July 20, 2013: Two new audio interviews

Wolfman Jack at the Espy

Wolfman Jack at the Espy (Photo credit: floralbrigades)

Alexis Korner 1512710027

Alexis Korner 1512710027 (Photo credit: Heinrich Klaffs)


1968: Jim Morrison interview, Isle of Wight

Audio & video

View video of interview HERE.

It’s kinda hard walking around out there. I didn’t get around, back round the campsite sort of thing. This one seems to be pretty well organised for such a huge – er – I didn’t have a good time last night cos I’d just got off the plane. But tonight, I came back and – er – I could see why people like it.

I think that all these people saying that huge festivals are over, they’re dead and all that, I think they’re wrong. I think they’re gonna become increasingly significant. I think that in three or four or five years . . .

I’m sure that these things get highly romanticised, but – um – I was kind of that opinion myself when I saw the film about Woodstock. It just seemed like a bunch of young parasites being kind of spoonfed this three or four days of  . . .  Well you know what I mean. They looked like victims or dupes of the culture, rather than anything . . . but then I think that may have been sour grapes because I wasn’t there, not even as a spectator.

So I think that even though they are a mess, and even though they are not what they pretend to be, some free celebration of  young culture, it’s still better than nothing. And I’m sure that some of the people take away a kind of , you know, a kind of a myth back to the city.

Well, I don’t want to say too much, cos I haven’t studied politics that much, but it just seems to me you have to be in a constant state of revolution or you’re dead, you know, so . . . There always has to be a revolution. It has to be a constant thing. It’s not something that’s gonna change things and that’s it. ‘The revolution solves everything.’ It has to be every day.

July 19, 2010 BCB Drivetime on The Doors

Ray Manzarek & Robbie Krieger, telephone interview, Friday July 16, 2010, transmitted on BCB, Monday July 19, 2010.

Robbie Krieger (left) and Ray Manzarek, 2010

Robbie Krieger (left) and Ray Manzarek, 2010

Robbie Krieger:

You saw us at the Isle of Wight? Oh boy.


Some people, but I’m not one of them, might think it’s rather strange, the Doors appearing with a symphony orchestra. The reason why I don’t think it’s strange is because I’ve always detected quite a classical influence in your playing, Ray.

Ray Manzarek:

I should think so.


I mean your introduction, for instance, to Light My Fire, has a sort of baroque feel.


Yes it does. I agree with that. It’s based on Johann Sebastian Bach. It’s my Bach studies which turned the introduction to Light My Fire, into a rock and roll piece.


And you were originally a classical pianist.


Well I studied classical. But I also played a lot of jazz and blues on the South Side of Chicago.


And Robbie, of course, you composed Light My Fire.


That’s right.


Though it didn’t say so on the label, because it just said it was by the Doors.

Could we just clarify, because you wrote a number of songs for the Doors, as well as Light My Fire, what were the other ones you did?


Well, all the good ones, you know. Like Touch Me, Love Me Two Times, You’re Lost Little Girl, er, Love Her Madly, Spanish Caravan, I could go on and on.


That’s quite a number. And Light My Fire was the first one.


That’s right.


Had you composed any songs independently before that date?


A couple, but not very many.


How did this come about, because Jim was “the songwriter”, if you’d like to put it that way?


Right. Well one day Jim realised that we didn’t have enough originals, we were doing covers of songs in our sets when we played live, so we didn’t have enough originals, so he said: You guys go home and try to write a song because I’m tired of writing all the songs. And it was like a homework assignment. And I was the only one who came up with anything.


How did that come about? I mean the actual idea for the song? What was the inspiration?


Well, to compete with Jim’s stuff, it’s got to be something pretty heavy duty, right? So I said: OK, I’ll do something about either air, earth, fire or water. And I picked fire.


Now some people think there are drug connotations, you know, ‘light my fire’ is to do with lighting a joint, and then of course there’s the word ‘higher’, which you were told to change when you were on the television.


That’s right. And we didn’t.


Yeah, that comes over in the movie.


Well, Jim also used to tell me: If you’re going to write something, write something that might have double meaning, triple meaning, you know. So I came up with the words ‘light my fire’, and I thought, oh boy, this could be either lighting a cigarette, it could be lighting a joint, it could be talking about sex.

But the best one I heard, this guy came up to me, he was like a meditative type, and he said: Hey, I know what ‘light my fire’ means. I said: What? He said: It’s the third eye, the fire that burns eternally in the third eye.


Well, I can live with that.


Yeah, I thought that was great.


Can we just talk about the movie for a little while? It’s being presented as a movie about the Doors, but it’s really a movie about Jim Morrison, isn’t it?


I wouldn’t say that. I mean, it’s a movie about the entire Doors experience, and of course Jim Morrison’s going to be part of that.


Yes. Well, some would say the two things are synonymous, the story of Jim Morrison and the story of the Doors are identical. But here you are, how many years since his death?


Pretty close to a hundred.

(Actually, it’s almost exactly 40 years.-KD)


And you’re performing the music of the Doors with a symphony orchestra. What are the tunes you’re going to be doing?


Light My Fire, Touch Me, perhaps Riders on the Storm, perhaps Love Me Two Times, Wishful Sinful, and many others.


Will there be any vocals, or is that all instrumental.


No. We have a lead singer, Mili Matijevic, from a band called Steelheart. We also have a bass-player and a drummer.


So you won’t be doing that left-hand stuff, which you almost invented for the Doors.


What did he say?


The left hand.


Oh no, I won’t be doing that. Gee, I’m sorry. And my hair is different, too.


Isn’t it the case for all of us?


Yeah. And I don’t have the mutton-chop whiskers. People say: Hey, it’s too bad youj don’t have the exact same haircut you had . . .


I know! You’ve got to play fair for the fans. That’s what they want to see.


No, who cares?

If they want to see that, then they have to go and see the movie, When You’re Strange, narrated by Johnny Depp, which is of the era.


What did you think of Johnny Depp’s . . .


It’s terrific. He did a great job.


One of the things that struck me, when I talked to Jim back at the Isle of Wight, he was full of this talk of revolution, and of course ‘five to one baby, we’re taking over, we’re going to win, come on!’

Now, didn’t happen, did it?


No, because we’d be going up against the entire Judaeo-Christian Islamic myth, which has yet to dissipate itself. But it will, it will soon, because we’ll be moving into a new astrological age, and the revolution will come about through the revolution of the spirit, through the heart chakra, with each individual being the revolution.


Do you think that’s how Jim would have seen it?


Yes, that’s how Jim would have seen it.


At the time, certainly I, anyway, saw political implications . . .


Of course there’s political implications. We will overthrow the established structure which doesn’t mean that we can’t have democracy, and the vote and all of that, it’ll be exactly the same. But the individual populace there will be enlightenment, perhaps our leaders will actually be enlightened, some day. Not today.


But that was the time of the Vietnam war, which ended rather disastrously, and since then there’s been the Iraq war, and now Afghanistan . . .


We never learn, do we?


Well that’s it. But people don’t seem to be on the streets to the same extent they were at that time.


Well, things are cyclical I guess. You know every two hundred thousand years or so there’s a new cycle that comes around, it’s the tala juga.


We’re in, unfortunately, the tala yuga, which is the age of iron, and dullness, and darkness. But in that, each individual has a chance of seeing through the web of maya, and the veil of falsity that we live under and realising that we’re all one. We’re all the same, we’re emanate from love, you know, the love of the Creator, that makes us all human beings, that we find that within ourselves.

Like my God, could you actually imagine that Jews and Muslims could actually get together and love each other?


Well, they ought to. They all come from the same Bible.


Yeah, they’re both Abrahamic, they’re brothers. But they hate each other.


The left played a big part in the struggles of the Sixties. Do you think that society has moved on, or has the left still got a role?


The left, unfortunately, some of the left guys are just as crazy as some of the right. Too much polarity doesn’t do anybody any good. But the left will never be as bad as the right because, er, at least we care about people.


Would you say the Doors were a left-wing band?


No. The Doors were mirrors of society. You know, artists mirror society. They write about what they see. You know, we weren’t proselytising about what you should do, we were just saying: Hey, look inside, see what you’re doing.


One of the things that struck me about the movie was there were times when Jim appeared to be a bit out of it, that the band seemed to be working almost like free jazz, you know. It looked as if you weren’t quite sure what he was going to do, but whatever he did, you followed him. I was really impressed by that.

Was there a lot of spontaneity, where you didn’t actually you didn’t know what he was going to do next, but whatever he did you followed him? That was the way it appeared in the movie.


Oh yeah, that’s what happened. We didn’t know. He’d go out there, into far-out realms, and we’d following him, because of our ‘musical expertise’, It was like jazz. We were all improvising. And we were following, and sometimes pushing. Sometimes we would push Jim Morrison in different directions.


Could you give me an example of that?


I can’t. I will not. I cannot and I will not. You’d have to be there. It was a live experience. It might have happened at the second set at the Round House.


I was there.


And that’s in the film, too.


Was he a difficult person to work with?


Only when he was drunk. Other than that he was a delight. Charming man, very intelligent, funny, very poetic, very artistic. When he got drunk he was . . . when he was bad he was horrid. ‘When he was good he was very, very good, and when he was bad he was horrid’. (Longfellow)

So, unfortunately, alcohol consumed the good Jim Morrison, and Jimbo probably took Jim Morrison to Paris and killed him.


So you think it was definitely alcohol . . .


Well, Jim had a penchant for drink.


Oh yeah, indeed. Indeed.

I have to say I met Jim at the ICA, you may remember that’s where the press conference took place.


Yes, yes, yes.


And everything you’ve said about him . . . there was this sweet guy, and he was so friendly, and his conversation was so intelligent.




I mean, I asked him a stupid journalistic-type question, which you sometimes have to do, you know?

Was his sexuality on stage, was that just an act, or was it real?

And he said to me: Well, you know, Karl, it’s like when you get up in the morning, you put on a suit of clothes, that’s what you’re deciding to do. Is that an act or is that yourself? And I thought it was such a profound way of looking at it . . .


That’s cool. Isn’t that good? It’s a very good answer, yes. I’m glad you met that Jim Morrison because very few people today have had that opportunity.


Yeah. My criticism of the movie is that we don’t see very much of that Jim Morrison, it’s all drink and drugs and . . .


But you see more of that Jim Morrison than you did in the Oliver Stone movie.


Oh I hated the Oliver Stone movie. How did you feel about the Oliver Stone movie.


Hated it! Hate . . . despise . . . loathe!


It’s amazing how some of Oliver Stone’s movies are so good, and others are so terrible. And I thought that was one of the worst I’ve ever seen.


Well, it’s time to go my friend, we have some other interviews coming in, down the pike.


Right, well I do appreciate the chance of talking to you.


Likewise. Excellent questions.


We probably said a few words to each other at the ICA, but I’m afraid I concentrated on Jim.


You were quite right to do that, and so does the film.


There’s an old Zulu saying, Hamba khalie. It means go well.


Thank you my friend. The same to you.

Feature article for the Morning Star

In 1793, William Blake wrote: “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite”.

Flash forward to July 1965. James Douglas Morrison, the son of a US navy admiral, and Raymond Daniel Manczarek, Jr, a former basketball player, both of them former students at the UCLA film school, meet by chance on a California beach and decide to form a rock and roll band. Taking a tip from William Blake, they decide to call their band The Doors. The band go on to sell over 30 million albums in the US alone.

Flash forward again to July 2010, almost exactly forty years to the day since the alcohol-induced death of Jim Morrison in a Paris bathroom. Ray Manzarek (as he now calls himself) and Robbie Krieger, guitarist with the band and composer of the Doors’ greatest hit, Light My Fire, are in Britain to promote When You’re Strange, a movie supposedly about the Doors, but concentrating on the life and death of Jim Morrison.

I met up with Morrison several times, first in New York, then at the time of their British concert at London’s Roundhouse, sharing the bill with Jefferson Airplane in 1968, and finally at the disastrous Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. We always seemed to be talking about revolution, the subject of one of Morrison’s most powerful songs, Five to One (“The old get old and the young gets stronger/May take a week and it may take longer/They got the guns but we’ve got the numbers/Going to win cos we’re taking over/Come on!”)

When we spoke in 1968, the left was still rocked by the Chicago police riot at the Democratic National Convention, when it seemed like it was the US establishment that was taking over, I asked him how he now felt about the song.

“It’s a song, man,” he said. “It’s how I felt when I wrote it. That’s its validity; Now it’s just a song. Chicago didn’t change my memory of how I felt when I wrote the song.”

Two years later, at Isle of Wight, he was more upbeat: “Well, I don’t want to say too much, cos I haven’t studied politics that much, but it just seems to me you have to be in a constant state of revolution or you’re dead, you know, so . . . There always has to be a revolution. It has to be a constant thing. It’s not something that’s gonna change things and that’s it. ‘The revolution solves everything.’ It has to be every day.”

But it didn’t happen, did it, I say to Manzarek on the phone to his London hotel the day he and Krieger were due to perform their music with the London Symphony Orchestra.

“No,” he replies, “because we’d be going up against the entire Judaeo-Christian Islamic myth, which has yet to dissipate itself. But it will, it will soon, because we’ll be moving into a new astrological age, and the revolution will come about through the revolution of the spirit, through the heart chakra, with each individual being the revolution.

Did he think that’s how Jim would have seen it?

“Yes, that’s how Jim would have seen it.”

What about the political implications?

“Of course there’s political implications. We will overthrow the established structure which doesn’t mean that we can’t have democracy, and the vote and all of that, it’ll be exactly the same. But [for] the individual populace there will be enlightenment, perhaps our leaders will actually be enlightened, some day. Not today.”

The song was composed at the time of the Vietnam war, which ended rather disastrously, and since then there’s been the Iraq war, and now Afghanistan . . .

Robbie Krieger: “We never learn, do we?”

But people don’t seem to be on the streets to the same extent they were at that time.

“Well, things are cyclical I guess. You know every two hundred thousand years or so there’s a new cycle that comes around, it’s the tala juga.”


Manzarek: “We’re in, unfortunately, the tala yuga, which is the age of iron, and dullness, and darkness. But in that, each individual has a chance of seeing through the web of maya, and the veil of falsity that we live under and realising that we’re all one. We’re all the same, we’re emanate from love, you know, the love of the Creator, that makes us all human beings, that we find that within ourselves.”

So would they say the Doors were a left-wing band?

Robbie Krieger says no. “No. The Doors were mirrors of society. You know, artists mirror society. They write about what they see. You know, we weren’t proselytising about what you should do, we were just saying: Hey, look inside, see what you’re doing.”

The new movie is well worth seeing, though personally I feel it concentrates too much on Morrison’s dissolute lifestyle, to the exclusion of the sweet, articulate, friendly guy I met one or two times. “But you see more of that Jim Morrison than you did in the Oliver Stone movie,” says Krieger. (Manzarek has gone on record several times to express his loathing of that film.)

November 4, 1978, Pink Floyd: Rick Wright interview

Karl Dallas talks to Rick Wright about his solo debut, only to find him preoccupied with a mysterious Floyd project – “The Wall” – that will soon drive him out of the band.

Having just divested himself of his first solo album, Rick Wright has a second project roaring and ready to go. But he reckons it will have to wait for at least two years, when the Pink Floyd have finished the massive project-the most massive, he thinks, in a career not distinguished by its belief in the “small is beautiful” philosophy – upon which they are about to embark.

“I think most people would have expected me to do a sort of keyboard extravaganza,” he told me, in the “relaxing room” above the Floyd’s Britannia Row studios. “Maybe similar to what I did on Ummagumma. I decided not to do that because there was something in me that I wanted to get out. Certainly in the future I would like to experiment with keyboards on an album.

“But the Floyd are working again next week, the beginning of a whole new project that will take, I can see, the next two years, from writing  it, to making a film, and doing a show. After that, I don’t know. As soon as I have another period of eight months’ free time, I’ll probably make another album, whenever the opportunity comes up again, like it did for this – unless the Floyd decide to make yet another album.

“The Floyd finished working at the end of July 1977, and we had no plans for the rest of the year. So David and myself, and Roger (Waters) had been wanting to do solo albums for a long time. While David and I were doing our solo albums, Roger was working on the next Floyd project. I can’t say what it is, it’s too early. It’s a very definite idea but I wouldn’t like to talk about it, basically, first because it’s Roger’s baby, his thing, and, two, it’s too early to say we’re doing this and this and this. In case it doesn’t happen.

“We haven’t actually come into the studio and started working on it yet. Roger’s done demo tapes and we’re listening to them, and hopefully Dave and I and Nick (Mason) will come in and we’ll work on it and pull it to pieces, improve on it and add our own thing to it and whatever.

“But it is a very strong idea which has originally come from Roger. It’s a very involved thing and we’re doing a film as well, which always takes time-not just a film for the show, but an actual feature film, with animation, live action, there maybe actors. That, again, it’s too early to say. It’s still being formulated, but it will be a feature film with a story, not just a straight rock film of a concert like the Pompeii film, a film with a story and a plot. It’s a film based on the idea of the music that Roger has written for the album.

“It’s just all starting new. It’s Roger’s project, but I think he worked on the music for the LP, and out of that came the idea for the film.”

It’s inevitable, I suppose, if only because of their famous collective reticence about giving interviews, that when one finally does run one of them down to earth, albeit to talk about a solo project, one ends up, willy-nilly, talking about the band rather than the individual member. And Rick Wright’s insistence that he could never allow a solo project to get in the way of a Pink Floyd album, even the next two Pink Floyd albums, coupled with the certain fact that it is Roger Waters’ commitment to the next Pink Floyd album that has robbed us, so far, of his own planned solo album, prompted me to ask if the band was always to get this sort of top priority from him and the rest of them.

“It has, up to now,” he replied, “and always will do, until any of us feel that it is important to work without the Floyd, which I certainly don’t feel. It was just something I’ve always wanted to do, and there was the opportunity. But still the foremost in my mind was working with the Floyd, and will be until I decide otherwise. If I wasn’t happy working with them, I would stop. It’s as simple as that. But I’m very happy working with the Floyd.”

Another factor motivating this new album at precisely this time is perhaps his own admittedly low level of contribution to Animals, the last Floyd album.

“Yes,” he agreed, “Animals was certainly mostly Roger’s ideas, and Dave wrote the music for Dogs. I, in fact, didn’t contribute anything, and that was partly because there was enough material from Roger and also because I wasn’t feeling very creative anyway. That’s the reason why I didn’t write anything.”

It struck me as surprising, therefore, that when he did get into a creative groove, the album that resulted should sound so much like the Floyd, even to details like the sax playing of Mel Collins, so reminiscent of Dick Parry‘s work on The Dark Side Of The Moon.

“I quite agree,” he said. “This has got a lot to do with how I was feeling, actually. I wrote all the material in Greece, where I was living. It’s a very personal album. It’s not to say that’s what I always want to do, it was just the way I felt at the time. I wanted to feature saxophone on this album because I played the saxophone myself for a bit, but not successfully. The music I first listened to that made me decide that I wanted to be a musician was back in the days of Coltrane, Miles Davis and Eric Dolphy. If you like, they are my heroes, funnily enough, and not keyboard players.

“I like the sound of the sax that the Floyd had, so obviously I tried to get that kind of sound. I originally wrote Waves on my album for the saxophone, and he played it so well that I brought him on to another couple of tracks.

“The title? That’s a funny one. Wet because the record has a sort of watery feel to it. Some of the Floyd does, as well. Dream – there’s a things on the songs where I’m questioning where my roots are, where I want to live, if I should be in England. It’s about this place Greece. Against The Odds is a song about a .village where I originally went on holiday now it’s my second home. I lived there for months last year, writing this album.

“So really, it’s not a wet dream, it’s just a play on the words. It may have been a mistake to call it that, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It’s hard to say why, really.”

Mention of Rick’s Greek domicile – and Dave lives in the same village – raises, inevitably, talk about the Floyd’s supposed millionaire status, the fact that they can own Greek islands (as it is put), presumably hobnobbing with Greek shipping magnates and the like. Rick scoffed at the image.

“Yes, I know,” he said, “the boring old farts syndrome. I’m just waiting for someone to knock us off the top. That’s what should happen. Millionaires? Living on Greek Islands? I just happen to have lived in Greece for the last six months. I would have to be a millionaire to own a Greek island, and I’m not.

“It’s true that we’ve made enough money to have time to really consider what we’re doing rather than just rushing on and on and on. We don’t have to work, but for how long, I don’t know. I haven’t really thought of that, actually. I haven’t actually thought: ‘Ah, I can stop now.’ It never occurred to me.

“But it’s true that we’re not doing this next Floyd project for money. We no longer have that pressure, since The Dark Side Moon, because that was the biggie. That pressure, to go out on the road because we had to financially, is over, but the other pressures that came, since Dark Side, were probably even harder to cope with, because it was a success. What does one do now?

“I think, looking back at what we were like when we started, and people I meet today, it’s all to do with: ‘I want to be successful. I want to sell lots of records.’ It seems to me that’s the goal. It was our goal, sure, when we started, simply to be very famous, successful. And after that one, you find you really have to sat back and think: ‘Well, now what happens?’ So the pressure then is on: what to write, what to play? And they’re harder pressures than managers breathing down your neck to go out and earn a few bob.

“That’s why it’s so good that we give our time to do solo albums. It relieves that pressure. It did for me, anyway. It was a great relief, just to do something like that. And this album helped me to get back my creative energies for doing the next Floyd thing.”

All the time, you’ll note, we keep feeding back to the band, to which all individual ends must be a means to the greater, collective end. It prompted the question what, if anything, did he get out of making the solo album per se that he didn’t get out of a Floyd production?

“The most obvious thing is that on a solo album you’re producing it, you’re playing on it. With the Floyd when we work, obviously there’s four of us and there’s a compromise involved. Also one day, mentally you’re a bit exhausted, someone else can take over. So it’s a shared responsibility.

“On a solo project, you have to be on top of it, all the time, constantly. I’ve never been in control before, totally, so that’s one of the reasons I did a solo album, to put myself into that sort of situation. I wanted to see if I could cope with it. It was a challenge, because it is such a different way of making a record, than working with a band like ourselves, who share the production, and work together quite a lot.”

Although Rick had belittled his contribution to the last album, I had noticed, during the live concerts, that he stretched himself out rather more on keyboards, and he imparted the surprising news – surprising, since it’s common knowledge that they dislike touring almost as much as they hate interviews – that he preferred touring to work in the studio, and that, what’s more, so did Dave Gilmour.

This was surprising, also, because one had always thought of Dave and he as the quiet men of the Floyd, least likely to feel at home in the unreal, rave-up plastic bubble world of the major touring band.

“Dave the quiet one?” he said. “That’s an interesting impression. I can’t speak for him but I do like going on the road. It’s still, for me, the best part of being in the band, actually playing onstage. I always love doing it, even if it goes badly. And, for Christ’s sake, it does go badly at times. Looking back at what I’ve done, in 10 years or so with the Floyd, the high points have probably been on the road.”

With such tightly structured music as the Floyd’s, one wondered how much scope there was for real playing, blowing in the jazz sense, and how one could tell a good gig from bad.

“There were some bad ones on the last tour. The times when we came offstage and say ‘That was incredible’, don’t happen many times. The times when we come off stage and say ‘That was pretty good’ happen a lot. Part of it is how much effort one puts into it. Because it is tightly structured, one can just go through the motions. You can play and hardly be there at all. It doesn’t have the spark. And we’ve done what we think are bad gigs and the audience have really liked it. And also, we’ve done gigs which I’ve thought were bad, and the others thought were good.

“There’s not room for what you might call blowing, ‘cos it is tightly structured, and that’s probably got a lot to do with the fact of having so many effects, which you have to time, narrows yourself. There maybe a bit where you can play a guitar solo, say, but if it’s going well you can’t go on longer because there’s this huge pig just about to fly up. That kind of thing.”

Didn’t this mean, as some had charged, that the effects were getting in the way of the music?

“No. I don’t think so. It’s great when everything works together. We’ve been doing it for quite a long time now, right from the beginning with the light show, which was a haphazard affair, obviously. But we’ve been interested in doing more than just playing onstage. It’s great fun when it works. It doesn’t get in the way of the music, that’s not the right expression. It just limits the amount of improvisation. It imposes a discipline, but within that framework you can still perform and improvise just as well.”

One legend about Rick Wright’s new LP which should be dispelled before it gains any more credence is the thought that his wife Juliette’s Pink’s Song is in anyway a comment on the band, despite such lines as

“I had to stay, I could not leave
Give me time so I can leave
Give me time so I can grieve
I must go, be on my way
Let me go, I cannot stay.. .”

Unfortunately for the Floydologists, Pink also happens to be the nickname of the friend who went to Greece with the Wrights as tutor for their two kids during the six months they were out of Britain and the song is about him. So now you know the answer (Have A Cigar) to the question: “By the way, which one’s Pink?”

“I think what people are trying to find out is whether, having done this, I now want to carry on with the Floyd. It is simply that we had time. Now I’m going to put all my energies into the next Floyd project. Quite often, when people start to come out with solo albums, the media start thinking this is when a band starts splitting up. Quite often it does happen like that, people start doing solo albums because they’re dissatisfied with working in a band. It’s not like that with us.

“Look at Joe Walsh. He’s still with The Eagles. I think it’s an ideal situation – the Floyd have been together now for 10, 12 years – that we can work like this, we can work as a group, and also work as individuals. We’re lucky that we’re in the fortunate position that we can do this, we don’t have to go out on the road every day, we don’t have to bring out an album every six months. We’ve worked for this situation. It’s the best position to be in, I think.”

Melody Maker, November 4, 1978

February 4, 1977: “Punk Floyd”


Prod by Pink Floyd, rec at Britannia Row, London, April-Nov 1976, rel Feb 4 1977

Pigs on the Wing 1 (Waters), Dogs (Waters, Gilmour),  Pigs – Three Different Ones (Waters) Sheep (Waters), Pigs on the Wing 2 (Waters)

Animals did not receive a good reception. It was partly, that bad old media game of turning against past success, and partly that the megasales of its two predecessors gave something of a shock to those who thought everyone should die before they got old.

In some ways too, it was a refusal to see that in categorising human beings as animals, Roger Waters was not denying the value of our humanity any more than Orwell’s Animal Farm was consigning us to the farmyard. I have no reason to revise the judgement I made at the time, that, contrary to what the Rolling Stone magazine was still asserting five years later, it was saying something positive rather than negative about our humanity, despite what Roger had called “pressures which are anti-life”.

Here’s what I wrote about it the week before it was released (perhaps, to put the opening paragraphs in context, it should be realised that this was immediately after EMI’s notorious cancellation of the Sex Pistols‘ contract):

Here is a memo to Sir John Read, head of the EMI group. You are about to release an album which features obscenity, profanity and a dastardly attack upon a well-known public figure.

But before you consider cancelling your contract with them, perhaps you should know that it is by one of your best-selling bands, whose last two albums have hogged the album charts for months at a time, and it is my prediction that this one will repeat that pattern. It is, in short, Pink Floyd’s long-awaited follow-up to 1973’s Dark Side of the Moon and 1975’s Wish You Were Here.

I’d also venture to predict that, just as the last two earned a degree of critical dismay inversely proportions to both records’ eventual success, this new release will be greeted, once again, by loud cries for the return of Syd Barrett; despite which the punters will buy it by the million. Me, I like it, but then never having been a hardcore Floyd freak until Meddle indicated their increasing mastery of studio technology and ability to play the mixing board like it was a fifth instrument, I may be in a critical minority of one.

In a sense, the new album forms the third part of a trilogy, in which the theme of alienation (Dark Side) and loneliness (Wish) is wrapped up by an intense and savage humanism, which is paradoxically all the more powerful by being personified in a series of animal caricatures.

While the Bible separates people into sheep and goats, this Floyd work divides them three ways: dogs, pigs, and sheep. The three sections are sandwiched between the first and second verses of an acoustic song, Pigs on the Wing, sung by Waters in a neo-Sixties singer-songwriter style that is so alien to everything one associates with the Floyd that it comes like a douche of cold water to clear the mind for what follows. In itself, it is not really a great song by any standards, but in context it serves a definite purpose, as a sort of moral framework to the often horrific lyrics in between.

The rest of side one is devoted to Dogs, a horrendous depiction of the modern world as “nature red in tooth and claw”, the dogs of the acquisitive society rending each other, retiring into loneliness and dying of cancer or dragged down to death by the weight you used to need to throw around.

There is a moment about two-thirds of the way through the song when Waters’ singing of the phrase “dragged down by the stone” is put on to a tape loop and repeated almost ad nauseam, while the human overtones of the voice are gradually filtered out, till at the end it becomes little more than a high-pitched howl, like a cry heard through deep water.

Meanwhile, the band takes the recurring phrase as the ground rhythm for a long instrumental, and the sound of barking dogs is processed through a sort of effects box called a Vocoder, creating semi-musical chords out of them, while still retaining their doggy character. A chilling moment, which managed to reach me the first time I heard it, during the fuggy chat of the Battersea Park play-through.

Pigs (Three Different Ones) opens side two with very unflattering portraits of modern figures, each of them laughed to scorn, including a house-proud town mouse called Whitehouse, trying to keep our feelings off the street, which sketches in with a few deft moves, a picture of the censorious Mary as frustrated married spinster, all tight lips and cold feet. There is a line of heavy breathing on her verse, which I suspect is a censored version of something even less flattering, since it is followed by a shout of “you!”.

Even in these savage attacks, however, there is an element of pity, for each of the three victims of Floyd’s ire is described as really a cry, rather than the laugh the lyric pretends at first to have at their expense.

Sheep is almost a mini Animal Farm, a picture of the contented mass, grazing peacefully on their way to the slaughterhouse. Again, there is a chilling moment when a grim parody of the 23rd Psalm

with bright knives He releaseth my soul
He maketh me to hang on hooks in high places
He converteth me to lamb chops

is intoned through the Vocoder. This doesn’t make the horror any easier to take, but it does integrate the intrusion musically, though possibly a little less processing or more upfront mixing might have brought this section out more strongly.

The sheep revolt, killing the dogs, but the words march cheerfully out of obscurity into the dream suggest that perhaps this is the only part of the album not entirely rooted in reality. And is the whole thing, like the story of the canine heroes in Clifford Simak‘s SF epic, City, merely a fable told by one dog to another? There is a definite suggestion that the characters huddling together for shelter from pigs on the wing in the reprise of the opening acoustic song are dogs as well.

So much for the lyrical content, which is easier to talk about than the extremely thick mix of music, at times multi-layered and at others deceptively simple. Apart from the startling open and close, which is as shocking as a common chord of C in the middle of a piece of atonal music, the tunes are thematically very close to those of the previous two albums, with a number of tunes based on a rising minor second interval.

But while, in the other two, it was possible to ignore the somewhat convoluted implications of the lyrics, treating the rich textures as a rather superior kind of musical wallpaper, here the savagery of the words is, at times, rather too close for this kind of complacent comfort, and the music only serves to underline the significance of the lyrics.

For that reason, perhaps, the album may not be as commercially successful as the others, for at times the shocks come as staggeringly as Johnny Rotten gobbing at his audience, an uncomfortable taste of reality in a medium (“progressive” rock) that has become in recent years increasingly soporific. It is almost as if the Floyd realised that a lot of their buyers had managed to doze their way through the implications of the previous albums, and were determined to ensure that it didn’t happen the third time round. Perhaps they should rename themselves Punk Floyd.

Nine years later, I am not inclined to modify that high estimate. I still think the opening and closing songs are weak, a verdict which was confirmed by the reaction of the crowd to Pigs on the Wing at Waters’ ’84 solo concerts, for some reason the only song from this immensely powerful and moving album which he performed. Perhaps the other songs were too long.

On the other hand, though, it was extremely brave of the band to end the album on such a low-key note rather than on a rousing finish, which is the obvious rabble-rousing crowd-pleasing rock tradition. They’ve done it since, of course, with subsequent albums, and it continues to be a brave break with convention, but this was the first time. As we have seen, the ideas and images that became, first, Animals, and then The Wall, were germinating in Roger Waters’ mind at the time of the 19723 Dark Side tour, and some of the Animals songs were given try-outs in subsequent years’ tours.

After the Frankfurt opening for the promotional tour that immediately followed the release of the album, Nick Mason agreed with me that the new work was the culmination of the previous two. “Of course,” he said, “but we didn’t plan it that way. But it just seemed that with Dark Side we somehow got lucky, and things began to fall into place in a way they hadn’t before.

“This one is really my favourite. I’ve never been able to listen to any of our previous albums once we’ve finished them because we’ve spent so much time with them that there’s no pleasure in it. But, with the possible exception of Saucer, this is the only one I like playing.”

Later, though, in 1982 Roger told me that I wasn’t quite right with my “trilogy” theory: Animals was really the first part of The Wall (and I suppose The Final Cut and elements of Hitch-hiking were the conclusion).

“I think Animals is more to do with The Wall than with Wish You Were Here,” he said. “In fact, when I started jotting ideas down, strange ideas for a film, at one time, I did a lot of drawings using animal masks and things.”

DALLAS: This was after The Wall album but when you were working on the movie?

WATERS: No, No, no, no. I was working on ideas for the movie even before I started writing music for The Wall.

That same year, Roger was dismissing ‘Animals’ as “a bit thrown together”.

From Bricks in the Wall, 1987

A personal note:

When I was in Germany with the Floyd in 1977 on the Animals tour, everyone was a barrel of laughs but Roger. We had dinner together, the visiting guests of EMI, the management, and three of the band, but he didn’t come. I wondered why he was being so distant, especially since I’d just given the new album an enthusiastic review. It turned on that he hadn’t read it. But a few days after my return, I received the following missive, written on Lufthansa airmail paper, clearly on the same plane home as me:

Dear Karl Dallas
This is the first and probably the last time I shall write to a member of your normally ignoble calling. I thought your piece on Animals in the MM was extremely perceptive, lucid and humane. To at last receive such tangible evidence that someone has copped it all, and explained it all so well to the great unwashed, lightened the load no end: Thank you!
Yours sincerely, Roger Waters

November 16, 1974: Pink Floyd, Empire Pool

GLC fuck-ups at Empire Pool

It was late afternoon on the day of Pink Floyd’s opening Wembley concert and Roger Waters seemed finally to have come off his trolley. The whole day had been plagued with technical problems, and now the Greater London Council representatives were asking to have all the house lights up in the middle of a lighting rehearsal to make sure that the flying inflatable pig was secured by a safety line as they had ordered.

“Revolve pig!” (his voice taking on an increasingly manic tone). “Open rear vent. hphthphthphthphthphthph…!” And he blew a huge raspberry. Imperturbably, the GLC people consulted their clipboards and pretended not to notice.

“Bloody wankers!” Waters muttered explosively to himself and strode away. All Pink Floyd concerts are miracles of logistics, possibly more than any other bands’. Their musical perfectionism means they’ve already got that side of the show right before they even envisage going on the road, so each of the band devotes all his energies towards making sure that the whole production goes off as immaculately as a show. At the best of times, there is a certain amount of tension, but halfway through last Tuesday afternoon it was positively explosive. “After all,” explained manager Steve O’Rourke later in the week, with three concerts down an two more to go, “other concerts are just concerts, but this is their home ground. When they play London, it’s got to be right. No half-measures are acceptable.”

Planning began last June, when it became clear that neither Olympia nor Earls Court, the favoured venues, were going to be available. A band that can sell 40,000 seats and still have people queueing outside all night in the rain – until turned away by the ever-efficient Wembley security staff – obviously has a limited number of places it can play. It had to be this time of the year, to come before the upcoming tour of the States, so outdoor venues were out. Rainbows and similar-sized theatres were too small, so it had to be Wembley’s Empire Pool, which the band had vowed they would never play again after the last

time. But while they couldn’t do anything about the hall’s noticeable lack of ambience, they could plan well ahead to help things run smoothly.

By November the meetings were well advanced. Requirements for power were laid down, the GLC were consulted. A new electrical system was being installed, but this ought to be an advantage, even though by last month the exact details still weren’t available.

Pink Floyd do use an awful lot of power. Their PA gives out roughly 30,000 watts, and for it to operate smoothly there have to be lots of safety margins so that nothing is being overloaded. There are at least four major consumers of power, in addition to the PA.

“We told them we wanted 200 amps,” said Mick Kluczynski, who, in spite of his name, has the soft Inverness accent of the place where they’re reputed to speak the best English in the British Isles, “but they didn’t believe us. You’d think they would realise we know what we are talking about by now, but they always think they know better. I made a random check the other night and we were drawing over 100 amps then.

“When we got here, we found that instead of having a separate circuit for lights and sound, it all came in by the same cable, so we were getting the most terrible buzzes, especially when Dave Gilmour played. We brought in a 400 kVa generator so that we had separate supplies, but that didn’t get rid of the noise on the first night. So that meant the power source wasn’t the real explanation. After the show on Tuesday night we went over the entire circuitry to find out what was going wrong. There were approximately 20,000 soldered joints in our entire system, so you can imagine that wasn’t easy. One plug on one lamp on our projection screen can foil you if it’s not wired exactly right.

“Do you know what we found? We had people working all night after the first show on Tuesday and eventually we discovered that, without telling us, the GLC people had gone over it on Monday night, putting these little earth wires on to everything. They said afterwards that they’d done it for safety reasons, and when we pointed out that they had ruined an entire concert, they said they couldn’t care less. All they cared about was safety.”

For the technically minded, what the GLC had done was to create a whole series of earth loops, which is the most common source of hum in any domestic hi-fi. A system without an earth wire will probably have a slight hum. But a system with two earths will often hum worse than one without any.

“I’m the one who was most affected,” said Dave Gilmour, “because I’m the one with all the foot switches and special effects. They steam in at the last moment, when you are hoping to get the show on for 8,000 people who have paid their money, and then they do things like that without even telling you. After all the trouble and expense we go to, and then they fuck you up.

“In a band like this, everyone’s got to be doing it, working at full efficiency onstage, technically and emotionally. I can get over things like that, but Roger can’t. He gets very hung up about it.”

Steve O’Rourke was quietly furious about the way it had all gone, though proud of the way his crew had ridden with the punches and got the show on the road.

“The position with Pink Floyd seems to be that everyone knows that we bring in a lot of equipment, so they try to use us as a test case and say no to everything we want to do, in case anyone else might want to do the same,” he said. “We started loading in our equipment on Friday, five days before the first concert. We’d already had long planning meetings so that they knew what we were intending to do. But because the GLC staff wouldn’t work over the weekend, they refused to go through our equipment while we were setting up.

“Then on Monday they hit us with a list of things as long as your arm. They wouldn’t allow us to use our cherrypicker lighting rigs unless they were rewired, the stage was too big, we couldn’t hang the projection screen, we couldn’t fly anything, they wouldn’t allow fireworks.”

Gradually, patiently, by a process of negotiation, persuasion and – let’s be honest – dogged determination, O’Rourke and promoter Harvey Goldsmith found ways of satisfying the GLC objections while keeping the basic concept of the show. Every single lamp had to be secured by a safety chain, for instance. But plans to hang acoustic drapes round the walls of the hall to kill the echo and improve the acoustics were vetoed absolutely.

I sat behind Roger Waters as he supervised a lighting rehearsal on the Tuesday. Roadies stood in the positions where the band would be for the show. Engineer Brian Humphries ran a tape of the Dortmund Floyd concert – the second in the European series – and the lights flashed and coruscated.

I jumped out of my skin at show opener “Sheep”, because as the lights flashed up in sync with the sound of the drums, I really thought for a moment it was Nick Mason drumming, despite the fact that my own eyes told me Nick was sitting in the row in front of me, alongside Roger Waters. He’d been using the band’s limo to do some personal shopping in the West End earlier that day, and seemed the most relaxed member of the band at that point.

“Is that it?” Waters exploded to Steve O’Rourke at the end. “Is that what it’s going to look like tonight? Because if it is, we’re not going on.”

“They THINK that’s what it’s going to look like,” replied the manager reassuringly. “We’re working on it.”

Later, O’Rourke explained the problem to me: “The last time we were here we had the whole house blacked out apart from the exit signs. Now the GLC have a new ruling, which says that there’s got to be a level of lighting equivalent to a bright moonlit night. That’s what they told me. But, apparently, the actual regulation merely says there must be a certain percentage of lighting, if possible, and providing it’s not detrimental to the performance.

“Of course, there’s got to be safety regulations, but all our stuff is designed with safety margins. Take the pig. It weighs 80 pounds, and it’s carried by a three-quarter-inch steel line with a breaking strain of several tons. There is no regulation to say there’s got to be a safety-line, but we had to work all night putting one on in such a way that it wouldn’t foul anything as it moved over the auditorium. I asked for a copy of the regulations on Monday, and they said I’d have to write in.

“This sort of thing doesn’t happen to us anywhere else in the world. On 20 shows in Europe we haven’t had any of these problems. Normally we set up, at a maximum the day before, but often on the day of the show. Here we had Saturday, Sunday and Monday before the show on Tuesday, and we still had a fucked-up show. It was really dreadful, and a large percentage of the blame is down to the GLC. Fortunately last night (Wednesday) was close to being a very, very good show.”

With all these problems, who needed an attack of flu, pharyngitis and tonsillitis to make life difficult? But this is what Dave Gilmour was coping with as the show drew nearer. He spent much of Tuesday afternoon having liquid cocaine pumped up his nostrils — quite legally – in Harley Street as part of a course to get his vocal tubes functioning more or less normally.

Though his voice had a sexy, Lauren Bacall hoarseness afterwards, the treatment had its desired effect, during the gig at least.

In fact, despite the problems, I thought the Tuesday night show wasn’t too bad, though by Thursday the bugs had obviously been worked out of the system. Nor did the hang-ups interfere with the playing onstage – after all, the main object of the exercise.

Rick Wright’s keyboards, which had seemed rather low-key in Frankfurt, were particularly outstanding, and Gilmour’s guitar lines were as blistering as ever, likewise Mason’s drumming. Strangely, though it was Gilmour’s throat that was under medical attention, the only real signs of strain were in Roger Waters’ singing. This may have been because he knew the systems were operating generally at rather less than full efficiency, and he seemed to be working harder than ever to project what the songs were all about, which sometimes succeeded remarkably, but also added at times a manic note that worked against, rather than with, the subject-matter of the songs, particularly in the Animals sequence, which occupied the entire first half.

“Roger is the one who dreams up most of the effects,” said Robbie Williams. “He applies an eye for detail that would be unthinkable in any less complex, less structured show.

“I want the smoke to begin at the words ‘all tight lips and cold feet’ at the beginning of the second verse of Pigs,” I heard him instructing some of the crew. “And I want as much smoke as you can give me. I don’t want the audience to see the pig until the loud solo from Dave that comes after the verse.”

And sure enough, during the Tuesday run through the pig emerges in smoke.

“There’s no way we’re going to allow that much smoke in the auditorium,” pronounces a GLC official. It is certainly rather murky.

“We’ll open the doors at the back on the night and the fans’ll soon disperse it,” says Steve O’Rourke, but Waters isn’t listening.

“I prefer the pig to the aeroplane they had last time we were at Wembley,” said sound engineer Brian Humphries. “Every time it came zooming over I used to duck. It was my first gig with the band – and it was the first time a lot of the music on this new album was played, as a matter of fact – and I was convinced it was going to crash right on the mixer. Finally, the GLC gave us fewer problems over that than this pig.”

Humphries presides over a fantastic battery of electronic equipment, some of it hired specially, some of it cannibalised from the Floyd’s studios in Britannia Row, Islington, within a 30-square metre enclave in the centre of the hall which also houses the lighting desks controlled by Graeme Fleming. To lend him an extra pair of hands, Nigel Walker had been seconded from Air Studios in London to help control the set-up.

Another source of sound is the film projector showing Ralph Steadman cartoons, which is operated by Andy Shields’ team from a 17ft tower behind the stage, projecting onto a 32ft back projection screen suspended at the back of the stage.

One of the reasons Roger Waters wears headphones for so much of the set is that the film carries a “click track” which he hears to keep the band in sync with the film. The band relies on him to give them the timing, and it is so tight that until Andy told me, I didn’t realise that most of the sound wasn’t on film.

In addition to Graeme Fleming’s lighting team, three or four other people are likely to be gainfully employed in the mixing area, such as Nigel Taylor, the maintenance engineer and general boffin from Britannia Row, and Derek Unwin, who looks after cassettes – every Floyd concert is recorded on a Nakamichi – and acts as a communications channel between the various parts of the hall, such as Seth Goldman who is mixing the monitor sound onstage, and the control area.

The rehearsal proceeds, and during the Dogs sequence, three blown-up shapes rise from stage left, a petty bourgeois family, mum, dad and fat little boy.

“This is nothing compared to what we are planning for the US tour,” said Fisher. “We’ll have nine extra blow-ups. One of our ideas is a blow-up fridge with a door that opens and spills out sausages. Another is a VW Beetle.”

On the night of the third concert, everyone goes to his controls like matelots going to action stations on a nuclear Dreadnought. Dave Gilmour passes me on his way to the stage to await his opening cue.

“Break a leg,” I greet him, aware of the time-honoured stage superstition that it’s unlucky to wish people luck as they go on. He grunts, as if warding off the evil eye. After all, it might just happen. Everything else has.

*Asked to comment upon Pink Floyd’s allegations, the GLC denied that their officials had touched any of the band’s equipment. “Our officers were presented with a large number of new effects for the show on Monday morning,” said a spokesman, “which was the first time they had a chance to examine them so far as safety considerations were concerned. The secondary lighting level was dimmed in time for the Wednesday show because our officers did agree that it was too high and detracted from the programme.”

Melody Maker

A Roger Waters Interview, September 22, 1982

DALLAS: How much of Pink is in you, or how much of you is in Pink?

WATERS: My father was killed in the war, at Anzio. I did find the scroll and the uniform in a drawer one day. The play­ground stuff, I don’t remember that, that’s something that I wrote just to keep the scene going, that might have to do with the character.

DALLAS: Was your childhood as unhappy as The Wall seems to suggest?


Why does The Wall seem to suggest a very unhappy childhood? Because of the school, you mean? And being rejected in the playground by the man?

DALLAS: And also his relationship with his mother, which…

WATERS: No, my relationship with my mother wasn’t like that. In fact the mother is one of the bad areas of characterisation in the film, I think. She’s full of contradictions, that character, really. Not very well drawn. I think that may have something to do with the fact that I didn’t draw very much on my own experience for that area. I mean I did find a dying rat on the rugby field and take it home and try to look after it, and my own mother did make me put in the garage, but not like that. She wasn’t a crazy, over­weight, hysterical woman. I think that’s a very crude por­trayal of that response. It’s a cliché . . . it’s not the way. . . I think it’s wrong.

DALLAS: Is she still alive?

WATERS: My mother? Yeah.

DALLAS: Have you explained this to her?

WATERS: Oh yeah, yeah. When the record came out – she hasn’t seen the film yet, in fact I’m going to take her to see it in a couple of weeks when she comes up to town – when the record came out, I talked to her about it, and warned her what it was about.

DALLAS: What about specific incidents, like smashing up the hotel room?

WATERS: No, I’ve never done that. Again, no I’ve never done any of that, but again, that’s something borrowed from other people’s experience.

DALLAS: I also suspect that not only was your childhood not as unhappy as the album and the film suggests but slightly more privileged. I think you come from a slightly sort of better social background than that, don’t you?

WATERS: Um, well we never find out in the film what she does, do we? That’s another thing. You never find out who they are, really. It’s a perfectly nice house that they’re living in and he’s very well dressed in his little mac and his . . .

But that’s the other thing about that bit of the film: one was never quite sure where it was or who they were or what the background was, in fact, or I wasn’t, watching it. It skimmed over the surface rather of all that.

My mother was a school-teacher, in a university town, in Cambridge. I mean, Cambridge was a very nice place to live. I had a fantastic time. I didn’t like school, I didn’t like my grammar school. I hated it. But I enjoyed life at my primary school, a lot. I actually went to a very good primary school. It was just that immediate postwar period where enormous strides were made in primary education in this country, where it started to be focussed far less about, you know, “sit still, shut up, and learn to read and write” and more about centres of interest and projects about things and . . . But my grammar school was pretty dreadful.

DALLAS: One of the things that struck me is that a lot of the kids who go to see it won’t ever have experienced being treated that way in the classroom.

WATERS: Mind you, I think quite a lot of people who are going to see the film aren’t kids, in fact.

The idea behind all that really was to suggest that as far as he was concerned, the character, that it may only take one isolated incident, with one bad teacher, to affect the way the person responds to people maybe for the rest of his life. I believe that.

I can remember being really very badly upset, even when I was quite old, by people suddenly giving vent to their personal frustrations at my expense. But it is a bit confused, that area.

DALLAS: So the teacher is probably more modelled on your real-life experience than your mother.

WATERS: Yes, oh yes. Without question.

DALLAS: I mean, is there a teacher in your mind, when you . . . ?

WATERS: Not one specific one, but we had a number. We had some good teachers as well, but we had a fair number who were serving their time and who were extremely bitter about all sorts of different things and who as I say were so frustrated and bitter about their lives that they treated the kids at school abominably.

And they would often pick on the weak ones as well and make their lives a misery for them.

It was a war, it was a real war with lots of them. And a real battle, and sometimes the battle was won by the kids and I can remember teachers at my grammar school having nervous breakdowns.

One guy one afternoon just went and got on the train. Nobody knew. He was found wandering about in the early hours of next morning a hundred miles away, which seemed incredibly funny at the time.

Because of the way we felt and the fact that we felt it was a battle, in fact, we behaved in the same way. We followed their example. The nasty sarcastic ones that picked on the weak kids, that affected us to the extent that we picked on the weak teachers.

But I’m sure, in fact I know, there are all kinds of troubles in schools all over the country, but I think the atmosphere has changed to a certain extent. I don’t think they attempt that absolute exercise of power in the same way that they did when I was at school.

The thing is that if I’m writing a song something like that, it’s not like conducting a reasoned argument or writing an essay or conducting a debate or something, it’s just about expressing my own particular, ultimately, inevitably, biased feelings, and getting them out in a song, if I can, and if people pick up on them, that’s good. But I wouldn’t claim, you know, that the picture that [Gerald] Scarfe and myself between us painted of this character’s schooldays, I wouldn’t claim it was not a caricature. It is a caricature.

We weren’t trying to remake Kes, which was beauti­ful and poetic and real, apparently. One had a great feel­ing that those situations were real. The Wall is a very stylized work, and it is a work of satire and caricature.

DALLAS: And are you also satirized and caricatured in it?

WATERS: M’m, yes. I mean the character is. Because what happens is that the character recognizes, within himself, a lust for power and a lack of caring for other people’s feelings and other people’s needs, which he then projects into a fantasy of himself as a kind of fascist demagogue.

I’m not sure if that’s satire, but it’s an attack on parts of myself of myself that I disapprove of, a sort of exercise in self-flagellation, I suppose. No, that’s wrong, that’s the wrong image.

The film gets so odd at hat point, halfway through, the way that the characters examination of himself is portrayed – because that’s what it is – that I don’t know what I’d call it.

DALLAS: I can think of a lot of people it’s more obviously like, rock stars, who are in fact fascist demagogues, in the way they behave on stage, their relationship with the audience.

WATERS: Well, clearly, it’s pointing to all that, and pointing at them. Mind you, nobody seems to have spotted that, really. And the whole thing about the relationship between musicians and their audiences is something … in the very first draft of a screenplay that I wrote, that area was dealt with more adequately, more deeply. There was more screen time devoted to it.

DALLAS: Do you regret that change of emphasis?

WATERS: Yes, partially. I think there’s a bit too much kind of wandering up and down misty railway embankments and things. I think all that childhood stuff got a bit drawn-out in the end and I think the first 20 minutes is pretty slow, really. And, yeah, I regret that that feeling of mine isn’t expressed more strongly in it. Some of it is expressed as strongly as I could have hoped for, really, you know the kind of self-destructive instincts of the whoopers and hollerers . . .

DALLAS: In the audience?

WATERS: Yeah. That kind of crazed rush into an empty auditorium is something that I used to watch from time to time in big, big places like the Cow Palace in San Francisco, that crazed rush to the front of the stage, to stand crushed against the barriers for hour after hour after hour.

DALLAS: The cross-cutting in the movie, with the Anzio landings, don’t you think that’s a little far-fetched?

WATERS: Not really, no. I don’t. Because there seems to me to be something . . . well, it’s strange, because it’s not a direct parallel. Clearly, the motivation behind people jumping off DUKWs and running up beaches in Anzio is that they’ve been bloody well ordered to do it, you know. And they thought, and they were probably right in thinking, they were fighting a war that needed to be fought.

Whereas the motivation for the kind of involvement in rock shows that I’m pointing at is a masochism. It’s some­thing I don’t understand. I do not understand that thing of people going to rock shows and apparently the more painful it is the better they like it.

There are lots of shows where the sound is just so awful and so loud that it’s painful. And it becomes a kind of religious exercise almost, it seems to me. It’s a bit like being a whirling dervish or something, you achieve ecstasy through continual repetition of some simple movement.

Maybe that’s what it is. Maybe it’s a response to a lack of religious involvement. It’s a bit like walking on hot coals or something. Certainly you see people sometimes at shows where they’ve gone to be in the presence of their gods and whatever happens, really, they’re going to bloody well make all the right responses in all the right places, come hell or high water.

So that is something that I found depressing in rock ‘n’ roll and that’s what I found depressing in the tour we did in ’77, just that it seemed to me to not be anything about musicians and audiences enjoying being in each other’s company – just one group of people performing and the others listening or watching or whatever – but a series of situations where the response was conditioned and automatic and where all it was about was money, or very, very little else.

I mean I can say this because I believe it, on a tour like the Stones’ last tour, this world-wide tour that they’ve done, the money is so much more important than anything else that it completely overshadows, as far as I can see anyway, anything else that’s going on. It has become absolutely the central issue in that situation.

And the media picks up on it, everybody picks up on it. That’s all the media are interested in, is how much money they made, how many T-shirts they sold.

DALLAS: Isn’t that partly because what the Stones are doing musically, at the moment, is not very interesting, so that’s all there is to write about?

WATERS: I don’t know, that may be so. That may be so, yeah.

But you know, the Stones’ music has never been very interesting, with a capital I. You know. It’s been fucking good, it’s been great.

When I was a kid . . . (laughs)

DALLAS: How old are you now, Roger?


When I was a kid, they were g-r-eat! I was an incredible Stones fan. I still am, actually. I still think some of the stuff that they do is really good. I just think their shows are a joke, all those fucking people crammed into those big stadiums, I think they’re just as much of a joke for them as they were for us.

DALLAS: You use the past tense. Does that mean you think that your later shows aren’t a joke?

WATERS: Yeah. Well it’s only The Wall. That’s all we’ve done since then. We did those, I thought, under much more controlled conditions, ie 15 thousand people instead of 80 thousand people. All that makes a hell of a difference. You can cater to 15 thousand people, with the technology that’s available now. If you take it seriously enough and get the right people in to help an spend enough of their money on it, because it’s the punters’ money for God’s sake. So if you spend enough of it on sound systems and on what you do, then you can at least take care of the technical aspects of the thing and provide a decent return for whatever it is that they have to pay, and still do some­thing that you find interesting yourself, obviously. I thought, The Wall shows were … I know they were very expensive, they were eight quid or something, the tickets were, but that’s how much they cost. That’s what it cost. You could make out a case for saying well, people would rather have paid two quid and not have any of that show, well, that may be true, but that was what I was interested in doing. It was a gamble, obviously.

DALLAS: Because a lot of the time in The Wall, people thought they were listening to you and they weren’t, were they? They were listening to the surrogate musicians.

WATERS: Well at the beginning, yeah, at the very beginning. Actually, the idea was that they were, clearly they were meant to be what we became, ie at that juncture Pink was like a gestalt figure, the whole band turned into this kind of Nazi apparition towards the end of the thing, and that was really a kind of theatrical shock tactic, because people would assume that it was us and ask “Why are they dressed in those weird clothes? What’s going on?” And wonder about things.

And then suddenly realise that it wasn’t actually us. I just wanted to create a sort of confused atmosphere at the beginning so that people could start to sort it out slowly as the show went on. It may be that it was too confusing, but what I liked about doing The Wall and why it was different from touring in ’77 which we did with Animals and Wish You Were Here, which were also fairly rigidly constructed pieces, was that in The Wall we provided the audience with enough stuff so that it was almost impossible not to be involved in it, if you were in the audience, I think. And that was what the intention was, really, to do a rock show which didn’t have to rely necessarily on the feeling of being in the presence of divine beings, or getting some contact-high from being close to power and wealth and fame. . .

DALLAS: You don’t think that the very construction of it in fact made that even more so? Here’s a guy who’s so big that he can afford to put a wall between him and the audience?

WATERS: Well, that’s the point it was making. But I mean it was making the point, yeah, about us as much as about other bands, except it was something that I personally had become very aware of. So if you like I was really, at that point, sharing my awareness of the situation with other people. I know a hell of a lot of people picked up on it. I’m sure there were a hell of a lot of people who didn’t, who came to the show and went away thinking “What the fuck was all that about?” And aren’t interested, anyway. There’s no reason why everybody should be interested in the same things I am, at all.

DALLAS: I found it rather oppressive. I was quite pleased I didn’t actually have to review it because I did not have a good time.

WATERS: Really?

DALLAS: I felt as if I’d been attacked, not a personal attack, like “You, yer bastard”, but just that I’d been under psychic attack.

WATERS: Well, you had, I suppose. You had. It wasn’t, you know, it wasn’t meant to be a sort of wonderful, “God isn’t it wonderful, here we are all together let’s have a good time” concert, that’s obviously not what it was about.

And clearly the film isn’t, either. You don’t go to the film and come away thinking “Christ, that was wonderful”.

DALLAS: But both the show and the film end on an up-note.

WATERS: Yes. That’s true. That final song is saying, “Right, well that was it, you’ve seen it now. That’s the best we can do, really. And that wasn’t actually us. This is us. That was us performing a piece of theatre about the things that it was about and we do like you really.” I mean we do need that human contact, that’s just making a little bit of human contact at the end of the show.

The backwards and forwards about how to end that show, the different kind of things that we went through!

I mean originally, in the very, very first version of it, the plan was just to build the wall and leave it. But that was too tough, really, too kind of alienating, and didn’t feel right at the time.

We didn’t not do that because of the worry about how people would respond. We didn’t do that because it was too tough, it was too “Fuck you”, which wasn’t the inten­tion at all.

Anyway, it’s not something that I’d care to do again, but it’s something that I’m glad to have been part of.

DALLAS: That means we’re not going to see The Wall live again?

WATERS: I wouldn’t have thought so, no. I can’t imagine that, the aggravation of getting it together. You never know. We won’t be certain about that for another few years when one will know that everything has rotted and all the machinery is rusty. If you haven’t seen it again in the next five years then you’ll know you’re not going to, because everything will have been stolen or rusted away, the cardboard will all be soggy.

DALLAS: The film ending is also upbeat, but it seems to be saying something different but equally in contrast with the aliena­tion of the earlier part.

WATERS: M’m. (pause) Yeah. What do you think it’s saying?

DALLAS: It seems to me – I’ll answer your question this way – that the movie is much more politically orientated. It’s not merely that it uses images of rioting, but I mean that final image, kids playing . .

WATERS: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. That final image, if it’s saying anything at all, it’s suggesting that when we’re born, we don’t like Molotov cocktails, and that we learn to like them as we grow older. We learn to want to burn stuff and break things. But then we’re that age . . . you know, children don’t like the smell of petrol and they don’t like the taste of whisky. These are tastes that one acquires.

DALLAS: Don’t you think that’s a rather sentimentalized view of childhood?

WATERS: M’m. Well, yes it is, but nevertheless it’s true. Children don’t . . . well, actually children do like Molotov cocktails, of course, they do. They love Molotov cocktails. I don’t know why I said that. It’s clearly nonsense. They like guns and fireworks and bangs and . . . but they don’t like killing. Well most of the children I know don’t, anyway. Certainly my children don’t. They really, really, they don’t even like it in nature. They don’t like it when Jon-Jon our cat kills a bird, they don’t like it. Because they identify with the bird. Killing is very worrying I think to children, and it’s something that we get hardened to as we grow older. Some of us get more hardened to it than others.

DALLAS: Can I ask this about your children: Do you think you’ve succeeded in protecting them, or not doing to them the sort of things that you depict in The Wall?

WATERS: Er. So far, yeah. It depends what you’re talking about. I haven’t gone away and been killed in a war. Equally, you known, we’ve been as careful as we can to make sure that when they leave us and go away to their schools, because they both go to school now, that they’re not maltreated. And also we try as much as possible to explain things to them.

The things that are done to the children in the film, well to the main character, is that his father is killed and that clearly is being done to a hell of a lot of children all over the world, apparently more and more. I mean the pace at which carnage in the world is apparently growing. There was a little bit of a lull after the end of the Vietnam conflagration but it seems to be just rising and rising and rising now. I don’t know, maybe I’m becoming more sensitive to it, maybe it’s not, maybe it’s something that goes along on a level, but it seems to be so, clearly there are an enormous number of war orphans being created now.

DALLAS: How did you feel, when the kids in Soweto were singing “We don’t need no education”? I wondered what your reac­tion to that was?

WATERS: I was very pleased. I think when people are protesting about something, it’s good if they’ve got a nice, kind of catchy tune that they can all remember, to use. To use as a sort of weapon.

I’ve just given permission to some people who are doing a CND thing to use the tune, to write their own words to it. The Germans used it, as well, the German anti-nuclear lobby wrote their own words to it, and used the tune on marches and things. I was really pleased. I like that.

DALLAS: Can we talk about some of your earlier work, before The Wall, because it’s a big frustration to me that we never had a chance to talk about Animals, which I found a very, very interesting work, and I thought the characterization of it in that Rolling Stone article particularly crass, saying that you wrote people off as pigs and sheep and dogs, but it seemed to me that was a very humanitarian statement, and I found it a very moving album.


DALLAS: The thing that interests me, it seems to me that Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here are like a double album that came out in two sections. They seem to be very related to each other in theme. You may not accept this division, it may be purely artificial, but I found myself listening to Animals and trying to decide whether it was the last part of that trilogy or the beginning of The Wall because there’s elements of both in it. Are you able to distance yourself from your past work, to look at it and say . . .

WATERS: I think Animals is more to do with The Wall than it was to do with Wish You Were Here. In fact when I started jotting ideas down, strange ideas for a film, at one time, I did a lot of drawings using animal masks and things.

DALLAS: This was after The Wall album but when you were work­ing on the movie?

WATERS: No. No, no, no. I was working on ideas for the movie even before I started writing music for The Wall. You see I actually bought a book and learnt how to write screenplays so that people could actually understand it who are in film. Clearly, this was after conversations with Scarfe and with [Alan] Parker.

DALLAS: How many pages is it?

WATERS: 39 pages.

DALLAS: You were too young to do any kind of national service, weren’t you?

WATERS: I was in the cadet force at school, Combined Cadet Force. I spent weekends at HMS Ganges.

DALLAS: You were a naval cadet?

WATERS: Yeah. I was absolutely horrified by it. I couldn’t believe it.

I don’t know if you know about HMS Ganges, it’s for train­ing boy sailors, kids when they’re 14. Phew!

I also spent weekends on Vanguard before she was scrapped, and that was pretty weird. I don’t like the sea, though, at all. I get seasick.

DALLAS: So why did you become a naval cadet?

WATERS: I couldn’t bear the itching of the army uniform. I couldn’t bear it. And so I got into all that and became a Leading Sea­man and things.

DALLAS: You did quite well, then?

WATERS: Well, yeah, I dunno why, quite. I dunno why. I liked guns, I liked firing guns and all that stuff, in fact I used to shoot for the school, small-bore shooting, and then I think there’s something in me that makes me want to kind of dominate people anyway, so I did all that in the cadet force and was I think roundly hated by most of the people involved.

In fact, one weekend I was set upon by a bunch of enraged schoolboys and dealt with.

DALLAS: Who were under you?

WATERS: Yeah, and I learnt a lesson then, a bit. It’s not a terribly good thing to throw your weight around too much. And then I left.

DALLAS: But don’t you have a position of great authority in the Floyd orbit?

WATERS: Yeah, and I still abuse it sometimes.

DALLAS: Do you still get set upon?

WATERS: No. Well
(a) I tread more warily than I did when I was 14, and
(b) I think I probably protect myself more efficiently than I did then.
I stayed on for a third year in the sixth form, because I’d failed one of my A levels, Applied Maths or something, Pure Maths. Anyway, I failed something so I stayed on for a third year, and I was the only boy in the school in living memory who’d stayed on for a third year in the sixth without being made a prefect, for which I’m quite proud. My final school report said, this was all it said, it said: “Waters never fulfilled his considerable potential and was dishonourably discharged from the cadet force.”

DALLAS: Is that so?

WATERS: Oh yeah, I was dishonourably discharged.

DALLAS: What, after this fracas?

WATERS: No, no, no, nothing to do with that. I just suddenly decided I didn’t want it, and you couldn’t leave, it wasn’t in the rules, you weren’t allowed to leave. I just handed my uniform back in and said I wasn’t going any more. So I was dishonourably discharged, turned out in disgrace.

Extracts from an interview with Roger Waters, September 22 1982