Why Roger Waters Won’t Hold Back Political Statements
Roger Waters, who has often made headlines with political statements he's made in interviews and at concerts, said he has a good reason why he won't hold back such opinions.
"Because I am who I am," the Pink Floyd co-founder recently told the German newspaper the Berliner Zeitung (via Water's website). "If I wasn't this person who has strong political convictions, I wouldn’t have written The Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall, Wish You Were Here, Amused to Death and all the other stuff."
Waters has drawn criticism over the years for using his platform to take political stances. His current This Is Not a Drill tour displays messages that condemn the actions of various world leaders, including President Joe Biden, whom he labels a "war criminal." He penned an open letter to Russian president Vladimir Putin last year urging him to commit to a cease-fire in the war against Ukraine. In another open letter, addressed to the First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska, Waters accused "extreme nationalists" of "[setting] your country on the path to this disastrous war."
In the interview with the Berliner Zeitung, Waters also denounced the single Pink Floyd released last year, "Hey Hey Rise Up." The song was written in support of Ukraine's effort against the Russian invasion and recorded without Waters' participation. "It encourages the continuation of the war," he said of the song. Polly Samson, David Gilmour's wife and a lyricist for Pink Floyd, called Waters "antisemitic" and a "Putin apologist" in a tweet.
On Wednesday, Waters spoke at the United Nations Security Council, where he condemned Russia's invasion as well as Ukrainian "provocateurs," urging for an immediate cease-fire. "Not one more Ukrainian or Russian life is to be spent," he said. "They are all precious in our eyes.”
This was followed by news that Waters has re-recorded Pink Floyd's classic 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon without his former bandmates. The LP features re-imagined versions of the legendary album's songs, plus spoken word poetry over the instrumental tracks to better convey the album's original message, Waters said. “Not enough people recognized what it's about, what it was I was saying then," he explained.
Waters has never shied away from speaking up, regardless of whether or not his fans agree with his sentiments. A message is displayed onstage at the start of This Is Not a Drill performances before Waters even appears: "If you don't agree with Roger's politics, you might do well to fuck off to the bar right now."
Speaking with the Berliner Zeitung, Waters emphasized his belief that to be a musician is to not let go of one's beliefs. "If you have political principles and are an artist, then the two areas are inextricably intertwined," he said. "That's one reason why I left Pink Floyd, by the way: I had those principles, the others either did not or had different ones."
When asked if he sees himself as an "equal parts musician and political activist," Waters replied, "Yes, sometimes I lean towards one, sometimes the other."