In this week's paper (link here), Jason Toon interviewed a handful of local musicians (and a writer or two) about the influence of the Police both here in St. Louis and beyond. The legendary trio hits the Scottrade Center on Monday night, July 2, at 7:30 p.m. I'll be at the show and will have a review of it up on A to Z after.
In the meantime, Toon's interviewees had some entertaining things to say that didn't make the print edition; after the jump, read about another of the trio's early gigs in town, mentions of Sting's pretentiousness and near-universal feting of drummer Stewart Copeland's mad skills.
Steve Scariano on "Every Breath You Take": "I will add that another bandmate of mine from another band were riding in my car listening to the radio when we both heard 'Every Breath You Take' for the first time, and we both looked at each other with our jaws kinda hitting the ground as we both agreed and said to each other, 'Oh man is this thing gonna be the biggest record ever, or what?'"
Scariano on the Police's influence on other musicians: "Since I'm a little older, I wasn't influenced by them as a musician at all, though I've found it pretty hard to come across a musician between the ages of 30 and 45 who hasn't. And boy, the drummers who cite Copeland as an influence -- jesus, they're everywhere! That's pretty easy to understand though. In those years of Police dominance it suddenly got cooler to play like Copeland than Neal Peart, who had been the drum god of that generation up until that time."
Scariano, on the Police's second gig in St. Louis -- at the now-defunct east-side club Stages -- after that sparsely-attended 1978 show: "The place was wall-to-wall packed to the rafters, and any moron there that night could have told you that this was the last time the Police would ever be playing a small venue in town. Superstardom was right around the corner. So I really lost interest in them from that point on. Didn't hate them or anything, didn't begrudge their massive popularity, either -- just didn't care about them one way or the other."
Andrew Elstner on the difficulty of emulating the Police: "There's the technical aspect as well, all three musicians in the Police were extremely well-schooled. Drum nerds in particular still worship at the altar of Copeland. This might out me as a musician who, y'know, took lessons 'n stuff, but playing that way and writing those kinds of songs is difficult. Technical skill seems to be a rare commodity these days, and when it does appear, it's usually as Guitar Center-style wankery."
Donald Williams on the Police's pop hits: "The Police were good at having those big hits, but it didn't make me hate the Police. It made me never want to hear those songs again. Then, on the same records, they'd have these other songs that went off and did the weird Police shit."
Donald Williams on Sting solo: "Sting's first solo album had all these jazz cats on it that I was into, and that was cool, he even got a hit out of it. But with later records his ego really started striking me. It was like he thought his music was on a completely different level than everybody else's and it's not. It's just not."
Mike Cracchiolo, on Sting solo: "I think, if the Police had stayed together, they would've sounded like those first couple of Sting records. That's where they were all headed anyway." [Ed. Note: 1991's The Soul Cages is a brilliant, underrated record.]
Mike Cracchiolo, on the Police’s talents: "It's really hard to find a drummer who wouldn't put Stewart Copeland on the list of their top five favorite drummers. Everybody listens to Sting's voice, but he's clearly just a great bass player. His playing was always muscular and prominent. And the way Andy Summers used guitar effects was revolutionary."
Rene Saller, on “Don’t Stand So Close to Me”: "Later on, when the Police had a huge hit with the song 'Don't Stand So Close to Me,' I remember complaining about the way Sting pronounced 'Nabokov,' with the emphasis on the first syllable instead of the second. It seems like a dumb thing to bitch about, I know, even coming from an insufferable, affected teenager, but it struck me as significant that this guy who put himself out there as some super fancypants intellectual would mispronounce a famous author's name that way. I hated the video, too, the combination of prurience and pretension. The only thing worse than a leering older man is a leering, sneering older man."