Interview: THE NEW YORK POST (1999)

October 12, 1999

The following article by Dan Aquilante appeared in an October 1999 issue of The New York Post newspaper...

'New Day' dawns...

Sting has just finished practising his song an Englishman in New York and looks worn out. He sticks out a sweaty hand out to greet a visitor to the small Midtown studio and says, "Rehearsing is exhausting, and it's without reward. There's no feedback, just dead walls."

Fame is exhausting, too.

The man who led the Police through six albums before disbanding the group at the height of its success in 1983 later reveals his fantasy: "That I'm not famous, that I live a normal citizen's life where I'm able to walk about and no one recognises me."

The life of his dreams once belonged to Gordon Sumner, the 48-year-old native of Newcastle, an industrial city in the north of England. But there's no anonymity for his alter ego, Sting, who earned the moniker back when he was a schoolteacher and found time to play bass with a fusion band at local gigs.

To his mates, his yellow-and-black striped sweater made him look like a bumble bee. The nickname was an obvious choice. A lot has changed since then. Sting, one of the most recognisable faces in rock, got married in 1992 for the second time, to actress Trudie Styler, and has six children (four with Styler). Though he owns apartments around the world, home is Lake House, his mansion in Wiltshire in the south of England.

And one thing in his life has remained constant: He keeps putting out music.

Since leaving the Police, Sting has released seven solo albums, the latest of them being 'Brand New Day', a nine-song exploration of the many facets of love that came out Tuesday. In October (sic) he'll appear at the Beacon Theater for a four-night engagement.

Many a songwriter - Paul McCartney, Sheryl Crow, yourself - has also played bass. What's the advantage?

Sting: The bass is a very good place to lead a band from. You control the basis of the music in a very subtle way. I can make the band go up or down without anybody noticing. On top of that, I'm also in charge of the high end with my voice, so the band is running between my rails. This is why I'm the band leader.

Post: Your new album, 'Brand New Day', tells stories about love. Are these tales from your own life?

Sting: This is not a confessional. It is very much about standing in other people's shoes, looking through their eyes and seeing love from their point of view.

Post: Isn't one song, 'Tomorrow We'll See', from a woman's point of view?

Sting: It's from a transsexual's point of view. When you look at the words carefully you see this guy is wearing a dress. And that's as far from my experiences as you could get.

Post: So where did you get your insight on cross-dressing?

Sting: I remember being in Paris about 10 years ago and driving along one night when I saw these very exotic creatures out on the road, dressed to the nines, because they were working. I realised this wasn't just commerce I was seeing. This was a branch of show business. And these people had a passion about the way they looked. It was extraordinary.

Post: What did you take away from the experience?

Sting: I realised from them that they had no sense of shame. It was pride, with the attitude, "Don't judge me. It's my life and I'll live it the way I want."

Post: 'Brand New Day' contains only nine songs, with an average length of five minutes. Why so few tunes?

Sting: There were 10 songs originally. The last was called 'End of the Game', but it just didn't flow with the rest of the album. It slowed the record down. I believe people's attention span for listening to music in one sitting is about 45 minutes. I know CDs are a lot longer now, but I like an album to be listened to in one go.

Post: Rock reunions are hot these days. Will we see the Police together again?

Sting: I would never say no, but for me bands that re-form are like dead, stuffed animals. They're never quite the same. You can't re-create the past. It just ends up as a nostalgia trip, and I'm not very interested in that.

Post: What did escaping from the Police give you?

Sting: [The chance] to play with musicians who could play just about anything. My cohorts in the Police could do that, but as a trio we were limited. It was a self-imposed, three-cornered prison.

Post: So your current band is more versatile?

Sting: This band gives me more freedom than the Police did, because the Police were essentially a democracy. We had to have a group identity that involved guitar, bass and drums. There is only a certain number of ways you can cut that cake. That didn't allow me, as a songwriter, to explore.

Post: What is your relationship these days with your old cohorts?

Sting: We're all on very good terms. I mean, we fight, we scuffle around, but we still love each other.

Post: Your mansion, Lake House, is pretty close to Stonehenge.

Sting: About a 15-minute walk.

Post: Do you ever sneak in?

Sting: Oh yeah, absolutely, especially early in the morning. Sitting there at dawn watching the sun come up is very special.

Post: Are there any circles of stones on your property?

Sting: No, but interestingly enough, on my land we found the body of a woman, which was about 1,700 years old. She was intact.

Post: How did you find her?

Sting: We were digging a lake. They figured she was about 19 years old.

Post: Where is she now?

Sting: We buried her again, in a nice little plot, and got a local priest to come and say a few words
over her.

Post: You started out as a schoolteacher. How do you get kids interested in learning?

Sting: My theory is that a teacher should create an atmosphere where students want to learn. I found the best way to do that was to entertain them.

Post: Speaking of entertaining, we hear that you're into tantric sex.

Sting: People keep asking me about it. I say, "Oh, yeah. It's seven hours long and includes dinner and a movie." But people are missing the point.

Post: What's the point?

Sting: That tantric sex is an opportunity to give devotion. It is the thing that human beings do together that gives them the most joy. It creates life. It's a chance to give thanks to your partner. It is a very powerful thing.

Post: You once said you were never afraid to be a beginner - is that because you don't fail often?

Sting: I fail a lot, you just don't get to hear it. I'm not afraid to put myself into the shoes of the unknown. In fact, I still regard myself as a novice musician. My intention is to get better. Somebody asked me the other day what the difference between this album and the last one is. I said, "Three years." I hope it's three years better.

© The New York Post



Oct 11, 1999

New songs on the charts, success, the media - none of that matters now to Gordon Sumner. In his isolated and quiet estate in Wiltshire, the 47 year-old ex-Police will rather dedicate to more important things in life: spirituality, the joy of living, growing old and death. His new album, 'Brand New Day', shows he has made peace with himself, his life and his career...

Oct 1, 1999

Sting is back with a work full of good vibrations, an optimistic record devoted to love. Flashy? Not at all. His new sound is as refreshing as his message, that goes beyond concealed topics to get inside the mazy universe of feelings and affections. He does it in a very unembarrassed, wide and transcendent way, full of deep honesty and a big desire to explore diversity of sounds...