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Police Drummer Stewart Copeland On His Good-Natured Rivalry With Rush’s Neil Peart

Kraft Angerer/ Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Police drummer Stewart Copeland might not be the biggest fan of the music of Rush, but he and fellow skinsman Neil Peart are longtime friends [and even have been known to jam together on occasion] keeping a good-natured rivalry regarding their craft and individual personalities.

Unlike Peart, it has been said that Copeland is not someone who endorses the drum solo and he doesn’t really argue that point in a new interview with MusicRadar.

The two drummers both appeared [separately] as part of David Letterman’s ‘Drum Solo Week’ last year and while Peart was working to figure out how to condense his legendary drum display to fit within the confines of network television, Copeland was wrestling with the opposite problem.

“I was trying to figure out how to drag out my three chops to last long enough to be called a ‘drum solo’, as opposed to a drum break. I don’t do drum solos. In fact, I’ve only done two in my life: one time was on Letterman, and the other was in Africa when I was performing for lions. (Copeland appeared in the 1985 film ‘The Rhythmatist’ playing drums in a steel cage while surrounded by lions. That’s pretty hardcore, in our opinion.) That second time, hitting the drums as loudly as possible was the only thing that saved my skin.”

Copeland jokes that the lions weren’t all that receptive to his work, but he was perfectly fine with that. “The lions were a very cold audience. They ran away – which was pretty much the desired result.”

On the subject of drum solos, he allows that while he was growing up, he had, perhaps similar to a young Neil Peart, dreams “of playing a 17 hour drum solo.” But then, taking a friendly jab at his pal, Copeland says “I grew up.”

So what does Copeland think about the reports that Rush took some musical inspiration from the Police with some their work in the ‘80s? Well, that’s a difficult one, because he hasn’t heard it.

“I didn’t actually listen to Rush albums, and I couldn’t tell you one from the other – although Neil is a good buddy. [laughs] We agreed to disagree on certain things, and it is a measure of his greatness as a human being that he is completely over whatever my feelings might be about Rush.”

He was very aware of the comparisons at the time and made some comments on the subject that he’s grateful Peart isn’t holding against him today.

“There was a time when bands like Rush were the epitome of what The Police were theoretically against, which was an overemphasis on musicality. Our ethos in the early days was about the primal scream and that musical technique was a distraction from that mission. There may have been a few comments that I might have made regarding Rush’s position on that debate, and it is really, really to Neil’s credit that he’s over that debate. And we get along great.”

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