In the next few months, Sting
will celebrate his 25th anniversary as a solo artist (and his 60th
birthday) with a new box set and theater tour. The biggest party,
though, will be the October 1st benefit
he's throwing for the Robin Hood Foundation in New York, where he'll be
joined by Bruce Springsteen, Lady Gaga, Billy Joel and many more. For
Sting, the show is both a celebration and chance to give back. Rolling Stone spoke
with him backstage at the iHeartRadio festival last weekend about fame,
looking back, current music and the relationships in his life as he
You just released the box set, which meant a fair amount of revisiting your past.
was kind of forced to look back, and I was kind of pleasantly surprised
by what I heard. I thought the younger me made some reasonable musical
decisions, there's a reasonable level of musical sophistication and
harmonic knowledge displayed.
Were there any tracks in particular that stood out to you?
we did was we remixed a lot of stuff. It's a bit like archaeology, we
found little things that got buried in the mix, saxophone parts by
Branford Marsalis. It's like digging up artifacts and dusting them off
and making them shiny. So the record sounds kind of fresh and new, which
And then you're also coming back to smaller venues on this upcoming tour.
like to keep that muscle flexible to play big stadiums, gigantic gigs,
or clubs now and then - to walk into a pub and stand up and sing. It's a
different kind of muscle, but it's an important one. The song should
still carry, even in a small place. It gives you the chance to show an
audience you're a real human being; you still sweat, you make mistakes,
you fumble. In a big stadium everything's just magnified to the extent
where you can't make a mistake, everything's just covered for you. But
that close up everything's kind of human, which I like.
Certainly when you take the songs into the smaller setting
like that they can change as well. So are there any songs you're excited
We're sort of looking at what the set list will
be, but it's an odd little group. It's gonna be two guitars, two
violins, vocal and bass. I don't really know what that sounds like, but
I'm fond of taking the playing cards and throwing them in the air and
seeing where they land. So that's it, that's our band. I have no idea
what it's going to sound like.
The October 1st New York benefit show for the Robin Hood
Foundation has a stellar lineup, including Lady Gaga and will.i.Am, who
were both here this weekend. Do you keep up with a lot of artists?
know the broad strokes of what's going on. I don't know the minutia of
what's happening in pop. I listen to music essentially to learn
something and if I'm not learning something, I tend to give it a cursory
look. But Gaga I appreciate a lot because I think she's a musician, she
can sing, she has an amazing integrated concept of what it means to be a
pop star. She's kind of evolved from where we were into this 24/7 thing
and I'm fascinated by that.
You kind of have to do that now, though, because it never shuts down.
well, I discussed that with Gaga yesterday. I said, "Are you going to
go out tonight?" She said, "I can't go out because people just don't
leave me alone." I said, "At some point you're going to have to demand
citizen's rights. You have a right to life like everybody else does."
She seems to be coping. I need to be a citizen, I need to walk around
the streets unmolested without a bodyguard or all that nonsense. I tend
to live a normal life.
Were you able to manage that though when the Police were at the height of popularity?
never taken myself all that seriously as a celebrity. I was a father, I
have children, I was married, I paid taxes, I actually had a job before
this one, I'm a citizen and I vote. So I led an adult life and that's
what I revert to when I'm not on stage.
Did turning 60 this year lend itself to all the looking back or was it the 25-year anniversary?
things coincided at the same time, so we thought it was a good time to
reflect. For me, getting older enriches life. You realize there are a
limited number of summers left or winters or tours or songs or
relationships, so you have to really value those to the extent you want
the full potential for all of them. I feel healthy and happy, and have a
good relationship with just about everybody in my life.
Since there are, as you put it, limited summers, where do you want to go next musically after you finish all this nostalgia?
I do is an attempt to create a little more space for myself and more
freedom for me to be comfortable in, so that I can get uncomfortable in a
new one. I'm not sure what I do next after this next tour. I'm just
full of wonder and a sense of joy and the same kind of childlike love of
music I've always had. There's so much to learn and so little time.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Clear Channel