10.01.1978 - New Musical Express
"This band has had a really tough time from the press. We've been accused of 'bandwagon punk' and now 'bandwagon reggae'. I hate that. 10cc are doing exactly the same thing. It's fine for them, but for us... "
Andy Summers, who has held down the guitar spot for both Kevin Coyne and Kevin Ayers, isn't finding life easy with The Police.
Yet for my money 'Can't Stand Losing You' and its predecessor 'Roxanne' are two of 1978's hottest 45s, evincing a pitifully rare understanding of reggae from a white band. Not that The Police are ripping off reggae. They're simply using it as a jumping off point, and they do it with a deal more conviction than 10cc. It's not saying a lot, I know, but The Police feel it. Add to that bassist Sting's dynamite upper-register vocal, the combo's crisp playing and raw production, and you've got waxings to brighten up the dullest chart.
But because The Police aren't in their teens (who is?) or earliest 20s, and dare to dye their hair blond a la Billy Idol, they're frowned upon. The fact that Stewart Copeland used to pick up the sticks for Curved Air doesn't help either...
"We are totally unfashionable," complains the American-born Copeland, the guy whose Klark Kent alias was blown in a recent Thrills Piece. He still denies our identification.
"As for jumping any punk bandwagon", Stewart explains, "I couldn't believe it. Suddenly my favourite kind of music was in fashion. Loud rock and toll with heavy guitar. None of us really identified with the previous culture all that much. I was always down on Vegetarianism. It was great having all these kids screaming abuse at the people I'd been working with. People whose attitudes in the studio drove me crazy. I really enjoyed the 'f*** you'. "
"We were actually one of the first new wave groups," Claims Sting (real name Gordon Summer). Copeland first saw Sting playing with a Newcastle jazz band at the end ('76, and was impressed. At the time Sting was teaching football and music in a Tyneside infants school, but at Copeland's invitation he came to London. One Henri Padovani, now resident in The Electric Chairs completed The Police's line-up.
Copeland has it that Padovani turned The Police into a punk act, something their hearts weren't into. He was subsequently replaced by Summers - in Copeland's words, 'a real guitarist'.
Originally The Police recorded for Illegal Records (One of several independent labels run by Copeland's brother Miles). Their one single, 'Fall Out', bombed out. Meanwhile, The Police coped financially by working in Germany, as part of a laser extravaganza, and taking on various other 'projects'.
One of these was to do a Wrigley's chewing gum TV commercial. It didn't see the light of day, so we'll never know whether they're telling the truth when The Police say that this is why they dyed their hair.
Summers' working friendship with German opera conductor-turned-synthesiser fetishist Eberhard Schoener had brought about The Police's involvement with the laser show. In it they're featured as individual musicians, and not under the collective identity of The Police.
They plan to return to work with Schoener in the near future. Then they'll tour all of Europe and not, as has been the case in the past, just Germany. Schoener has also composed an opera in which he wants Sting to sing.
In fact Sting is very much in demand generally. His heart-throb looks have won him roles in various TV commercials, as well as parts in the Pistols' 'Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle' movie and The Who's 'Quadrophenia'. In the Pistols' film. he rapes Paul Cook in the back of a Chevrolet. His part in 'Quadrophenia' is more enviable. In it he plays Ace, Brighton's kingpin Mod, much admired by Jimmy, the film's central character. "Jimmy looks upon Ace as the pinnacle of Mod culture," explains Sting. "At the end of the film Jimmy sees him as a bellboy and commits suicide."
Still, the part in ('Quadrophenia' has nothing on a role he played in a Dutch TV commercial where he had to rape Joanna Lumley. Advertising is a fairly lucrative sideline: the going rate is £150 for a day's work and you get a repeat fee every time the film is shown.
Sting is The Police's biggest reggae fan. "I think the rhythmic frontiers of pop are now being created in Jamaica, and I'm obsessed with those particular rhythms," he enthuses.
"Both our singles are reggae influenced, but that was by the way. They were our best songs at the time, They're not reggae all the way through. Both of them go into straight rock and roll. You can't expect us to play old Led Zeppelin riffs now."
The Police's first album, 'Outlandos d'Amour' is now out. 'Ello, 'ello, 'ello, what's all this then? Move along please. Etc, etc, and fade.