While the outward appearance of his familiar kit, complete with Octabons, is altered only slightly — one of his trademark three rack toms has been moved to the left — the biggest surprise is his adoption of a double kick pedal. “I saw a youngster playing with one of those things and I was damn impressed with the possibilities, so I got me one,” he says, momentarily channeling an 1850s Western old-timer. “Although I’ve been playing with it for a couple of years, it’s not quite ready for its close-up. What I’ve found it does give you is a different sense, like the difference between an acoustic and electric guitar — it allows you to play differently. The trap set becomes a new instrument when you think about the four points of your physique, rather than 3.5.
Copeland’s Police Reunion Kit
Drums: Tama Starclassic Maple (Blue Sparkle Finish)
1. 22" x 18" Bass Drum
2. 14" x 5" Stewart Copeland Signature Snare Drum
3. 10" x 8" Tom
4. 12" x 8" Tom
5. 13" x 9" Tom
6. 16" x 16" Floor Tom
7. 18" x 16" Floor Tom
8. Octoban Low-Pitch Set
A. 12" Micro Hi-Hat
B. 14" 2002 Flanger Splash
C. 6" Cup Chime
D. 18" Signature Fast Crash
E. 8" Signature Splash
F. 10" Signature Splash
G. 16" Signature Full Crash
H. 22" Dark Metal Ride
I. 17" Signature Fast Crash
J. 18" Signature Light Flat Ride
K. 18" Signature Fast Crash
Stewart Copeland also uses Tama hardware, Remo heads, and Vater signature sticks and mallets.
“There are also a lot of things I like to do when I have two tom-toms in front of me. Having the smallest and the biggest of the three is a big contrast, so with the snare and those two toms close together, there’s all sorts of cool stuff you can do when you don’t have the big leap from the floor tom to the big tom to the ride cymbal.”
Poll any ten drummers in any genre, and the majority will almost certainly name Copeland as a primary inspiration. In return, he listens to what’s out there, but seems worried about the direction that rhythm is taking. “One rule of thumb in the evolution of any instrument is that the youngsters pick up where the oldsters finished,” he points out. “But today, we are not in an age of great drums as pop instruments. Since progressive rock was dominant, there really hasn’t been a Golden Age of drums. The age with Ginger Baker, Mitch Mitchell, John Bonham was where drums were important to a rock group. But now drums are not expected to be that interesting. They serve a asubservient role.
“However, in modern times, there is music with a place for virtuoso drumming: Cookie Monster music, that is, death metal, bands like Sepultura, Slayer, and Lamb Of God. It’s just a different instrument in that genre, and that’s where exciting things are happening.”
For those who think Copeland has some nerve talking smack about the drumming world at large, go back over this interview — if you find the slightest hint of self-praise, let us know. Because just as it is for money and sex, the same is usually true for mega, mega, un-Earthly talent: those who have it don’t talk about it. “When I was younger, I would have been happy for the self-examination,” says Copeland. “Now all I’m worried about is whether my left hand is heavier than my right hand, or whether my rolls are even. As far as my contributions to the world of music? Not my problem. I’m certainly not trying to step into the limelight with my drums.”
That’s why, all throughout the long-awaited reunion of 2007, Copeland may finally have as much fun with The Police as the first time he, Sting, and Summers played their first live gig in 1977. “We’re not looking past this tour,” The Policeman says firmly. “Here we are together, and it’s happening again. But this time, we have the feeling of, ’Okay, we’re going to do this finite amount, and we’re going to enjoy it a lot more because it’s just that.’ We can relax, go back to scoring films or whatever. All I have to do here is play drums on great songs in front of a huge audience. The thing about what Sting will do next with his career — never mind!
“This year, we’re playing as The Police and that’s all we have to worry about. This band is going to be way stronger than it ever was before. We are in a whole new place now, and those songs that we have to play, those are great songs. So, new material? I don’t know. New Police? Absof**kinglutely.”