EVERY WORD YOU SAY
"You must be from The Irish Post," said Andy Summers to the photographer testing his focus on a nearby tree. "The band's over here."
And so they were. Three blond heads gathered beneath a British sky for the first time in months. From different corners of the globe, they had come to talk about the album, Synchronicity, hint gently at secret gigs and confirm a mammoth tour.
Sky is the word to watch for here since the photo-call had been arranged under the dripping arbours of The Gardens Club, atop The Gardens Hotel in Kensington. This had once been Regine's, whispered an expert. Why it was now strewn with scaffolding poles and sickly palms was never adequately explained.
The previously invisible sun had lurked behind all to obvious rain clouds for most of the morning. Yet as the golden barnets ventured into the drizzle, the big yellow put in a brief appearance.
Most likely it was all tuckered out, having spent a great deal of time beaming down on Sting. Tanned to a healthy hue that usually only wheatgerm can manage, he smiled from below the still oozing W8 flora. Lost a bit of weight too, by the looks of things.Thinner in the cheeks, maybe.
This was to be an informal press conference. A welcome relief for anyone who raffled for three words with David Bowie not so long ago. Simply pick a Police member, stroll up and quiz the chap. Worked too. You couldn't hear 50 per cent of the answers because the single was being played non-stop at disco level, but the relaxed atmosphere helped.
"I' m really proud of it. It took us a very long time to do and a long time to write. It was the hardest album we've made." This was Sting on Synchronicity to be released on June 17. Whether he'll be here when it hits the streets is another matter. By the time you read this he would have flown to Mexico to start shooting "Dune", a film of Frank Herbert's classic SF series.
The band had settled into Montserrat earlier in the year, wary of writing "another" Police album instead of a new one. But as the afternoon chat wore on no one seemed to reach any agreement on the results.
Sting reckoned it was more spontaneous than Ghost in the Machine "Just the three of us, no saxophones or keyboards this time. It's more live." Stewart Copeland thought it contained a greater degree of craftsmanly planning than the last release, "but then l'm always wrong about what people will think of Police albums."
How did they feel about returning to British pop after a long and silent absence? Sting: "All the bands big last year have blown it. It's exciting for us to come back after a year and see a whole new set of competitors."
Lengthy disappearances and individual projects invariabfy raise rumours of a band split. The answer is no. "I've always wanted to be in a group that feels natural. As soon as it doesn't feel natural, that l'm not in the right place, then I'll walk out."
But for now the life of a, rock star is "great". "I don't like people who say it's so hard." At that point someone hit him with a question about girlfriends. "No comment," came the smiling reply. Did he resent intrusions into his private life? "No, it's part of being successful."
Meanwhile Andy Summers concluded that Synchronicity examined a more personal side of Police, less the political commentary of Ghost in the Machine and closer in spirits to the earliest albums. "There have been a lot of changes in our personal lives - painful ones."
The Police member who underwent the greatest shock was probably Stewart Copeland. As the band prepared to finish writing the album in February, there were continual, gruesome TV reports of the bombing of Beirut. Stewart Copeland had spent much of his youth there, due to his father's CIA- connected overseas job. "My home town was being bombed. I found out my nanny, who'd raised me, was killed by American supplied bullets. I couldn't write about anything except war and hate. I wanted to kill," he said. Though some of that hurt has filtered through to Synchronicity, much of it was sidetracked into a filmscore he's been writing, for Francis Ford Coppola's Rumble Fish. And there was another film project, directed and shot by Copeland in collaboration with brother Miles. He spent two weeks following a tour by Anti- Nowhere League, Defects, Chron-Gen and Chelsea, filming a dozen gigs on one hand-held camera. "I want to invent the 'C' film," was the explanation. Before the 30-minute "So What" goes on general release, he hopes to send it on a tour of British punk gigs with the soundtrack played at full PA volume. "We want to get the audience to react as if it was a band playing. We tried it at The Marquee but didn't get the response we wanted." That was mostly because of not knowing how to best cut the film for effect. He's new re-edited the feature.
Andy Summers has also been busy outside the Police. His long-awaited book of photographs should be published in 0ctober, titled "Throb". It covers a three year span with more than 100 black featuring Police on tour but most just demonstrating Summers' camera eye. "The majority were taken in the last year. It's the end of an era, if you like. As far as photography goes, I feel as if I should wipe the slate and start again." Should the Police wind-up, would he consider swapping to smudging as a profession? "No, I may get some commissions once the book has been published, but it'll always be second to music." There may be another solo album from him to follow up I Advance Masked, but there are as yet no plans as to what form it would take.
Police start rehearsing for their tour in July and there could easily be a couple of secret warm-up dates around the country before they kick off with the first American concert on July 23. In September they break from the States to play a number of European dates, then return to America before playing a large number of UK venues in December. Dates and places are yet to be finalised.