Interview: FLEXIPOP (1981)

March 08, 1981

The following article by Sting appeared in a March 1981 issue of Flexipop magazine...

Welcome to the working week. Sting lets Flexipop in on his top secret life as athlete, angel, actor and dog fancier...

Friday: The night before we played our last gig in Australia in front of 10,000. Friday morning I got up pretty early, around 9am, and went straight down to the hotel pool. There I met Willie Nelson and made friends with him. I congratulated him on his Grammy award and he congratulated me on mine. He won the best country and western song and we won the best instrumental. Then I met Oscar Peterson who was sitting in the corner drinking. I went over but he had never heard of The Police. In the afternoon I went water-skiing in Perth. It was pretty good - until I swallowed a jellyfish. Well, I nearly did. It sort of covered my face. Luckily it wasn't of he stinging variety. I mean, how can a jellyfish sting Sting?

We were supposed to catch the 10.30pm flight to London but it was delayed. The plane finally took off at midnight. I dropped a few sleeping pills and that was it... until one of the plane's engines went. The pilot told us not to panic and in fact we had to make four stops - Singapore, Bombay, Bahrain, and London. It was a 27 hour flight.

Saturday: Arrived at Heathrow around 4.30pm. Got into a taxi and went straight home, kissed the wife, kissed the baby (I hadn't seen them in a month), had me tea and then got in the motor and drove to Nottingham where I'm filming 'Artemis' for the BBC. It's a play by David Redken - and I'm playing an angel! I arrived in Nottingham around midnight and found the crew and cast in the bar blind drunk. Of course, in order to communicate with them I had to get drunk too. I finally got to bed at 2am but for me, being still on Australian time, it was really 2pm.

Sunday: Got up at 8am and didn't feel at all shattered. I don't have a breakfast, just a coffee and a grapefruit. I also try and run every morning for about 20 minutes but it just wasn't possible that day. Anyway, I met Hywel Bennett who's the star of the film and we rehearsed a few scenes. We didn't do any actual filming that day. It was the first time I'd met anyone involved. I'm always a bit nervous about any work I do. You need nerves to perform. If you're not nervous you can't perform well. I think if you're not nervous you come across as being super arrogant.

After the rehearsals Larry (my bodyguard) and me strolled around Nottingham in the rain and then dropped into the cinema to see 'When A Stranger Calls'. It was terrifying. It was also strange sitting in there because people would recognise me and then conclude I couldn't possibly be in Nottingham on a rainy Sunday and refused to accept it was me. I don't always go out with Larry. When I got back to the hotel I had dinner with Hywel. I don't each much. One big meal a day is enough, usually in the early evening. In the restaurant I met The Dubliners. A great bunch of lads. Then the jet lag hit me and I just collapsed. I had to get up early so I went to bed about 10pm and read a bit. I'm reading 'The Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes' at the moment. I love reading, especially when I'm on the road. It's my major pastime. Andy and Stewart don't read as much as I do, but when they do it's usually 'Noddy'.

Monday: I woke up very early being still on Australian time. But when I went to have my coffee and grapefruit they said the restaurant wasn't open until 7.30. Actually I had some bacon because I needed something inside to keep me warm while filming. At 8am I went to make-up, then onto wardrobe, then we all got on the bus and drove to a place near the Pennines just outside Derby. It was a tram museum. There were a few hundred people there, mostly extras, plus a tank, trams, smoke bombs, film crews. Amazing. And it didn't stop raining. I was dressed in white and looked very elegant if I do say so myself. David Redken makes James Joyce look like End Blyton. The film is a psychological thriller with existentialist leanings. I only filmed that day. I don't film again until April. We knocked off at 5pm feeling very cold and wet. Then I drove back to London.

When I arrived home at 8pm I was greeted by two girls who I'm doing a book with. It's an illustrated version of 'Message In A Bottle' for children and almost every line has a picture to it. It will be out in April. The girls were two Police fans who were really poor and sat on my doorstep for three days. They kept putting artwork through my letterbox. Eventually they knocked and told me they were desperate. So Invited them in for a cup of tea and a sandwich. They were starving. I gave them the idea of putting a book together around 'Message' and I'd try and get it published for them. A month later they came back with a rough. I took it to a publisher and he really liked it. The central character in the drawings is a blond bloke on a desert island. The girls are about 18. It was the first time I'd seen them since Christmas. They've got an advance out of which paid their rent. I hope they make some money out of the project. When they left I watched Rockstage on TV and it sent me to sleep. Rock'n'roll just doesn't come across on TV. We've done a few things and they've been terrible. I usually go to bed around midnight, but just recently it's been more like 2 or 3am.

Tuesday: Got up early and went for a run over nearby Hampstead Heath with Larry and my dog Steerpike who's a cross between an Irish Wolfhound and an Alsatian. He's only nine months old. After a 25 minute run you can cover 3 miles. Went back for breakfast. Frances was away in Belfast filming for BBC TV. It involved her being sprayed with water everyday. She's having a whale of a time. In the afternoon I went to a showing of 'Breaker Morant' because the people who made it have offered me a movie and wanted to see what sort of thing they did. I liked it. The part they've offered me is set in Australia. It's about a guy on the dole who freaks out. After the showing I went to see a producer about another film based on a book by Paul Breeze called 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'. It's about a musician who gets mutilated and seeks revenge on the people who did it. Somebody axes his hands - sounds a bit like Andy Summers with gloves on. You won't print that will you? Only joking Andy.

After I came home, fed the dog and had a great meal cooked by Larry. He really is a superb cook. He's American and they have the ability to cook all different kinds of food. My fave Larry dish is spare ribs with barbeque sauce. I can't even make toast. That night I stayed in and watched a video of 'M.A.S.H.' Then I watched 'The Secret Policeman's Ball' and had to explain the humour to Larry. I like English TV and Frances tapes all my fave shows while I'm away. Other pastimes? I like playing Mozart on the piano. I also read loads of scripts, I've got hundreds around, either torn up or hanging in the toilet. I've tried writing a few myself, but nothing I'm satisfied with. It's a craft that takes a long time to master. I don't just want to end up as a pop singer/actor you know. There are other things I'd like to do like writing and directing. If you really want freedom you've got to do things like that.

Wednesday: Another run in the morning. When I got back I did sit and legs up, about 45 usually. Once, for a bet, I did 200. I've always been into fitness. I was an athlete at school - the 100 metre champion of the Northern Counties. I even thought I'd end up in athletics because I always won every race. I was the best runner in my class, then year, then school, then town, then city, then county, then other counties. Then you reach the level where you're meeting other people of your standard. In the National Finals I came in third in the 100 metres. That pissed me off. Once I realised I wasn't the best I wasn't interested anymore. Besides, there were other things I was more interested in, like women. I was interested in women at a very early age but it only started getting serious when I was 16. I had the usual lot of teenage traumas. Anyway, lunchtime I went to my record company A&M but they were all at lunch. I try to pop in and see them occasionally. I got a few free records. I don't usually listen to much rock at home, mostly classical, especially Mozart. I only get interested in a rock album when I hear something I Like on the radio. I'd really like to hear the U2 album. And I'm very impressed with Spandau Ballet. Then I went to my publicist Keith Altham's office and did some interviews with the Sunday Mirror and TV Times.

After that I went to a preview of a movie for American TV called 'Parole' because I sing the theme song - Bob Dylan's 'I Shall Be Released'. The film is very heavy. It's a bout a boy who goes to prison on a first offence and gets raped repeatedly by the inmates and how he copes when he is eventually released. When the film finished I went a pub in Soho to do another interview and I met Lulu there for the first time. We had a nice chat and drink. When I got home a friend brought a puppy round which had been given to her by a Soho vagrant. It was beautiful little 3 week old Labrador. I introduced him to Steerpike and he approved by not eating it. So I kept it and called it Belgrove for the same reason I called Steerpike Steerpike - they're both in a book called 'Titus Groan' by Mervyn Peake. Belgrove now stops Steerpike howling which used to make the neighbours go crazy. Next stop Dingwalls which is a club only round the corner from my Hampstead home. Jools Holland, ex Squeeze, and his new band The Millionaires were playing there and he's a really good mate. He had a sore throat so I gave him my miracle cure - a honey and lemon steam and a gargle with aspirins. It did the trick. I had a bit of a bop and a few drinks then I cam home and went to bed after 'A Day At The Races' with the Marx Brothers on the video..

Thursday: Didn't get up till around 10am. An American TV film crew came round to do a video of me singing 'Voices Inside My Head' which is getting a lot of airplay in the States as a 12 incher. I did my typical video bit. They were there all afternoon. Then my manager Miles Copeland popped round to give me a pep talk. I often get despondent. Wouldn't you after four years of continuous touring? Then my agent came round, them some photographer friends without their cameras - that's why they're friends of mine. I used to live in Bayswater and my house was always full. Always. At least 5 or 6 people were around at any one point. This house is getting the same, like Piccadilly Circus. People pop round, I give them a cuppa and they just hang out. I go upstairs and I find people I'd forgotten were still there.

© Flexipop



Mar 1, 1981

When the Police hit town they come with with tons of technological wealth - the latest in lights and sound: they hit Washington as a loss leader, to turn albums into gold. It was late morning when a door swung open and a bright winter's sun drilled into the gilded gloom of the Warner Theater. Outside a pair of tractor trailers droned at the curb, jammed with the latest in light and sound equipment. Tons of it. Out of the trucks it rolled in boxes bigger than steamer trunks...

Feb 1, 1981

"Did you kill anything on your way in from the airport?" Sting, the blond-haired lead singer, song-writer and bass player for the Police, is not exactly joking. It's a sunny Saturday morning in a Mexico City, and we're sitting at a poolside table at the Hotel Camino Real, comparing notes on our initial impressions of the city. "When we got to the airport," Sting says, "we were walking down the ramp to the baggage are when the lights went out. All of them. It was pitch black. The next thing we saw was a little boy rummaging through a garbage can, looking for food. To top things off our driver hit a dog. I mean, you know how they drive here. I'm sure he killed it... Welcome to the third world..."