06.26.2007 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Reunion is fun, but Copeland says there's more to life now - It was one of the least-likely rock reunions ever to happen: the Police's Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland...
The fact that the power trio reunited at the Grammys earlier this year, leading to a full-blast tour that plays Monday at Scottrade Center, is rock history in the making. Even drummer and infamous blogger Copeland was among those who doubted that he, singer Sting and guitarist Summers could regroup in such a fantastic way.
"I'd stopped thinking about it. It's like the shelf at home with the baseball trophy you got and you're so proud of, but a week later it's lost its zing, and 20 years later, nothing. The Police was something sitting on my shelf like a trophy, and since then I'd gone on," says Copeland, who has released several solo albums, scored motion pictures and was music director of "The Dennis Miller Show."
"There was hardly any overlap with the Police. It was not a part of my life anymore."
The group split in 1984 after a decade of critical and commercial successes that included pop-and-reggae flavored hits, such as "Roxanne," "Message in a Bottle," "Don't Stand So Close to Me" and "Every Breath You Take," along with several Grammy Awards.
Even when Copeland made a movie last year, "Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out," he says it wasn't "a walk down memory lane. There was zero emotional involvement, though it did settle the account, put a period at the end of all of it."
Copeland was prepared to continue promoting the movie at film festivals when the Police "steam-rolled" back into his life.
After not playing drums for 10 years, Copeland says he was urged out of that retirement by his buddies ¬ó not Sting and Summers but Les Claypool and Trey Anastasio, with whom he's in occasional band Oysterhead.
Being part of the Police again "wasn't a career move for me, though for Sting it is," he says. "For me, it's just something cool to do."
Copeland talked about the Police's mixed reviews, twisting old hits into new sounds and whether this is the Police's last hurrah. The self-professed "Internet freak" also addressed dissing one of the Vancouver, British Columbia, performances, which he described as "our first disaster gig," on his suddenly controversial blog.
Q: How does it feel to be back with Sting and Summers?
A: Everything is different, and nothing has changed. We all have more wisdom and bring more to the party and are more secure in our lives. Our druthers and likes and dislikes are hardened into granite.
On the other hand, all our characteristics are stronger now. Sting was a (expletive) before, and now he really is.
Q: How much attention do you pay to reviews?
A: I read it all, as much as possible. I think it's useful to know how different things hit different people, and for the most part it's been good, especially in the right places, the big ones. I also have enough faith in myself and the band to not get disheartened.
Q: How do you feel about reinterpreting some of the classic songs?
A: I struggled with that at first. But Sting is a champion of change. He has been playing these songs for 20 years, so I can understand he might want to change. His creativity never stops. It's like an 8,000-pound gorilla you gotta keep feeding. It can be a blessing and a curse, but that's why Andy and I are here, to feed the monster.
But I did struggle, believing we had to give (fans) what's written on the can, because that's what they're coming to hear, not the new version of something. But I really do like (the reinterpretations), and they're not that different.
Q: What's been the toughest song to reinterpret?
A: "Don't Stand So Close to Me." We haven't been able to crack that, so we may have to kick it out. We're just not happy with it, and no one else is. We're still messing around with it.
Q: Is there a song in the set the band couldn't reinterpret?
A: "Message in a Bottle." It's like a diamond you can't move or shape or cut. There's nothing you can do to that song. It has resisted all of our attempts, and we have attempted. The song reasserts itself.
Q: Will different songs be added to the set list?
A: Sting wrote five albums-worth of songs. We want to add new songs to the set, but that would mean kicking some out or using up Sting's vocals until they're sore, and we don't want to do that.
Q: Do you stand behind what you wrote on your blog about the band's Vancouver show?
A: It was a private little joke on my private little site. A lot of artists have their own little sites, and mine is where I write a review of all the things I do and where I might give myself terrible reviews.
I might go through a show with a big smile, but an amp might have gone out and it might be what I call a disaster gig. And the audience has no idea. So I was just sharing this inside gag with a few people, and Reuters picked it up and misrepresented it.
Q: How did Sting and Andy react to the blog?
A: My two buddies have a sense of humor. They first heard about it from the wrong side, but then they got it. We can truly say we're our own harshest critics, and that was the worst review we got. And it was a great gig anyway.
Q: Are new songs or a new album on the way?
A: Sting has written so many songs, and there have been so many blessings from those songs. I don't want to ask him for new songs. I don't even want to ask him to pass the salt. These songs we wrote, they're plenty to work with.
Q: Is this really the final go-round for the Police?
A: I'm enjoying this, but it's an all-consuming monster. I'm away from home, and I'm not used to that. And I've got a life. I've got symphonies to write, and a lot of my musicality isn't relevant to this group.
Playing drums with these musicians is a blast, but there's more to life than playing drums. What makes it fun is the idea it's finite, coming to the end, with our shaking hands and saying we're done.
Q: What reunion would you like to see happen?
A: ABBA. I'm only sort of half-kidding. They did some really good pop songs, though they're probably pretty ugly now. But we were ugly, too, and we're still playing.
¬© St Louis Post-Disptach by Kevin C. Johnson