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Stewart Copeland Answers Questions From The Paradiddler

by Omar on November 2, 2009

in Drummers, Education

Strange Things Happen - Stewart Copeland

Stewart Copeland – quite the character; amazing drummer.

A while back, The Paradiddler reviewed the 2006 Modern Drummer Festival DVD, a part one and part two series of articles.  The second article expounded on Stewart’s appearance in the show, which of course was very impressive.  However, I found his interview to be even more appealing.

I won’t go into all the details here (you can just read part two of the review!), but one of the things I found most interesting was his explanation of why he finds he plays with more power with the traditional grip vs. matched grip.  As is the common belief, more power is achieved when playing with matched grip, where traditional grip is reserved for more nuanced type play.  Even as he explained it, and demonstrated it, I still found it very difficult to do (I still do).  I wanted even more details, but for the moment I was content with his explanation.

Just recently, Stewart released his book, “Strange Things Happen:  A Life With The Police, Polo, and Pygmies”, which has received rave reviews.  Before the release of the book back in September, HarperCollins Publishers* of the UK offered fans the opportunity to ask Stewart questions regarding the book, or whatever else they wanted to, and Stewart would answer some of the questions.  Well, I asked him three questions, and he answered all of them!  That is what I want to share with you.

I still had the question regarding the power of his traditional grip, so I asked:

The Paradiddler:  What is it about the traditional grip that you prefer over the matched grip? How do you get more power out of it where most “power” drummers swear by the matched grip?

Stewart Copeland:  My theory is that the thumb is a stronger digit than the forefinger.  And the pressure is applied to the stick more directly by the thumb then by the combination of fingers that matched grip employs.  My own preference though, is just about early training.

I find this to be very interesting.  The last thing he says is the most significant to me:  “My own preference though, is just about early training.”  It’s almost always an issue of what you started out training with, which grip you learned in the beginning.  Drummers who for most or all of their lives play traditional grip will find a way to maximize power using that grip, and Stewart explains exactly how that’s accomplished.  So for those who insist on sticking to traditional grip, Stewart provides an important key for generating power.

Next question from The Paradiddler to Stewart Copeland:

TP:  What drummers or other musicians influenced you most during your tenure with The Police?  How about today?

SC:  Burning Spear Live and the Clash’s first album were major guiding lights.  Nowadays I’m invigorated by that flash bastard Joey Jordison in Slipknot.

Now I understand yet again reggae’s influence on The Police’s music, evidenced in a song such as “Walking On the Moon”.  Burning Spear has been around for, like, forever, and even though I am not into reggae as much, I know that genre has influenced many other genres and bands, The Police and Stewart Copeland no exception.  And it is difficult not to marvel at Joey Jordison’s chops, both hands and feet.  Phenomenal.

Final question from The Paradiddler to Stewart Copeland:

TP:  What do you find more enjoyable:  composing, or playing live?  And why?

SC:  Composing is way more enjoyable but performing live is way more exciting.

In the above-mentioned review, Stewart did talk about his passion for composing, much more than being in a band.  But his performance on the show was very lively and fun, and you could tell he was having a good time.

Speaking of passion for composing, Ben Hur Live®, an arena production currently storming through Europe (as of this article), showcases the music of Stewart Copeland.  You can go to his official web site to check for dates.

I am in awe of Stewart Copeland’s talents.  Some day (hopefully) soon, I’ll be playing a drum cover to one of The Police’s songs, but I know it will be a tall order, due to the nuances that Mr. Copeland plays with.  He is one of the great drummers of our time, and certainly a great composer as well!

If you want to obtain a copy of his latest book, “Strange Things Happen:  A Life With The Police, Polo, and Pygmies”, click here.

*Many thanks to Robin Harvie at Harper Collins for facilitating the Q&A between Stewart Copeland and The Paradiddler.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

B. Ramos July 13, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Thanks man, this short interview helped me to understand the Stewart`s grip (that i am fan). It helps a lot, thank you again.


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