Roger Waters, the 78-year-old bassist and singer who co-founded the pioneering group Pink Floyd, failed to shatter any stereotypes about boomer rockers being out-of-touch during an interview with Toronto’s Globe and Mail. He made dismissive (some might even say rude) comments about two of that city’s most beloved recording artists, seemingly annoyed that his work wasn’t getting enough attention.
The combative musician, who left Pink Floyd in 1985 and unsuccessfully sued remaining group members from continuing to use the name, told a music critic at the newspaper that his old bandmates “were always trying to drag me back from my natural instinct, which is to tell the truth,” and that today he expresses himself “more coherently and clearly now than I did then.”
With that, he asked why Toronto outlets didn’t send someone to review his recent area shows. The interviewer, Brad Wheeler, was honest, and said he was assigned to cover The Weeknd at a bigger venue.
“I have no idea what or who the Weeknd is,” Waters said about the Toronto-born artist, which clearly wasn’t true, because he knew that the superstar’s gig at the Rogers Centre was ultimately canceled on the night in question. “People have told me he’s a big act. Well, good luck to him. I’ve got nothing against him,” he added. He also explained that “I don’t listen to much music,” which is, I think most will agree, a perplexing thing to hear a musician say.
Waters then played editor-in-chief for a day, and asked why The Globe and Mail couldn’t cover The Weeknd one night and Waters the next, as he performed twice in Toronto. “We don’t do as many concert reviews as we used to,” Wheeler responded.
Figuring one dissbomb against a hometown hero wasn’t enough, Waters then went after hip-hop star Drake. “With all due respect to the Weeknd or Drake or any of them, I am far, far, far more important than any of them will ever be, however many billions of streams they’ve got.”
The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” has the longest run on the Billboard Hot 100 than any other song in that organization’s history. He is also the first artist to hold the top position on five Billboard charts at once. He is a four-time Grammy-winner with 75 million records sold, and an Academy Award nomination. Drake’s “God’s Plan” went Platinum 11 times over, and “Hotline Bling” went eight. Certified Lover Boy had a record nine top 10 Hot 100 hits. He’s won four Grammys, and he is the RIAA’s highest-certified digital singles artist ever.
“There is stuff going on here that is fundamentally important to all of our lives,” Waters continued, presumedly in reference to the groundbreaking and top-selling albums he recorded with David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright over 40 years ago. Since his departure from Pink Floyd, Waters has released three albums, with a lengthy gap between 1992 and 2017, to tepid sales. He has also released four live albums, almost all repackaged Pink Floyd material.
In March, Waters released a new version of the 1975 song “Wish You Were Here” (originally sung by Gilmour) dedicated to Julian Assange. In April, the two living members of Pink Floyd got together with Ukrainian musician Andriy Khlyvnyuk for a benefit track.
Here’s Waters and his old band, at the peak of their powers, performing in the ancient amphitheater at Pompeii. I’ve cued it to the best part.