wall tour was certainly a legendary tour that gave few amount of shows that were played. Right back to the beginning of the band, you now have a very solid reputation for putting on an unbelievable show. Not only audio, but also a video show. I don't neccesarily thing that people expect you to top The Wall as far as the tour goes, but what do you have in mind as far as touring this show. Obviously tv is the main theme. What do you expect to literally bring to the party on tour?
RW : Well if we tour. And we probably will. The indications are that we will next year. I've got a very strong idea of what the show will look like. I can tell you a number of things about it. It will not be outdoors. I haven't done that since the Animals tour in 1977. I've gone on record umpteen times before about the inherent greed of stadium rock. And I still disagree with it. I won't do it. So, it will be indoors and it will very visual. And....
JL : Do you have anyone in mind to play the gorilla. (Laughter)
JD : Are you volunteering?
JL : If you know the tour schedule...
RB : We knew that was coming. (everyone tries to talk together)
JL : And we want to thank John Derringer for joining us because he's got to leave now. (laughter)
RW : No, I enjoyed both the Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking tour and the Kaos tour, but business was kind of thin in the mid-west, I have to say. And for those like twelve hundred people that I played to in Cincinati on the 'Kaos' tour, I'd just like to say thank you for coming. (laughter) In a way I am serious because although it's depressing to play to twelve hundred people in a ten thousand seat hall, but to quote Henry V, 'the fewer whatnots the greater the share of glory.' And I know they all remember that night and so do I. And there was something about the kind of comraderie; of there just being a few people there because it was a great show.
RB : True believers.
RW : Yeah, true believers. And there was a kind a community feeling between me and them in that, particularly as I was answering questions from the hall and all that stuff that we did, Jim, on the 'Kaos' tour.
JD : Can I just say that it is uncanning listening to the two of you, Jim and Roger, talking. I feel like I have been transported to the inside of Radio KAOS. (laughter) I really do.
JL : Are you going to ask Jeff Beck to join you?
RW : No I'm not because Jeff's great at rehersals, but he's....
CA : He's so difficult to work with.
RW : No, he's not difficult. But he's just...tours aren't his thing.
JL : Let me bring this back to Amused to Death here for a minute. One of the songs that unfortunately we are skipping over is 'What God Wants, Part II' And very quickly I want to quote one of the lines because it's one of the examples of humor in this album. 'God wants credit / God wants blame / God wants poverty / God wants wealth / God wants insurance / God wants to cover himself.' (Someone laughs uproriously) It's always the writer that laughs the hardest. Have you noticed that? But what we are going to play now is 'What God Wants, Part III' and the humor is completely gone here and as you at home when you get this album and listen to it in total; what you will hear is that the monkey who has been watching television through all of this extraordinary storyline. And then we get to 'What God Wants, Part III' and its the saddest thing of all because he simply gets bored with watching the war and goes out. Listen to this song very carefully and then we'll com! ! e back and ask Roger about 'What God Wants, Part III.' Your listening to the world-wide premiere of Amused to Death.
[What God Wants, Part III]
JL : Ok, we're listening to the world premiere broadcast of Roger Waters' Amused to Death and we'll come back and talk about 'What God Wants, Part III' right after this.
JL : Live from the studios of Q107 in Toronto you are listening to the world premiere broadcast of Amused to Death, the brand new album from Roger Waters. I'm Jim Ladd along with Red Beard from KTXQ in Dallas, Dan Near of WNEW FM in New York, Carter Allen of WBCN in Boston, and John Derringer of Q107 right here in Toronto. We promised to go to Carter Allen.
CA : We just listened to 'What God Wants, Part III' and I have to stress to everyone listening this is an album you listen to, but you should really...you have to sit down with a lyrics sheet and read it. And read along with the album. I mean there's a line in there, Roger, I mean I'm a writer, but you just blow me away with some of these lyrics that you come up with. The one that impresses me the most in that song is 'In banks across the world / Christians, Muslums, Hindus, Jews / People of every race, creed, color, tint, or hue / Get down on their knees and pray.' And that's twisting a knife in the back of a lot of things.
RW : Yeah well, I'm a little bit worried that the free market has become our God.
JL : Explain that.
RW : No! (laughing) Ok, seeing as you asked nicely....
JL : Explain that, please.
RW : Well, maybe it is. Maybe it is the answer to everything. Maybe this whole trickle down thing works. Maybe eventually if we sell more motor cars than the Japanesse do, maybe that fact will eventually put food in the bellies of the people in Somalia. If we care about them.
JL : Why do I get the feeling you should end that statement with 'not?'
RW : Yeah, maybe not. I don't think it works. It's the idea of trade is an answer to life's problems, I think belongs in the 17th century. And I think that we now ought to be addressing the problems that face the whole human race with at least giving some air time, and some creedance, and some thought to other ways. Maybe cooperation is better than competition. Maybe. I don't know. But the free market ideology that has been extant certainly in the western civilized countries and certainly in the United States, and certainly in Great Britain for the last...well almost since the second world war. And it doesn't seem to me to be providing all the answers.
RB : Do you find that when we do find some solutions often they are band-aid solutions instead of long term solutions. We've mentioned Somalia a couple of times. We can give them all the money in the world; if we don't educate them it is going to be the same way in another 2...5 years. There'll be another Somalia. I mean it has to be a little deeper than just putting...it's like putting literally a band-aid on a brain tumor.
RW : Well, it depends on your attitude to what human life is about. If it is about a free market, which is the philosophy that is extant at the moment, well then you're never going to find any solutions to these other problems. What you are going to end up with is a stockade, that you call the United States, with all these other people from the third world hurling themselves up against the logs. And you know eventually the Indians get in because there are a lot more of them of you. And what you need to do, you in North America and we in Great Britain, is to say, 'Well hang on a minute. This is a small planet and it is a small and weak star that is our sun which is dimming slowly. And we can look at our history, and we can look at our future and it's finite. And what we have to decide is what kind of life we all, all we human beings, want between now and when it all finishes'...or doesn't. Who knows, maybe we could colonize the stars. But I doubt if it's going to be! ! 'bleep you. We're going to colonize the stars.' If we are going to do that, it may be that we need to cooperate with each other and use all the resources.
RB : We're looking at this in a big picture sense. How 'bout on a one person sense. What can one person do? 'Cause I think a lot of people get the feeling that 'Hey, this is so out of control. There's nothing I can do about the economy. There's nothing I can do about starvation. There's nothing I can do about another Persian Gulf war.' I think people...
RW : Well, that's the sick thing at the moment is that in lots of cases the only thing that one person can do it die. That's the sad thing. But for the people that aren't going to do it which is...I was...this is leading into the song that I know we are going to play now which is called 'Watching TV' which is about a chinese girl in Tianamen Square. And all she could do was stand there, and have her meetings, and demand democracy and the tanks rolled over here. Well, the tanks are rolling over the men in Bosnia now. And they did in the Gulf. And they did in...and that happens a lot. I don't know. I don't know that I have the answer to that question. We can ask ourselves questions. How we can try and support the teachers in our schools who are trying to be open minded about the future generations. Who are trying to look towards the future and say, 'What's important.' I don't know. What is important? The important is that we don't accept the dogma that comes fro! ! m pr evious generations. It is very important that we don't say God wants us to go and kill the arabs in Iraq. It is very important not to get involved in all of that stuff. It is important to look at things squarely. To look at our situation squarely. Which we tend not to do I think.
JL : In this particular work as in all of your work, you are adressing these issues. There was a time that you and I both lived through, I think everybody in this room lived through, called the 60's when there was a movement where we thought we were going to go out and change the world for a better place. Has there just been too much information come at us now? Is it possible to rally people again? How shocking does it have to be? How many people do we have to see rolled over by the tanks? How many great albums like Amused to Death before people will say, 'That's it. I draw the line here. We're going to do something.'
RW : Well, it's more complicated than that. The good thing about television, which is what this album is about, is that it is a two-edged sword. And it can cut through a whole bunch of bullshit. And some of it does. That's why it interests me so much. Is that it either is the prime tool of the market forces, but equally it can the prime tool for us to look at ourselves and to educate future generations. And for us to start thinking about what the nature of human life really is. And what we want it to be. And it does that. It does both those things. And it's doing it really fast. That's the other thing that interests me is that history appears anyway to be speeding up. Events follow one upon the other really quickly now. It doesn't take you like five days to get from Boston to New York or from London to Manchester like it used to when you had to get on a horse and ride.
CA : As you were saying, television is a double edged sword from the fact that for example that in the Persian Gulf we kinda did witness a tv show as presented by our government. We saw only what they wanted us to see. Not like the Vietnam war where we saw people coming back in body bags. Do you remember seeing blood and guts in the Persian war? You didnt' see it.
RB : Well, hang on. The Vietnam war was a ground war and I think that is the very important distinction between what happened...what we saw on television this time around. And we touched on it earlier, it wasn't a real person being killed with a smart bomb it was a blip on a screen, like a video game.
CA : Right. That's what it looked like to us....
RB : That's...
CA : ...but in reality...
RB : That's how it was presented on tv.
CA : Exactly.
JL : Let's hear to the song.
CA : Which is what my point was and I wanted to get it to the fact that the other side of the coin is exactly what Roger is talking about in this where that lady in Tianamen Sqaure was very important because she did die on tv.
JL : Wonderful way to get into it. You're about to hear 'Watching TV' from Amused to Death.
JL : All right. You and I are listening to the premiere of Amused to Death. That is a beautiful called 'Watching TV.' Kind of a folksy ballad and that is Don Henley singing the duet with you, right?
RW : Among other....Oh! Don Henley, Yes.
JL : Let's just go to Red Beard. Forget this answer. Go ahead Red Beard. Ask an intelligent question. Obviously I'm not...
RB : I'll try to do one this time..
JL : Thank you.
RB : ...In a recent review and interview with one of my favourite writers, Timothy White, you mentioned the idea, and this is a quote, 'the idea of TV as medicine either healing us or killing us.' Can you give an example of each?
RW : Well, we're going back to whatever it was that we were talking about before the break. And no I can't. Not with....
RB : Let me throw one out. What part, do you think, that media television, radio, book, magazines, recorded music; what part do you think media had in tearing down the Berlin Wall without one shot having being exchanged?
RW : I don't know. I can't answer tha....On a more general point, because I am still working on the question that I couldn't answer that you asked me about a minute ago. I think that the media is a kind of...it's a mirror that we hold up to ourselves. And I think it's really important that we all try and understand ourselves...and each other. And if what I do is about anything, it's about that for me. I don't know. Maybe that is what all of that stuff : writing songs, writing books, painting pictures is about. And television, and newspapers, and radio, and whatever can either help us or hinder us in that...you know, to acheive that or to fail to achieve it. Either as individuals or as socities. I think it would be a very good thing if everybody in the world could see a psychotherapist once a week as a matter of their human right to talk about their childhood and how they feel about it, and what happened to them, and stuff like that. I also think it would be! ! ver y good if every human being in the world, as their right, had, for instance, a news channel that was not selling corn flakes. Who's duty was to gather information and disceminate it without caring about whether or not it helped them to sell cornflakes. Who didn't care what their ratings were. ie. who were not interested in putting on something that had to compete with a game show or a re-run of Happy Days. That was there to say, 'Here's the information. Now we will broadcast it.' And people can know what's going on in the world.
JL : Fine. I agree with what you say, but I am going to play Devil's advocate on this point. Since you were there. Since you performed this event, this remarkable event, at the Berlin Wall. Which messages of Western culture served as more of a battering ram. The chimes of freedom and democracy or the ring of the cash register for 501 jeans and rock n' roll albums.
RW : The ring of the cash register. And that's what so sad about it. Is that they bought the same thing that well all bought.
JL : And we are exporting that
RW : Yeah. That is your export. And I say 'your' because it is not an English export because England is like a little United States...we're now the 53rd state. And some of it's good. There's nothing wrong with blue jeans; mind you, they came from denim in the first place. There's an aweful lot in American culture that I really love and that is really great. And it's good to export. Jeans are great. They work. We're sitting here and we are all wearing jeans...
JL : But they're not the key to happiness on this planet.
RW : That's absolutely....
JL : Fulfillment.
RW : That's absolutely right. The fact that some small car from North America is better than a Trebant (sp??) is not the point.
JL : Right.
RW : And neither is it the point that a Toyota is better than some small car, whatever they're called, from Detroit. That the Japanesse machine is working better than the American machine because I know the name Toyota and I've almost forgotten the name Ford. But that, you are absolutely right, that is the battering ram that broke down the wall. And they have, so that they join us. And they very, very quickly catch up. And that very, very quickly, the people who don't receive this trickle down that's supposed to happen when you exercise a free market economy will learn that it doesn't work for them.
RB : You said, Roger, that the media is a mirror, I agree with that. Is that why in a time like this, when there is so much misery, not only in third world countries, but right here in North America, in the middle and even upper classes. It's not a great time, economically, for pretty well anyone these days, that we love to see the high and mighty getting ripped to shreds in the media. There's no quicker way to sell newspapers, as you know, in Britain than writing something about Fergy kissing somebody's feet or Princess Diana. Their whole lives being ripped apart. We just love to see that misery. Is that why something like the Gulf War almost becomes another television show, another hour long, or month long drama like that?
RW : I don't know. What you say may well be true. What's interesting is in the democratic process here, what percentage of people vote?
JL : Not many. That brings us to the point of....
RW : You know. In a system where it is supposed to be one man, a woman, one vote, and we all decide our own future; why don't we vote? This is the question that you have to ask yourself. If we don't vote, it must mean that we don't believe in the system. If we don't believe in the system, why do we allow it to perpetuate? Why are you going through this stupid charade of these two guys butting heads in November about Fuck All? Ooo! (laughter) I mean, why?
JL : Point well taken. Ok, ok, ok, (laughing). Now listen, if we can just get you to open up a little bit... (laughter) when we come back, it would be great. We'll be back with more of this dull and boring interview with Roger Waters and the world premiere broadcast of Amused to Death right after this.
[The Tide is Turning]
JL : Well, thanks for joining us for the world premiere broadcast of Roger Waters' new album Amused to Death. What you just heard is one of my favorite all time Roger Waters songs called 'The Tide is Turning.' We're coming....
CA : Jim? Jim?
JL : Yes?
CA : Can you just do it for me one time. Just say, 'This is Radio Kaos.' (Jim laughing)
JL : Carter, come on now. Come on. Carter Allen of WBCN and boy have I been getting some stuff about this. I was very proud to be on that...it was hell working with him though. Let me tell you just one very quick story. I was the only American on the tour. So can you imagine who got all of the crap. We want to talk about a song that's on here that is just an extraordinary peice of music that started off as a real rocker and now is a very kind of insightful ballad. It's called 'It's a Miracle.' And Red Beard, I believe you had a question about that.
RB : Actually, it's much broader. It's about this whole album really. Since Dark Side of the Moon your songwriting, Roger, has become increasingly cinematic. Why do you continue to tell you vividly visual tales with the severe limitations of the audio medium. Why don't you just make films?
RW : I like records. I love radio. No, I'm serious. I really do. I love drama on radio. I like that thing that it leaves something to the imagination.
JL : Theatre of the mind. Is it possible that the very limitations of using music and sound only, maybe challenges your personal creativity and maybe also keeps you from being over-indulgent.
RW : When you're making a record you can do it with a very small number of people. You can do it with a team of three or four people. Movies are expensive and it's lots of people, and you have to get up very early in the morning, and you have to argue with everybody all day, and...
JL : Deal with the sharks?
RW : And all of that. Yeah.
JL : You have a little bit of Gregorian choir in this next song we are going to hear. Which is always something...it's a very ancient form of music. And for people who don't even know that they're listening to Gregorian choir...I always think it resonates something deep within. Why did you choose to use that in this particular song.
RW : Can't remember, Jim. (Laughter)
JL : I'm glad I'm getting all the great answers. You know what I'm saying.
RW : You don't want to talk about Andrew Lloyd Weber then?
JL : You go right ahead. Blast anybody you want. First off, Don Henley is obviously of no importance, now Andrew Lloyd Weber.
RB : I think it's your turn in the barrel tonight, Jim.
JL : Yeah, I think so. Well, thank you from Radio Kaos. I'm...
RW : No, Don Henley. I love everything that he's done and it was great working with him on 'Watching TV.' He sang good. Don, you're ok with me. Andrew Lloyd Weber on the other hand, who I mentioned, is not ok with me. This is unfortunate.
JL : Not a big Andrew Lloyd Weber fan?
RW : Not a big fan. In fact, I think I've never listened to anything all the way through until a couple of weeks ago when I thought, 'Jesus Christ, I've had a go at this guy on the record. I better listen to some.' And I'm staying in a rented house over here. And there in the owner's record collection was 'Phantom of the Opera.' So I thought, 'Why not.' I put it on. Two things struck me about it. One was that the opening stuff, the overture, is 'Echoes'. It's something I wrote. The years ago. So he blah, blah, blah, blah. First of all the guy originally....Anyway. Then listening to the rest of the album, I could not believe how mediocre the stuff was. I knew it was going to be because I have seen him being interviewed on television and you can tell just by looking at him.
JL : Well, it's interesting you say that because we happen to have Andrew Lloyd Weber on the telephone. (laughter) Can we bring him in now. He's such a big fan of yours that we thought...
RB : Andy's attorney.
JL : ...a little surprise for Roger. Very quickly. Just to intro. the song. We've got to be quick here. Is this song, 'It's a Miracle,' is this how you see our future?...The continuing paving of paradise until the entire planet is just one big shopping mall?
RW : No.
CA : Thank goodness you said that.
RW : Well, no. It can happen. It's happening, kind of, at the moment. But on the other hand we do have Green Peace, and we do have Amnesty International, and we did have Live Aid, and I won't poopoo or belittle any of those things. And there are people making noices about trying to save the rain forest. And we are concerned about this, that and the.... And if we can get rid of all this flag waving, and throwing hats up in the air, and balloons, and nonsense, and get on with looking at the problems that face us. Trying to be grown up about it and start solving some of this stuff. Even in small ways.
JL : Well, as we listen to 'It's a Miracle,' I just want to everybody to have a moment of silence and thank God for George Bush, the environmental president.
[It's A Miracle]
JL : You're listening to Album Network's world premiere broadcast of Amused to Death, the brand new album of Roger Waters. I'm Jim Ladd along with Roger and well known radio talents from around the country. (small bit of laughter) And we're going to go to them right now. Carter Allen...
RB : Who are they?
JL : We've got one from WBCN in Boston, Carter?
CA : Roger, in your last solo album, Radio Kaos, you brought the human race to the brink of nuclear destruction and then we had 'The Tide is Turning' at the end of that. Which was a song of hope, but I get to the end of this album -- which is, I think, much more poignant 'cause it's not theoretical. It's reality to me, what you sing about, what you talk about -- but there isn't that song of hope at the end. We're left with 'Amused to Death.' Would you say that your album functions as a warning?
RW : Yeah, partially. But I hope it will also be a beacon of hope, Carter. You take what you like from it. When you go see a movie, or read a novel, or anything that confronts you and makes you think a bit about what is going on because of the juxtaposition of idea, or emotions, or whatever within it, when that happens to me, it makes me happy. I'm glad. I'm glad to be confronted with the nature of whatever this is that we all go through from the moment we're born to the moment we die.
CA : Would you say that 'The Tide is Turning' really runs through the fabric of this entire album.
RW : Absolutely. I desperately hope that -- I mentioned Green Peace earlier -- all those glimmers of hope that we're seeing at the beginning of the nineties, I hope that's the end of the dog shit that was the eighties. And that we can slowly, not slowly -- this is all happening very, very fast. And that's the point that I'm trying to make in the record. Suddenly we are getting bombarded with all this information. Can we make sense of it and move forward?
JL : Or are we just going to be numb?
RW : Or will we be numbed by it? Or will we just turn into Gammas in 'Brave New World' and fall into a sludge of consumerism and die?
JL : I want to try to get a last question from everybody in the time left. Let's go to John Derringer at Q107.
JD : We touched, Roger, almost two hours ago on Red Beard's point, that in Dallas there had been calls going to the top of the request, but also some controversy -- particuallarly over the song 'What God Wants, Part I' -- I get the impression that you would almost be dissapointed if there wasn't a little controversy. If you didn't make people think. If people treated your work like they treat a half an hour sitcom; good, but it didn't make me think. It really must make you feel good that you have that sort of...that you have a message that people want to hear and people really do listen to what you say. It's not just a nice flowing melody. The music is great, but it must be a nice and special feeling to know that people take your work that seriously.
RW : It's a nice and special feeling.
JD : But it must. There as so many major acts out there that people like for two years and then it's, you know, forgotten. But you have been able to keep people's interest for 25 years.
RW : Yeah. There's a bunch of people out there that have been listening to it for 25 years and I'm glad they are still listening to it.
JL : All right. Let's go to Dan Near,WNEW FM.
DN : Yeah. First of all. It felt great to hear you say something that was kind of optimistic because I think a lot of people view you as the ultimate pessimist.
RW : I'm not. I'm absolutely not pessimistic at all. I'm extremely optimistic, but we have to take life by it's throat and hold it up in front of us, and look at it, and say 'What is all this about?'
DN : And second of all, I just want to say that you should listen to this record very carefully. Work with it because it is a rewarding record. You take a lot out of it and it inspires a lot of conversation, a lot of dialogue, a lot of things people should think about. And I'm...
JL : Excelent. Let's go on. Red Beard, you've got the last question.
RB : All righty. Roger, we've all discussed the tortured artist effect on artists for years, but your own personal demon hasn't been the usual: booze, or drugs, or unrequited love. You've been really mourning, mourning in public, the World War II death of your father for about 15 years in your writing. In all due respect, Roger, if you finally resolve that loss, what could happen to your muse....what could happen to your inspiration?
RW : Well, two things. One, you never resolve that loss, in my opinion, which is why I feel so for all the people in Bosnia, and Serbia, and Iraq, and the girl in Tienamen Square, and all of that. When something like that happens in your life, you never, ever resolve it. It's with you until the day you die. That's one things. I've studied writings and poems, and some prose as well.
JL : Very quickly, before we go, I want to thank Red Beard, and Dan Near, and Carter Allen, and John Derringer for being here and helping us out. The album Amused to Death, which you've been listening to tonight, will be out on September 1st. I just want to say on a personal note. Don't play this at a party at first. Take this thing home. Listen to it carefully word for word. Let the album get inside of you, work it's magic, and make you think. Roger, you've got the final word.
RW : Yeah, I just want to thank Patrick Leonard and Andy Fairweather Low.
JL : I'm sorry. Say that again.
RW : Patrick Leonard. I know he's listening. And Andy Fairweather Low. Who were central to making this record. And everyone else that helped to make it as well, but those two were really central.
JL : It's very generous of you, for someone who spent five years putting this out -- and it gives a lot of us in radio a lot of faith because we have seen radio go from something that we considered very, very important and meaningful, and something where we were trying to change the world into...where we were put into the position of kind of salesmen pushing, what we consider, a lot of stupid product. And once in a while, a work like this comes along that makes us all, in this room, proud to be in this our profession. And I thank you very much for that.
RW : Thank you.
(everyone says 'Thanks, Roger.')
JL : Ladies and Gentlemen. The title cut from Amused to Death.
[Amused to Death]
JL : The title cut of Amused to Death. I'm Jim Ladd and we'll come back with our final goodbyes right after this.
('..Time to Go...' from The Wall plays in the background)
JL : Well, I'm Jim Ladd and before we get out of here I want to very quickly thank Red Beard from KTXQ, thank you for joining us, Dan Near from WNEW FM...
DN : Thank you Jim and Roger.
JL : Carter Allen from WBCN in Boston...
CA : Time to go...
ALL : Time to go...
CA : Hey, thanks for having me.
JL : And Mr.Derringer from Q107 right here. And thank you. And everyone here at Q107 for you wonderful hospitality...
JD : No problem. It's been a pleasure. Thanks everybody for coming out. Thank you Jim and thanks Roger for coming into Toronto.
JL : And the great mics. And lastly we'll give Mr. Waters the final word.
RW : Thank you very much and goodnight.
JL : Again another verbose answer. Thanks to all of our stations around North America. We hope you enjoyed it. Again, Amused to Death will be in the stores September 1st. Again, I ask you to give it a listen in private and let it get inside of you and see what happens. I hope you'v enjoyed this. The world premiere of Roger Waters' Amused to Death. Goodnight everybody.
(Jim Ladd thanks all the engineers at the studio and stuff)