Roger Waters left Pink Floyd in 1983 in a bitter dispute, but musically he has never strayed far from his famous roots. Waters, 48, has again returned to the progressive rock sound that made Pink Floyd so popular in his third solo LP, Amused to Death.
The 73-minute concept album, released in Canada last week, is Waters' view of the world as seen through television. He describes it "as a gorilla watching TV. The record springs from my feeling that television is the single-most important facet in all our lives, providing us with a medium with which to communicate with each other for good and for evil," said Waters in an interview in Toronto. "It's a kind of two-edged sword and it interests me because it's so powerful." Waters ranks Amused to Death right up there with the Pink Floyd classics Dark Side of the Moon (1973) which has sold 15 million copies, and the 1979 epic The Wall.
"To have made two records like that, I was absolutely certain, really, that I would never make another one. I think I've made another one." While Waters still bristles at any mention of his former colleagues, who still record and tour as Pink Floyd, he's determined to let his music prove he was the creative force behind the band. His guest list on Amused to Death includes ex-Eagle Don Henley, Rita Coolidge, and guitarist Jeff Beck, who is featured on seven of the album's 14 songs. Waters had to send Beck a demonstration tape before the guitarist would agree to play on the album. "He's such a sweet guy," says Waters. "Jeff could never say no to you to your face, so he has to listen to the stuff in a separate room so if he doesn't want to do it he doesn't have to tell you. But he did want to do it, thank God."
It's been five years since Waters' last album Radio KAOS, which was followed by a tour that featured many gems from the Pink Floyd vaults. He hasn't decided about a tour this time, but if he does hit the road he's of "two minds whether to do anything from the past or not." He believes Amused to Death should become "a theatrical piece that stands on its own" so "the audience might have to wait for me to do something old for an encore."
Waters admits he has many personal favorites from his Pink Floyd days, but he still fells The Wall was his best work. "We'll have to see how I live with Amused to Death, but The Wall is really the thing I'm the proudest of. I think it's pretty well flawless." Waters also wants to stage another presentation of The Wall in the year 2000. "I did it in 1980 (with Pink Floyd). I did it in 1990 (an all-star production at the Berlin Wall). I'd quite like to do it in 2000." He just has to decide between his two preferred locations: "the Grand Canyon or Wall Street."