There’s one thing the former Pink Floyd co-founder is sure of – if you’re a veteran, there’s a place for you at his shows. Waters, whose father was killed in World War II, holds a special place in his heart for those who served. That’s why for every performance, he allocates a block of tickets for vets.
“When I started touring with The Wall, I just started inviting veterans in every town we go to, and I’ll do that on this tour, as well. We’ll reserve a certain number of places in the auditorium for veterans if they want to come,” Waters said.
Veterans can grab a ticket to his shows through a variety of veteran’s groups, including the Wounded Warrior Project, VetTix and MusiCorps. Recently, the outspoken 73-year old rocker sat down with The Associated Press to talk about veterans, his latest solo album – titled Is This the Life We Really Want? – and his political leanings.
AP: Your support for veterans has been relentless. Why?
Waters: Maybe it has something to with my father. It has partly to do with Bob and Lee Woodruff. They have a foundation because he was a journalist who got half of his head blown off and survived. They have a thing called Stand Up for Heroes every year to raise money for veterans, and they asked if I would perform.
But it didn’t stop there. I had an idea, which was to put together a band of wounded men. So I went to Walter Reed (National Military Medical Center), and I met a guy there called Arthur Bloom, who ran a program, and we made a band. We performed for a couple of years doing that and these men became my brothers, and I’m close friends still with a lot to them. And so the connections that I made through playing music with them informed my desire to get to know more of them.
AP: The album seems inspired by the dire overtones of our current world. Is it about fear?
Waters: Yeah, it’s fear of the fact that everything is running away from us and nobody is the child who says, “But the emperor is not wearing any clothes.”
AP: Tell us about the tour?
Waters: The show is called “Us and Them,” which is the title of a song from “Dark Side of the Moon,” which is from 1973, or ’74, but it’s extremely appropriate and apposite today. That song means just as much today as it did in 1973. And these new songs off this album are essentially about our dilemma as human beings as to whether we can find ways to accommodate each other’s needs, and to discover our potential for empathy for others, including refugees.
AP:You have always been outspoken when it comes to politics, and have been attacked on your support of a boycott of Israel. Some have called you anti-Semitic because of it. Are you?
Waters: I’ve got nothing against Israel, and I’ve certainly not got anything against Jewish people or Judaism. But I am fundamentally opposed to people being subjugated and not having rights under the law. So I’ve finished my little speech, but people have suggested that I’m anti-Semitic, which I am clearly not… I will go to my grave defending the rights of ordinary people, under a law, under a common law.
Roger Waters is considering this tour as his last. But he has also said ‘Never say Never’.