The following article by Lisa Robinson appeared in an October 1987 issue of The Orange County Register newspaper...
Sting sings the body eclectic - Money, fame, talent give him freedom to do as he wishes.
As lead singer, bassist and songwriter for The Police, Sting changed the face of rock music from 1975 to 1985 with songs that included influences ranging from reggae to jazz. The trio (Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland) sold millions of records internationally and performed in arenas and stadiums all over the world before Sting departed in 1985 to record his platinum solo album 'The Dream of the Blue Turtles'.
He has just released the follow-up solo album '...Nothing Like the Sun' with some of the jazz musicians who appeared on the first solo effort (Branford Marsalis, Kenny Kirkland, Dolette McDonald and Janice Pendarvis), as well as with the guitar assistance of Summers, Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler. A world tour will follow, after warm-up dates in Brazil, beginning in January.
In addition, Sting has just completed filming 'Stormy Monday', a movie with Melanie Griffith and Tommy Lee Jones; another film, 'Julia and Julia', co-starring Kathleen Turner, will be released later this year. These will make 12 films in which Sting has appeared, among them 'Dune', 'The Bride' and 'Plenty'.
Father of four children (two with ex-wife Frances Tomelty), Sting has lived for the past five years in London, California and New York with actress Trudie Styler.
Q. When you went out on you own did you worry about having someone around to give you an extra little musical push, or didn't you have that in The Police?
A. It was pretty difficult politically to get anything done in The Police because we were so full of ourselves. All three of us were fighting and arguing; but it was good. I don't like having people around who always tell me that everything is great.
Q. How long did it take to record the new album?
A. It took me about three months to write it. I did it in a New York apartment I have that has a bed and a piano. Also, it was good to have access to the musicians who are in New York.
Q. But didn't you have distractions in New York? It's not exactly a secluded, pastoral place.
A. I did nothing but write. I locked myself in my apartment with no children, no wives, no mistresses ...oh, all right, occasionally I'd go to Nell's (a nightclub) just to get drunk. But basically I lived a cloistered life. I'd get up in the morning, go to the gym and then work. It was a very creative time for me. I was taking piano lessons, I took a dance class, I became a student. New York is a great university. London is a bit of a dormitory for me; I go there to sleep. I never go out, because it'll be in the papers the next day.
Q. Why didn't you use all the same musicians on this album you used on 'The Dream of the Blue Turtles'?
A. I like to be flexible about the people I work with. The more people work with you, the better it is. I used Branford Marsalis again and Kenny Kirkland and the singers, and I'm friends with the others, but the understanding is that we don't necessarily have to play together. Whether or not we tour together is up to them; it's a long tour and they have their own careers. Branford is a very big name in jazz now and I'm not sure he wants to spend a year in my band. I think he does, but he has to really know that he does.
Q. Do you feel that working with these kinds of musicians again is going to put you in some kind of jazz category?
A. For me a pop album should be anything you throw into it. It shouldn't be a homogenous sound. Pop, in its first manifestation, was incredibly eclectic. In England, certainly, the Rolling Stones were next to Perry Como, and that wasn't thought of as ridiculous at all. That's the way I was brought up musically, to respond to everything.
Q. Why still use the name Sting?
A. People have the impression that I'm called Sting only as a famous person. Anybody who calls me Gordon (Sting's real name is Gordon Sumner) gives themselves away as incredibly gauche. My girlfriend calls me Sting, my children know that's my name. Why change it? I think there is something very special about one name and having the public accept it ...like Prince or Madonna or Liberace. It makes it easier for autographs.
Q. You've been involved with a variety of causes, but the one you seem to devote time to is Amnesty International; you'll go on tour for them again next summer.
A. Amnesty is very precise. It's not like throwing money at a government for food or trying to get rid of nuclear weapons, although I am involved in all those things. Amnesty releases a list of prisoners every month and they're real people with real problems, and maybe one of them will be freed and conditions will be improved. To me that's very satisfying. To belong to that organization and to meet those people who now live free lives. I've never been tortured in my life, but somebody who has been ...my God.
Q. In the song 'They Dance Alone' on your new album you wrote about the women (in Argentina) whose husbands and sons and fathers have been tortured and how they dance holding pictures of the men. Have you seen this?
A. I've got a video of it happening. The album is really about women in almost every respect. That was a female way of expressing frustration and grief, whereas the male way is to burn cars and throw Molotov cocktails, which means you just get tear gas thrown at you and get beaten and imprisoned and tortured. That's the male problem; we just go round and round.
Q. How do you feel about your film career?
A. It's patchy. I'm proud of almost everything I've done because it's been a learning process for me. In 'Stormy Monday' I play a nightclub owner. I did it in my hometown of Newcastle and I got to use my dialect.
Q. Is that something you consciously got rid of early on?
A. In England social mobility is a direct function of the way you speak. If you can be located in a region, then you're clearly from a particular class. I decided very early that I wanted out and the way to get out was to learn to speak the way the BBC people spoke. I'm a good mimic. It was a very conscious decision on my part.
Q. What was it like to go back to Newcastle?
A. It was great. But it was a doubled-edged thing. First of all, they're very proud of me. At they same time they want to stick a knife in me. I was well-liked as a kid and I had a lot of friends, but you lose touch. And to see people you went to school with ...it was weird.
© The Orange County Register