Drum Icon Interviews: Stewart Copeland

The Police drum legend exercises a little modesty...

If you could go back and teach your younger drumming self one important lesson, what would it be?

"To relax, but not in anything but your hands. Don't relax in your mind, your heart, or your day-to-day life – always be on an urgent mission. But, when you are actually playing, always relax your hands. The other thing would be to crack a smile, dude; it's all going great! I remember being so miserable at the time, but I was in a great band, the band was conquering the world, and I look back now and realise that I should have been happy."

How do you think the drum industry has changed over the last 25 years?

"Better gear and more variety; my favourite new toy is the double bass drum pedal. Of course, it's every bass player's least favourite invention…"

You are part of Rhythm's 25 drum icons feature and have influenced a number of drummers over the years. How does that make you feel, and who are your drumming icons?

"Sacrilegious… I had a birthday recently and Eddie Vedder kindly sent me a very exotic gift. When Eddie was 16 his favourite group was The Police and he feels about me, and holds me in the same regard, as I do Jimi Hendrix. That's what I mean by sacrilege. No, no, no! Hendrix was a god, I'm not - I'm just some guy who plays the drums. But it's the curious fate of the world that there are musicians who feels the same way about me as I do about my heroes. On one hand it's very gratifying – it's what you seek as an artist in any walk of life - but on the other hand I'm like, 'Dude, no! Hendrix is the real deal, not me…'

"I'm just some guy who plays the drums"

"I was such a snotty, arrogant little bastard that I had very few heroes. I never got the chance to meet Mitch Mitchell, but I was lucky enough to meet, and show my respect to, Joe Morello, Ginger Baker and Buddy Rich. Buddy was a cranky old so and so, and I didn't have any connection with him at all, but the cool thing was that my dad did. There they were, chatting away like old friends. That was pretty gratifying."

The 25th anniversary issue of Rhythm is on sale now.


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