Interview: US WEEKLY (2000)

December 01, 2000

The following article appeared in a December 2000 issue of US Weekly magazine. The author was Adrianne Stone...

Sting's New Groove - The almost 50 singer opens up about his six kids, six houses and why he has no need for money.

Sting's life is wearing him out. All he really wants to do is go home to England to spend the holidays at his Lake House with his wife of eight years, Trudie Styler, and six children and attend his pal Madonna's wedding. But first he had to finish the Australian leg of his 'Brand New Day' tour, then fly from Sydney to London to record 'My Funny Friend and Me' in Italian for the international version of the new animated film 'The Emperor's New Groove'. Then he flew to Los Angeles with Styler to perform at the party after the film's premiere. "I'm just really tired," he says. "It's been a busy week."

Perhaps that explains why he's a bit slow on the uptake. Talking about how he tries to spend as much time as possible with his family, he mentions that he, Styler and their son Giacomo recently attended an unveiling ceremony for the star Sting received on Hollywood Boulevard.

"Congratulations," he is told. "Now people can walk all over you."

He looks blank for a moment, then his eyes crinkle up in merriment and he lets loose a hearty laugh, making him seem much younger then his 49 years.

Sting grew up Gordon Matthew Sumner in Newcastle, England, in an apartment above a sandwich shop, with younger brother Philip and younger sisters Angela and Anita. His father, Eric (sic) Matthew Sumner, was a milkman; his mother, Audrey Sumner a hairdresser whose piano-playing inspired him to pick up the guitar at age 9. (He picked up his nickname, Sting, from a yellow and black jersey he wore.) As an adult he taught at St. Catherine's Convent School in Newcastle-on-Tyne while playing in jazz combos at night and on the weekends. Then in 1977, at age 26, with a wife, Frances Tomelty, and a 1 year-old-son , Joe to support, he left the security of his job to become the bassist and singer of the Police.

In the next decade, despite its success, the band broke up, and Sting embarked on an equally successful solo career. He divorced Tomelty (with whom he also has a daughter, Kate, now 18), met Styler in 1982 and married her in 1992. The couple have four children; Mickey, 16; Jake, 15; Coco, 10; and Giacomo, 5. Since the early '90s, Sting has also become famous for his work as an activist. His involvement with the Rainforest Foundation, co-founded by Styler, has raised an estimated $11 million to assist people in 18 countries.

The translation to soundtrack singer hasn't been smooth. The production of 'The Emperor's New Groove', about the friendship between a bratty pre-Columbian emperor and a good-hearted peasant, was long and troubled. In the end, only two Sting songs were used in the film, although there are five on the soundtrack album. "I was a little disappointed, obviously, because I had written a lot of songs," he says. "But I wasn't making a Sting record. I was just working as a journeyman, and I liked that."

If you could speak directly with God, what would you ask him?

Well, a lot of people accuse me of being spiritual, I would say I'm curious about why we're here. What is our purpose?

Have you ever had an epiphany?

I can't tell you what my epiphany was, I mean, I'll be investigated by the DEA!

What object has the greatest sentimental value to you?

I don't really like that many small objects in my houses.

How many houses do you have?

Six. One in New York, one in Malibu, one in London, one outside London, one elsewhere in England and one in Italy.

So which one is home?

Wherever I lay my hat, I suppose. Well, wherever my children are. I spend a lot of time in hotels, so I find that I try to spend time wherever the kids are.

You have six kids. Who keeps track of them?

They sort of look after each other! It works. We sometimes have a crisis where we need to figure it out, but generally the balance is pretty good. The advantage to my kids is that they're very sophisticated because they travel a lot. I get more compliments about my children than I do about my music. People say how polite and unspoiled they are. Which means a lot to me.

What do you collect?

Books. I never throw a book away. I have books I haven't even read since university¬Ö and they're hanging by a thread.

What book did you last read?

I just read a book by Michael Chabon, the guy who wrote "The Wonder Boys". He's written a book called "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay", about two animators.

If you were still teaching today, what book would you have your students read?

"Huckleberry Finn", one of my favourite novels of all time. It's genius.

What does it say on your passport under "profession"?


You've acted in more than a dozen films. Do you think of yourself as an actor?

No, I think of myself as a musician. I've been in movies, but that's not what I put down as my profession.

Does it say "Sting" under "name"?

No... it says "Gordon Matthew Sumner". Her Majesty wouldn't give me a passport with "Sting" on it. "Her loyal subject, Sting." [laughs]

What talent do you wish you had?

I wish I could paint. I've tried. It's such a cliché, though, now, for the musician to be an artist. Although I did paint the bathroom once!

Are you handy around the house?

No, not at all. I remember once I had a car and I spent more time under that car... I decided, 'If I ever make money, I'll never work on my car again.' So I get someone else to do it now.

Do you have minions?

Well, I'm always good about having strong people around me. They're not sycophants. They have opinions and they will give them to me.

So you don't have someone who holds your wallet?

Um... [He pats his pants pockets and smiles.] Empty pockets.

Do you have a wallet?

Not really, I don't have much use for money.

Do you even own a wallet?

No, if I go into bar, someone will buy me a drink. I guarantee it.[laughs]

Where do you carry your driver's licence?

I carry a bag. I've got everything in it: my diary, my chess set, my driver's licence and my PalmPilot.

What creature comfort can you not do without?

Touch, I suppose. Being held. Cuddled.

What would you say was your magic moment in time?

The Renaissance.

No, not Da Vinci's moment in time. Yours.

Well, then, I would say now. I tend to live in the present.

What is your tragic moment in time?

Well, both my parents died real young. They were both in their fifties, so it took me a while to deal with that. My mother was only 18 years older than me. I was too old for the orphanage.

You'll be 50 next year, is that a scary thought?

My forties have actually been wonderful.

Well, 50 is the new 40.

Yeah, that kind of barrier isn't present. When my parents and my grandparents were this age, life was sort of over for them, or so they thought. I don't have that attitude. I feel very much alive.

What is your greatest fear?

Being afraid is my most obvious fear. I don't believe in being afraid. It's a philosophical outlook. Your spirit cannot be destroyed no matter what.

[Former Police members] Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland have said that they'd like to record with you again. Any chance of that happening?

I'm still very good friends with Andy and Stewart. But you know what? Recreating the past isn't something I want to do. I live in the present.

Are you anal?

Am I anal? [Incredulous look.] No, I'm more oral actually!

Not a control freak?

I don't think so. I'm very laissez faire.

What song do you wish you wrote?

Oh... 'Lady Is A Tramp'. It's a great song. That's an impossible question. There's so many.

Is success the best revenge?

I don't really like revenge very much. I define success as having friends. I've got persistent relationships with people. That's the best success to me. I don't go for the revenge thing.

Is it really better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?

I suppose. The other adage I would subscribe to, I guess, is I'd rather regret what I'd done than regret what I hadn't done.

So then you don't have any guilty pleasures?

Well, there's no pleasure without guilt, really.

But do you have a specific guilty pleasure?

[Blushing.] I don't want to talk about it. [Laughs.]

It doesn't have to be something naughty.

Of course it does! [Laughs hard.]

What's your favourite indulgence?

Probably food. I eat like a horse.

How do you stay slim?

I think I'm just lucky. And I love chocolate. That's my favourite indulgence.

What's your favourite yoga position?

The final position in yoga is this really great one. It's called something in Sanskrit. I forget what it is.

What scent do you find the most intoxicating?

I can't answer that without getting into trouble. I can think of something, but I don't want to say it.

You could just say "Trudie."

Oh, OK. I was going to be cruder than that. But, yes, that's a good answer.

How important is fidelity?

I think it's quite a bit important. How you define it is something else. But being true to each other is definitely important.

If you could choose to come back as someone, who would it be?

I don't want to be anybody else. I'm very happy to be me.

© US Weekly magazine


Nov 21, 2000

After more than a year bouncing between North America and Europe playing songs from his latest album 'Brand New Day', Sting finds himself in the Japanese city of Fukuoka.

Nov 20, 2000

The Police finally self destruct. One was an 'asshole', the other a 'scumbag', and the drummer wanted to kill. Holed up on a luxury Caribbean Island to record their 'Synchronicity' album, something had to give...