Stewart Copeland on The Police, the split and the reunion

10th Sep 2012 | 11:50

Stewart Copeland on The Police, the split and the reunion
Stewart Copeland on The Police, the split and the reunion

The brand new issue of Rhythm sees drum icon Stewart Copeland return to the cover. To mark the occasion we’ve delved back through some of our past interviews with Stewart and dug out some classic quotes from the Police sticksman.

Stewart Copeland on The Police, the split and the reunion
Stewart Copeland on The Police, the split and the reunion
August 2005

Our August 2005 interview with Stewart came after The Police had briefly reunited for a performance at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

On that performance, he said: “I was in a lot of pain after an operation when we did that and couldn’t believe that my chance to play with the guys again – to be The Police for 15 minutes – had happened at such a bad time. Let me tell you that in rehearsals the sparks did not fly – there was almost something reluctant about the whole thing. You know the place in ‘Roxanne’ where we used to the do the jam? Well, Sting didn’t want to do it and I wasn’t feeling strong enough to argue with him.

“But that night on stage, when we got to that moment, I suddenly thought, ‘Ok baby, we are going out!’ Andy followed and, even though Sting turned round and gave me a look, he did too. Suddenly, for an instant, we had a glimpse of what it used to be like. I may have been in pain but I was determined to show my kids what their dad used to do. I had been practising, I had my chops, I had paid my dues and I was not going to go quietly into the night!”

Stewart Copeland on The Police, the split and the reunion
Stewart Copeland on The Police, the split and the reunion
September 2006

Just over a year later we caught up with Stewart again, and got the lowdown on the factors that led to the band’s split way back in 1986.

“It was a creative difference, an honest dispute on both sides. It was very simple. Sting is a master songwriter, and an incredible producer and arranger. He writes a song, and he doesn’t just stop there, he completes the song in his mind, the same way that Mozart did or any other composer in any other era. But he’s a member of a group, which means he has to take the song to the band and have it thrashed up by his bandmates and compromise his initial vision. He became less and less patient with that, understandably, and we had eight good years and five albums of him making these compromises, but eventually he couldn’t take it any more. We know all this now, but at the time we weren’t so aware and articulating these clear differences so dispassionately, so there was a lot of tension.”

Stewart Copeland on The Police, the split and the reunion
Stewart Copeland on The Police, the split and the reunion
September 2007

By the time September 2007 came around The Police were in the midst of their mega successful reunion tour.

“It’s been incredible. It’s actually a pretty good band we’ve got here and the audiences are going nuts. There is so much excitement around the show that it is damned amusing. I’d never heard of double stadium acts before. There are arena bands and stadium acts and this time we’re actually doing double stadiums!

“We played one baseball stadium – twice. I read in a newspaper that we’re the biggest- selling ticket on Ticket Master. Number two is a Walt Disney ice show. That takes a little bit of the zing out of it. If it was the Rolling Stones, U2 or Madonna, that would be something to be chuffed about.”

When asked how the band’s first rehearsals back together went, Stewart admitted: “Hell. Each of us has been president of our own universe for the last two decades, so we now have to get used to each other again. But we are kind of over that now. At first it was quite amazing for a guitarist or a bass player to turn around to me and say ‘Could you play your hi-hat instead of your ride cymbal?’ To which the only logical response is ‘F*** you! Okay, you play my hi-hat or my ride cymbal, a**hole!’ This was the sort of dialogue that we began with to mutual astonishment – ‘You can’t talk to me that way!’

For much more from Stewart pick up the September issue of Rhythm.

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