Interview: NEWS OF THE WORLD (2000)

March 17, 2000

The following article by Vincent O'Keefe appeared in a March 2000 issue of The News of the World newspaper...

Ireland was a real inspiration to me, it helped my music...

When Sting steps out on stage in front of a 10,000 sell-out gig at The Point in Dublin tonight, he'll be feeling right at home.

For he lived here during what he regards as one of the most "inspirational" periods of his life.

And he admitted: "It is great to be back again.

"I played here several times in the past both with The Police and also when I went solo so Ireland is always up there with my favourite places.

"In fact, I lived in the west of Ireland for a while in the late Seventies and it was a real inspiration to me -and also I would like to think it has helped my music."

Sting fell for Ireland when he was with his Irish-born first wife Frances Tomelty. He came over in 1978 with Frances who was born in Belfast and also has roots in Mayo.

"I can say right now that it was one of the most peaceful places in the world and I hope to go back there on a visit one day," said the 48-year-old star who was brought up a Roman Catholic back home in Newcastle.

Sting has a special place in his heart for traditional Irish music and as a child he managed to tune into RTE Radio.

"I used to listen a lot at night and as a radio station it was very inspiring with the amount of folk and traditional music... I like to think some of that rubbed off on my music."

And he's been delighted at the way Irish musicians are now so popular.

"My son Joe has Westlife on day and night so I hear a lot of them and let's face it, any group that tops the charts with their first four singles must be taken seriously," he said.

"I have just heard their new single on promo and it is superb. It will also top the charts."

But he credits one band with doing more than any other to help Ireland to chart success across the globe.

"U2 really put Ireland on the music map for all to see and hear," he said.

"I know Thin Lizzy, Van Morrison and The Boomtown Rats were also spreading the word-but U2 were always going to be massive."

And Sting has nothing but admiration for their ability to stay the course, a talent he also possesses.

"They have been around for 20 years now and I can remember that the new romantic era was around back then-with Culture Club, Spandau Ballet, The Human League and Adam And The Ants all in the charts. But they all broke up and have moved on.

"And all this time U2 was at the top of the global music business."

Sting fondly recalls the time U2 were still megastars in the making -and when they helped pop to change the world for ever. "I was so impressed with them when they played Live Aid in 1985. I was also on the bill with The Police but U2 stole the show," he said. "When you have such a charismatic figure as Bono as your lead singer you are always in with a chance."

But Sting also reveals the frantic behind-the-scenes efforts by another of his great Irish mates to make the whole thing come together.

"A lot of people were slow to jump on board the Live Aid train, including U2," he said.

"They didn't want to take part until the 11th hour but Bob Geldof banged on a lot of doors and put it to everyone, in no uncertain terms, that they had to take part to help the starving people in Ethiopia.

"Bob has been a pal for years and is another who's been creative, both as a musician and as one who cares about the environment we live in." That willingness to make a difference is a quality they share, whether it's trying to save the earth or simply delighting their legion of fans-even though Sting maintains he never set out to be a big-selling artist.

"To be honest, songwriting used be a therapy. The only way I could get in touch with my real emotions was through my songs," he said.

"But doing yoga, having a family, getting closer to nature and working with the Indians in the Amazon trying to save the rainforests has all opened up a spiritual dimension I'd never, ever experienced."

And Madonna is just one big name to have followed in his spiritual path.

"She came round to my place in New York and said to me, 'What are you doing?' I told her how good yoga is for mind and body," he revealed.

"Now after two years her practice is better than mine! It's also great for your sex life and I would recommend it to anyone for titanic sex." And that's one reason why the former schoolteacher has remained young at heart. He said: "I used to think the idea that life starts at 40 was complete tosh but here I am opening up my inner self for the first time. That's what is coming out on my CD, Brand New Day."

And for those curious fans wondering what's in a name, the star-Christened Gordon Matthew Sumner-has cleared up how he became known as 'Sting'.

"When I was gigging with groups in the early days I used to wear this awful T-shirt with a massive bumblebee on it and soon everyone was referring to me as Sting," he smiled.

But despite his dodgy attire, Sting was no bumbling act and went on to find international fame as lead singer with The Police. He explained why the band called a halt at the height of their popularity.

"The truth about that was ego-mine and theirs. Plus a conflict of roles did not help," he said.

"You've got to bear in mind that I was the songwriter and they (Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland) also wanted to play that role as well-it was a non-starter.

"They just didn't have the experience at the end of the day, any more than I could play lead guitar.

"To be honest it was funny when we played 'Message In A Bottle' at my wedding to Trudie a few years back, they rushed the beat as usual. I snapped round and gave Stewart a quick snarl which, by the way, he returned. Andy Summers grumbled as well.

"We started to laugh at each other. It was us falling back into our unconscious roles when we were in The Police. And we all saw it - so a reunion is definitely out of the question."

After the split, the milkman's son from Tyneside went on to carve out a magnificent solo career.

With superstardom for the past 20 years, plus a personal fortune running into the tens of millions, Sting has found tranquility on a 600-acre estate in picturesque Tuscany, Italy. It was where he found the spark to write his recent album.

"It is a place where I have found peace of mind," he said.

"I first went there when my dad died when the Soul Cages album came out."

And he revealed it was his relationship with his dad which inspired The Police hit 'Invisible Sun' which, when it came out in the early Eighties, was widely regarded as being written about the troubles in the North.

"The song was a pun and to me it meant Invisible Son.

"My dad had always said to me, 'When are you going to get a proper job? You'll never make a living out of music.' It is only now I can see what he was getting at, his resentment.

"You have got to understand that he was a milkman in Newcastle and never got any opportunities."

It's one of the reasons why Sting has remained so down-to-earth. And he's still baffled by all the fuss he attracts. "I'm not an extrovert. I'm much happier in the corner, observing things, than I am being in the spotlight," he said.

"And when I go on stage at The Point there will be 10,000 people in the audience waiting for ME... just the chap in the dressing room."

© The News of the World



Mar 1, 2000

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Feb 17, 2000

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