Transcript: Transcript Stewart Copeland & The Police: Drumming Up the Hits

Welcome to A Breath of Fresh Air with Sandy Kaye. It’s a beautiful day. A breath of fresh air. Beautiful day. Oh I bet any day that you’re going away. It’s a beautiful day.

Hello, so great to have you company. I know you’re really going to enjoy my guest today. He’s someone who not only has one of the biggest personalities in the music world, but also is one of its finest musicians.

I’m talking about Stuart Copeland, whose rhythms have underscored the soundtrack of countless lives. As the co-founder and drummer of British band The Police, Stuart’s beats helped define the sound of the late 70s and 80s and catapulted the group to international stardom. Let’s meet him, shall we? Stuart Copeland, welcome to A Breath of Fresh Air.

You’ve been living the most amazing life. I know that you had an incredible upbringing that was pretty different to most people’s. Well, you asked for it.

I was born in Virginia. My daddy was away on business installing a dictator in Cairo, Egypt. As soon as I was able to travel, I was shipped over to join him and my older siblings there.

The Copeland family was gathered in Cairo. After three or four years, we moved over to Beirut, where we stayed until I was mid-teens. I was going to the American Community School in Beirut, Lebanon, and playing in bands there in Beirut, which was at those days the Paris of the Middle East.

And then it got hot for my daddy. Cover-blown, Kim Philby, the famous spy, debunked to Russia, one of his best buddies. And it got hot for him, so he shipped his family out.

And I ended up in darkest Somerset in boarding school in England. Your dad actually worked for the CIA, right? Yes, he was meddling on behalf of the American government in the nascent politics of the region. It was my father’s job, on behalf of the United States, to bring not freedom to the indigenous population, but oil to our population.

What did you get out of being here? I can tell us about all that. I was just discovering the kinks and the Beatles and banging on drums. My first band was at the American Embassy Beach Club.

We were called the Black Knights, and we played James Brown and kinks and such. I feel good I knew that I wouldn’t die I feel good I knew that I wouldn’t die So good, so good I got you Then my father’s cover was blown, and he had to ship his family out. Most of my older siblings had gone off to college by then.

And so I was shipped off to boarding school in Darkest Somerset. So you grew up listening to a combination of music, didn’t you? Because Lebanese music had its influence on you, as did all the rock and roll and the jazz and the reggae of the day. Well, yes, I was kind of in a cultural bubble in that kind of what used to be called the third world situation.

I took the indigenous local culture that surrounded me, which is far richer than American culture, by 2,000 years worth of history. But I was too young and teenage to appreciate that. And the Arabic music that surrounded me also, I didn’t so much pay attention, but unbeknownst, it was going right into my DNA.

And there was one record store in Beirut that would sell the Beatles and the Stones and the kinks and such. So how did you discover the drums, and why the drums? Because I was a little scrawny kid, a late developer. And while my friends were growing facial hair and their voices were breaking, I was still squeaking.

Then I banged a drum, and I became a 4,000-pound silverback mother… swinging through the trees. All I had to do was bang shit. And it worked.

Instant chest hair. So you’re stuck with the drums. But I know that you’re actually left-handed, but you play a right-handed drum kit.

Why is that? Well, because you have to. Drums are all set up that way. And if you want to sit in with the band, oh, hang on, guys, let me just take the hi-hat here and move it over to there.

Disaster. You just have to learn how to play on a kit the way it is, or else you’re never going to be able to sit in and jam with anybody. Also, both hands and both feet are working.

It doesn’t matter. It’s the same with guitar and any instrument. In fact, people talk about being left and right-handed.

It does make me think slightly differently with rhythm. Like Ringo was left-handed, a lot of great drummers are left-handed because you’re using both hands on a right-handed drum set. Right.

Whose drumming really influenced you? Buddy Rich did make an impression, and I still consider him to be the Mozart of drums, so far unsurpassed. When I was a teenager, along came Mitch Mitchell with Jimi Hendrix Experience, and that was my guy, Buddy Rich, in all of his majesty. That was my father’s guy.

Was your father very disappointed that you’d taken up drums and decided to make this your career path? No, he was a musician. He was overjoyed. He filled the house with musical instruments.

There was a piano, guitars, trumpet, trombone. My father played trumpet, so he was overjoyed when one of his offspring finally showed some interest in music. He would rather it had been trumpet, but he had a high respect for drums and rhythm, and so immediately he got me into lessons and showed me how to hold the sticks properly and do my rudiments.

In 1975, you started playing drums with a rock outfit called Curved Air. Tell us a bit about them. Well, actually, let’s define that a little.

It was a prog rock outfit. Oh, excuse me. Which was the end of an era and got so up itself, including my band Curved Air, that it left its audience behind and hence was born the abomination known as punk.

Before you jump onto that ship, just tell us a little bit about prog rock. What’s your definition of it? Too many triplets, obscure time signatures, 7-8 rhythm, you know, what? Come on. Guaranteed for you to not be able to tap your foot.

Summer’s coming, time to dream the day away And she’s so sunny, is the girl you met today Will she make it? Can she take it? Glad to try, love, such a shy girl I had to hide my prog past in punk. I’m now ready to declare unto the world loudly and proud to be prog. OK, so you’ve come from prog rock, now you’ve admitted it, and you get involved in the world of punk.

The whole scene changes. Share the stories around that, how you got to start up The Police. Well, I was, in fact, all of us in The Police, except for Andy, who’s 10 years older.

Sting and I were in the cusp. We were at the end of the hippie generation and by the time we came of age, the hippie thing was old, used, been there. It was just rancid by then.

So musically, both of us had our chops, our skill set developed in a world where musicians had to be actually pretty good at their instrument to get a job. And suddenly, that whole world was supplanted by these snarly kids who were younger than us, didn’t have any skills or chops. They could bang three chords but do it with great gusto and charisma.

So we were kind of in the middle. We had those chops, but they weren’t needed. What was needed was a whole new hairdo and attitude, as opposed to flower power, as we’re pissed off.

And instead of noodley, noodley, noodley, it was bang, na, na, na, na, na, it was Brama Llama. One old black Betty, Brama Llama One old black Betty, Brama Llama Black Betty had a child Brama Llama, the damn thing gone wild Brama Llama said it weren’t out of mind Brama Llama, the damn thing gone blind Brama Llama, said the old black Betty Brama Llama, one old black Betty Brama Llama We could do that. And so for a while, we were satisfied to, you know, when he came down to London, I persuaded him on the phone.

I’d seen him playing in a band. When I was with Curved Air, I’d seen him playing in a jazz band up in Newcastle. I thought, hey, that guy can play bass and sing.

I can use him. Later, when this punk thing started happening in London, I’m still in Curved Air, and I’m looking around, this whole new scene is really much more exciting. And I kind of feel some aggression myself instead of wandering around in a leotard and doing twinkly, twinkly stuff about goblins and fairies and stuff, which seemed to be what prog rock is all about.

Anyway, the police was flying under the punk flag for convenience. There were happening clubs. And Sting and I down in those clubs with Henry Padovani, our original guitarist, looking at all these other cretins, thinking, we can do this much better.

And at that time, we kind of bonded and had no idea what Sting could do. Eventually, we ran into Andy Summers, and I’ve asked him about this. What were you thinking? He was a guy with a triple scale, sought-after session guitarist, earning great money, playing really sophisticated music with big artists and so on.

And one day, he had the misfortune to run into Sting and I at a session, and we kind of spotted him, and Sting and I were going grumbly, grumbly. God, I wish we had a real guitarist like that. But we were dreaming.

We couldn’t afford that guy in a million years. Until one day, I ran into him at Piccadilly Circus tube station, and then he says, Hey, Stuart, hey, let’s go grab a cup of tea. And so we go, and he says, Look, you and that bass player, I think you’ve got something, but you need me in the band, and I accept.

What was he thinking? Sting had not yet written Roxanne, nor Every Breath You Take, nor Message in a Bottle, nor Don’t Stand So Close to Me, nor any damn thing. We were playing my crap bass lines with yelling because we were a punk band, or at least pretending to be. And Sting hadn’t written any songs yet, so why did Andy join two fake punks with no Roxanne? We didn’t even realize how Sting could sing yet.

The songwriting part, Sting didn’t know he could write those songs yet. He had been writing jazz compositions and whatever. He himself didn’t have any idea.

But his first year and a half in the police, where we had Henry Padovani, who only knew three chords, and I’d written all these dumb songs, which the lyrics were so dumb, he had to yell them, hoping no one would hear how stupid they were. All that was required was yelling anyway. He’s getting a little frustrated musically, and we did brush up against other musicians who were actually pretty good, and we started to think, damn, it’d be great if he had a real guitarist who could do some stuff.

But during that period, Sting started writing songs for us, but they were very simple. Then he learned how to write songs in a much more simple form. So when Andy joined, suddenly with all his harmonic sophistication and just this huge vocabulary of cool guitar stuff, that’s when he started writing.

That’s when the bulb went on and he started coming up with those great songs. You go Those days are over Roxanne Walk the streets for money If it’s wrong or if it’s right Roxanne Roxanne Roxanne Roxanne Oh When you ask Andy Sumner today why he joined, what’s his answer to that? Well, I did. After looking at my diaries, I’m writing this book.

I’ve got all my diaries of that period. I’ve got the receipts, baby. Just the other day, I said, Andy, what were you thinking? He said, I don’t know.

He was a session player, a side man. His face never appeared on the album cover. I guess I could say that, well, here’s a low threshold.

Here’s a band that’ll have me, and I can actually be on the album cover as a member of the band rather than some hired gun, which is how he had spent the first part of his career. And so he wanted to be in the band. The rest of that conversation, by the way, inside of Piccadilly Circus Tube Station, Oxford Circus Tube Station, was, dude, we don’t have any management.

I’m the management. We don’t have a record deal. Just my pretend label, Illegal Records, which we made one record on, we don’t have any road crew.

That’s you. We got nothing. This is great.

We’re on it. But, you know, Sting’s going to freak out because we’ve been conniving with him, Sting and I kind of scheming. And finally, he was the one who popped the question.

And the rest is history. Who knew that it was because of Andy Summers that Police actually came about and grew into the band that you became? Absolutely. Amazing.

So that very first hit that you did have, it was 1979. It was Roxanne. That has a complicated story, too, with which I will bore your listeners.

They’re not bored. They’re hanging off your every word, Stuart Copeland. Okay, I’ve got plenty of them.

So we released Roxanne, Sank Without a Trace. And in spite of our campaign, Police, release Roxanne, you know, the BBC didn’t pick up on it. And we tried to turn that into Banned by the BBC.

Nobody fell for it. And we went off to Germany to do a tour with this German artist called Eberhard Schoener. Remember that name.

We’ll come back to him in a second. And while we were over there, Roxanne disappeared without a trace. Meanwhile, I had these songs that were even too dumb for Sting to sing.

And I recorded them under the name of Clark Kent. And I played all the instruments myself. I played guitar, bass.

I actually got on the microphone. My first time ever singing anything was on the mic at Surrey Sound Studio. I never sang in the shower.

I never sang in the car. I never listened to the lyrics and the vocals anyway. It was all about the guitar and the drums.

I couldn’t care less what’s happening at the front of the stage because I got shit to bang back here. But Sting’s not going to sing it. It was a pretty dumb song.

It was called Don’t Care. I am the neatest thing that ever hit town. There isn’t anything that could bring me down.

Don’t care because I am the neatest thing in town. Okay, you can take Sting’s point, okay? I am the hottest thing you ever will see. You know I’m something it ain’t easy to be.

I am the neatest thing that ever hit town. There isn’t anything that could bring me down. Don’t care if you really want to hang around.

Don’t care because I am the neatest thing in town. Don’t care if you really want to stick around. I don’t care if you even want to put me down.

The girls are always trying to settle me down. They never guess I’m only fooling around. My only worry is my humility.

It damages all my heavy artillery. Don’t care if you really want to hang around. Don’t care because I am the neatest thing in town.

Don’t care if you really want to stick around. I don’t care if you even want to put me down. Don’t care.

No, no. Don’t care. No, no.

Don’t care. No, no. Don’t care.

It was a hit. Radio One picked it up, put it on the playlist, and it was a minor hit. Under the name of Clark Kent, Secret Identity.

And I played all the instruments, sang the damn thing, which was a crime against music right there. But since the police was already exposed as a fake punk band and kind of dodgy, the critics discovered us right away as carpetbaggers. So when I put out Clark Kent, I went for a secret identity.

And I had a mask. Unbelievable. It’s like my father used to say, you know, if you want to start a rumor, deny it.

So people assumed that Clark Kent must be somebody. And there was all this speculation. Who is Clark Kent? When the band appeared on Top of the Pops, they all wore masks.

No one ever found out that Clark Kent was actually Sting, Andy Summers and Stuart Copeland.


This is a breath of fresh air with Sandy Kaye. It’s a beautiful day. It was the first time that the police as a band had ever been on TV.

Andy wore a Brezhnev mask and Sting, who was actually making his debut performance on TV, he donned a gorilla mask. So we had this little flash in the pan. Lucky for me, it expired because right about then, Can’t Stand Losing You came out, actually Santa Clara Trace too, but the police very quickly caught up.

I’ve called you so many times today And I guess it’s all true what your girlfriends say That you don’t ever want to see me again And your brother’s gonna kill me any six feet ten I guess you’d call it I was right on the verge of saying, I don’t need these guys. And I could have gone off. I could have been nobody.

How surprised were you when that song took off? Oh my gosh, every musician, all your listeners who are musicians, you know what I’m talking about. You assume that you are the coolest thing in town and you’re gonna rule the world because you kick your own ass. Every musician, every band member has this kind of innate optimism.

Otherwise, they’d go get a job. And you’ve got to believe in yourself, even if nobody else does. Yeah, you got to.

But it was very gratifying. Also the fact that it was a one man band. I was very proud that I did it all myself.

So yes, it was very, very gratifying. Might be time to re-release it. Funny you should say that.

So I am working on the deluxe edition. We’ll talk about that later. What am I selling today, by the way? Well, the book has these demos.

And this is another miracle. Those are the demos that I played to Sting to persuade him to join my band. And he joined.

Go figure. The book is called Stuart Copeland’s Police Diaries. It’s full of his original diary pages.

Handmade poster designs, ragged accounts, callow observations and other scribblings. In Stuart’s words, it’s a big noisy book about one heck of a ride. We kind of gave up bashing our heads against the wall.

We were just not welcome in England. And my two brothers, Miles and Ian. Ian was an agent, Miles was a record company manager guy.

They hatched a scheme in America. Ian would go to Baltimore and walk the street and he’d see some kid who didn’t look like a hippie. Hey, where do you hang out? Well, we haven’t got anywhere to hang out.

You know, we listen to the Ramones at home. And so he’d call a club owner and say, what are you doing Tuesday nights? Tuesday’s dead. Okay, how about we make that punk night? Actually, in America, the word punk had wrong connotations.

They called it New Wave. And English bands will be coming over and it’s a new scene and kids with short hair and the club owner says, whatever, Tuesday’s fine. And so he found these clubs in Philadelphia and Boston, New York.

They would have their New Wave night and they were packed out. I mean, this new scene was just waiting to happen. Bands like Squeeze, The Police and other English bands came over and we could play this circuit.

So we just crossed America and we were burning it down. The local radio station said, whoa, this is cool. Stuart says the band had been liberated from the rules of punk that applied in England.

Thou shalt not play over three minutes. Thou shalt not have a guitar solo. Thou shalt not do love songs.

Thou shalt not play a flat minor. So we could expand. We had such a small number of songs.

We stretched them out and improvised because we had to play three shows a night. And that’s where we kind of discovered each other as musicians, just by improvising. And we kind of became the band that we became playing these clubs across America.

Just across the way I had lost my dear And there’s a lonely day No one here but me, oh More lonely than Any man could bear Rescue me before I fall into despair I’ll send an S.O.S. to the world I’ll send an S.O.S. to the world I hope that someone gets my I hope that someone gets my I hope that someone gets my Message in a bottle, yeah Meanwhile, Can’t Stand Losing You had been released again because A&M Records was a company that would not give up. So we go back to England from our American trip and we’re booked as a support act to an English comedy band called Los Albertos Trios Paranoias. Have you ever heard of them? No, never.

Of course not. The opening night of the tour, their managers were in the dressing room. The manager’s telling Miles, our manager, you guys lucked out on this tour, man.

We should have charged you money to be on this tour. The whole tour sold out. And so we go out on stage.

I love you. Now we know why the tour is sold out. But here’s the weird thing.

After all of our trials and tribulations, our struggles for credibility, we played shows across America and we’d come out on stage back in England and we emerged from all of that as a boy band. That shrinking noise from the audience was two octaves up, that high-pitched sound of 13-year-old girls squealing. It’s the same sound the Beatles heard.


Yeah. There were no punks in the audience. There were no hippies in the audience, which were the two audiences that we’d been waffling back and forth.

We were a boy band. So what happens to the boy band in the UK then? We sold a shitload of records over the next five years. And you didn’t care that you were appealing to 13-year-old girls at the time, as long as you were pulling in the money and the records were being played on the radio.

We were kind of more into the 18-year-old and up. I bet you were. At the same time, our actual musical credibility was catching up.

I don’t know if that spoiled our teeny-bopper following, but in America, we were the real deal. We were not a teeny-bopper sensation in America. We were the real thing.

And the Sex Pistols had gone to America, and America was waiting. The famous Sex Pistols, you know, who set the world on fire. Let’s have another British invasion, shall we? And they came over, and Malcolm McLaren, their marriage, had them play in the Deep South, where nobody in New York could actually see them.

God save the Queen The fascist regime That made you a moron Potential hateful God save the Queen She ain’t no human being There is no future In England’s tyranny Darling, it’s all over what you wanted Darling, it’s all over what you need There’s no future No future No future for you God save the Queen We made it mad We’re ever Queen They didn’t succeed in America. The Americans didn’t like that sound. The Americans didn’t take to Sid Vicious, nor Johnny Rotten, and telling the audience to F off.

That didn’t work in America. So the word punk was put into disrepute. But when the police came over, okay, now I get it.

New Age, I get it. They’re actual real musicians, and they actually have songs that are interesting and different. Young teacher The subject Of schoolgirl fantasy She wants him So badly Knows what she wants to be Inside her There’s no room This girl’s an open page But we’ll mark her She’s so close now This girl is half his age Don’t stand Don’t stand so Don’t stand so close to me Don’t stand Don’t stand so Don’t stand so close to me Don’t stand How did it feel for you during those years and having all that success? What did that feel like? Well, it was very exhilarating, of course, but also quite anxious.

And that was the surprise that it was sort of like social vertigo. You get everything you ever dreamed of in terms of respect, and I walk into a room and everybody can give a shit about what I’m talking about. You know, all that stuff that you want as a teenager.

Bit of respect in the world, god damn it, but it turns out there is such a thing as too much. And you start to feel, I can only describe it as vertigo. And we were such a machine.

You couldn’t grab hold of anything. If you did, you’d lose an arm. You were just rushing across the planet.

Or rather, we were doing what we were doing and the planet was revolving under our feet faster and faster. It was a little anxious. We were getting what we wanted.

We fought for it. We worked for it. We were getting it, but also a little weird.

I’ve heard that said before. A lot of artists say that you’re working so hard during that period of enormous success that you almost lose the decade that you’re in. You can’t be in the moment at all.

And when you look back on it, you kind of got no memory because it just flown past. Well, fortunately, I had a Super 8 movie camera and I got it all on film. Did you? I mean, up until that point, I got all the receipts and I got all the diaries and I’ve got every gig, how much we got paid.

How many people attended. I gave us a rating of up to five stars. I don’t know if I ever gave us a five.

You were a hard marker. Actually, our last show in Melbourne was definitely a five and good to go out on a high. Our last show in Melbourne.

Is that right? I didn’t know that either. You’re teaching me so much today. Well, we came back 20 or 30 years later and did a reunion tour.

It didn’t actually last that long, did it? Because in the early 80s, you were already out on your own doing solo stuff. It was eight years. All up.

What brought you to an end? Melbourne. Melbourne was crazy. There was band tension and we now understand that band tension.

When we did our reunion tour, we had band therapy and so we now understand where that tension came from, what it was all about, but there was tension and the band was very constricting. I had started doing movie scores starting with Francis Coppola and when I would get out of the police world and go to San Francisco and get into a studio and make music for Francis Coppola for a film, playing on stage, I have to separate playing out on stage because playing with those two is like nothing else in the world. Going into the studio with those two assholes was very different.

I loved them from the depths of my heart, but we would drive each other nuts in the studio. Without an audience there to validate what we’re doing and show love upon us, in the studio there was nothing but the other two guys and we were not kind with each other. So getting out of that horrible police experience, which is so caustic and so challenging, over to play music.

I got to play all the instruments myself again. No negotiation, no dealing, no arguing, no fighting for my little corner. That’s why we broke up.

The joy of life outside the police. We discovered it. And Sting as well.

He went off and he started a movie. He could hire musicians who would do as they’re told and he wouldn’t have to wheedle and complain and throw a temper trench to get what he wanted because he knew what he wanted. You know, when we started out we needed each other and we inspired each other but eventually we all kind of figured out our own musical identity.

Why should he negotiate for every step of the way with me? And of course the feeling was mutual. And so we started to discover life outside the police. It was kind of a golden cage.

We could walk Feet that hardly touch the ground Walking on the moon We were not competing to be boss. We were competing to have the music be what we think it should be. I wanted more aggression and excitement and I thought that going down to this wimpy shit was not good for the band.

Of course, without that wimpy shit it wouldn’t have been Every Breath You Take. And so I was in conflict at the time and meanwhile he’s trying to write sensitive lyrics that have meaning while there’s this World War III going on over his left shoulder. Why do you have to play so many damn drum fills? And the answer Because you told me not to! And so the tension, the clash made the police what it was.

But it wasn’t much fun. Like I say, when we did it in front of an audience that was fun. But in the studio with no referee it was very uncomfortable.

I would describe it as like a Prada suit made out of barbed wire. By the way, we never understood this at the time. We just shouted and screamed.

Years later when we did our reunion tour and we’re back at it Sting and I are wondering how come in this whole tour 200 people on the road all these trucks and stadiums and it’s all going on and everybody’s having the best tour of their career the tickets are selling the catering people have people volunteering it’s just like on all departments best tour ever except for two guys. What’s going on here? And I’d heard a rumor that the Rolling Stones had a banned therapy. You don’t say.

I want some band therapy damn it. And so we did. And it was not rocket science.

It was a husband and wife team who were actually probably marriage counselors. And they just got us to say what needed to be said and blew each other’s minds. I couldn’t believe that’s what you when I said this that’s what you heard but I meant this.


And since that day we’ve gotten along famously. Every breath you take And every move you make Every bond you break Every step you take I’ll be watching Every single day And every word you say Every game you play Every night you stay I’ll be watching you Oh can’t you see You belong to me My poor heart aches Every step you take Every move you make Every vow you break Every smile you fake Every claim you stake I’ll be watching you Since you’ve gone I’ve been lost without a trace I dream at night I can only see your face I look around but it’s you I can’t replace I feel so cold and I long for your embrace I keep calling baby Baby, baby, please




This is a breath of fresh air with Sandy Kaye. It’s a beautiful day. So you’re now thinking that band therapy fixed the police and enabled them to reunite a few years later? Think again.

We still do not play well together off stage. We just are not birds of a feather, but we appreciate what we each brought into each other’s lives. It’s like any good marriage really, isn’t it? You’ve just grown apart.

Yeah. We would have had to not grow to still fit. Mind you, even when we were making that music, of which we are now so proud, we didn’t fit then either.

That was our gimmick, I guess. That was our secret of our success, is that we drove each other bonkers. Well, in doing so, you put out some pretty awesome music.

I like to think so. Well, I’m trying to talk to myself over and over again. Was it a difficult decision to come to, to split up, or did it happen in a fiery spat one day? No, it happened when I’d done Rumblefish.

We’d sort of experienced life outside the band, but whenever we tried to do anything, somehow it would wither on the vine. Nobody around us wanted to see any member of the band stray off into non-police territory. They wanted the golden goose to keep laying golden eggs, and solo albums are not quite so golden.

And so everyone in our world wanted to keep us together, but we had had a taste of freedom. And so it was unbeknownst to everyone else that Sting and I finally, in a moment of comedy and understanding and not shouting at each other, we were able to talk sensibly to each other and said, you know, we’ve achieved so much, why don’t we just give it a break for a minute? I think we can afford to take our foot off the gas for a minute here. And let’s go have some fun.

Let’s go have some life. Let’s go love our families. Let’s go live at home.

And so we did. It was by mutual consent, if you like. Yeah, and of course you went off and started to score more and more films, didn’t you? 20 years of it.

The big films we’re talking about, Oliver Stone’s Wall Street and Talk Radio, Ken Loach’s Raining Stones, Four Days in September, and West Beirut, which must have been very close to your heart. Yes, it was. But the cool thing about all of that was, 20 years before the mask, as a hired good, not even an artist, I’m a craftsman, or I was, I don’t do it anymore.

But as a flinty-eyed pro, you go where your boss tells you to go. And as an artist, you don’t have to do that. As an artist, you just do, you follow your own instinct.

And one of the blessings of that, that I really treasure, is that I got an involuntary education in orchestra. And since actually growing up, my father was trying to make me a jazz musician, but my mother was listening to Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel, 20th century orchestral music, which really stuck. So when I’m doing film scores and I’m hiring orchestras, I just got more and more into using the orchestra and figuring out what it can do.

It’s not just putting the notes on the page, it’s the articulation, the expression. You gotta put the Italian on the page. I just became obsessed with the orchestra, which leaves me now, having written seven operas, three ballets, concerti for this, that, and the other, including concerto for police music.

The police deranged from orchestra. There’s a little black spot in the sun today It’s the same old thing as yesterday There’s a black hat caught in the high tree top There’s a black pole rag in the wind-warmer sun I have stood here before, it’s like a pouring rain With the world turning in circles, when did life happen? I guess I’m always hoping that you’ll end this rain That it’s my destiny to be the king of pain Funny, Stuart Copeland, you don’t appear as an obsessive character at all. Several years passed with Stuart throwing himself into a variety of projects, none of which involved playing the drums, until one day he picked up his sticks again and co-founded the band Oysterhead.

Was it like getting back on the horse? A little easier. Horses are actually quite strenuous. If you haven’t got your leg muscles going, that’s pretty bouncy.

But you hadn’t been playing for a while and most musicians have got to practice every day to keep up their chops. Well, the gag is that I finally figure out how to set the damn thing up. We start playing something and I do something on a hi-hat like that, really stiff, really not great at all.

It was sort of like I could do no wrong because it was the stuff of legend, whether it was crap or not. Drum on, jazz down around There’s a new sensation hitting town It’s moving slow, low to the ground He’s an inspiration, he’s an inspiration He’s an inspiration to us all He’s an inspiration, he’s an inspiration He’s an inspiration to us all Oysterhead, we made an album, did one tour and they both got day jobs and we played jam band festivals and so on. And we’ll go and play a two-hour set for which we have rehearsed for about half an hour.

It’s like completely against all my rock music sensibilities. You just make shit up on stage and that’s the way they want it. You do noodle and we got plenty of noodle.

In 2007, you came together again with Police and performed on the Grammy Awards. That was your first public performance since 1986. I think the only other time that you’d been together was when you played for Sting’s wedding party in 92 and for the induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

How did that performance go for you? How did that feel? Very good. It was early days. We had not gotten into each other’s heads yet.

It was before band therapy? We went up to Vancouver and rehearsed in secrecy. A word got out. It was tough.

Three blonde heads in a room. It’s hard to keep a lid on that. And we showed up at the Grammys.

Most people were surprised. And it was a good feeling. You know, Sting walks on stage and says, Ladies and gentlemen, we are the Police and we’re back! I kind of got swept away in it.

The first shows when we played, in the effect of the audience, we looked down at those first roads, I still choke up. It was really something to feel the impact of this music that we had forgotten about. We’d gone off and done other things.

In Sting World, they didn’t mention the P word because he was establishing a new identity, a new music, a new brand, if you like. I’d gone off to be a professional film composer, where being in a rock band is not how you get the job. I was a suburban dad.

We’d all kind of forgotten about it. And so we went out there, and when the stadiums around the world sold out in 20 minutes, that kind of got our attention. And when we went out and played those shows, the power of songs that you were listening to, you got married, you fell in love, you fell out of love, you robbed a bank to that music or whatever, music with that kind of history has a lot of emotional impact.

And to see that emotional impact on people in the front rows, those hot babes are back there. They’re now in their late 30s, early 40s, in the arms of their loved one. It pulled us over.

Even Craggy Old Sting was moved. Roxanne You don’t have to put on a robe Those days are over You don’t have to sell your body to the night Roxanne You don’t have to wear that dress tonight Work the street for money If it’s wrong or if it’s right We were at each other’s throats in no time until we got our band therapy. In the last few months, we started to actually have a lot of fun because it didn’t matter.

Sting, get over it. I’m going to bang shit. There’s no sense of you getting upset about it.

And I know that you’re autistic and that you’re going to come over and tell me to play my hi-hat and my cello. It’s okay. You can do that.

I won’t listen, but you can do that. And we start to actually enjoy ourselves. The audience was going crazy.

We knew that what we were doing was working. And we got that charge of when you light up a room, you light up a room and you know it. And that feels good.

That’s why we became musicians in the first place. Yeah. And you didn’t have to go back into the recording studio again.

Oh, yeah. Well, that was sort of what made it okay. Bingo couldn’t come up.

He just went dry right there. He went dry at the thought of it. Finally, one day, actually, that was Melbourne too.

Before the show, I went into his room and said, Guy, look, you don’t need to write a police album. Write your own album and I won’t have anything to do with it. I’ll love it because I like all of his music.

It wouldn’t be the way I would do it. He was the one feeling all the pressure. And he was the one who, oh, my God, everyone’s on me.

And I said, dude, relax. It’s okay. And with love in our hearts, we just said, okay, cool.

We’re not doing it. It’s not happening. We can relax.

And all we got to do is play 12 more shows and we’re good. And so it was. And then that was it again for police.

You never came back again after that. Nope. Never wanted to.

It was done. Life is so sweet. You know, I don’t like who I’ve become in police world.

I’ve been playing police music, these orchestral arrangements that I’ve done, police deranged orchestra across the land, playing the Atlanta Symphony, Chicago, Nashville Symphony, Vancouver Symphony. Life is beautiful. And of course, you’ve documented it all.

You mentioned that you’d had a little camera on everything and you kept all the receipts for everywhere. Your first memoir called Strange Things Happen in Life with the Police, Polo and Pygmies was released in 2009. My editor should have read me the Riot Act.

It was about everything except the police. It was about the adventures that you have as a rock star that came from my previous career. Unfortunately for my publisher, although I had great fun writing it, people actually went, well, what about the police? That’s kind of why I bought the book.

So now I got these diaries. I pulled them out and I’m doing kind of a more of a coffee table book. He starts in 1976 with Curved Air.

It’s a story of struggle, but it does have a happy ending. It sure does. In 2017, just to finish off, you formed a super group called Gizmodrome.

Is that still happening or that was a quick lived affair? Once again, I can’t afford those guys. It’s the same problem as Oysterhead. No, come on.

That was fun album to make where I got to sing and do all the, it was kind of Clark Kenty, but this time instead of me on guitar, I got Adrian Ballew. There’s a man in the mountain And he’s coming on down Got a broke back horse And a bent up horn His hat is white But his face is dark So the dogs will bite As he leaves his mark Giddy up old horse Giddy up my speed Put your best hoof forward In this hour of need I got the keys to your horse So giddy up, giddy up, giddy up Giddy up, giddy up, giddy up, giddy up I got the keys to your horse Did some tour where I got to be at the front of the stage singing and hamming it up. We had a level 42’s drummer banging on the drums when I wasn’t.

And oh my God, I felt like an old lion with real happy to have a young lion around the house do the heavy lifting. Matt, you get to go out, guitarists and bass players and singers that is, wearing sequins and feather boas and hats and cool coats and everything. Drummer’s got to go out in like shorts and a t-shirt because he’s working.

And of course you just have your latest album called Divine Tides in 2021. All shot on locations from the Himalayas in India to the forests in Spain. What a brilliant life you’re leading.

Well, that was a cool thing where this Indian musician out of Bangalore sent me these tracks. The material was just soaring beautiful. So I just miked up all my cool stuff in here which is already miked up.

And we made this record and clip bang, what the hey, we got a Grammy for it. Your sixth Grammy actually. I keep track, are you? Yes, I keep track of you.

You can’t put a foot wrong. Oh yes, I can. Can you? You haven’t told me about any feet wrong.

I’m gonna. Final question though, do you still like playing polo? I would like to play polo, but I don’t because I’m much more breakable. I traded my horses in for children of which I have seven.

I bang drums to keep fit. Out of my seven children, only one has the gift. And it is a gift, isn’t it? Well, it’s a combination of gifts.

I love it. Stuart Copeland, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Bye. Bye now. Well, he was a whole lot of fun, wasn’t he? A huge personality and a huge talent.

I’m pretty sure you enjoyed tuning into that chat with Stuart Copeland just as much as I enjoyed conducting it. Thanks for your time today. I can’t wait to be back with you again same time next week.

Take care in the meantime, won’t you?  Bye now x