Interview: THE FIGARO (1979)

February 02, 1979

The following article by Bunny Matthews appeared in a February 1979 issue of weekly New Orleans newspaper The Figaro...

The Police are not punk or disco...

As day-glo bumper stickers proclaimed back in a bygone era: "If you don't like cops, call a hippie the next time you're in trouble!" And vice versa, if you don't like hippies, call the cops, right? Or better yet, The Police.

Who are The Police? For an early clue, let us refer to the voice of English pop, Melody Maker, "The Police are not punk. The Police are not disco. The Police are not heavy metal. The Police are not power pop. The Police are just the best rock and roll band I've seen in years."

Well, nothing like understatement. Except this time, some scribe has got it right - The Police are the best rock and roll band to come chooglin' down the boulevards in some months. Or at least close to it (flip a coin between The Police and Talking Heads).

What are The Police? The Police are blond (via the miracle of peroxide). The Police are one American (Stewart Copeland) and two Englishmen (Andy Summers and Sting). The Police have been touring America in a single van with one roadie (this in the days of rock tours requireing 4 semis, platoons of sound men and electricians, scaffolding roughly on the order of the Eiffel Tower, Fibreglass UFO's, several tons of dry ice, and a minor fleet of limousines). And The Police, as new wave as they come, have an amazing single, 'Roxanne', which is being played on WTIX, the usual province of Bee Gees and more Bee Gees.

'Roxanne' is irrrestible. Like 'Honky Tonk Women' or the O'Jays 'For The Love Of Money', this is one of those tunes that you can't escape once it comes throbbing out of your dashboard - not that you'd want to. After all, before FM radio and glove compartment cassette decks, high velocity mono AM was the state-of-the-art. Take it from a veteran of auto audio - rock music hasn't been in such a great state since the advent of all this high fidelity.

According to Sting, the composer of 'Roxanne', the song was done as a throwaway number, little more than an experiment in quasi-reggae. Perceptive readers will recall that throwaway numbers have often as not resulted in some of rock's greatest hits (cf The Meters' 'They All Ax'd For You' and for that matter, practically all of the great New Orleans 45s).

The BBC, in its wisdom, has banned both 'Roxanne' (because it deals with prostitution) and The Police's 'Can't Stand Losing You' (because of a reference to suicide).

As I understand, the BBC bestows this dubious honour with some regularity and even the tired, old Rolling Stones still get black listed on occasion. Great! Notoriety is what rock is all about - just spell my name right, as Oscar Wilde said.

In previous lives, The Police have distinguished themselves in the usual sordid manner: Sting in drag, rapes Paul Cook in the Sex Pistol's film; Stewart Copeland under the pseudonym Klark Kent and singing for the first time in his life recorded 'Don't Care' for the English Kryptone label (later leased to A&M, for whom it sold 35,000 copies in England); and Andy Summers has formerly found emply with Zoot Money, The Animals, Soft Machine, Tim Rose, Kevin Coyne and Kevin Ayers.

The Police's album is entitled 'Outlandos d'Amour' and every sensitive young person should avail himself of a copy immediately. Besides 'Roxanne', and 'Can't Stand Losing You', there's such tasty tracks as the white-man-on-ganja epic 'Masoko Tanga', (roughly based on the work of Ras Michael and/or The Abyssianians); the anti-showbiz 'Peanuts' and The Police's paean to Eisenhower, 'Born in the 50s'. The latter features the soul-stirring message: "You don't understand us, so don't reprimand us - we're digging the future!"

© The Figaro



Jan 1, 1979

"If punk doesn't move, it'll die." The words sound odd coming from the mouth of someone who has just stepped off the stage at CBGB, but then again, the Police are not your everyday headbangers. For instance: the drummer, Stewart Copeland, formed the group as a reaction to the reigning anti-fun, mega-bucks attitude in rock, after leaving his post a latter-day member of the overhyped British progressive outfit Curved Air. The bassist and singer/writer, who calls himself Sting, recently wrapped up filming a lead role in Quadrophenia, the film based on the Who album of the same name. Guitarist Andy Summers, who considers himself a guitar craftsman, has put in time with the likes of Soft Machine, Neil Sedaka, the Animals and David Essex, among other more esoteric organisations. And (excuse the inevitable but irresistible pun), this "arresting" trio of blond Britons recently completed its first U.S. tour, covering most of the major Eastern markets, without the benefit of record company backing...

Dec 1, 1978

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...!