Stewart Copeland Suddenly Remembers That He Hates Sting

stewww.jpgWell, that didn’t take long: Yesterday, the Police reunion tour began its inevitable meltdown, with drummer Stewart Copeland posting a 700-word rant in which he accuses Sting of acting like a “petulant pansy” and bemoans the fact that the band is “playing avant-garde twelve-tone hodgepodges.”

Here’s the lengthy missive in full, which was posted on the message board on in reference to one of the group’s recent Vancouver gigs:

“Whenever you’re ready Mr. Copeland” says Charlie, the production manager, as two crew members hold aside the giant gong, creating just enough space for me to slither onto my percussion stage, which is still down in its pit. I leap on board but my foot catches something and I sprawl into the arena in a jumble as the little stage starts to rise into view. Never mind. The audience is screaming with anticipation as I collect myself in the dark and start to warm, up the gong with a few gentle taps. But I’m overdoing it. It’s resonating and reaching it’s crescendo before the stage has fully reached its position. Sort of like a premature ejaculation. There’s nothing for it so I take a big swing for the big hit. Problem is, I’m just fractionally too far away and the beater misses the sweet spot and the big pompous opening to the show is a damp squib. Never mind.

I stride manfully to my drums. Andy has started the opening guitar riff to MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE and the crowd is going nuts. Problem is, I missed hearing him start. Is he on the first time around or the second? I look over at Sting and he’s not much help, his cue is me – and I’m lost. Never mind. “Crack!” on the snare and I’m in, so Sting starts singing. Problem is, he heard my crack as two in the bar, but it was actually four – so we are half a bar out of sync with each other. Andy is in Idaho.

Well we are professionals so we soon get sorted, but the groove is eluding us. We crash through MESSAGE and then go strait into SYNCHRONICITY. But there is just something wrong. We just can’t get on the good foot. We shamble through the song and hit the big ending. Last night Sting did a big leap for the cut-off hit, and he makes the same move tonight, but he gets the footwork just a little bit wrong and doesn’t quite achieve lift-off. The mighty Sting momentarily looks like a petulant pansy instead of the god of rock. Never Mind. Next song is going to be great…

But it isn’t. We get to the end of the first verse and I snap into the chorus groove – and Sting doesn’t. He’s still in the verse. We’ll have to listen to the tapes tomorrow to see who screwed up, but we are so off kilter that Sting counts us in to begin the song again. This is ubeLIEVably lame. We are the mighty Police and we are totally at sea.

And so it goes, for song after song. All I can think about is how Dietmar is going to string us up. In rehearsal this afternoon we changed the keys of EVERY LITTLE THING and DON’T STAND SO CLOSE so needless to say Andy and Sting are now on-stage in front of twenty thousand fans playing avant-garde twelve-tone hodgepodges of both tunes. Lost, lost, lost. I also changed my part for DON’T STAND and it’s actually working quite well but there is a dissonant noise coming from my two colleagues. In WALKING/FOOTSTEPS, I worked out a cool rhythm change for the rock-a-billy guitar solo, but now I make a complete hash of it – by playing it in the wrong part of the song. It’s not sounding so cool.

It usually takes about four or five shows in a tour before you get to the disaster gig. But we’re The Police so we are a little ahead of schedule. It’s only the second show (not counting the fan gig – 4,000 people doesn’t count as a gig in the Police scale of things).

When we meet up back-stage for the first time after the set and before the encores, we fall into each other’s arms laughing hysterically. Above our heads, the crowd is making so much noise that we can’t talk. We just shake our heads ruefully and head back up the stairs to the stage. Funny thing is, we are enjoying ourselves anyway. Screw it, it’s only music. What are you gonna do? But maybe it’s time to get out of Vancouver…

Expect Sting’s pissy rebuttal on by mid-day.


  • NickEddy

    Post “Don’t Box Me In.”

  • Lucas Jensen

    Hmmm…what are you guys, Slate, what with the misleading headline? Obviously, the petulant pansy thing is a joke (he said he looked like on), and I see this less as a rant and more of a funny dissection of a bad gig.

  • alex!

    I don’t see anything anywhere in this blog post that would indicate any animosity towards Sting at all and the last paragraph seals the deal by noting that they were all laughing about the shitty gig.

  • Thierry

    I’m sure the people who paid upwards of $200-300 a ticket were just as amused as the millionaire rock stars screwing up song after song…

  • Davey666

    At least they were laughing together. For a Buddy Rich-style Copeland backstage tantrum see “The Police Around the World” in which Stew even unwittingly quotes the great one when he yells “and close the f*cking door!!”

  • Jack Fear

    Yeah, the whole post-show “falling into each other’s arms, laughing hysterically” bit really sounds like a band that’s at each other’s throats, huh? Maybe you ought to read these a little more carefully before posting them.

    I think every musician who read Stewart’s post is nodding their head in sympathy: we’ve all had nights like that. But you laugh it off an keep going.

  • Jack Fear

    @Thierry: Sometimes it happens, despite best intentions and best preparations: that’s the great hazard of live performance. If you want a guaranteed clean run-through, with note-for-note perfect performances, you should stay home and listen to your records.

    The trade-off, of course, is that when it’s good, live performance is a million times more exciting than any recording. That’s the gamble. You pay your money, and you take your chance.

  • hellbenthustle

    Yeah, it looks as if you made more out of this ‘rant’ than is actually there. Copeland is an intelligent man who understands the complex juxtaposition between being “the mighty Police” and being human. The “petulant pansy” comment is just an extention of that observation.
    I just hope they don’t disband before the Detroit show.

  • musicquizking

    Such a misgiving headline!

    Shame on you Idolator!

    Someone call Arnold Diaz.

  • heyzeus

    I’m with you, Theirry. Some of these tickets are going for up to $500 a piece now. (never mind the stupidity of that.) Besides, aren’t there only three of you? Can’t you listen to eachother and play?

  • Jupiter8

    You beat me to it…

    One of the things I always hated as a concert-goer was an artist’s reluctance to “play the hits” even if they haven’t already played ‘em a gajillion times like the Police. I remember Beck purposely rearranging “Loser” after it was a hit and when I saw Portishead back in the mid-90s they totally screwed the arrangement of “Sour Times” into something unlistenable.

    I realize they are “artists” and all but rock stars are usually insufferable enough as it is…when they show this kind of contempt towards paying fans they really lose me

  • Feh Am Legend

    I get it. You’re trying to ensure that somewhere along the line there will actually be something to write about. Seeds of discontent and all that. Hey, Sting, he called you a petulant pansy. What’re you gonna do about that, hun?

  • Jude

    “But maybe it’s time to get out of Vancouver…”?
    Blame Canada?

  • Thierry

    @Jack Fear: You make a good point – live music always comes with a degree of risk, which is what makes it more exciting – but I think people’s expectations would differ if this were a small theatre tour for Police obsessives. That kind of audience would be happy with new arrangements.

    However, if you are doing an arena reunion tour and charging $200 a ticket, I think (insane?) people paying that absurd amount have the right to expect to hear the hits played with a minimum of professionalism, and not some hastily-re-arranged-at-soundcheck version. Save that for rehearsals…

  • Whigged

    I love it when hard-edged Sting solo fans get to make up the Idolator headlines.

    Wait – there are no “hard-edged Sting solo fans?”

    Then what the hell is that headline all about?!

  • Feh Am Legend

    @Jupiter8: I remember back when Eddie Brickel (sp?) was actually popular, she made some comment about not liking to play old songs, and I thought, well, better get used to it because you’re going to be singing What I Am well into your AARP years. Really, songwriters, never release a song you’re not going to want to sing for the rest of your life.

    That said, sometimes an artist can totally re-arrange a hit to glorious result: I would have been chuffed to see Joe Jackson perform any of the 4 versions of “Is She Really…” on his live album. And when I saw Elvis Costello he did an amazing “Watching the Detectives” that wasn’t anything like the recorded version.

  • Chris N.

    My first thought was, “So where’s the refunds, Stu?” Then it occurred to me that everyone at the “disastrous gig” comes away with a more unique experience (not to mention a better anecdote) than everyone at the gigs that go smoothly but not transcendentally. So what the hey.

    I’ll also add to the chorus objecting to the misleading headline. That’s not what he said at all, although I’m sure by mid-tour they’ll all be considering fragging one another onstage. I’m just hoping they can hold it together until Louisville, so that my unfulfilled childhood dream of seeing the actual Police may come true. Whether it’s disastrous or not.

  • Jack Fear

    @puffermedia: The problem is, how is a songwriter to know, at the time of release, that s/he’s going to be sick of a song ten months or ten years down the line? Nobody can see the future.

    the other thing is: as corny as it sounds, music is a form of self-expression, and what you express today you might not wish to endorse tomorrow. Have you never said something that you regretted later? Would you really want to have to defend some statement that you made five, ten, twenty years ago-when you were maybe a very different person then? If you were expected to repeat that statement, every night, the exact same way, with the exact same level of commitment… well, can you not imagine how that might start to chafe a little?

    @heyzeus: Maybe I’m cutting the group a lot of slack because I’ve been a working musician, and there are nights when it just goes off the rails and you can’t get it back on track-even if you’re a one-man band.

  • wgh

    As much as you wanted Copeland’s posting to offer evidence of the “inevitable meltdown” you’ve been predicting…. it does nothing of the sort. As a matter of fact it does quite the opposite. Sounds like a few old mates having a lot of fun laughing at themselves.

    Might I recommend you actually read the things you choose to comment upon publicly?

  • Julio Allison

    Idolator suffers from poor reading comprehension.

  • Feh Am Legend

    @Jack Fear: Point taken. I still reserve the right to laugh at Eddie Brickell.

  • Jupiter8

    I agree with both comments about Joe Jackson and Elvis after having seen them both do this with the songs you are talking about…I have several bootlegs and don’t think JJ ever played the “hit” version of “Is She Really…” after the “I’m The Man” tour…

    Edie Brickell had better be glad her old man didn’t have the same attitude about playing old songs that she did, or her Connnecticut estate would be a lot less “estate-y”. I also didn’t realize her career lasted long enough for her songs to get “old” (in the literal, not figurative, sense anyway)…

  • Cos

    I’m with everyone else: Taking quotes out of context? Baaaad Journalist! Bad Idolator! What are you, the fucking NME now?

  • joemono

    I read the headline, then the article, and suddenly remembered that I hate bloggers.

  • Hamm Beerger

    I don’t know why I’m surprised, but you Police fans take everything seriously. Do all of you volunteer your spare time as standardized test proctors?

    This is Idolator, fer crissakes, the headlines aren’t supposed to make sense.

  • wgh

    Yes, as Police fans we are required to volunteer our spare time as standardized test proctors. Duh.

  • Hamm Beerger

    Required volunteerism just about says it all.

  • wgh

    Ignore that last post, Jim… I was really just testing whether or not I could actually post a second time. I thought it would fail since the site shows a “banned date” for me. Maybe I should have said “test” instead.

  • wgh

    Ha… “required volunteerism”.

  • mickeyprecious

    I’d love to slap this guy fairly hard. Just enough to leave my palm print on his face.