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"Tell them what really happened, Sting."
April 13, 2013 2:35 PM   Subscribe

A joint interview with the Police from April 2000. A career-spanning reminiscence rich with bickering, musical insights, and curse words.

Copeland: In 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' there's the classic line where he goes, "things they would not teach me of in college." Sting, I just want to say, I went to college and learned all this Jungian shit. It's just Psych 101. It had no mystique for me at all.

Sting: You explain it then, Stewart.

Copeland: 'Synchronicity' is about the overall unconscious that binds us together. If I wear a red tie and you happen to wearing a red tie, it isn't a coincidence, it's because we have this bond that goes beneath the outer surface. Something we can't even measure, but it's there. And that's Psych 101.

Revolver: Sting, you want comment here?

Sting: No, no, I'm a simple man. A simple man in my huge Tuscan villa, so piss off.
posted by escabeche (37 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
And yes, I know this is dated April 1. But it seems to me too much trouble to have gone to for a fake interview.
posted by escabeche at 2:36 PM on April 13, 2013


I love this typo:

"So why did they quite at the height of their powers? "

Even if it isn't intended it's such a beautifully English question and an accurate description of their post-Police efforts.
posted by srboisvert at 2:40 PM on April 13, 2013


Sting is just such a delightful shitheel. You know, you probably wouldn't like hanging out with him, but fuck does he make for good stories. I never want him to change.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:53 PM on April 13, 2013


Little delights me more these days than dropping something like Synchronicity I in the middle of dNb sets.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 3:07 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Copeland: My favourite thing about 'Message In A Bottle', apart from all the money we made off it, was hearing cover bands trying to play my drum parts. I'd overdubbed about six different parts, and to watch some band in a Holiday Inn struggling to play all those overdubs still gives me great joy. Now that is really Schadenfreude.

April 1st eh?

No, it has to be completely fake. Too bad, pretty hilarious.
posted by Chuckles at 3:24 PM on April 13, 2013


The line "just like that old man in/that book by Nabokov" has always been the one line in a song where I really and truly, every time, feel like I can actually feel the author's smugness coming through the radio.

a) Gee, which obscure book that only you have read could you possibly be referencing, Sting? It's not like it's one of the famous and controversial works of art of the 20th century or anything.
b) The character is middle-aged, not old.
and last but certainly not least
c) You pronounced the author's name wrong- it's NaBOKov, NABAkov.

Jesus, Sting.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:25 PM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Copeland: Time for another of my annoying Sting stories. We're on tour in Japan, and Sting buys a saxophone and one of those tune-a-day instructional booklets. Every night in the dressing room he's going "bluh, bluh, bluh," until he can finally play 'Tequila'. Cut to a mere three months later, and we're at Air Studios in Montserrat for the first time, starting this new album and Sting is playing all these layered brass parts like a f***ing one-man Tower of Power.

Summers: And your point, Stewart?

Copeland: He should've been drowned at birth, I believe is my point.


Heh heh....I really hope this is real. Because awesome.
posted by nevercalm at 3:28 PM on April 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


Sting: Stewart, you can't argue with a metaphor.
Summers: There's a lesson in all this. Metaphors be with you!

I like this band more than ever.
posted by zippy at 4:32 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


re: Sting

The case against: pretentious, self-important, megalomaniacal, asshole.

The case for: "Walking on the Moon" bassline.

Verdict: For. Barely.
posted by googly at 5:00 PM on April 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm almost positive it's real. It sure sounds like them. These guys can really give each other the business.

I rewatched Dune recently, and it reminded me what a great, sinister character Sting used to be. I mean, the man inspired Lestat and John Constantine, he was a very vivid presence in the 1980s. (Watch Brimstone and Treacle sometime to see him at the height of his evil powers.) But he's one of those rockers who seemed to evolve into an entirely different, far less interesting person. (See: Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart, etc. Guys who didn't just lose their awesome, they became so non-awesome it's easy to forget they were ever awesome at all.)

Copeland: So we tried to make the song a Police song - which meant undoing all of Sting's arrangement. That was our basic policy anyway. Always has been. Throw out Sting's arrangement, keep his lyrics and the song.

As Copeland sort of implies, no longer having the Police to argue with is probably what really killed Sting as an artist. Maybe a few good shouting matches and the odd fistfight would've actually made something out of stuff like The Soul Cages.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:05 PM on April 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Trudie Styler was Peter O'Toole's girlfriend when Sting "nicked" her? While he was writing Demolition Man? OMG that's too awesome.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:21 PM on April 13, 2013


"You know, I used to be kind of cool once."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:49 PM on April 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


b) The character is middle-aged, not old.

Sting was 28 when the song was released. Same thing.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:02 PM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


c) You pronounced the author's name wrong- it's NaBOKov, NABAkov.

d) You rhymed it with "shake and cough". That's one of the worst rhymes in the history of rock music.
posted by Daily Alice at 6:15 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I could read this interview for, like, six hours.
posted by sourwookie at 6:32 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I could read this interview for, like, six hours.

This explains how Sting managed to have all that mind-blowing Tantric sex.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:46 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


The line "just like that old man in/that book by Nabokov" has always been the one line in a song where I really and truly, every time, feel like I can actually feel the author's smugness coming through the radio.

"Caught between the Scylla and Charybdis" in Message in a Bottle is close second.
posted by 445supermag at 7:12 PM on April 13, 2013


That's "Wrapped Around Your Finger", supermag.
posted by Red Loop at 7:22 PM on April 13, 2013


Watch Brimstone and Treacle sometime to see him at the height of his evil powers

I was a HUGE Police/Sting fan as a kid, and I persuaded my sister to take me and two friends to see Brimstone and Treacle when it came to a local art house. The reviews in the paper didn't go into detail and there was no internet, so we had no idea exactly what it was about. The fact that my idol was playing a psycho grifter/rapist tarnished him significantly in my twelve-year-old mind. I couldn't look my sister or my friends in the eye after we left the theater.
posted by 41swans at 8:08 PM on April 13, 2013


The line "just like that old man in/that book by Nabokov" has always been the one line in a song where I really and truly, every time, feel like I can actually feel the author's smugness coming through the radio.

Actually the line from that song that will be debated for ages is "you know how bad girls get".

Did he mean "you know how girls who are bad get" or "you know to what extent the state we call 'bad' can be achieved by girls"? This is important and I don't advise scholars to answer this one flippantly or off the cuff.
posted by sourwookie at 8:14 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dear Police: Turning "knowledge" into a three-syllable word is a crime against iambic pentameter.
I forgive you, because Synchronicity II is one of the BEST.SONGS.EVAR.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:19 PM on April 13, 2013


The fact that my idol was playing a psycho grifter/rapist tarnished him significantly in my twelve-year-old mind.

Well, he's also clearly some sort of demonic character. He's about as anti-heroic as a character can get, and it's one of Dennis Potter's darker scripts.

This is important and I don't advise scholars to answer this one flippantly or off the cuff.

I think you can read "how bad girls get" either way, and presumably that was the intention.

I always thought the Nabokov line was supposed to be kind of funny.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:40 PM on April 13, 2013


This is important and I don't advise scholars to answer this one flippantly or off the cuff.

I think you can read "how bad girls get" either way, and presumably that was the intention.


That was entirely in jest. I would hope no scholar ever would consider this song at all.
posted by sourwookie at 10:25 PM on April 13, 2013


Yeah, considering Lolita was a massive bestseller and the name is firmly ensconced in our basic cultural vocabulary, I never thought for a moment he was being pretentious with that one. It's actually a pretty funny and self-aware contortion to avoid the incredibly obvious cliche of actually saying "Lolita" given the song's subject.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:56 PM on April 13, 2013


I know it's April 1, but I Want To Believe.

And look, he's still wearing the stillsuit! Squeeeee...!
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:31 AM on April 14, 2013


Worth it just for the extended series of gags about the Loch Ness monster in "Synchronicity II" being a metaphor for Sting's penis.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:32 AM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Low point of the 80's: I hope the Russians love their children too
posted by telstar at 2:52 AM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


That there was some question about Copeland's drumming makes me think it has to be fake.

Sting's whole first solo album was great, including "Russians."
posted by professor plum with a rope at 3:04 AM on April 14, 2013


I rewatched Dune recently, and it reminded me what a great, sinister character Sting used to be.

...I think I first saw Dune on cable, in pieces; a little under a year after its release. And I actually think that shot of Sting in the flying bikini is what started puberty for me.

Yeah, dude's pretentious, but I think at some level he knows that he can be a pompous ass and knows how to take the piss out of himself when he's getting to be too much. He also was educated by Jesuits, which also kinda explains a lot. ...But yeah, some of those lyrics for the Police really kinda sucked in the "tortured rhyme" way. On the other hand, they also came up with one of the funniest lyrics I've ever heard, in a song off "Regatta Del Blanc" - "I never noticed the size of my feet/'Till I kicked you in the shins".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:22 AM on April 14, 2013


For what it's worth, EmpressC, "Does Everyone Stare" on Regatta de Blanc was written by Stewart Copeland.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:15 AM on April 14, 2013


Copeland's story about Sting learning the sax roughly matches one he told me when I interviewed him circa 1998. I think it's for real.
posted by Greenie at 7:44 AM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Then again, I guess some joker could have adapted it from my interview, or another...
posted by Greenie at 7:46 AM on April 14, 2013


I'm a sucker for showbiz snark, when it's about people who have actually done something worthwhile. This interview, the legitimacy of which I accept on sight and without reservation, is a thing of wonder and of joy. (If it proves fake, then the writer has a genius beyond words and I would like more, please.)

The stake in the heart for me - after years of dodgy, earnest, sixth-form lyrics hadn't quite done it - was the mention of "Carbon 14" in We Work The Black Seam. I mean, what? Specifying the isotope in song (*)? And you do know that with a half-life of six thousand years, there's no appreciable C14 in a coal mine, mod that in the pit props and miners' bodies? Not exactly deadly for twelve thousands years either. Rolling Stone reckoned that he'd picked it because it was easier to rhyme with than plutonium, and who's to say they're wrong.

So, yeah, Ponce about with Nabokov and the Soviets all you like; culture and politics are the mere chew-toys of virile intellect, but get whacky with science and you're off the Garrard autochanger for life, Stingo.

I didn't think of Sting again until his appearance playing lute on Studio 60, the event which finally made me take off my West Wing glasses and admit to myself that I wasn't enjoying this shit, was not going to start enjoying this shit, and should stop watching this shit forthwith. I turned off in mid strum, and it felt good.

(*) An approach that would also render Tom Lehrer's Elements Song unwieldy in the extreme.
posted by Devonian at 10:36 AM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I read this on the newsstand when it was printed. Not a fake.
posted by thelonius at 2:49 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, I actually really liked this interview, except for the part where it appears to prove that Sting has a sense of humor about his ridiculous self. The cognitive dissonance is painful, but worth it because the interview also confirms that Stewart Copeland is fucking awesome, so yay!
posted by hap_hazard at 3:51 PM on April 14, 2013


Even when I was a kid and a rabid Police fan, Sting's lyrics irked me. As Devonian said, carbon-14. And even a 10-year-old knows there are fewer than 100 billion people in the world, Sting.

Only Stevie Wonder surpasses him in the "musically great, lyrically awkward" camp. (Not that Stevie was ever as pretentious as Sting, but he made up for it with all the yoda-like syntactic inversions, violations of poetic meter, plus being musically that much better.)
posted by mubba at 4:53 PM on April 14, 2013


Wow, I actually really liked this interview, except for the part where it appears to prove that Sting has a sense of humor about his ridiculous self.

When Sting's been interviewed on Howard Stern's show, he's shown himself to be a very quick, acerbic fellow with the capacity for self-mockery. Bono is also surprisingly self-aware and jokey offstage. A couple of years ago Current TV aired a short video that Bono shot at some hotel while U2 was on tour, and it was mostly Bono razzing the Edge about being Mr. Earnest Rock Star while he was trying to do yoga. These guys have known each other forever, and on some level they're still the wiseass pals they always were, busting each other's chops.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:23 PM on April 14, 2013


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