Interview: SWEET POTATO (1978)

December 01, 1978

The following article by Paul Greenberg appeared in a December 1978 issue of Sweet Potato magazine...

You should have seen the faces of the people at the Rat, not to mention proprietor Jim Harold, who was sure someone would end up in the clinker before the night was old. The Police had raided the Rat. Now, our more observant readers probably know that the Police are a new English rock and roll band, but more than that, there were these mysterious men and women running around in police uniforms. After playing Kojak for awhile, I found out these people were from A&M Records. Phew, the heat was off but musically still on. The Police (r&r band) were tres hot!

From England, yes, though they do have an American member in Stewart Copeland, the Police may come off as your above average punk/new wave trio. They are much more than that. Their sounds are fast, furious and oh-so-danceable rock and roll, something Mr. Copeland likes to call "modern music", though he doesn't mind the term "honky reggae" when referring to tunes like 'Roxanne', their first American single on A&M. They describe a punk band as a "group of eighteen years old in their first band having a go at playing." This is something they are not in the remotest sense. They are all accomplished musicians - Stewart Copeland, drums; Sting, bass and vocals; Andy Summers, guitar. Summers, for example, is very much in demand as a session man and has played in the past with Kevin Coyne and Kevin Ayers to name a couple.

Until now the only product by the Police have been import 45's. Their first was 'Fallout'/'Nothing Achieving' on their own Illegal Records label. After the success of that (15,000 in world sales), they recorded an album for Illegal. The album was heard by the right people, and after some negotiations, they signed to A&M England. One song from the album, 'Roxanne', about a French prostitute, with a truly infectious reggae tone to it, was released on A&M with the B 'Peanuts'. A new single followed called 'Can't Stand Losing You'. About this same time they were signed to A&M America, and Roxanne was released over here with the B side 'Dead End Job'. Confusing, huh? Well, their newest English single is So Lonely, which will be on their debut album, 'Outlandos d'Amour', which is probably out in England now but won't be released here until January. By that same time, if things work out, we might also see the premiere of the Who's 'Quadrophenia' movie, in which bassist Sting has secured the part of the bell boy. Right now he doesn't see his movie star personality conflicting with his role as rocker with the Police; which is nice.

This tour for the Police lasted three weeks. It opened in New York at CBGB's and ended at CB's on November fifteenth. It brought them to Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Toronto and others. All at small clubs of what can be considered the "breakout" cities. Now, you would think that with help from a corporation like A&M the Police could have gotten hooked up with some coliseum rock stars. This was not their intention in coming to the USA. Stewart Copeland explained that with only a 45 out here at this time, media folk, as well as audience, would tend to miss the opening act at a massive arena gig. He went on to explain that at small clubs they are the focal point and the kids they are playing to are different. "We decided to play to the new generation of kids, rather than the older crowd, because the new generation is fun to play to. They get hysterical at gigs."

Yeah, this is a for sure. If you were down at the Rat anytime during their three day stand (even Sunday), you'd know that everyone went nuts. The Police will be returning to the U.S. and Boston (the Rat most likely), by the end of February after the disc comes out. Watch for these guys.

© Sweet Potato magazine


Jan 1, 1977

Making it - Any band with fire in it's belly, sooner or later, has to gamble on that make-or-break trip to London. This is an account of how Newcastle's highly rated Last Exit sought fame and fortune in the Big City. Dingwall's felt more like the warehouse it used to be than the key new-band rock venue it has become. It was a downbeat Monday night. The pubs were only just chucking out when the DJ announced the support act, a name no Londoner had ever heard of, and the few dozen present hardly raised an eyebrow...