This blog brings us around to a member of a group of drummers that grace the pages of most of the worlds drum magazines on a fairly regular basis. He has been instrumental in influencing a plethora of players with his urgent, cross-cultural style and a strong tie to a very authentic reggae feel. He has composed pieces for Gamelan (look it up, it's tuned percussion and it sounds fab) and orchestra, scored for films and TV shows and golf-gloved (white, Foot-joy if you're interested) his way through turbulent times with the band he's most known for, The Police.
The one thing that strikes most drummers (apart from occasionally a singer, a guitarist or a beer can) about his playing is the complexity of his parts and the difficulty of having to replicate them on the gig. His unique voicing on the drums, coupled with a pretty expansive (Octobans anyone? No, I thought not) kit layout draws many fans in deeper, together with the seemingly exhaustive energy of his playing (just have a look at any of footage of the band on youtube and you'll immediately see what I mean - he does actually have his own channel there too).
I have had to cover some a few Police numbers in my playing on various 'casual' dates and, as with any artist, or band, you do have to take a closer look at the drummer in question. I was primarily interested in his early live stuff (not the reunion gigs really which seem a little sedate by comparison) in order to gain more of a flavour of his style and maybe see a troublesome (!) part or two up close.
What I got was the window on a visceral kit pummeling, where no quarter was given and none expected. Venom was in evidence (not the Spiderman villan) and the tempo was a little on the quick side to say the least. It was punk in its attitude, but continually inventive and even playful as he sought to accent and colour the bands music at every turn of the bar. The performance was mesmerizing and I remember going to my gig that night with a certain clarity on how I was going to approach the songs. The parts were, for the most part (ahem), correct (alright, after a fashion anyway) but the band did comment that the songs were a little pacier than normal and my usual fills had a bit more 'batteur' to them (thanks Mr Copeland).
Back to the plot anyway...
Stewart Copeland has had a long association with Tama drums (and as is the norm these days, a 'signature' electric blue ('Police Blue' natch) kit was produced for him prior to the series of reunion gigs (and yes, it did have Octobans and a Gong drum in the same colour - although if you did order one of the few kits that came up on general sale, you'd have found your gong drum black). He has also been a long time user of Paiste cymbals (most notably the 'Rude' line) and it is these that we concern ourselves with here, so let's take a look at his set up around 1981 (thanks must go to Police Wiki for the details).
UFIP Ice Bell
Paiste 13" 602 Medium Hi-Hats (he now has a set of Signatures under the 'Rhythmatist' name that you can furnish your kit with)
Paiste 16" 2002 Medium Crash
Paiste (2002? - even they aren't sure) Splash
Paiste 11" 2002 Splash
Paiste 24" Rude Crash/Ride (yes, that's correct, 24")
Paiste 18" Rude Crash/Ride
Paiste 16" Rude Crash/Ride
Paiste Crash (unknown size and model but was possibly a prototype)
His set up now is even more expansive (which would require a considerable amount of cymbomute's stock to cover) as signature hi-hats (mentioned above) and a gorgeous 'Coloursound' graced ride cymbal (the Blue Bell) have been added, together with a plethora of Signature line crashes and splashes (and other Paiste percussion effects).
Catch up with Mr Copeland on youtube at his 'Sacred Grove' studio, I guarantee you won't be disappointed (he has famous drumming friends dropping in too). Oh, and he's made up with Sting too now apparently. It seems that he didn't get his bass players considered demeanour in conversation, which led him to think that Sting didn't care or wasn't bothered (I'm kinda condensing things here for speed but plenty of articles on this are you know where).
End result, it made the drummer a little cross (often) but probably made the night's or studios performance a little edgier!
(But let's talk it out rhythm section members and we can all get along m'kay?)
Until next time, keep the feel, not the volume folks!