10.08.96 THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH


The following article by Katherine Tulich appeared in an October 1996 issue of the Australian newspaper The Sunday Telegraph...

Nowadays Sting looks more like a convict than a former leader of The Police - but it's not just his appearance that has changed.

When Sting toured Australia in the 1980s as lead singer of the English power pop band The Police, fans kept vigil outside his hotel room, hoping to catch a glimpse of the enigmatic pop star. Lately they've been crossing the road to avoid him.

"I look like a convict," says Sting. "I've seen people quickly shuffling away as I walk past." With his short-to-the-scalp haircut, unshaven face and ill-fitting clothes that look like op-shop rejects, it's not surprising his celebrity persona seems tarnished. But that's not the only change in Sting. The man who used to intimidate journalists with his arrogance now seems shy, even humble as he politely answers questions with his head bowed.

"I'm not as spiky as I used to be," he admits. "I think I'm easier to be around and to get on with than when I was younger. Talking to people, they say they like me better now."

Having turned 45 two weeks ago, Sting says age is mellowing him. "For the first time in my life I'm having to deal with mortality. Most of my life could be over now, which is quite sobering in a way. I feel very grown up. I think it's good to grow up. I'm in an industry which doesn't encourage that kind of thought. We are supposed to be perpetually Peter Pan. I could mention quite a few rock stars who continue to be a Peter Pan and they don't look very happy to me."

The man who penned mega hits like 'Every Breath You Take' and 'Roxanne' is quite content to sit on the sidelines of the pop charts these days, with the release of his sixth solo album, 'Mercury Falling', and a tour of Australia billed as "An Intimate Evening With..."

"Those days of having hit singles are over," says Sting. "It was very easy in my 20s - I had my finger on the pulse and I knew it would be successful. Now I don't."

Sting prefers to be a musical gadfly, experimenting with all musical forms, from jazz to flamenco. Not that former milkman's son Gordon Sumner who was nicknamed Sting as a teenager, regrets the heady success days of the Police.

"It's given me a lot of things in life - it's given me wealth and security and I have this amazing family I've helped create," he says. Sting is now the father of six - his youngest son, Giacomo Luke, was born last December. His family lives in a large, 16th century manor with its own woodlands and a man-made lake in Wiltshire.

Seven gardeners attend the grounds, while six servants attend the 10-bedroom house. "It's a very nice house," says Sting. "But I prefer to spend my time in the small boat-house I have by the lake."

Life is fairly routine. Sting wakes up each day to two hours of yoga: "It began as a physical pursuit but now, after six years, it's become a way of life."

When it's time to make records, he sets up in the dining room. "There's usually a big row when my wife wants to throw a dinner party, because it's full of equipment and musicians," says Sting. "But I hate sterile studios. Here I can make music and then watch the kids come home from school."

With his eldest son now 20 and in college, Sting says he is revelling in the joys of fatherhood for the sixth time. "It's nice to have a big family and to have the funds to rear and educate them, and a house big enough for them to live in," says Sting. "I'm a much more attentive father than I used to be. I've always changed nappies. I have no qualms about that, but I'm now much more sensitive to their needs."

Sting even dedicates a song, 'All Four Seasons' from 'Mercury Falling', to his five-year-old daughter Coco. "She can treat me appallingly one day, then I'm the best thing since sliced bread the next. You can never predict what mood she's going to be in. She's a lot like me actually, so I guess I deserve her," he says, smiling.

Sting's two eldest children are from his first marriage to Frances Tomelty, and his four youngest are with his partner of 15 years, Trudie Styler. "I'm still in love with her," says Sting. "I'm finding out more and more about her and she's finding out more and more about me, and despite that she still loves me!"

The couple were only recently married and have just made a movie together, 'The Grotesque', about an English manor. Styler produced the film and Sting stars in it.

Although he still performs Police songs at his concerts, the likelihood of The Police re-forming is remote. Despite reports that it was an acrimonious split Sting maintains he is still close friends with other members Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland.

"We all played at my wedding. But that's the closest we'll ever get to a reunion. "I'm not one of these rock stars who at age 50 will be desperately trying to squeeze myself into tight leather trousers and a corset."

© The Sunday Telegraph (Australia)
10.06.96Q MAGAZINE
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