07.02.2007 - MOJO
Air Studios, Montserrat, December, 1982
Sting: My marriage had broken down. I felt somewhat beleaguered, It's a song about obsession and control and those were my issues. I wrote it on piano. They're simple chords, major chord, relative minor, a couple of little twists, Not sure it sounded like a Police song.
Summers: It was a bit obvious for us, but I liked it. What made it different was the repetitive lyric and Sting's voice giving it that subversive quality. The demo had this big rolling keyboard part a bit Yes. We quickly countered Sting's idea that we should use the demo arrangement It was unPolice-like.
Copeland: It was one of the most powerful songs he'd ever written. But we haven't got a keyboard player... Andy said, "Screw that!" so he and Sting fought I agreed with Andy.
THE RHYTHM SECTION
Sting: I knew I wanted very basic drumming, nothing flash so I was in trouble immediately!
Copeland: That argument lasted almost as long as the rest of the album put together. I admire the simple beauty and absolute poetry of Sting's song construction. But in the studio I don't care, I wanna fucking play drums! I tried to get a signature reggae thing going.lt was irrelevant to the song, Sting was right, I was wrong, I know I was an asshole. Ego clashed with the music at times.
Sting: Eventually, Stewart played it with a drum machine beside him, because that's what I wanted - mechanical.
Summers: We were exhausted with it, wondering if the song would even make it... But finally we got to the ostinato bass, the simple drumming. Stewart had to give up a bit of himself to do it.
Sting: A musician has to act sometimes, play a role. Sometimes you cannot be Stewart Copeland. But I didn't know how to say that then.
Co-producer Hugh Padgham has said there were "verbal and physical fights" and that, when he tried to mediate, one of the band shouted, "Get out of it! You don't know anything about us!"
Copeland: That would be me. Hugh Padgham had no comprehension of what The Police were about, he didn't get it And it was never physical.
Summers: No, if anyone had slugged anyone else it would have been the end of the band. But Hugh came in when we were hanging by a thread.
Copeland: Sting did compromise his vision, He gave it up to Andy's unarguably brilliant guitar part. Surrendered.
Summers: Sting said, "Go in there, make it your own. "I don't know if it was meant kindly or "All right, do what you like, I don't care any more," I took a moment to think: "It mustn't be too vulgar. Big, brutal barre chords won't do. Mustn't get in the way of the vocals." Then the track rolled and, in one go, I played this succinct passage outlining the arpeggios, but with the added second or the major ninths which are beautiful when you drop to the sixth minor chord... With this lick I realise a dream that maybe I have cherished since first picking up the guitar as a teenager to make something... that guitarists everywhere would play... and make my mum and dad proud.
Sting: Andy wrote that guitar riff and then sudden it became a Police song.
Sting: It wasn't spontaneous. I planned exactly what timbre to sing it in, as a seductive song, a sexy song.
Copeland: Vocals are Sting's show, but Andy and I would take turns supporting him. He has this unusual lack of vibrato which enables him to add dense harmonies that most people couldn't. Andy and I sat there: "That was in tune, that wasn't."
January, 1883, Le Studio, Morin Heights, Quebec
Copeland: In the morning, while Sting was out skiing, I'd put on a hi-hat part and in the afternoon, while I was out skiing, he'd wipe it off! was very upset. What was he thinking? That I might not notice?
Sting: I tried to steamrollerthrough whatever I wanted. It was hurtful and destructive.
THE SMASH HIT
Summers: So much pop and rock comes on too strong, it's smiling so hard. I'm more into what's called "disinterested musical beauty". Every Breath has a lovely neutral quality.
Sting: The song's not that original, but there's something in the way we put it together... It's dark and comforting. "I'll be watching you." Seductive ambiguity. I often wondered why that song was the biggest hit of the '80s and I suppose it perfectly reflected the Reagan years. It's a good morning in America, we'll look after you, the Star Wars fantasy, missiles in space... it's all about control.
¬© MOJO by Phil Sutcliffe