Police Drummer Gets Turned Inside Out
A quarter century after writing the song “Does Everyone Stare” for the 1979 album Regatta de Blanc
, Police drummer Stewart Copeland
began cobbling together Super-8 film footage he shot while touring with the band for a documentary titled Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out.
The film went on to premiere at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and will make its network debut Sunday night on Showtime. Recently, Copeland spoke with TVGuide.com about the project, his work as a television and film composer, and his post-rock star wardrobe choices.
TVGuide.com: Everyone Stares is such an intimate portrait of the band. Why did it seem like the right time to compile all your footage and tell the story?
Stewart Copeland: Well, I had 50 hours of film sitting in shoeboxes for 20 years. When I got the computer program Final Cut Pro, I started playing around with it. Suddenly, I thought, “S--t, I’ve got something here.” About a year and half later it got to a point where a buddy said, “You should send this to Sundance.” So I did. It was still a home movie at that point, but lo and behold I got a call on Thanksgiving eve. Suddenly, everything changed and I had to make it into a real movie.
TVGuide.com: What type of stuff were you looking for while sifting through those 50 hours of film?
Copeland: Well, there are certain types of shots repeated many times. The crowds screaming, the shots from the dressing rooms, I’ve got a million versions of those same shots. I just chose my favorite ones. The film is so first-person singular-subjective, and the impact is that everyone is staring back into the camera.
TVGuide.com: Hence the title Everyone Stares?
Copeland: Exactly. The film provides the viewer with an inkling of the sensation of what it’s like to be stared at and chased around and mobbed in that way. Basically, it shows what it was like to be me. It’s very much different from a VH-1 Behind the Music documentary, where normally the band or the subject passes in front of the camera. In this film, the camera is the subject. When you watch the film your name is Stewart and you’re getting yelled at by Andy Summers.
TVGuide.com: Speaking of which, did you discuss the project with Andy or Sting before you began putting it together?
Copeland: Yeah, but I didn’t want to show it to them before it looked slick, because I really wanted them to look cool. So it wasn’t until it was pretty close to finished that I sent it to either of them. Really, it’s made just for laughs for them and it wasn’t until Sundance that I had to put the final touches on it. I had to add stuff like narration, so it would make sense to people who weren’t there.
TVGuide.com: What kind of feedback did they give you?
Copeland: Other than the fact that they liked it, they’ve just been very supportive. Particularly Andy. He loves it, because he’s basically the star of the movie. My original title was actually “Behind Andy’s Camel,” but the marketing folks didn’t like that.
TVGuide.com: There’s a sense of joy and innocence at the beginning of the film that dissolves as it goes on. Did being in The Police grow more suffocating as the band became more popular?
Copeland: Yeah, I tried to communicate in the film that we were in this cocoon that was very comfortable and exciting and we were in a place many people wished to be, and yet we were missing a lot of aspects of life. One day, the limousine driving me to the airport took this detour through a nice little neighborhood and I’m looking out the window at this nice little street with people tending their lawns and children playing with their dogs — no doubt named Spot — and I thought, “F---, if only I weren’t a rock star I could live like this.” There was sort of this underlying sense that this magic world we lived in wasn’t real.
TVGuide.com: After your time with The Police ended, how easy was it to finally transition into a more normal life and begin your next career doing film and television scores?
Copeland: Not hard at all. I took to it really easily. The only thing that was strange to work out was dress code. I carried on with my rock attire for maybe a year or two more before I realized none of my friends [wore] leather pants. All the clothes I had were about making a statement and drawing attention to myself. Back in my day, it was a rock star’s duty to wear a haircut a normal person couldn’t wear, and clothes normal people couldn’t wear. Today, rock stars look just like their fans, but in my day it would be unprofessional for me to leave my hotel room looking like I’d be safe around children.
TVGuide.com: So what sort of style did you settle on?
Copeland: At first, I didn’t know. I thought, “Am I Brooks Brothers? Am I Gap? Am I designer? What style tribe do I belong to?” I was playing a lot of polo at the time and hanging out with a lot of Ralph Lauren types. So I was wearing that kind of stuff, although I never did the loafers-with-no-socks thing. But I remember being in Argentina with my buddies and someone came up to me and said, “Aren’t you Stewart Copeland? Why are you dressed like this? Where are your leather pants?” So the transition wasn’t exactly smooth. Now I just have a stack of identical T-shirts and a stack of identical pants. They’re all identical, and they all fit perfectly.
TVGuide.com: Your résumé as a composer is really diverse. What do you look for in a prospective project?
Copeland: Diversity. If I just finished doing a comedy, I want to do a thriller. If I’ve just scored four movies, I want to play rock music.
TVGuide.com: What was the experience like contributing music to Desperate Housewives?
Copeland: Very cool. They threw me a show, while [Steve] Jablonsky was catching up. When I first heard about the show, I was like, “Man, this is a winner.” It was such a cool idea. It had an incredible cast, and it was so well written. So when I was working on my show, it had just hit, and the entire nation was talking about it. There was a lot of excitement in my studio. I did show No. 4 and needless to say, I made it my mission to nuke Jablonsky and steal the gig, but he was already too deeply ensconced. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: So would The Police ever think about reuniting to do another tour or album together?
Copeland: I would be there like a shot. For me, it’s a no-brainer. Go play drums with a huge band like that, with Sting and Andy, of course. For Andy, I think he has sort of the same mindset. But for Sting, he’s got a brand name called Sting and his job is to tour year-round. So for him, it would probably seem like a step backwards. Sting is fond of saying, “Never say never,” but I know what that means now.