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Stewart Copeland of The Police to host ‘Classic Rock Week’ for HDNet Movies

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Stewart Copeland of The Police will host 'Classic Rock Week' - a marathon of rock documentaries - for HDNet Movies, beginning Monday, July 16, at 8:00 pm. Stewart Copeland of The Police will host 'Classic Rock Week' - a marathon of rock documentaries - for HDNet Movies, beginning Monday, July 16, at 8:00 pm. (Photo courtesy of HDNet Movies.)

Musician, composer, author and filmmaker Stewart Copeland is one of popular music’s true renaissance men. As a member of The Police, one of rock’s most successful bands from the late ‘70s to mid ‘80s, Copeland’s distinctive style was not limited to his drum kit; he also composed some of the trio’s most unique and memorable material.

At the peak of The Police’s success, Copeland began composing scores for movies and television series before crafting music for video games, ballet, orchestra, and most recently, opera.

Beginning Monday, July 16, Copeland’s gregarious enthusiasm will be on full display for a week of rock and roll documentaries airing on HDNet movies.

The rock-doc marathon, scheduled to begin each evening at 8 p.m., will include films about The Police, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Chicago, Les Paul, The Doobie Brothers, Bad Company, The 1982 US Festival, Rod Stewart, Elton John, The Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, Rush, The Doors, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Leading the pack is the Copeland produced “Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out,” making its network television premiere. Utilizing Super-8 camera footage shot by Copeland throughout his years in The Police, the movie showcases the band’s rapid rise to the top, from fledgling pop/punk/new-wavers in 1977 to ‘80s stadium headliners and the group’s decision to pull the plug at the height of their success.

In the following interview (airing this weekend on BIG 104 FM), Copeland discusses his movie and other titles in the HDNet Movies ‘classic rock week’ marathon.

TME: With “Everyone Stares,” you were a rock documentarian without realizing it.

Copeland: I was, but not a great one. A proper rock documentarian would have gotten some wide shots and some establishing shots. An actual documentarian might have conducted some formal interviews. You get none of that with this movie.

TME: I can’t think of another movie quite like it. It’s raw but very exciting. There was so much mayhem around The Police. We see the three of you as the most “normal” people in the movie. I also enjoyed your narration and the commentary track with you and (Police guitarist) Andy Summers.

Copeland: On the downside, it’s a home movie by a rank amateur but what makes it worth watching is the unique perspective. In most proper documentaries – like the other 18 movies in this particular lineup – the band is here and the camera is there and someone else is telling the story. It’s very objective. “Everyone Stares” is fully subjective. You’re looking at the back of Andy’s head on the left and the back of Sting’s head on the right and you’re in the band. Everything in front of the band is coming right down the camera at you sitting in your home watching this movie. You are the drummer of The Police and your name is Stewart because people are shouting that down the camera at you.

TME: When did you get the Super-8 camera?

Copeland: I got the camera right at the beginning of The Police when we were in motels. With the first bit of cash I had, I got this movie camera and it kept rolling all the way through to when we were playing stadiums. I got some very interesting footage. From the cheap motels we stayed in at the beginning to the first time we were mobbed.

Occasionally I would set the camera up on a tripod on the stage right behind the drum riser. You can see Andy turning around and shouting at me to slow down (laughs). There are all kinds of wonderful images in this movie but what it makes it different from other docs is that it’s very subjective. It’s “first-person shooter.”

TME: One of fascinating things about “Everyone Stares” is how you captured the evolution of the band’s success. Early on, we see the members of the band bring their own luggage into a little roadside motel…

Copeland: I love that shot of Sting kicking open the room of his motel door. He has his Fender bass in one hand and his Samsonite suitcase in the other hand.

I suggest that people check out all of the movies even if you don’t necessarily consider yourself a fan of one of the bands or artists. For instance, take the movie about Chicago (“Chicago: The Terry Kath Experience” will air on July 19 at 9:55 p.m.) - even if you’re not a fan of the band, it’s very well done. It’s a story told by the guitarist’s (the late Terry Kath) daughter and it’s a search for the dad she never knew. It’s an amazing story even if you don’t care anything about the band. The movie itself, and the story being told, is really fascinating. That’s true for many of the other movies too. Even if you’re not a Rush fan, their movie is the story of three incredible musicians and it’s really great.

(In the complete interview, Copeland reveals his favorite rock movie of all time; discusses the 2007-2008 reunion of The Police; and promises a reunion of supergroup Oysterhead, featuring Copeland, Trey Anastasio of Phish and Les Claypool of Primus. You’ll find it at HDNet Movies can be seen via DirecTV channel #566, DISH Network channel #130, and Sling TV.)

TME: What is your favorite rock movie of all time?)

Copeland: “200 Motels” by Frank Zappa. Unfortunately, it’s not on this list. That’s probably because it’s a little too crazy (laughs). I saw it five times when I was in college. The orchestral music in that movie is the reason why I am an orchestral composer to this day.

TME: It’s one of the only places where you can see Keith Moon of The Who playing a nun.

Copeland: Or Ringo Starr playing Frank Zappa!

TME: (laughing) We’re coming up on the 10th anniversary of the last concert performed by The Police.

Copeland: Wow. How did that happen?

(Stewart Copeland, Andy Summers and Sting reunited in February 2007 at the 49th Grammy Awards where they confirmed that The Police would embark on a world tour. That tour would eventually encompass 151 concerts over 14 months, becoming the third (now the seventh) highest grossing tour of all time. The final show occurred on August 7,2008, at Madison Square Garden in New York City.)

TME: A decade later, how do you feel about that reunion? Are you glad that it happened?

Copeland: Oh absolutely. We resolved a lot of things and came to understand each other a lot better. It was really brilliant that we did that. We broke up at the height of the band’s success and never saw the other side of the parabola. But there was some unfinished business. When we did that reunion tour, it reminded us of how cool all of that music was. It wasn’t about us anymore. It’s not about what Stewart, Andy or Sting wants to do. It’s for the people who bought that music and lived that music. We went out and played “Roxanne” not for us. It was for the guy who proposed to his wife when “Roxanne” was playing, or the couple who fell in love to “Every Breath You Take.” That gives it a different quality.

When you’re an artist expressing yourself, that’s one thing, but for a legacy band, that’s not what you’re there for. You are there to deliver that liturgy. Those songs have accrued such emotional power. Whether you’re a fan of the song or not, it’s been there playing on the radio for decades and it has emotional baggage which makes it very powerful. Whether or not The Police is what any of the three of us want to do artistically, when you go out there and play those songs, they have such power, they are undeniable.

TME: I am hopeful for a reunion of another band that you played an important role in: Oysterhead.

(Oysterhead is a rock trio supergroup featuring guitarist Trey Anastasio of Phish, bassist Les Claypool of Primus and Copeland. The trio formed in 2000 and released “The Grand Pecking Order” in 2001 – their only album to date. Oysterhead last performed publicly in 2006.)

Copeland: Oh yes! That’s another one where the three of us get along so great. We’re always talking about it – “Yeah, yeah, we’re going to do it!” but Phish is a working band and Trey is a little tied up with that. Primus is going from strength to strength and they’re a working band. It’s kind of tough to make the schedules overlap but we’re going to be back. It’s just too much fun for us not to do that. By the way, you know what I said about The Police being legacy music and how we’re there for everyone but us? Oysterhead is for us because we enjoy it. It’s a jam band, we make it up on the night and it rocks.


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