Interview: WIKEN (2001)

January 17, 2001

The following article by Raúl Marquez appeared in a January 2001 issue of the Chilean magazine Wiken. The article was very kindly translated by Marcelo Stephani...

Sting's relaxed: The legendary English musician, who performs this Sunday in Chile after almost 7 years, says that his role in this world is "Just to play and sing". That's why he doesn't want to put a grade on his career, and he also does not want to be involved in any social or ecological matters. "I give what I can", says the former The Police member, in this exclusive interview.

It has been a while since Sting made the headlines because of the energy or drama of his music, like he did at the end of the 70's and early 80's with The Police. Neither because the defence of the Human Rights or the Environment that he made at the beginning of the 90's.

Today, the 49 year old English singer and bass player has assumed a new role. Recently, his major public appearances were involved with his role in the life of Madonna's new child, Rocco, and because of the fact that he borrowed one of his properties in Scotland for the marriage of Guy Ritchie and Madonna. Madonna, has become his friend, they share the passion for Yoga, and the also are neighbours in a New York Central Park apartment.

Sting's actual music has also undergone some changes. His music does not affect on the young audience - indeed his music has evolved from being considered Pop, to be considered Adult and actual Pop -, and by the middle of the 90's, his music experienced a fall in popularity. However, he learn how to explore his more mature side, and came back to the top of the charts with his latest album, 'Brand New Day' (1999), which has sold almost 9 million copies world-wide.

That's why this British legend, born Gordon Matthew Summer, is one of the main events in the next Rock In Rio Festival, where he performs tonight, before he arrives in Chile to perform this Sunday at the Pista Atletica del Estadio Nacional.

On the phone from Rio de Janeiro - where he has been on vacation with his wife, Trudie Styler, and some of his 6 children, Sting confirms that the show in Santiago makes him really anxious, not only because the fact that his last show was almost 7 years ago, but also because of the social and political things that have occurred in Chile, things that have held his attention for a while now.

Ten years ago, you were very interested on political and environmental issues, but actually, you seem to have moved away from these topics, why is that?

"I've never touched political or environmental matters on my songs, unless I had a metaphor. I wrote a song about Chile ('They Dance Alone', 1987) due to the metaphor of the Cueca Solo. When I heard that story, I found it a really powerful story. To be honest, without that metaphor, I would never even have played that song, because it is not the kind of song that I like to write. I'm still very interested in those matters, but they do not cross over into my musical life."

Do you think that the fact that you chose to be a kind of social and environmental leader, could in some way have damaged your image as an artist?

"To tell you the truth, I don't really care about that. I do not feel that. I give what I can, even if it is a little amount. If I feel that I can make a difference in some area, then I do it. But I'm not worried in the fact that those things could affect my image as an artist, or the image that the public has of me, and basically, what they think about me."

How do you explain the success that your latest album 'Brand New Day' has had, after the commercial failure of 'Mercury Falling'?

"That is a false affirmation you're making. 'Mercury Falling' sold 4 million copies world-wide, and most people do not make it to the 400,000 copies. I can't agree with you on that subject, because MF was not a commercial failure, not at all".

But it did represent a drop on your sales and popularity compared to your other records...

"Well... it sold one million less. But, to be honest, I don't think it terms of success or failure. I think in the fact of making good records. And I do not think that I have made a bad album. That's the real success for me."

From the middle of the 90's, it seems that you have chosen a different role to your career, trying to look for new influences and not looking simply for "hits". Has this change been intentional?

"I only make music that I feel that is natural, I don't make plans for it, and I also don't adapt music in order to seek musical success. I'm lucky because the fact is that sometimes it happens in that way. But in the end, I make music in order to feel good about myself."

How do you feel the change that time made over your career, from being a New Wave and College artist, to become and adult Pop performer you're considered today?

"My place in the popular music firmament is not something that worries me. I simply do my job and do not compare myself with other artists. I'm not interested in putting myself in a position where I feel uncomfortable. I just make music that makes me comfortable."

If you had to put a grade to this part of your career, from 1 to 10, how much will you give to it?

"That's not my job. I live the present, and at the present moment, I'm extremely happy."

"The Police... I don't live in the past..."

Sting has managed to handle the highs and lows of his career, making him to obtain a fortune of almost 150 million dollars. That's why 'Forbes' magazine placed him amongst the most "rich" artist of the rock and roll industry, next to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie. More millions will arrive thanks to the 'Brand New Day' tour, which in the rest of the world has collect almost 30 million dollars during the year 2000. This weekend, he will arrive in Chile, and he will continue his journey for at least 6 months.

'Brand New Day' was released on 1999, do you have any plans for a new record?

"Well, I'll be on tour until July, then I will start considering what to do. At this moment, I am not thinking of the future, and I rarely think about a record while I'm on tour. I feel more like an athlete: I just play and sing, I don't think too much.

Among your more recent activities, there's the music that you made for Disney's 'The Emperor's New Groove', what happened to your career as an actor and a producer?

"There's nothing going on now. I'm a singer, and I work as an actor from time to time, which is fun, but it is not my career. That film took 3 years to complete. It was very hard, however, it is doing pretty well in the U.S."

At the end of the millennium, a lot of question were asked in order to say which song and album were the best in rock history. Basically, almost in all of those polls, the material from The Police was above yours as a solo artist. What do you think about this results?

"I don't have any preferences. The fact is that I wrote all The Police songs, they're mine, I wrote them, I fixed them, I sing on them and I played them."

Finally, does the idea of re-uniting The Police ever cross your mind?

"No. We're still good friends, but I'm not the kind of person that lives in the past, and I don't want to go back, because it is impossible. It would be a sentimental idea, which, personally, does not attract me at all."

© Wiken (Chile)


Jan 1, 2001

Sting can choose to record anywhere he likes. But a Tuscan barn? Seven million albums and a Grammy later, Simon Osborne has some 'Sting' in his tales. He makes a good case for likening the job of a recording engineer to that of the noble craft of the carpenter. The metaphor he paints gave me a salient reminder of the fact that production excellence (and the quality of a Sting recording is always excellent) is about documenting good performances with good equipment, and combining those elements into a mix that shows off those performances in their best light. It's as easy, and as difficult as that...

Dec 17, 2000

King Sting: A career that spans 25 years, 14 Grammys and countless hits has left the former Policeman lost for ambition. All he really wants now is to go home. The bottle blond sitting in the empty dress circle of Sydney's Capitol Theatre wears a mocking expression on his weathered yet still boyish face. Third row, centre, he looks up at the stage and jeers, "Come on, Sting! Entertain me!" as though he doesn't believe it could possibly happen...