Nearly two dozen years have passed since Roger Waters last put out a rock album, 1992's Amused to Death. Now, the former Pink Floyd singer-songwriter is planning on ending the drought in a unique way.
During a soon-to-be-published, in-depth interview with Rolling Stone about the upcoming theatrical release of his concert film Roger Waters The Wall, the singer, 72, revealed that he's been writing rock songs and a script for an as-yet-untitled "radio play." Excerpts from the work could make up a new album, and he thinks the radio play could become an arena show, much like his recent blockbuster revival of The Wall. "I can see it in my mind's eye," he says.
The drama will revolve around two characters, generations apart, who live in Belfast, Northern Ireland. "It's a grandfather, and he is a bit of a misanthrope, and he's complaining – maybe he's me – about a war he's watching on TV," Waters says. "He's sitting there with his dog, drinking whiskey, and then this kid wakes up and you realize he's babysitting. The kid is having a nightmare and the nightmare is that they're killing the children and the grandfather says, 'No, no, they aren't killing the children, not for 20 years,' since it is in Northern Ireland, where they had the Troubles.
"The kid says, 'No, not here, Grandpa. Over there,'" he continues. "And so the grandfather promises the child to find out what's happening, and he gets him to go back to sleep, reads a bit of Winnie the Pooh, which I always do on my records. And the rest of the record is the grandfather and the kid going on a magic carpet ride to see if they can find an answer to that question: 'Why are they killing the children?'"
The project's themes will be familiar to Waters fans who have followed his sentiments over the years. Largely, he says, it will reflect an "antipathy" toward organized religion and war, with one song evoking drones.
Waters cut demo recordings of his proposed songs in Los Angeles a few weeks ago with Nigel Godrich, the recording engineer and producer best known for his work with Radiohead. Godrich also mixed the music in the film Roger Waters The Wall, for which the singer says "he did a great job."
Asked when the radio play will be finished, Waters shrugs. "I don't know," he says. "Shit's not easy."
Fans who are eager to hear what it could sound like should listen to "Crystal Clear Brooks," a tune he premiered recently at this year's Newport Folk Festival. Waters says when the time comes, that song could make it into the radio play.
Waters had previously said that he was working on an album called Heartland, an idea he has not totally abandoned. Heartland, he clarifies, was actually a poem he wrote around the time George W. Bush was reelected, and that poem might yet crop up in the new project.
Once the work is complete, the singer is willing to consider a big tour to support it. "I'd like to do one more if I can," he says. "I think I've got one more in me."