Roger Waters on the 'Roger Waters: The Wall' Documentary Finally Hitting Theaters and Why It's Politically Relevant Now

Newport Folk Fest 2015
Tracy Allison

Roger Waters photographed at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, RI on July 24, 2015.

Roger Waters doesn't mind that Roger Waters: The Wall, the documentary about his three-year The Wall Live tour, wasn't picked up for distribution immediately after its debut at last year's Toronto International Film Festival. In fact, the tweaked version of the movie that will show in theaters Sept. 29 for one night only is even better.

"I"m quite glad we weren't snapped up 'cause it gave (co-director) Sean Evans and I the opportunity to re-examine some of the bits in the middle of the film and change things a bit," Waters tells Billboard. "Looking at it again, in the middle of the movie there are three songs that come together -- 'Young Lust,' 'One Of My Turns' and 'Don't Leave Me Now' -- that was primarily a rock band playing and this old bloke wandering around the stage singing. And I thought, 'You know what? We need more of Sonya the groupie and we need more road trip and we need to be sort of taken out of ourselves and be allowed a bit of respite from watching Roger singing his song.' So that's what we did, and I think the movie is much better for it." He and Evans also changed the end credits to be "shorter than it was, but I think much more graphic and moving than it was, too."

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Roger Waters: The Wall documents Waters' opulent presentation of Pink Floyd's 1979 rock opera -- which played 219 shows to more than four million fans, grossing record $458.6 million --  via live and behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Waters and some of the tour's players and principles. It also illustrates the theme with sequences of Waters, along with friends and family, visiting the World War I cemetery where his grandfather is buried and the beachhead in Anzio, Italy, where his father died during World War II, hammering home the inherent anti-war theme that was explored during the 2010-13 live run of the show.

"It engages people but it also moves people, and it reflects a lot of my contemporary concerns about the way the politics of the world are organized and even points in some ways to what we might do about some of our problems," explains Waters, who's exploring a stage adaptation of The Wall with Billy Elliot co-writer Lee Hall. "I like to think that we, the public, are slowly becoming more aware of how badly we have been governed, certainly since the second world war and probably the last 100 years or so. What a huge responsibility we all have to try and pass on a more humane world to our children and our grandchildren than the one we lived through. And I'm not being glib about this. I'm being serious. Things are changing."

Roger Waters: The Wall will show in 2,000 theaters worldwide (500 in the U.S.) on Sept. 29, after premiering in New York the night before. The screenings will be followed by a Q&A with Waters and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason in London, answering questions submitted early by fans -- a session Waters anticipates will be engaging in its own right. "Nick's a very funny guy," says Waters. "Interestingly enough, Nick's parents were socialists, as were mine, so we have similar sorts of political backgrounds. We're very different people, and of course our perspectives were slightly different as I wrote (The Wall) and he didn't. But it was a huge part of both of our careers, so there's plenty to say about it."

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The Q&A is slated to be included as part of the extra content on the eventual video and CD release of the film and its soundtrack, though no date has been set yet. "There's tons of stuff, lots and lots of video clips and behind-the-scenes bits," Water says. Another documentary about the making of The Wall Live tour is also in the works but will probably be released as a separate entity. And though Roger Waters: The Wall is taking up plenty of time and attention, Waters -- who will perform as part of the Music Heals concert with military veterans on Oct. 16 in Washington, D.C. -- is also ready to move on to his next musical endeavor, which he's described as a "radio play" based on The Troubles conflict in Northern Ireland.

"I'm in the middle of making a new album, which I'm hoping to tour as an arena show as soon as I can get to the end of it," he says. "I'm just going to get on with it as fast as I can, given the constraints of making sure that it means something when it hits the vinyl."


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