“The Police: Deranged For Orchestra”
Born in Virginia and raised in Cairo and Beirut by a Scottish archoeolist mother and an American father who founded the CIA, Stewart Copeland has had quite a life. So much so, that his biography deserves its own podcast but for the sake of time, let’s go with the expurgated version. Copeland started playing drums at 12 and after finishing boarding school in England and college at UC Berkeley, he returned to the UK to play drums for Curved Air. In 1977 he founded The Police with Sting
and after recruiting guitarist Andy Summers to replace Henry Padovani, the new wave power trio locked in and the rest, as they say, is history. But in the case of the Police, let’s go with history to the 10th power. The Police are one of the best selling bands of all time, with record sales heading close to 100 million worldwide. They put out five albums from 1978 to 1983 and by the time their last one hit shelves, they were arguably the biggest band in the world. Their legacy is safely enshrined in the rock and roll hall of fame and Copeland is considered one of the greatest drummers to ever sit behind the kit, but his legacy doesn’t stop there. He’s scored movies like Rumble Fish, Wall Street, and Talk Radio; TV shows like The Equalizer, Dead Like Me and Star Wars: Droids.
He’s also scored ballets that were commissioned by everyone from the San Francisco Ballet Company to the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.
He’s collaborated with Tom Waits, Peter Gabriel, Les Claypool and Adam Ant; he played in other bands like Animal Logic and Oysterhead with Trey Anastasio of Phish. He’s scored video games, done voices for movies like South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, he put out his memoir Strange Things Happen: A Life with the Police, Polo and Pygmies and he collaborated with the Long Beach Opera
on a production of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Telltale Heart. Well, the always busy Copeland’s new project is called The Police: Deranged for Orchestra. It’s basically a fresh take on The Police songbook, by way of the 28 member ReCollecitve Orchestra. They reimagine songs like Roxanne and Don’t Stand So Close To Me and the results are captivating and spellbinding. In this conversation, Copeland talks to Alex about rock and roll bands as democracies, the elasticity of the Police’s compositions and why he speeds things up when Sting is in the audience.