A Conversation With Stewart Copeland, 1983
(This took place shortly after the conversation with Andy Summers included below. Very friendly guy; fascinating to hear his opinions on digital recording–and that he was the first member of the Police to get a CD player. –dd)
Hey. We’ve spoken a few times before, once long ago for a phone interview, then in an actual gay bar named Menjo’s next to Bookie’s in Detroit.
Right. A perfect place…for a. new wave interview.
Heard you just became a daddy. Congratulations.
Yes, that’s right. Thank you very much. I already was a daddy, but still–I’m even more of a daddy. My own equipment works, anyway.
That’s not what Andy said. Hey, I wonder how you feel about coming out on the road so soon, then, to do this tour?
Well, the family’s coming out to meet me in a week, so it’s all right. I’m going to run through the baby’s repertoire of things that he can do, which is gurgle happily, or gurgle unhappily, burp and shit. And pee. And those things are all wonderful and exciting, but you know, actually the next thing he’ll do is focus and look at me. Look me in the eye and tell me that he’s proud to be American.
You can get some good found sounds for your next Rumblefish–type project. Want to tell me about that?
Sure. All right.
How did it all start?
It was a call from Hollywood. Francis [Ford Coppola] called me up, and told me that he was doing movie where time was an important factor. And as we all know, rhythm and time are connected. And so I went over to where he was rehearsing the film, in Oklahoma, and met with him, and we established a fairly instant rapport. He’s a very inspiring man to talk to–he definitely got all my juices flowing.
How does he know you?
I don’t know. He’s got teenage kids, that’s one clue .You know, he called me up–at first, all I was going to do was advise him on rhythms and stuff, and we discussed lots of ways of connecting shooting to rhythm and acting to rhythm, and everything. And by the time I had finished, I’d composed all the music and performed 98 percent of it.
What kind of music is it? You beating on drums?
And me beating on a guitar and me beating on a banjo, and tuned percussion, xylophone, orchestral bells, and pianos and synthesizers and double bass and lots of things.
Will it sound like anything I might have heard before?
I don’t think so.
Didn’t Mickey Hart do music for Apocalypse Now?
Well, he did some of it; a lot of different people were involved in different parts of that. A lot of people lay claim to having done the soundtrack, but actually it was done by a lot of different people.
Your role is significantly different then, in a sense.
Yeah, well I did all of it. There’s some source music–it’s called source music if like they’re walking down the street and there’s a radio blaring out of one of the places, that’s considered source music. Or at one point there’s a band playing–and obviously I didn’t do that. But all the original music, the incidental music and that–I did.
Has that been your major project aside from the Police at this point? How have you kept busy?
Well, there’s that and a 16mm movie I shot as a director as well, which is quite amusing.
Tell me about that.
It’s a film about the decay of British society, using the punks as a paradigm, and the plight of the dispossessed–or those who actually don’t have anything to begin with–in England. The attitude of the politicians is: these poor kids, with no future to look forward to, no job down the mineshaft, no jobs open, no opportunities for them on the factory floor. And that’s fairly tragic for so
mebody who’s been on the factory floor for 30 years, and has a family to support. But his kids, who’ve never had a job–they don’t want a job, they go down to the unemployment office every week, collect their check, and occasionally they have the misfortune to actually have to go out and have a job interview, so they dye their hair an even weirder shade of purple, put on their leather jacket with the sharpest studs, and go on to the interview.
You sound like an American capitalist instead of a socialist.
Well, I’m a capitalist who believes in the welfare state. I think that rather than trying to find pointless jobs for these people, they can have my taxes. I’d rather that the industries turned out product sufficiently and were able to move with the times and so on, rather than have people pointlessly employed, according to the Luddite principle of employment. Which is: The Luddites were people who objected to the inventions of new machines, because they thought they threatened jobs. I think that a job that is threatened by a machine–that can be replaced by a machine–should be replaced by a machine.
Andy was just mentioning he and Sting just got this brand new rhythm box���
Oh, well��� I’ve taught them everything they know about rhythm boxes, I’m very clever with drum boxes, I use them all the time. A lot. They’re very useful tools. The thing is, the point is, that I’m a rhythmatist, not just a drummer. The talent is in having the rhythms in your head, and the other thing is having the ability to play them with your hands. Drum boxes can do things that I can’t do, frankly.
You’re one of the few drummers I’ve spoken with recently���
There are things that drummers can do as well. There’s something about the feel of a band, that you can get with a live thing, of the tempos surging and swelling, and the dynamism, and I can stop and…the communication.
The incorrectness of the rhythm is what’s good?
Well, not that– the correctness of the rhythm is actually something that’s part of life today–the perfectness, the fine, uninterrupted line of rhythm is almost the pulse of today. Not exclusively–it’s one of the many pulses of today, this infallible mechanical rhythm, which is very true to life these days. There are certain things you can’t do if you have a drum pattern or a sequenced keyboard part, you can’t stray from it–like some of our songs onstage are sequenced, which means the drumbox and the sequencer are playing a part, which means that we can’t decide to play that chorus twice if we want to, which we do with all the other material. So it’s a limitation in playing live, in that respect. For composing, and making records, it’s really a good tool. It has a particular kind of sound to it. And I’ve arrived at this feeling about it many times–when I’m making my own demos and stuff, I start with the drum box, do the guitar, do the bass, and then I sit down and try to play what I thought was a good drum part, and it doesn’t sound as good on the drums. And so, in the old days, when drum boxes were made just for a click track, it was a drag. Because then you were stuck with this track, and I’d come up with a different part to it. But now that they come up with such good sounds, I mean you can actually keep that bass drum–the bass drum sound will probably stay on the record, maybe I’ll redo the snare myself or something, to get a better sound. But in making a record, it’s the composition–and somebody’s got to program it, somebody who’s clever with rhythms, preferably.
I’ve always looked at them as tools, myself.
Well, there’s two sides to talent, really. One is the basic talent inside, to think it up, to have emotions that you know how to express; to have, you know, talent for music. And the other thing is the actual muscular ability, to be able to execute these ideas–and to be a good musician, you have to have both. But for me, the basic talent is more important. I mean, I can perform on the double bass, on the trumpet, on any one of a long number of instruments. I couldn’t play a long solo and be a virtuoso, but I can accomplish what’s musically required on all these different instruments. And it doesn’t matter what the tool is���whether it’s me playing two notes rhythmically on a trumpet, or whether it’s a drum box, playing a program that I’ve put into it.
What do you think about the occasional criticisms people like Emitt Rhodes or Todd Rundgren get for all their studio work–that somehow there’s an element of soullessness to it?
You mean just too many overdubs?
Say people in a studio just plopping in a random note here or there���
That’s all very well and good; the way you do it is just a matter of taste. If I can only play two notes on trumpet and one note on guitar, and I only know five notes on piano–if I have to put them all in, then that’s not really all music. The idea is to make music–and if what’s required is something on the top line that does this, then I have to write something that I can play, or find somebody else to play it. I mean, in the band, it’s great, because there’s nothing that Andy can’t play. You know?
How would you compare your compositions on the soundtrack to, say, Sting’s songs?
Composition is a different thing. I mean, my composition goes pretty much to outside projects. Because in the band there’s a kind of a united sound we’ve arrived at on Sting’s material. I know what to do on Sting’s material–I mean, not always, I mean I’m looking for new things all the time, but it’s a challenge. He writes excellent material, and it’s always a pleasure to work on it. And the other side of the coin is that when I do bring in songs to the band, I don’t really feel comfortable with them, I feel as though Sting has to kind of sing a different kind of personality, and his personality is so different, and it comes from a different place.
So to bring it down to basics, are you happy doing this stuff but really more interested in doing your own thing?
No. Artistically, Police albums are perhaps the greatest challenge–because of the momentum of the band and the expectations of the band. That is a challenge–to be “the greatest.” Which the Police is in that position. Me as an individual, doing my other stuff, I don’t have to be the greatest, I haven’t got that track record. I mean, I haven’t done a film score before, so nobody has any expectations at all. And so in a way that’s more fun, in that respect. And also, I���m able to play with toys that–I’m able to play with concepts that wouldn’t have any meaning in the Police. For instance, just the mechanics of doing a movie instead of a song–the top line is a picture, a dialog, a story, and so the music that goes around it can be just one little element that has huge dramatic effect. Whereas with a song, you’ve got to have everything going, you’ve got to have chords, you’ve got to have melody, rhythm, lyrics, hooks–and it’s all got to be condensed on this three-minute thing.
Physically, how do you make a movie soundtrack?
Well, physically, what happens is that the two-inch audiotape is locked to the videotape machine. And for every foot of videotape, it’s put into video for my purposes, it’s shot on film, of course–for every shot of videotape for the movie, there’s a corresponding number of feet of tape, so I’ve got magnetic tape that runs the whole length of the movie. And so as I’m working on it, the picture is running before me, and like a certain line happens–where I want the music to start–and I want it to build to this point–and then when I get to that point in the conversation, that’s the crucial line, and it’s at that point that something’s got to happen–so I mark that point, the action has certain points, and mechanically what you do is–you map it out like that, and you structure the music around it. But conceptually what you’re doing is–you’re directing the audience’s emotions about a scene. For instance, take a scene where a guy walks out of door in the city, looks up at the sky, you know, sort of a medium to a long shot, gets into his car, you see him driving in his car and he arrives somewhere. Now the music can tell you what’s going on. Mournful music will tell you that his wife’s just died and he’s walking out of the doomy music as he gets into his car and weaves it through the traffic and…
So you’re saying it’s all entirely predictable?
No, I mean a different kind of music could tell you that it’s a beautiful day, and he bounces out of bed, and he looks up at the sky and the sky is smiling at him and he gets into…or, I mean, the music can tell you how you feel about a scene, whether to take it seriously, or whether this is a joke. At first, we talked at great length, Francis and I, about the meaning of the movie, and the meaning of the different scenes, and how to build up to these different points. And we had a rapport about the meaning and the atmosphere of the movie. And so once we established that, he left me in the studio–he came down in the studio I think twice or sornething like that. For a while I was recording in the basement of his office block, and he was upstairs. He’s got speakers running from the basement to his penthouse, so he can hear everything that’s going on from there as he’s, you know, enjoying his life–he’s listening to the musicians struggling away downstairs. But that was only for one week. Most of the time I was by myself in the studio–me and an engineer and a film editor.
How much time did it ultimately take you?
It took up–well the whole project, I started it. It first came down on the first day of rehearsals, and a year later I was finished. But the Police album was recorded during that period, and I filmed my punk movie.
You never finished describing that movie, by the way. What can we expect?
Oh, the punk movie. It’s all about punks on the road.
Anyone we know?
I don’t know. The Anti-Nowhere League, Chelsea, Chron-Gen and the Defects are two completely unheard of bands, with great personalities. They’re just cavorting photogenically. But there’s some serious points to be made as well.
Do you miss that? You still seem to be sort of centered around that.
Well I wouldn’t say I’m centered around it–I’m sort of nostalgic about it. I still appreciate it.
Because the new Police album is the antithesis of���
Of the punk movement. That’s all right, I can still appreciate it. When I first appreciated punk, I was in a dinosaur band called Curved Air.
I always liked them, actually–thought they were unjustifiably slagged off. I also liked the Darryl Way’s Wolf LPs as well.
Darryl Way discovered me.
Just in jam sessions around London.
Who else did you play with before that?
Nobody. I was in college before that. I’ve only played in two professional bands–Curved Air and the Police.
What albums did you play on with Curved Air?
Midnight Wire and Airborne were the two I played on–not great moments in the history of music. The previous band was much better.
With your appreciation for punk and your obvious progressive tendencies with both the Police and Curved Air, do you feel any conflict?
I sometimes wonder. I mean, people say, “How do you feel about the fact that you’re playing Shea Stadium in front of 60,000 people, the antithesis of….” And I scratch my head and say, “Really, is there an excuse for it?” I’m sure there is, I can think one up, there’s an excuse because all that many peop1e want to see the band. There’s excuses and rationale, but the main thing is–it’s a buzz playing to a huge audience like that–that���s really exciting. We play small, cozy, intimate gatherings as well, such as the Joe Louis Arena, which is only 18,000.
Have you played there before?
Yeah, we played there once last year, we have to play there twice this year. Yeah, it is kind of the antithesis of the punk movement–but I’m not a punk, I’m 31-years-old and sophisticated in my musical tastes and abilities. And I’m not going to play punk music, because��� I can, I enjoy jamming on two chords with people, and I do that a lot at my place at home, jamming with buddies and stuff. But as far as what I want to do, I’d have to be turning off a lot of my ideas if I wanted to play punk music. I’m not a punk–I just appreciate what they do.
Speaking of Curved Air, what are Sonja’s musical plans for the future?
Well, she’s having a baby at the moment, but she does theater work, you know, she’s done a few musicals, things like that.
I think I have a British recording of Hair that she was on.
Yeah, she was–that was before Curved Air. But she’s not pursuing her career with, perhaps, the fire of her early days, she enjoys getting up onstage–she gets frustrated sometimes if she hasn’t worked for a long time, so she’ll take some job and work in a play, for as long as it runs and then, you know, it’s not really a burning thing with her.
So are you really sick of people asking when the Police are going to break up?
Yeah, it’s gone a bit far–I mean everybody, we talked to Time magazine and Newsweek, and both of them let slip the fact that, “Look, look, what we really want, the editors in New York, what they really want, they’re after a story on the conflict within the group.” And if that’s the story you want, you know? I mean, it’s boring, but they’ve written their story before they even get there. The thing is, we’ve always argued, and we have this dynamic relationship between the three of us. The thing is, it’s more salient now, the Police breaking up, the possibility of the Police breaking up two years ago wouldn’t really be much of a story, and now the Police is such an important group and well known and everything, it’s more of an event, and even the possibility of the event gets headlines. And it’s not because we’re any more likely to break up now then we were then, it’s because it’s a more salient story. The story has greater impact.
One minute: What’s gonna happen to your 16 mm film?
It’s going out as a short. I want to, first of all, put it out on tour, put it in places like Agora ballrooms, where they’re converted movie theaters, right? That are now clubs. And before a band goes on they can show a movie–and hopefully there’ll be a whole class of such movies, like C movies or D movies. The idea is, in moviemaking there isn’t a bottom rung to the ladder. In records, you can borrow a few hundred dollars and make a record, and you can actually be in business. It’s possible. With movies, the bottom rungs of the ladder are way too out of reach of most people. And hopefully–like MTV and videos have opened the door, that’s brought access to the medium a little bit closer to the grasp of most people, and C movies are another thing that can do that.
Why a movie and not a video?
Because I’ve made so many videos, I’m kind of bored of that medium. To illustrate a song–I mean, I’ve already done that, I’ve made songs and I’m bored of illustrating songs, I want to work with a plot, and with characters. To make a movie on one side and make music for a movie on the other side are two different things. But getting back, what’ll happen is it’ll go on tour like that, a live movie, and I’ve made it in such a way that it can go through the PA at loud volume, and hopefully it’ll be watched as if it was a band there, it moves very quickly, there’s lots of gags and so on.
A lot of live performance?
Yeah, a lot of stage material. And then, I’m looking for avenues to get it as a short, as well, in England and America, and over in Europe, too. And the idea is–I’m determined to make a profit in my first movie.
Good luck. And what else have you been doing?
Well, I’ve completed both those two projects and a Police album along the way and, um, my polo’s coming along. But apart from that, I’m just on tour now, and since this tour began I’ve been sitting in my hotel room going bubububub (flicks fingers on his lips) staring out the window, without my phone ringing, without having to get anything finished–I’m on holiday. All I have to do is play my drums for an hour or two hours, or however long our set is now, and not worry about anything. Meanwhile, I’m just getting the beginning of germs of ideas of what to do next–and I’m toying with some ideas…
Any you want to mention?
No, I’m just toying with ideas at the moment. I’ll mention that I’d love to write a musical, because I’d like to actually get more songs, I’d like to get closer���I mean, doing this movie for Francis was very weird, and bizarre and exotic, and that was sort of like my initiation into movie music. But I also have built up a repertoire, or vocabulary, of songs, and I’d like to bring some of that back into it, move a little bit closer to that next time. The only musical that was ever any good was West Side Story or maybe Rocky Horror Show–the music didn’t turn me on too much, but it was a good show, and I’d like to do something that is a good movie, but where the music is cool as opposed to incredibly uncool, which most musicals are.
So you’re thinking in the long term these days.
Yeah, I think long term and short term–short term I’m on this tour and staring out a window plotting.
I guess you’re pretty happy, then?
Yeah, well what could be easier than sitting in a hotel in Dearborn, Michigan, on a rainy day, when I’ve already done the mall?
Have you gone to the mall? Can you walk around there? I mean, you do look like an American guy���
I’m an American���I was born here, I never lived here…
Yeah, I know, but I mean you look normal, not like���uh, a punk or…
It’s my day off today, give me a break, eh? I got a ripped shirt���that’s not punk enough for you?
I guess the spandex will come out later…
I don’t speak with my wardrobe perhaps to the same extent that I used to, because I suppose I don’t feel the need to draw attention to myself the way I used to. That’s one thing about getting old and boring–but I don’t think I am getting old & boring. I’m just… boring for the moment, because I’m on holiday. I’ll be exciting tomorrow.
Are you a big-headed guy now because you’re a massive success?
No, I always was. We were all three–I’ve answered this question before–very arrogant when we started out and if anything we’re probably more humble having proved it.
Do beautiful girls come up to you on the street and say, “Hey Stewart, let’s do it”?
Every day. Unfortunately, it’s guys coming up and saying, HEY MAN, YOU REALLY ROCK OUT, MAN! Yer BITCHIN’, MAN! WANNA COME OUT FOR A PARTY TONITE, MAN? One out of like maybe 6000 will be.
You wouldn’t believe the volume of interest about you guys…
It used to mean a lot to me. It doesn’t now. I’ve learned to take it in my stride. It used to make me nervous to have people follow me down the street and look at me, and when people asked me for autographs I felt it was an imposition, I felt embarrassed by the whole thing. But now I’ve discovered that it takes more energy to let it get under my skin. I mean if I say NO, and they say “why not?” And I have to say because I’m busy, and they say “Couldn’t you just���?”Then it goes back and forth–it would’ve been easier to just say “Sure,” with a smile, sign the thing, then turn around and walk away. It’s more relaxing to relax. I save my energy for my plots and schemes.
Are you satisfied with the new album?
Yeah, I am. The main thing that I’m satisfied with–the main objective, conceptually–or intellectually–was to do something different and get away from our established style or formula, and I think we’ve accomplished that. And it’s also singable, it’s also got interesting lyrics, interesting rhythms, ladeddadada…
An interesting comment you made elsewhere–about, because of imitators, you “didn’t want to sound like the Police���”
Yeah, well, all of our gags, all of our licks, have been made commonplace by their use by other people.
You’ll have fun if you hear the Tenants’ LP. They got a lot of Andy’s sound down…
Well, a lot of drummers struggle with my licks, and they don’t realize it’s all random, and inspired by an ugly French teacher. But the thing that was uncomfortable was–what comes naturally is the stuff I was doing for Rumblefish. I just couldn’t roll the tape fast enough to get the ideas down. To write Police songs for the Police, with Sting in mind, Sting’s vocal in mind, I felt, “Shit, I’m in a position that a hundred musicians are in all over the country–I’m trying to write a Police song!” And I felt, shit, I couldn’t do that. So I wrote my own material, with my own personality in mind, and brought then to the group and the chance he might say, “Oh, I like that one or this one” and there was one of them he did like, and so he sang it. And that’s what it’s about. A lot of the music was inspiring, but he’s got lyrics up the kazoo as well, you know ? It would be frustrating if there weren’t other outlets, the fact that there is makes it less distracting. We can go for what works for the group.
What form is the music you bring to the group? Self-recorded demos?
Yeah. And there’s an attempt at a vocal, and all the ingredients are there, present and correct–verse and chorus, there’s a hook and a line, all that stuff. And then, to turn it into the Police sound would require Andy doing some things on the guitar to make it more interesting, and Sting putting some personality into the vocals, and then I start getting better ideas for the rhythms when I’ve got those things out of the way.
So you’re saying you have no personality in your vocals?
Actually, to describe my own singing, I would say that I’ve got a lousy set of tubes, but if I’ve got anything at all, it’s a certain character, I suppose, a sort of comedy vocal character. Which isn’t really the atmosphere of the group.
I notice you’ve put a lot of multi-compositions on your 45 B-sides…
Yeah, when got a lot of songs by one person, there’s kind of a momentum of sound of atmosphere���and a lot of the other songs don’t fit on the record.
Is there still a backlog of stuff?
No, we end up using the material sooner or later, on a B-side–and if it’s not any good, then we don’t finish recording it. So it’s not like we put any old outtakes on the B-side. Anything that we finish is good enough to finish, anything that isn’t quite up to scratch doesn’t get finished.
Anything you think wasn’t up to scratch, that you’re a little disappointed in?
Yeah, there are some things I don’t particularly like, but I’m not going to name them, though. I mean, it’s impossible to be together this long, to have made this much music, to not have compromised in some areas, you know? It would be dishonest of me to try to tell you we haven’t.
Are you all pretty happy with the way the press has received the band?
Yeah. Some of the English papers–in two of them we got great reviews, the best we’ve ever done, which was unpredictable. That was a surprise, just because we’re too popular for England. England is a place that likes new bands, and routinely slags off old bands. Which is fine. But two of the reviews we got–I mean, the critic was almost (gnashes his teeth, looks helpless) sharpening his pen, you can hear him gnashing his teeth as he tries to put in every adjective “the worst, this’ll really get ’em.” You could hear him growling and spitting, and that actually amused me. The last two records I’ve been able to read reviews like that without being touched at all, personally, and genuinely amused by their attempts …trying to hurt, to pop the bubble of what obviously must seem like sm
ugness. Which is fine–I mean that’s their job, and it needs to be done. In most cases. Becauss we can get smug like anybody. We’re human. We need to have the bubble popped, occasionally.
I’ve been told to ask you guys why you’re such prima donnas.
It’s impossible to be otherwise. When you’re so handsome, what can you do?
You guys are regarded here as both musically hip and genuinely hip, on both levels…
Yeah, I mean we’re still hip over there, but I mean, people like David Bowie share the position that I think we do���they’re huge and hip. We seem to fit that category as well.
He’s playing here right after you guys depart.
Yeah. The way it works is, I’m not that big a Bowie fan–I mean I respect him and everything, but I haven’t got any of his records. Actually, my wife does, Sonya’s got all of them, but I mean I never bother to play them or anything. It’s almost like I don’t want to admit that, because he’s so hip, you know? And in a way, people tell me, it’s like that for the Police. It’s almost uncool not to like the band. Maybe I’m being presumptuous, I don’t know.
Who tells you this?
I get this atmosphere from the press. When we do things, I think, “Oh no, we’re not going to get away with this,” and we get away with it.
What music do you like nowadays? What are you buying?
There’s a band called Kissing The Pink that I’m really into, actually their album’s got a lot of good songs on it that could be singles. Who else? Linton Kwesi Johnson, I don’t know. I just got a compact disc system at home, which are like digital records. And the sound is so good. I rushed out to buy the entire catalog of music that’s recorded like that. In rock, there isn’t that much, but in classical, all these classical things–Stravinsky, Copland, are recorded on it. So for the last month or so, ever since I’ve got this thing, I’ve been listening almost exclusively to classical music. As I’ve never heard it before. And the clarity of it, the dynamic range of it���I mean, rock music made for records, written for records, has a dynamic range like that (holds his fingers inches apart), the quiet bits are down here, and you go below that and it’s hiss, and the loud bits are up here, go above that and it’s distortion. But on the compact disc, you have that much room (hold fingers much farther apart), and orchestral music was written with the human ear’s dynamic range in mind, which is much bigger than rock ‘n’ roll. And when you can actually hear that dynamic range reproduced, it has a lot more power than I’ve ever heard from a phonograph recording.
Isn’t A&M going to put out the new LP that way?
But you didn’t record that digitally, did you?
We mixed it digitally
Does that make a difference?
Yes, it will. There’s two aspects–one, is in recording it’s absolutely silent, there’s no tape hiss. You think the tape’s pretty silent, yet actually it’s like the air conditioning here–you don’t notice it until it goes off. We mixed it that way, which meant we mixed in a lot more dynamic range onto the tape than we could’ve done mixing analog.
Think your next album will be completely recorded that way?
I’m the only member of the band with a compact disc system–there’s not that many of them out in the market–but it’s the thing of the future, and as somebody who’s concerned with the overall quality of the thing, I think it’s your responsibility to record with the best technology that can be provided. And the best that technology can provide is beyond Air Studios, our favorite studio, and so it’s a matter of trading off–going to a studio that we like that hasn’t got that system, or like the places in LA, and like we’d never record in LA.
So you’re pretty happy with the way things are going right now?
For the time being, yeah. But it won’t last.
Because nothing ever does. I’m happy with myself, because of my last two projects���I’ve embarked on the Police tour, everything’s running smoothly, but in about a week I’ll be thinking “Jesus, what have I accomplished this week, apart from the shows?” And I’ll start biting my lip, thinking “Yow, I’ve got to do something.” And I’ll start getting more frantic until eventually I’ll…do something. I mean, I’m not one to rest on my laurels. My awards and the manifestations of my achievements only last a certain amount of time. The thrill of a gold record or a platinum record hanging on the wall only lasts for as long as it takes to start thinking…got to make another one. And so I’m feeling pretty secure right now, but next week I’ll be hungry again. I’m still as hungry as I ever was for achievement.
I imagine real achievements are getting harder to come by.
In feat, the achievements are becoming more diverse, but they don’t get any easier to accomplish. There are more avenues open to me, there are more things I can do–but each of those things doesn’t come easier. Access, though–if I have a great idea I’m in a better position to go out and do it…but that doesn’t make the success of the project any more guaranteed.
Do you feel like you’re locked into this?
No, no. That’s something we’ve been really conscious of since we started. Not being locked in.
This is quite a step up from the two gigs the band did here at Bookie’s a while ago. Do you ever you feel that way, think in those terms at all?
Yeah, occasionally I think it’s great that we’ve come this far–but I’m still thinking about where I’m going to get to. I mean, I can’t play a single brass instrument, for a start. I can play three notes on a trumpet, but I can’t play brass section parts the way I want to, so I’ve go that to get together, there’s still a lot I don’t know about music harmony that I’ve got to get organized. I wish my fingers worked better on keyboards, so I’m practicing on that. The last movie I made, the punk movie, is really good for a first movie, but the next movie’s got to be for real, and there’s a lot of things I think I’ve worked out about it that I want to put into practice, for the next project. There’s lots to do.
Time being the biggest constraint?
Yeah. The only time I’m locked in is when I’m on tour, but then again there’s a lot of planning involved with anything, and I enjoy the opportunity to just be stuck with nothing to do but just stare out the window and dream and scheme. In fact this whole thing is just the result of dreaming and staring out a window, going “Oh God, wouldn’t it be great to have a little band with three people and no problems, our own equipment, we drive ourselves, fuck the record company and fuck the roadies and fuck everybody, we’ll just get paid and…” Everything has always been like a dream, just like staring out a window. And the more you daydream, daydream on a particular subject–if it’s a good daydream and it really turns you on, you keep going back to it. And every time you go back to that particular fantasy, to make it interesting the next day when you come back to it, you play with that idea , you have to���