Police drummer Stewart Copeland still keeping busy

05.18.15
LF Press

They always say science will study someone’s brain AFTER they’re dead, right?
But in the case of The Police’s drummer Stewart Copeland they did it while the 62-year-old musician was above ground.

“I was very recently examined by UCLA, who put me into an MRI, they’re doing a study on what they call ‘super creative,’ and then looking for the physiology of exaggerated creativity,” said Copeland.

“Just the other day the doctor came over here with his DVD and I was able to look at my brain by the salami slice. Unbelievable! And it turns out I have a pronounced, enlarged amygdala and I’m very proud of that. The professor explained to my wife and I the amygdala is responsible for the four ‘F’s which are fear, food, flee and ... procreation.”

Copeland, who hit Toronto four times during The Police’s hugely successful 2007-2008 reunion tour, returns for a much different performance Wednesday night at Koerner Hall.
He and four other musicians, including pianist Jon Kimura Parker, are launching the four-night 21C Music

Festival with a program that includes the world premiere of Copeland’s Coincidence or Convergence? commissioned by The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

We caught up with Copeland down the line from his home in L.A. home to talk classical versus rock, whether The Police might tour again and oh, yeah, his big brain.

Why do we like drumming so much?

It goes back to the very beginning. Watch your National Geographic special on primates and you’ll see the giant silverback in the jungle banging s---.
Rock, reggae, pop, classical, opera, chamber music, ballet and film scores. What’s left for you to do?

There’s still lots of great challenges. One day I’ll pick up the baton perhaps, starting out somewhere small – maybe the Suwannee Texas Philharmonic orchestra might have me? (joking)

Does work like the RCoM commission come your way a lot?

On my desk right now I have a commission from the Pittsburgh Symphony. I’m finishing off an opera for the Chicago Theatre Opera and the Long Beach Opera. Then I’m rescoring a piece for the Iceland Symphony to accommodate their particular concertina so yes, I’m pretty busy. That’s my day job. By day, I’m facing into my computer, working on these score, but by night I turn my chair around and I face my big Marshall stack and my giant monstrous drum set and I rock out.

Speaking of which, do you foresee another Police reunion in your future?

I’m trying not to imagine such a thing – like I told you a minute ago – my desk is piled high. I mean, we all get along really well, there’s no reason not to so who knows but it’s absolutely a blank page. (Puts on theatrical British accent) A blank page of history yet to be written! ... My other supergroup Oysterhead is in the same holding pattern. We all are in touch with each other, much more so than The Police, (like) ‘Got do it! Got do it!' but the other two guys – (Primus bassist ) Les Claypool and (Phish guitarist/vocalist) Trey Anastasio – have working, moving, touring, farting bands that they’re members of right now and to find windows in the schedule is a challenge.

Did you say farting bands?

Did that escape my lips? Possibly. Your reader will be disappointed to learn this but bands do a lot of that on the bus.

Why was it “a relief,” (as stated in your bio which you didn’t write) when the Police reunion tour ended in 2008?

Because even the most incredible adventure when it’s time to go home, there’s a sense of relief. And it was an incredible adventure but it’s all encompassing. ‘Tour-zilla’ we called it... We were relieved when we could back to our families, to our lives, to our own cool stuff.

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