Former Pink Floyd bassist/vocalist and co-founder Roger Waters has taken aim at R&B royalty The Weeknd – aka Abel Makkonen Tesfaye – and rap titan Drake, arguing that he considers himself and his music to be “far, far, far more important” than them.
The comments came during an interview with Canadian outlet Globe and Mail (opens in new tab), during which Waters lamented the fact The Weeknd’s recent gig in Toronto – which was canceled due to a widespread outage – seemed to get extensive media coverage.
Waters’ more direct criticism of The Weeknd, however, came after the interviewer apologized for not reviewing his first This Is Not a Drill tour show earlier this month as he was tasked with covering The Weeknd’s debut After Hours Til Dawn tour concert on the same night.
“I have no idea what or who the Weeknd is, because I don’t listen to much music,” Waters responded. “People have told me he’s a big act. Well, good luck to him. I’ve got nothing against him. Would it not have been possible to review his show one night and my show another night?”
The Pink Floyd guitarist then name-dropped The Weeknd’s Canadian compatriot Drake in the discussion, saying, “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.
“I’m not trying to make a personal attack. I’m just saying it seemed odd,” he continued. “There is stuff going on here that is fundamentally important to all of our lives.”
It's not clear who “any of them” are, but the “fundamentally important” things that Water alludes to are presumably related to the political and social commentaries that feature in his This Is Not a Drill setlist.
Waters suggested that his former bandmates in Pink Floyd put the brakes on his polemical instincts. “They were always trying to drag me back from my natural instinct, which is to tell the truth,” he said.
Back in January 2020, Waters said, “This tour will be part of a global movement by people who are concerned by others to affect the change that is necessary.
“That’s why we’re going on the road. That’s why we speak to each other in pubs. That’s why this conversation should be on everybody’s lips, constantly, the whole time, because it’s super important. So I hope you’ll all come to the shows.”
If you do, don't expect Waters to play all the hits. After upbraiding the Globe and Mail's reviews section, he was delighted to hear that one audience member didn’t find his show “upbeat”, and expressed no little contempt for heritage acts who cater to their audience’s nostalgia.
“Thank you for noticing that it wasn’t just a sing-along party of old hits,” Waters said. “I don’t go to those kinds of shows, because I don’t like them. The old bands go out and trundle through their hits year after year after year.
“Yeah, some are my friends. And do you know what I noticed? The audiences are all 100 years old. They’re listening to Layla and they’re almost a dying breed.”
Waters said that if anyone comes to his show and expects old Pink Floyd then they have misunderstood what he has been about his whole career. That said, he did say he still enjoyed performing Money, Us and Them, and Eclipse.
Speaking to Rolling Stone (opens in new tab) a year before about a forthcoming tour, Waters also stated, “It will be even more political than Us + Them was – political and humane… I thought that could be a good title for the show: This Is Not a Drill. The ruling class is killing us.”
Having said that, The Weeknd is not afraid of addressing such topics in his own work. His 2022 album, Dawn FM, was equally influenced by the issues that permeated through America at the time.
“I have been more inspired and creative during the pandemic than I might normally be,” he told Tmrw Magazine (opens in new tab) in 2021. "The pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement and the tensions of the US election have mostly created a sense of gratitude for what I have and closeness with the people near me.”
Head over to Roger Waters' website (opens in new tab) and The Weeknd's website (opens in new tab) to find out their respective live dates for this year. The former might be pleased to hear they aren't set to cross paths again for the remainder of the two tours.