Interview: THE COURIER MAIL (1987)

October 01, 1987

The following article by Mark Sexton appeared in an October 1987 issue of the Australian newspaper The Courier Mail...

Sting still has mountains to climb.

That moody sex symbol Sting, one time lead singer of the Police and now a Solo Superstar admitted by thousands of women in a recent poll to be their dream fantasy love wants to develop the less macho and gentler side of his nature. But there are still mountains to climb and dreams to dream...

It was the blue turtles rampaging through the ordered garden of his Hampstead house that persuaded Sting to leave the Police. Pop superstar Sting believes so much in his dreams and what they mean he keeps a notebook by his bed so that he can record what he has dreamt about before it fades.

"My analysis (about the turtles) was that I could carry on what I was doing and everything in the garden would be fine. "Police had reached an assured place and everything was safe and secure. But as a creative person security is the worst thing you can have. The blue turtles were symbols of change sent along to disrupt things."

After eight years of smash hits, multi-millionaire Sting would not seem to have much to worry about but his most recurring dream is being on a jet plane that suddenly goes into a steep dive. In the First Class cabin Sting braces himself for the inevitable crash and wakes up in a cold sweat.

"A classic anxiety dream," says Sting. "It keeps recurring and the meaning is fairly clear to me. The plane is a symbol for my extraordinary life and a subconscious fear that it is out of control."

Sting was so concerned about his dreams that he consulted a psychiatrist and underwent Jungian dream analysis.

"Not because I'm crazy. There is a tendency in Britain to view a visit to the psychiatrist as something that automatically means you're a lunatic. But there is a whole different side to your life that should be investigated. We spend one third of our lives asleep and we're not dead we're doing something. As soon as you start looking into your dreams your life becomes richer. Although my dream life is always much more dramatic than real life. Instead of 'Got up had a cup of coffee went to the studio', it's jumped off a cliff wrote a concerto made love to a 1,000 women. Of course, my best dreams are always the ones that involve sex."

Since leaving the Police Sting has seen his solo career take off both as a musician and as an actor-his films have included 'Dune', 'The Bride' and lastly 'Stormy Monday' filmed in his home-town Newcastle.

"I play the owner of a jazz club." A part that appealed to him after playing the nasty in the previous two films but he is back to being nasty again in his next film due to start at the end of the year.

"I'm a bad guy again," he says cheerfully. "I play Pontius Pilate." But there is a new maturity about the hitherto sex symbol now 35 and an attempt to play down the macho image.

"If you look at the rock stars over 30 who are still trying to live up to the love-em-and-leave-em image, they all seem very undignified." The death of his mother this year had a profound affect on Gordon Sumner - and Sting has never forgotten his name or origins.

His last album - 'Nothing like the Sun' - the title comes from a Shakespearean sonnet - was dedicated to his mother and to all other women.

"She was a glamorous woman and really I suppose the real inspiration behind the album."

One of the songs called 'The Lazarus Heart' was specifically about his mother and a dream he had.

"She was very powerful in a symbolic way - a very Freudian mother. She was very young - just 18 when she had me - and very attractive. I remember people whistling at her in the street when she took me shopping which embarrassed me although at the same time I was very proud because she was so beautiful. I think all my relationships with women have been coloured by my relationship with her."

Mrs Sumner was 56 when she died of cancer - she had fought it off for two years after being given two months to live - Mr Sumner, 57, is also fighting the same disease - they had three other children.

There are other serious notes in 'Nothing Like the Sun' although Sting protests, "I've written some dance tunes too." One of them is the poignant 'They Dance Alone' - a tribute to the widows of political victims in Chile, who show their grief by dancing in public with pictures of their lost loved ones.

But all the songs says Sting are really a hymn of praise to women "Not in the traditional songwriter sense of fantasy women, fantastic women that you want to make love to but women as mothers sisters and daughters. Above all it's a celebration of feminine qualities."

Gordon Sumner became Sting because he always wore an old sweater of brown and yellow stripes when in the early days he was appearing with a group called Last Exit - it was a nickname that was to stick and serve him well.

He himself is the first to admit that he has come a long way in a short time - just nine years ago, the Geordie son of a milkroundsman and a nurse, who had run through several jobs - selling newspapers, in a restaurant and finally teaching English and maths in a school before packing his wife and baby into their small car and heading for London and fame.

In London, the Police and fame was waiting for him. "My career suddenly caught fire and exploded," he says. "I went from being a nobody in a mining town to one of the famous people. And those around me suffered. I used to be absolutely appalling to work with. I felt I had to be in some kind of crisis in order to write, so I went around making everyone's life a nightmare. I wrote some great songs, okay - but at other peoples expense, ultimately my own. The break-up of my marriage was a kind of spontaneous combustion. I had no regrets about the marriage itself we had a wonderful time and two great kids."

Sting now lives with his second family - the girl he once introduced as "my mistress, Trudie" and their two children Micky, 3, and her brother Jake, 18 months.

Sting also has two children by his first wife, actress Frances Tomelty - they met when she was playing the Virgin Mary in a University Christmas show, they were married two years later in the church where Sting had once been the altar boy.

Sting met Trudie Styler an attractive ash blonde actress from the Midlands, when she was playing one of the witches in a production of Macbeth in which Frances played Lady Macbeth. It was just seven years since he married Frances that Sting had to make the choice between her and Trudie, by that time Trudie was obviously pregnant by his child and the divorce was traumatic for Sting and inspired 'Every Breath You Take'.

It was not the first emotional trauma that Sting had to pay as his ticket to the top, his first girl friend in his early days in Newcastle miscarried his child and killed herself in tragic circumstances. Sting had left her for another girl and still feels guilty about her, "I know if I had stayed with her I would have ultimately destroyed her with my ambition, but I still never forgive myself. I destroyed my first marriage because of who I was and what I was going for," says Sting. "Now I'm into my second family and I've learned from the last. I always thought that if things were good they would stay that way. Now I know it takes thought and effort to make a relationship last."

Sting took most of last year off to spend with all four kids and Trudie at the Malibu Beach house he bought from Barbara Streisand for a reputed million dollars. Sting admits that all four of his children were unplanned - what he calls "happy accidents" but takes a huge delight in them.

"They are the best thing I've been involved in," he says. "I'm grateful to my children for giving me that sense of future history. I actually care what the World is going to be like in twenty years because of them."

It is this feeling that has prompted Sting to choose serious issues like drugs, poverty and nuclear weapons as subjects for his songs but he had to go through the mill himself to get there.

"The break-up of my marriage was a kind of spontaneous combustion. I have no regrets about the marriage itself - we had a wonderful time and two great kids. In those days I became very isolated and lonely. I looked around for crutches to support me. I went through all the usual clichés, drugs, women, money. Then I woke up one day and said 'I don't want anything to do with this'. With drugs I got close enough to peer into the abyss. I was never an addict or anything. But I could see how my personality could change with narcotics. Taking drugs is so easy when you have a problem - especially in the Rock and Roll World. Now I don't even want even to see drugs around me I've made mistakes in my life and admitted them and moved on. But I do know that if you can do without drugs - without all the other crutches life offers you it's better in the long run."

And it is the long run that interests Sting now.

"There's a whole world out there to discover. I don't want to stand still and keep doing the same thing. I get bored very easily so I have to keep doing different stuff." But that doesn't rule out a reunion with the Police.

"It was better to separate. It doesn't mean you won't ever get back together again, but the years we have all been going in different ways. That's natural, it happens in all bands you just want to make personal statements."

Sting has been making personal statements by spreading his undoubted talents through eight films and two new albums but there are still mountains to climb. Sting missed the last search for the Yeti in the Himalayas with explorer Bill Grant because he wanted to be present at the birth of his and Trudie's child, Jake.

Not only was Sting present at the birth of his fourth child but a camera team as well. The team had been making a documentary in Paris on Sting and the birth of his new band and zoomed in on the birth of Sting's child as well.

"The imminent arrival of the baby was very much part of the drama and excitement that we were trying to capture in the film. It was the first time I was present at a birth - It was a very moving experience."

The camera's zoomed in on Sting as he was handed "his little pirate" and then to happy Trudie.

In spite of the growing family and devotion to them they have no plans to marry.

"We haven't got the time," says Sting. "I'm not against the idea on principle. I just don't feel the need - although I'm sure the vicar would tell me differently," Trudie smiles indulgently when anyone suggests that Sting might settle down in marriage.

"Him settle down?" she says, "Don't be ridiculous - he's gypsy - a wild boy. We both lead very fast and chaotic lives and I hope nothing slows us down." Sting is very proud of Trudie. "She is very ambitious," he says, "But she doesn't see herself as being in competition with me. We have a great relationship in that way - She's my best friend - it's as simple as that." Still there are mountains to climb and Sting has that ambition, literally.

He and Bill Grant have a booking for 1995 when Sting is 44 - to climb Mount Everest. Could be they will even see a Yeti.

© The Courier Mail (Australia)


Aug 1, 1987

A rather famous pop star is holding court. "The first time I met Gil Evans was about three or four years ago when I went to see him at Ronnie Scott's in London. I'd been a fan of Gil's since I was 15 and I went backstage and had the nerve to say 'Hello', and 'I admire your work'. I said, 'I'm Sting, I sing' and he said, 'I've heard of you'. I couldn't believe that he'd heard of me. He said, 'Yeah, I remember 'Walking On The Moon', good bass line'. It was like... I couldn't believe this great man knew about me. I said, 'We must work together one day', so Gil said, 'Yeah, sure'..."

Dec 1, 1985

Blue Turtles and Blue Notes - Sting speaks: "I was committed to do an album without the Police, and I went through all kinds of ideas about how I would do it. There are various ways of skinning this cat. I could have done it all on my own, which would have involved synthesisers and sequencers and drum machines and all the rest of it. Actually I wandered to a certain extent along that path and then I thought, 'No, there's too much of that out there already, why add fuel to the fire?' Then I thought perhaps what I needed was a big producer - I think I was going through a need for a big brother figure, somebody to convince me, 'Yes, it's great, do try that'. So I approached Quincy Jones. I sent Quincy some demos, and he was really enthusiastic and said he loved the songs, which was nice. Before that I had approached Gil Evans, who I'm an enormous fan of. I met Gil backstage at Ronnie Scott's club in London. I went to see his show and introduced myself, and surprise, surprise, he'd actually heard of me. And he too was interested...