Roger Waters On Turning ‘The Wall’ Into A Movie And Reaching The End With Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ was originally released in 1979, a double concept album about a rock star, Pink, who, while facing up to the loss of his father, abuse at school and divorce, feels increasingly isolated from the world, eventually closing himself off behind a metaphorical wall. The band toured it at the time, it was turned into a film by Alan Parker, and more recently Roger Waters’ production of the show became the most successful solo tour in history.

On September 29, a new film, which features footage recorded between 2010 and 2013, interspersed with Roger on a road trip with former Floyd band mate Nick Mason, will be shown in cinemas worldwide for one night only. We spoke to Roger about it.

The Wall is released in cinemas this month. When did you have the idea to make a film?

“2011, about midway through the tour. It was going well, and we’d developed it. I thought to allow it to go by without filming it would be stupid. That’s when I had the idea of the road trip element, and
then it really started taking shape.”

What else can you do with ‘The Wall’?

“We’ve done workshops with it as a theatrical piece, and I suspect we’ll see it sooner rather than later. I’ve been working with Lee Hall, who did Billy Elliot, writers and producers, and I think that team will put it on the stage first in London, then New York and then maybe it’ll tour. People have been reduced to both laughter and tears in the workshops, which is a great sign.”

How will it work?

“Definitely more story and dialogue. And some humour. One of the reasons I’ve been interested in doing a musical is that, so far, none of the incarnations of ‘The Wall’ show off the fact that I like a bit of a laugh. Without that it would be gruelling.”

Did you ever think it’d have this long a life?

“No. The very first idea was just a wall. We were going to start a gig, and build across the stage as it went on and by the end you wouldn’t be able to see the band. That was deemed, quite rightly by all of us, too harsh. It had to be more eloquent.”

‘The Wall’ came to you after a concert in Montreal, when you appalled yourself by spitting at members of the crowd for being so noisy near the stage. The album was you exploring isolation and frustration. Did making the album solve those feelings?

“I don’t know, maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. It was definitely satisfying because it expressed personal feelings of alienation, and how debilitating it can be. Then I realised that my personal story was a metaphor for wider sociological and political concerns that I was having, and that lots of other people were having too.”

Will you be touring it again?

“No. I say that because I’m halfway through making another album, which I’m very excited about. If I tour again – I might have one more in me – it would be to tour that music, a show of new stuff interspersed with old songs from my repertoire.”

Did you think the tour was going to be such a success?

“No. Not until I’d got as far as the full rehearsal at the Isleworth Centre some months before the tour started. Until then I didn’t know whether I’d managed to bridge the gap between then personal narrative and something with more universal meaning.”

You probably get asked if Pink Floyd will be reforming all the time…

“Shall we not? Let’s not. No, no no. I think the answer is no.”