The police is back!
The police is back and everyone is happy.
Police is back and as always most people see in a band just the success that has surrounded it. People think that, as soon as Sting started to write songs it was bingo time.
The police is back and a lot of people ask me what, I, think about it.
Of course, I have something to say about it, and if journalists want to speak to me, it is either because they don't have access to Sting, Stewart or Andy and that I am a bargain article, easy to obtain, or because they would like me to give them a scoop of the bitter, sour, or disappointed guy.
Sorry! All my life, I have only had love, solidarity and joy for the Police success. I know they might not understand, they might be disappointed to miss a good tabloid article and of course they are sent back to the reading of that band's history. What they should take out of it is a great story of solidarity and tenacity, an example!
It is not because today record companies and medias put forward and put their money on young artists that have just a look or had had the good idea to fart live on TV, that the history of pop and rock has always counted essentially on A&R to bring up new talents or on journalists to inform us on the arrival or on the existence of stars-to-be.
At the contrary, the history of rock has nearly always counted onto itself or on the public to be beautiful and interesting. In the same way medias couldn't understand Elvis or in the same way record companies didn't want The Beatles, no one wanted the Police.
Of course, in 77 or 78, everyone was looking for the new Clash or the new Sex Pistols and when the Police arrived, maybe rightly, those talents scouts only saw there some opportunists that were trying to take advantage of a scene that this band was trying to infiltrate. When I wasn't part of that band anymore, and that it then consisted of Stewart, Sting and Andy, it was not any better. Of course Sting did find in Andy an associate and that new balance did please him more. In the previous combo, I was at the same time, the 'punk' guarantee' and a support to Stewart. I, who would go out all the time in every London club ( I had actually been voted ' ligger of the year' in a magazine called 'city limits' with Phil Lynnot of thin lizzy, while Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols arrived 3rd.. well, not something to get a medal but it gives you an idea of the life I was having..), who befriended the whole of the punk scene and would give report to my friends of the growing impact of that scene on the record companies choices and on the medias attitude, I was conforting Stewart on the direction he had chosen for his band, and who would then let Sting hold his brakes. Sting wasn't trying to really understand anymore. All that was bigger than him. Him, his priority was to find money and feed his family.
Maybe Stewart was right, maybe not. How can you be sure that he would make it with this band? In the meantime, and even if he would have liked to see this mates band find success, he would not close the door to any opportunity. The first one was the anniversary concert organised by 'Gong' in Paris, where each ex band member had to present a new group and where their ex bass player, Mike Howlett, brought Strontium 90, a 2 bass players band in which played Mike and Sting, and thanks to whom we meet Andy.
Andy, older than us, was mainly doing studio session work, and had wanted to join the Police, like an extra and for fun.
That concert, quite simple to play for Sting and also for Stewart, had brought in money. Always something taken. As far as Stewart was concerned, it was giving some air. He was the leader of the band and he had to keep the Police, especially Sting who wouldn't stop keeping us informed of his ideas to go on tour with Billy Ocean, since his friend Gerry from Last Exit had become his musical director and was looking for a bass player, or even to join a band on a boat cruise, doing rock or jazz standards. Piece of cake for him.
Well, as long as there would be some money opportunities, Stewart would manage to keep Sting in. the good thing with Andy, is that he had many similar opportunities. Every year, he would to Germany work with a german guy Eberhard Schoener , who was doing a sort of progressive classical rock, a genre that the germans always liked, and that had basically disappeared from the English musical panorama. His shows would actually go on german TV. Out of a 2 months work period there, Andy could easily live 6 months in England. That had impressed Sting. Andy started to hang with us, came on stage a few times and then joined the band.
A new balance was born. Stewart and I, on one side, holding the band in the 'Punk Rock' context in which it had been created, and Sting and Andy on the other, in a more , let's say, adult or grow up way. Which meant that, if that new element was not ideal for the vision that Stewart had, he gave us extra time or respite..
Sting was more relaxed and had changed his way of writing. He was listening to Bob Marley all day long and was bringing in different things. And he would bring some rocks songs, like 'visions of the night'. That one we had liked and had decided to incorporate in the set.
But that new balance did not last very long. It is rare that things go forward in an equilibrium. The session with John Cale had been the detonator. The row that happened in the studio that day, badly orchestrated by a drunk John Cale, had put in the light the powers in presence, and Stewart that day had stayed, rightly so, in the middle. Stewart had to try to save his band. In the stride, I was gone. The band survived.
But that was another alert. The Police could go on, but at a price.
The respite will now come from Andy who had sessions to do in Germany and had to go for 2 months. He had told Eberhard about his new band and about the drummer great playing abilities. He had also tried to sell the singer bass player but Eberhard had only room for a drummer. Once in Germany, Andy and Stewart put pressure on Eberhard to take the whole band who, since they had had a feature in an advert for a chewing gum had now their hair died in blond. Under pressure, Eberhard accepted.
Not only, this would bring money in, but it is also Eberhard who had helped to shape the future sound of the Police, asking them to let go on long jam sessions and advising them to work and improvise the dynamic of their music.
Money in their pocket and a bit less pressure, The Police went back to London with the intention to record an album.
That album, they demoed it. And when they managed to bring in all the
recordcompanies and all the London music managers to come and listen, some did and
they all refused the Police again.
Everyone but Miles Copeland who, if he thinks that they were wrong in splitting with
me , who was they 'punk' guarantee, and who feels that it will be difficult, has trust in this
song, 'Roxanne', that he loves and see already as a 'classic' or an ' evergreen'!
Miles decides to go and see A&M, that he know well and with whom he already worked.
He has signed Squeeze with them, and they had a number 1 with ' cool for cats'.
A&M are not interested. It is not what they are looking for. Miles insists, battles and
finally obtain a contract. A small one but it is a recording contract. No a penny in
advance.! They do for Miles because they want to maintain that relation with
Roxanne comes out in England and… flops! Nothing! Bad criticsn and no radios are
playing it. The people from A&M don't fail to remember Miles that they had warned
him and that it was to be anticipated, and that nobody wants his brother's band.
Ian, Miles and Stewart's brother had gone to work for a US booking agent and he had been trying for some time to bring in the states some punk bands. Him, who had spent a year in England after been back from the Viet Nam War, had seen all those bands and loved that new wave. The problem was that in the US nobody wanted them. The record companies did not release the records and the medias ignored them. Miles, on the contrary, sees there an opportunity. How about if the Police would go and try it in the States ? Ian could book somes dates in New York clubs, like Max's or CBGB's?
Anyway, here in England, there is nothing for the Police. Over!
And there a genious idea starts to grow in his brain: since no punk band has managed to go and play in the USA, but since there is a rumour that talks about this new musical scene that is the rage in England, since this rumour tells that the bands only a look but can't play, why, with the help of a very supportive Ian, the Police could not go and play in America, presented as the ' big mean punks'. They already have blond hair and that, in a conservative America , would mark spirits, leave an impression and even give an illusion.
He goes and see A&M again and ask them to finance a trip to New York. First of all, A&M refuses again, no believing in this band's fortune, and then, under the constant assaults from Miles, they finally let 4 cheap one way tickets to New York, on the Laker Airlines, the budget company that just started. 3 for the band and 1 for Kim Turner who would be the roadie, the sound man ,the driver and the co manager.
In the end, all is well, and miles leaves A&M with a suitcase full of singles that the band have to sell to sort themselves a return ticket!!
Sometimes, it is hard, isn't it. But when you feed yourself success dreams, you have to accept to take instead big blows in your face, and you have to close your eyes at each humiliation.
How many bands would have held until then? How many would have accepted to take all this in? Would you? I can't say I would have? Of course, when you are just 3 of you, it helps.
And that is how, the Police went to America. What is great, it is that they managed to come back since America fell in love with this 'punk' band who were playing really well (!!) and since they not only sold they suit case full of singles, but even made money at the concerts!!! In the end, the Americans told themselves that those punk rockers could actually play! They didn't expect that… With all the things they had heard or read about the English punk scene… Ok, the look, with blond hair… It is a bit 'feminine', but all things considered, it is great! We like it!
When they came back to England, with that success in their pockets and some new dates already booked in the US, Miles convinced A&M to re release and rework 'Roxanne'.
This time, the sound held and their story started for real.
So, when you see that the Police are back and will play here or there, like the 'Stade de France', think about it! And stop going on , especially to me, about the ticket prices ( it is cheaper that a football game!!!) or stop trying to find how much money they make. And if you want to waste your time on this, don't ask me, I couldn't care less about this kind of angst. I am happy for all the people that fight and make it. And if not, don't go!
Think properly about their beginnings? Remember also that this band should have never existed if record companies and journalists had had the last word!
It is often the children who have a laborious birth who become the best fighters! And that is why we like them so much.
In any case, as far as I am concerned, that is the way. I was following their footsteps in the beginning, supporting with all of my heart until they took on the world, and still until today, wishing more than anyone that they would reform.
In the face of the world.