Interview: THE NEWCASTLE HERALD (1996)

November 01, 1996

The following article by Chad Watson appeared in a November 1996 issue of the Australian newspaper The Newcastle Herald...

Welcome back to Australia, Sting. How's life treating you?

I'm very good. It's great to be here. You know Newcastle United won 5-0 last weekend. It was fantastic, I'm so happy.

So, you're still proud to call yourself a Novocastrian? Or should that be Geordie?

I'm from Newcastle, yeah. We're Geordies but we call ourselves Novocastrians as well, actually, when we're trying to be posh.

You have described music as language. Does that make you multilingual?

For me, music is a very broad church. I like to have access to the whole thing, as opposed to delving into one area of it. You know, the blues, rock'n'roll, jazz or whatever. I just like to take bits from all of those genres. I paint with all those colours if you like. I'm not interested really in being a jazz musician, a pop musician or anything else. I like the whole thing, so my music would reflect, what you could call it, that messing around.

Why did you call your latest album 'Mercury Falling'?

There's a lot of irony in my work anyway, you know. Me singing country songs, for example as an ironic element. The title 'Mercury Falling' has a lot of meanings. I wrote the album in the winter, when the temperature was dropping. Mercury is a very rich word that means many things. It's an element, it's a liquid, it's a metal, it's a poison, it's a planet and it's a Greek God. You name it... it's a record company even. All of those meanings are resonant in the title, and that's why it's a good title. The idea of the Greek god of messages, the mercurial one falling, is also interesting.

As well as 'Mercury Falling', you recently released a biographical CD-ROM. Are you very interested in computers?

I didn't know what a CD-ROM was until I did one. I soon found out it was kind of interesting. I like living in the past in many ways, but I have to have a bridge to the future, like Bob Dole or (Bill) Clinton said. I'm interested in new forms, but I'm not a computer whiz. I haven't actually used the CD-ROM but my kids have. They gave it the thumbs up. They said it was interesting, and had a lot of stuff on it, but I'm not going to sit and play with it.

You've described your career as a continual learning curve. What have you learned lately?

I think that as you get older, you learn acceptance. You learn that there are some things that, however hard you fight, you can't change them. What I'm basically talking about is getting older. You know, I've stooped fighting that battle. It's not as if I'm actually letting myself go to seed, but I'm actually quite enjoying being older. I turned 45 last week and I've never been happier. Accepting that is the first stage.

My mother has a plaque on her bedroom wall that reads: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can...

...and the wisdom to tell the difference. Alcoholics Anonymous have that as their motto as well.

Is there any place in Australia you would particularly like to visit?

(Laughs) I don't really have that much time on tour. In between gigs, I'm usually travelling from city to city. I rarely get the chance to go anywhere. I'd love to go to into the Outback, for example, and see Ayers Rock. One day I'll have to come here and not be touring, then I'll see Australia. I see hotels and concert halls and airports and cities... but that's not the real thing.

Apart from the Outback, what else do you or don't you like about Australia?

You might take this as an insult, but you're not that far removed from the English in many ways. I always feel at home here. You can go to a pub, you can have a beer, you can watch cricket. It's not so foreign, even if it's a long way away. I always get a warm welcome from Australians... for a Pom anyway.

What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?

I will be a musician. I hope I'm still open-minded and in the same sort of mood that I am now. That's what I want to be. I still want to be learning music. The great thing about music is that it doesn't stop. You no sooner think you know everything about music, then you don't. You know nothing.

How was Sting changed since he first fronted the Police in 1977?

Well, I'm told that I'm much nicer to be around than I used to be. I'm not so spiky. I thought I was a wonderful bloke then, but it's funny how people react differently to you. I suppose I've matured and mellowed in a way. I know I'm happier. I'm a happier guy than I used to be. I didn't really like myself that much, to be honest with you. I do now. I'm quite fond of myself really (Laughs). I'm not smug about my achievements. I've been very fortunate to have a career. You know, to last longer than six months in this business is unusual. I just think I'm a very lucky guy.

When did you decide that the Police had reached their use-by date?

I think it was when we reached the pinnacle of being the biggest band in the world at that time and, you know, playing in giant stadiums to hundreds of thousands of people. I thought well, it doesn't get any bigger than this. All we can really do is repeat this and there'll be diminishing emotional returns every time we do, so I'm going to start again.

Was your decision based on a need for freedom?

It was basically about freedom. I wanted to have that initial excitement again of starting something. My instinct was right, but at the time rational people were saying to me: 'What the hell are you doing leaving this very successful group. You're crazy.' There's a lot of resistance against people leaving bands, but my instincts told me that's what I should do. Twelve years later, I feel justified.

© The Newcastle Herald (Australia)



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