CREEMNovember 24, 1983
How indeed, does one write the proper Police story? Does one rant and rave about new records being set weekly on the Billboard album charts? Analyze the band's success in terms of the difficulties each band member has encountered on his way to the top of that same chart? Dwell on personal differences certain to break up the band at their peak of stardom? Admire them for their hair?
Maybe. You won't see any of that here, though, because the bottom line is that the big boys who make up the sturdy Police crew have been examined well into oblivion by now - and I don't know about you, but you can only quote Carl Jung for maybe three paragraphs or so before deep sleep or insomnia sets in, and I for one don't think that's the way to play it.
Shall we instead set out to prove that, as A&M Records proudly asserts in their latest Police bio, that "The Police have assumed an undisputed place among the best and most popular bands in the world"? Well sure - being "among" the world's most popular bands is sort of like being among the wealthiest corporate executives at GM, just like I am. I live in Detroit, right among 'em.
Let us instead unravel these Police from their very roots as musicians and scholars, observe then as they rise from their humble beginnings to become the world's best once-blond musical trio who have, as A&M rightly declares, "Had it all," not unlike Bogey and Bacall. Darn these guys, they're so great.
In 1978 the single ¬ëRoxanne' emerged to thundering initial college-only airplay, and yet even then there existed a sound the Police had that few other bands did. College critics no more profound than me even went so far as jumping on the non-bandwagon and saying, Hey, these guys are good! Was it merely coincidental that my interest in the trio was pre-ordained, due to being a massive fan of Brit cult figures and thus having among my Elite Progressive record collection such records as Eric Burdon & The Animals' 'Love Is', Kevin Coyne's supremely marvelous 'Matching Head And Feet', Zoot Money's 'Live At Klook's Kleek' and 'Transition' - or counting among my all-time fave bands Soft Machine and its former member Kevin Ayers - all of whom Police guitarist Andy Summers has either played with, or on, or been vital to the creation of? Or perhaps it was due to my being the only North American in my house to own the two Curved Air albums Police drummer Stewart Copeland performed on, surely no small honor. And let us not forget how I courageously reviewed 'Outlandos D'Amour' by specifically pointing out how this newcomer "Sting" in fact sounded much like a cross between Terry Reid and, um, Andy Fairweather-Low, and wasn't that as interesting as all get in?
I thought not.
Nonetheless, I managed the proverbial "phoner" with the old boys, specifically Stewart C. and Andy S., a few weeks after their debut album's release. I learned quickly that a) the boys in the band were ambitious and b) Stewart Copeland talks a lot. "We've been offered spots as back-up group on tours with Boston and Alice Cooper." Copeland eagerly volunteered. "But we don't want to be associated with that garbage." Ah, those zany punks!
Eventually, of course, the Police conquered the world. Yet before it was to happen, the upstarts were to map out a by-now famous strategy that began with a-mini-tour-in-a-van-with-no-album-out, eventual success with ¬ëRoxanne', and bigger tours. Detroit-wise, this would bring them to Bookie's, a non-legendary "punk club" famous for having the Police play there twice, the larger Center Stage "nightclub," and several increasingly larger venues that in the summer of 1983 would be no less than the Joe Louis Arena - or as longtime French sympathizer Sting would mispronounce it, the "Joe Louie Arena" - for no less than two nights. What a story!
No trip down memory lane would be complete without mention of this writer's last encounter with said wacky trio - it was to occur with former CREEM Ed. Susan Whitall and photographer Robert "Bob" Matheu, at a little hideaway down the road from Bookie's called Menjo's. Your standard Gay Bar, it housed our informative pre-show chat (which was to emerge in a Whitall-penned article a month later) and was highlighted, at its conclusion, by the much-lauded King O'Pain and his drummer making jokes about not "dropping the soap" on the premises. The mind boggles, etc.
That said, let us examine the lot of the Police 1983. "The Police have little left to prove as a commercial entity," declares Joe Press Release, already quoted, and in this instance Joe is correct indeed. All five of the guys' albums have gone gold - are you kidding? - and the most recent three have turned platinum. 'Synchronicity', of course, breaking all sales figures records as I write, will eventually go plutonium, and our country will later collapse, penniless but aurally sated. There are Police videos available, as you'll be notified when you break the shrinkwrap of your second copy next week, and the trio have hit Time, Newsweek and the fabric of our nation as if conquering deities, visiting to collect their just due before returning to Valhalla, Hoboken or wherever.
But that's not all. These guys are, basically, handsomer than ever, and not ones to "rest on their laurels." In order of their relative placement on 'Synchronicity''s cover: Sting has appeared in several films, among them 'Quadrophenia', 'Brimstone And Treacle' and the upcoming 'Dune', directed by Eraserhead/Elephant Man honcho David Lynch and due out in '85. Stewart Copeland recently completed the film score of Francis Ford Coppola's Rumble Fish and wrapped up directing his first-ever film, a 16-millimeter "short" featuring the Anti-Nowhere League, Chelsea and others of their ilk. And as if that wasn't enough, he and his wife Sonja Kristina - who used to sing with Curved Air and is being held by Copeland a little too smugly on the back cover of their 'Airborne' LP, if you ask me - recently had a baby. And let us not forget Andy Summers, who last year collaborated with Robert Fripp on the nifty 'I Advance Masked' and this year put together an ultra-tasteful photography book for William Morrow, which should be available in any bookstore that sells CREEM by the time you read this. Next year, Andy will be starring in his first film role (sounds pretty good, too) and further pursue a possible collaboration with jazz drummer supreme Jack De Johnette, which - and I am prejudiced, understand - may be the neatest thing you'll ever hear, if it happens.
And finally, let us get to perhaps the most galling of all "rumors" that inevitably pop up anytime the Police's name and fame arises, specifically: that "they're gonna break up." Why, you and all America ask? Because of "personal differences and stuff," chime those who would like to see this happen because, well, frankly, that just sounds neater than hearing the plain and simple truth. Which is, of course, the practical reality that the Police would be utter morons to do such a thing. As each of them have been forced to state ad nauseum, they'll break up "any time it's not fun anymore" - and if you think having the freedom to go out and pursue acting and making films and soundtracks and writing books when not recording multi-platinum selling albums would not be fun, have we got a job for you!
To put it proper: these guys are big news, they've got an ideal set-up on both financial and artistic levels, they have yet to record a "crummy" record and are essentially a really good band that happens to be making it big this decade. As you'll see, they are "certainly not" prima donnas despite suggestions to the contrary from spiteful foes, and, finally, not about to mess up a good thing unless backed into a corner.
On interviewing the Police in 1983: basically, you're talking no soap jokes, radio. The band is comprised of three individuals with self-professed "monster egos" - which doesn't mean they're bad or good, it means that when you talk to all three of them together it reads like three separate interviews pasted together by Wee Willy Burroughs. In the words of Dave Mason, they agree to disagree as a matter of course, which may be interesting as all heck when you watch it transpire but when you read your transcript two weeks later and it takes 'em two single-spaced typewritten pages to agree it was a nice day after all, you start to wonder if maybe they'll break up or something and...oh, forget it. Point is, in '83 you get what you pay for - and Summers, Sting and Copeland are three very different individuals who are fascinating interviews unto themselves and maybe ought to be "captured" in that manner.
In this tradition, then, may we present a few edited highlights of three conversations with the Police, two of which occurred in face-to-face encounter and the third...thankfully, mysteriously, passionately...over the phone.
THE ANDY SUMMERS CONCEPT
Andy Summers, the first Policeman to be detained for questioning in my ironic career, is one heck of a jovial Joe: nice, loquacious, great guitar player, sparkling individual, says what he means, etc. I like him loads, because he's sincere and very adept at his work. I encounter the man in a suite in the Dearborn Hyatt the afternoon before the Police's first Detroit show. It should've been their second show, but the first was canceled and postponed for two days due to Sting's sudden sore throat - caused, the local papers trumpet, by his overly zealous screaming for the Detroit Tigers at the game played the night earlier. What a guy, and I don't even like baseball!
Summers leaps into the detention suite and basically spills all and more, the ramifications of which:
Last time we spoke, we were sitting in a Detroit bar and you were to play Bookie's for the second time. It was funny - right that week ¬ëMessage In A Bottle' went to Number One in England, and you guys had just played to an American audience of maybe five people who could care less...You've come a long way since then.
That's right, I remember that. We were at Virginia Beach and we were right at the top, it was a strange overlap that didn't really work. But yeah, obviously, we've come a long way in terms of commercial success. I guess we're right at the very top now. Which obviously makes us all feel very good - it's like reaching the top of the mountain, it was a long haul, a long climb. And it's taken us five years to get to this point, five years of blood, sweat and tears to do it. And the success is now based on a very solid foundation.
It's very gratifying to achieve this, but, of course, on the other side, it's intoxicating. And with the intoxication there are certain dangers, obviously. We have to watch ourselves more closely.
Are you going nuts? The reason I ask is that bit in Rolling Stone I read about you being anxious to get out on the road to display your "sexual prowess" or something. It didn't sound like the sort of thing you'd say...
Oh, that piece of shit in Rolling Stone. Which was from a piece of shit in that English paper. (Resignedly) Well, you know, the way I look at it is that it's par for the course at this point. You get so much good stuff, there's bound to be a bit of detraction as well.
You probably have a lot more time on your hands than you used to...
No, actually the reverse is true. Honestly. Why do you say that?
I suppose because at one point you had to be out on the road continually, the three of you, pushing, pushing and pushing. And now that "need" doesn't seem to be there.
Actually, being on the road is the easiest part now. This is when we have the most time. I look forward to it, because I can sort of get back into myself, I can think about things and practice the guitar in a more disciplined fashion. When we go home to London, it never seems to be for more than two or three months ever, now. I mean, sure, our lives have changed radically, but last time the phone just did not stop, from nine in the morning until midnight. I kid you not.
It's incredible. We're so, like, in demand for so many things, there are so many issues and projects going on, that actually I find it exhausting. We're very busy. Although we took more time between the records, in fact we worked very hard. In England they said 'Oh, the Police are old' because we hadn't done a tour there for over a year, and their immediate tendency there is just to write you off. They don't actually realize we're doing incredibly well in America, and we were touring here heavily, and all over the rest of the world. Basically, we never stopped doing things at all.
Was it more fun making the Fripp album than it was making the new Police album?
Hmm. (Contemplating) Well, it's different, you know. With Sting and Stewart, obviously, there's a lot of camaraderie between us, because we've been together for such a long time, this is our sixth year. We've been through everything together, so we have our own vocabulary, and way of dealing with one another and our own little rituals and in jokes...
That's why it was fun, in the last interview we did, when you, Sting and Stewart were there together, arguing about every question...
Yeah, I remember that. I remember reading that and thinking 'Christ, we sound like we're in three different groups!' (Laughs) No, obviously there's a lot of diversity in opinions about what we should do. There is a certain amount of fighting and tension. But it's mostly over musical problems. I mean, we're used to it now, it's written about a lot...
Yeah, it's getting to be a bit of a yawn because people want to write about it. But for me, most of the best groups are characterized by that sort of tension. You can certainly cite the Who, and I think even now the Pink Floyd, possibly. Don't know about the Stones. All groups have their problems because it's like a sort of marriage, and it has its attendant difficulties.
Our group has these three monster egos, all battling to get their way. Actually, we're better at it now. We're older, and we've learned how to work with one another. I think we're over the hump, in terms of being through the most emotionally stressful period. We're not complacent or resting on our laurels at all - we have to go on and make a better album, that's always the way it is. There's no resting. We can't stay the same.
Someone else in the band recently commented that you almost had to go out of your way to sound different in making the new album, because there were so many new bands copying you...
Well, of course, there is a sort of trap. Once you've created a style which you're known for, you're kind of in the position of having to do it, because that's how we sound. The problem is in sort of taking the style, having it be recognizable, but moving it on a bit. Just as with the great painters, say. I'm not comparing us with Picasso, but you know what I mean, right? Say someone like Picasso - you can recognize his work through all his various evolutions, there are certain hallmarks that sort of carry on, although they always change. And that's why when you look through all the work, it's very interesting to see how it all changed. That's how I regard it.
I imagine you're probably totally sick of reading how so-and-so or so-and-so is going to leave the Police any day now.
Yeah. I don't think it's the most interesting thing about the group.
What is the most interesting thing?
Yeah, what would you write about if you were me? Want to do my job for me?
Well, I'd talk about what we're talking about now - we really haven't talked too much about interpersonal relationships. I mean that's the sort of stuff the National Enquirer does. I mean if you become a large public figure... I don't mind talking about it. I suppose there is a certain interest in that.
I think what's interesting in that area is the way things change your own life. How you change personally, how you start to regard the world. The relationships - what happens in a large rock group when they start out as just three guys on their own, and then, gradually, more and more people are acquired. And then there's this huge sort of organism that's created, and that organism contains a great deal of energy, both creative and destructive, and it kind of eats people as it goes along. And a lot of things happen within that matrix, and they're not all good. There's a great deal of good and creative stuff, but on the other side, bad things can happen, too. People come out of the woodwork to get you. And as many accolades as you get, you get detractors as well.
But in the middle of the maelstrom, there's the three of us, and we're probably the calmest of all.
Last time I was in London, I was at a jazz club, the Seven Dials...
I know the place...
And I saw the Elton Dean quintet...
He's a great player.
Yeah, it was great, but there were only about 20 people there. My question to you is, if the Police hadn't ever happened, do you suppose you might've ended up like that, playing in a small jazz club to nobody?
Maybe. (Pauses) I don't know. I always had the ambition to make it big, I suppose. I always wanted to.
Did you think you were going to make it big playing with people like Kevin Coyne and Kevin Ayers?
I was trying to do things. I was writing songs and taking demos around. I had a lot of ideas, I probably hadn't crystalized them enough. But when I was working, the thought was always there, and I was preparing myself for the opportunity - which obviously presented itself when I met Sting and Stewart.
I don't know, what can you say? I don't identify myself as an underdog, I guess my background's too middle class for that, anyway. But I do identify myself with, you know, the pure artist. I don't think you have to born starving to be a great artist, I think that's bullshit, I really do. Often you can create the best art when you're living comfortably. I think that's a kind of romantic myth, and I don't go along with it.
It's inside you. I recognize all the trappings that are around me. I don't indulge particularly in that, you know? I mean, I just worked my balls off in New York this year, doing that photograph book and just living like everybody else, and I wasn't walking around like some huge star or driving around in limos to do that. I was going down from the park to Soho every day on the train, just like everybody else. And I enjoyed it, it didn't faze me.
I like all the attention and the trappings and all that, right? And I think I deserve it and can handle it. And I think Sting and Stewart can. At the same time, I don't think I've lost sight of where I come from, or what my artistic goals are. Because those are the only things that are keeping me sane, really - the work, and what's inside me. Those are the things I cherish, rather than having two big rooms in a hotel.
Which, you must understand, was exactly where we were sitting. One thing I didn't mention - a co-worker, when asked if he wanted me to ask the Police anything, had but one question: "How come those guys are such prima donnas?" I asked Andy, to which he responded: "Tell him he's a prick. Has he ever met us?" No, said I. "Then he is a prick," affirmed Andy. "What does he know?"
As we continued speaking, interview time was almost over - and we were to be interrupted by the entrance of Stewart Copeland. "It's NOT TRUE AT ALL," said he, upon entering. "Should I continue?" asked Summers.
Sure, said I.
"I'll just listen to what he says, to make sure it's still right," said Stew.
"Oh, go away Stewart, this is embarrassing for me," said Andy. "Because I was talking about you."
Stew: "Oh, you were talking about me? Well in that case, take your time."
"Just give me five minutes," asked Andy as Copeland exited. "So anyway," he grinned, "Stewart's prick is 10 inches long and..."
Nyuk-nyuk. Those guys!
STEWART COPELAND: CAN HE BE BEAT?
Next up was S.C., anxious to make the approaching soundcheck but as conversant as he was five years ago or so. He's lots of fun:
I heard you're a daddy. Congratulations.
Yeah, that's right. Thank you very much. I already was a daddy, but still - now I'm even more of a daddy. My own equipment works, anyway.
How do you feel, having to leave so soon to make this tour happen?
Well, the family's coming out to meet me in a week, so it's all right. I'm going to run through the baby's repertoire of things he can do, which are: gurgle happily, gurgle unhappily, burp and shit. And pee. And all those things are exciting and wonderful, but you know, actually the next thing he'll do is focus and look at me, look me in the eye and tell me he's proud to be an American.
How did you get hooked up doing the Rumble Fish soundtrack?
It was a call from Hollywood. Francis called me up, and told me he was doing a movie where time was an important factor. And as we all know, rhythm and time are connected. And so I went over to where he was rehearsing the film, in Oklahoma, and met with him, and we established a fairly instant rapport. He's a very inspiring man to talk to. He definitely gets all my juices flowing.
How does he know you?
I don't know - he's got teenaged kids, that's one clue. He called me up, and at first all I was going to do was advise him on the rhythms and stuff. We discussed lots of ways of connecting shooting to rhythm, and acting to rhythm, and by the time I'd finished, I'd composed all the music and performed 98 percent of it.
How would you compare your compositions on the soundtrack and your contributions to the Police?
Composition is a different thing. My compositions go pretty much to outside projects. Because in the band, there's a kind of unity of sound that we've arrived at, on Sting's material, and I know what to do with it. Not always, I mean I'm looking for new things all the time, but it's a challenge. He writes excellent material, and it's always a pleasure to work on it.
The other side of the coin is that when I do bring songs in to the band, I don't really feel comfortable with them. I feel as though Sting has to sing a different kind of personality, and his personality is so different. And it comes from a different place.
To bring it down to basics, are you happy playing with the Police but really more interested in your own projects?
No. Artistically, Police albums are perhaps the greatest challenge, because of the momentum of the band and the expectations of the band. That's the challenge - to be the greatest, and the Police are in that position.
Me as an individual, doing my other stuff - I don't have to be the greatest, I haven't got that track record. I mean, I haven't done a film score before, so nobody has any expectations at all. And, in a way, it's more fun in that respect. I'm able to play with concepts that wouldn't have any meaning in the Police.
So I suppose you're also sick of people asking you when the band's going to split?
Yeah. It's gone a bit far. I mean, everybody - we talked to Time and Newsweek, and both of them let slip the fact that 'look, look, what we really want, the editors in New York, what they're really after is a story on the conflict within the group.' And if that's the story you want...you know? I mean, it's boring, but they've written their stories before they even get here.
Andy seems to feel the same way.
The thing is, we've always argued, and we have this dynamic relationship between the three of us. It's just that it's all more salable now, the Police breaking up. The possibility of the Police breaking up two years ago wouldn't really be that much of a story. And now the Police are such an important group - so well known and all - it's more of an event. And even the possibility of the event gets headlines. And it's not because we're any more likely to break up now that we were then, it's because it's a more salable story. It would have greater impact.
Are you really satisfied with the new album?
Yes, I am. The main thing that I'm satisfied with - the objective, conceptually, was to do something different and get away from our established style and formula, and I think we've accomplished that. And it's singable.
How did that compare to doing Rumble Fish?
Well, what was slightly uncomfortable was...what comes naturally is the stuff I was doing for Rumble Fish. I just couldn't roll the tape fast enough to get the ideas down. To write Police songs for the Police, with Sting's vocals in mind, I thought, 'shit, I'm in a position that hundreds of musicians are in all over the country - I'm trying to write a Police song!' And I felt, shit, I couldn't do that.
So I wrote my own material, with my own personality in mind, and brought them to the group, on the chance that Sting might say, 'Oh, I like this one or that one.' And there was one of them he did like - ¬ëMiss Gradenko' - and so he sang it. And that's what it's about.*
And of course it's about lots more than that, but Stewart was soon on his way in preparation for the big Detroit soundcheck. Not before adding, when confronted with the big "Are the Police prima donnas?" question: "It's impossible to be otherwise. When you're so handsome, what can you do?" Few could deny that Stewart Copeland, Police drummer and all-around Mr. Affable, knows which side his bread is buttered on!
STING FROM A DISTANCE
Finally we come to Reality Check One: can Sting be collared? Lord knows, probing journalists from bigger multimillion dollar publishing dynasties than the CREEM empire have had a hard time of it lately - for which, you must guess, there might be a reason. Could it be that he's a much more secretive, sensitive fellow than are his two hardnosed compatriots? With all due credit, perhaps not. Might it be that the Rolling Stone coverboy of that very next week - sans band, understand - being vocalist, songwriter, and more-sexy-than-the-other-guys-according-to-a-recent-poll, may perhaps be continually hounded for interviews? More so than Andy and Stewart? On a personal level, one hopes not. On a business level - oh, those crazy editors - one suspects as much.
But a prima donna? Never.
Might it be fate, therefore, that hands me access to the golden-throated one two days later, for a good ol' "phoner"? Even though the guy's in a hotel in Detroit, where I live?
What the heck: the guy had a sore throat, I don't want to catch anything, and he's certainly as cooperative an interview as any struggling-to-wake-up-because-you-were-just-notified-about-the-interview-20-minutes-earlier-and-it's-not-even-10 a.m. yet writer could ever ask for!
Many miles away, something crawls from the slime at the bottom of a dark Scottish lake.
Did it take a long time after your part in 'Dune' to get back into a Police state-of-mind again? Performing, recording, the whole thing?
While I was doing 'Dune' in Mexico, I felt like a bit of an exile, really. Because what was happening in England was phenomenal. We went to Number One again - the album did - and the band was happening without me being there. The record was happening, at least, so the excitement and momentum was already going.
And we started rehearsing about three weeks ago. We went through the history of the band, which was interesting. We started at Album One and played all the numbers. There were some songs we couldn't remember, but it was a useful little exercise and it got us back to where we are now.
How was 'Dune' anyway? How would you compare to your other films?
It's certainly the biggest. It's a million budget, which is outrageous. And I don't cost that much, believe me. (Laughs) It's got about 500 special effects and it's a two-year-shoot - it was just enormous, and I felt like a very small cog in a big wheel. Whereas the last movie I did, 'Brimstone And Treacle', I was on the set every day, and in most of the frames of the movie. So it was quite different.
Would you say this process of coming back from an outside project to rejoin the Police might be making the band itself something of a chore for you?
A chore? No - the band isn't a chore, nor are the things we do outside of it. If you do go outside and do something else, it refreshes you, if anything. Otherwise a band can become a kind of prison, a sort of feudal system you can't get out of. Our band reserves the privilege and the right to break up at any time. We can basically do what we want, there's no one holding a stick over us. And that allows me a sense of freedom, which I need.
Stewart's done the 'Rumble Fish' soundtrack and Andy's done his Fripp collaboration, but with the exception of a few soundtrack cuts, there really hasn't been any Sting material that wasn't Police material. Ever think about that?
I don't really feel the need to have to do a solo album. My material is amply utilized in the band. The only reason to do a solo album is to say 'Oh, I can do it on my own.' I mean, I just don't feel the need.
Are you getting tired of being constantly in the public eye? It must be worse than ever now...
It's a part of the job. I mean, I don't relish the thought of talking about the music, because I think it speaks for itself. But it's a necessary evil. Can I say that? (Laughs)
Yeah, I know what you mean. There's no danger you've become a prima donna then, as some might suggest?
Well, I'm a very cynical person. Very cynical about myself, too - so I don't think I've become a prima donna. I have what's called "British phlegm."
You consider your time away from the band, on your own special projects, sort of therapeutical, then?
Yeah. I mean, the band is just one part of our lives. It's not the entire be-all and end-all of our lives. If it was, that'd be awful. I couldn't stand it. I need a private life, and I need private modes of expression.
The gossip about your private life...
What private life? (Laughs)
Right, does it bother you that you don't exactly have one?
Actually, I'm fairly immune to what the press says. Particularly in England, where they invent a private life for you and then proceed to comment on it. It's a joke, really - it's not me they're writing about, they're writing about some invention.
Actually, I bait the press a lot. Somebody slags me off, I'll slag them back. I quite enjoy that privilege. I like the right to say what the hell I like. They say what the hell they like.
Your songs on Synchronicity aren't exactly your cheeriest to date. Do you think you've retained a sense of humor at this point?
I have a sense of irony. If that's the same as a sense of humor, fine.
Have you been laughing a lot lately, then?
I was laughing last night, all through the show. I mean, I find it a real irony to go from Bookie's to doing two nights at the Joe Louis Arena. I mean, it's funny - we're just the same group.
As far as my political beliefs or whatever, my artistic beliefs - I'm pretty angry at the world. I mean, really. And I think it's my duty to be angry. Because a lot of people are asleep, you know? They don't know what's going on. They don't know that the place is being wrecked by...fools. Fools we call politicians.
I mean, I am angry, and I am sour about the political state of the world. I think it sucks. But that doesn't mean to say I'm crying my beer...
I don't mean to bring up the Clash, since almost everybody else does, but if I can just ask you this: what's the difference between the Clash being "14-year-olds" and you telling me the world stinks?
I'm 15 years old. (Laughs) No, listen, I do like the Clash, but I think they do protest too much, in a way - they go on soapboxes onstage, which we don't do, actually. I mean, my private beliefs are my own, and they're as radical as you could get. But I don't think it's entertainment. So on the stage I prefer to make the statements in a veiled way, in a way that's almost seductive, rather than get on a soapbox and say this is right and this is wrong. I mean, that's only my opinion. I'd rather do it in a way that's almost gentle.
I mean, last night the audience was singing my lyrics. Now, whether that's effective or not is another matter, but they certainly were singing the lyrics, and they're singing a viewpoint - about what I consider to be serious. I think you can chip away at society, but you can't change it overnight. And you certainly can't change it with a hammer.
When I'm asked what I think of the world, I will tell you: it sucks. You know, the Senate have a budget for 27 more MX missiles? And that's just this week - what's going to happen next week? Or the week after that? I mean, Jesus, let's wake up.
I imagine your concerns have broadened considerably now that you're financially set. You can take on the more abstract issues...
Well, I don't have to worry about paying the mortgage, but I'm not immune to all the things that are happening in this world. I mean, I could be - I could get drugged, or drunk, all the time, and be surrounded by women and all that bullshit - but I think that's just being asleep. I prefer to be conscious, even though it's a bit painful.
You think the next few years will be bringing you more of the same album/movie/tour cycle, or do you see any changes coming up? Will it just be hotel after hotel, and lots more arena concerts from now on?
No. I think it's one of my duties, in a sense, to change the way bands work and perform. So I would hope that if the band is together in five years time, we'll be exercising a different form, if you like. I'm not sure what that form will take, but the desire to change it is there. And it usually works with me, if I want to change something, it usually happens. I don't want to do the same show in Detroit in five years time, or anything remotely like it.
Ominous words? Heck if I know. If I were me I'd just be satisfied that: 1) the Police in live performance in 1983 are better than they've ever been, 2) 'Synchronicity' is the best - and certainly most consistent - album they've ever recorded, and 3) the world sucks. Or so it's rumored.
In the meantime, you would do well to remember that the Summer of 1983 was made considerably better by the presence of ¬ëEvery Breath You Take' on every radio Japan has allotted us this year, and that we could do a lot worse than the Police, and have done so.
Many, many times.
© Creem by Dave DiMartino