Since the Police's mega-successful reunion tour wrapped up in 2008, drummer Stewart Copeland has been keeping busy penning percussion pieces ("Gamelan D’Drum"), touring with others (Stanley Clarke), and even making the odd television appearance (Late Show with David Letterman and Storage Wars). But his main focus nowadays is his own YouTube channel, which features jam sessions between Copeland and some very recognizable names.
"I have this cool studio [the Sacred Grove], which if you go to YouTube and dial up the 'stewartcopelandnet' channel, you'll see that I have my buddies come over here," Copeland tells Rolling Stone. "I don't have any engineers anymore. I do all my own engineering – I live to lay wires. It's like a giant train set. Instead of setting up a little bridge, I set up a cool microphone situation for miking up my Leslie cabinet. I can do that happily for hours. So I've got my studio here all tweaked out. Every square foot is close miked. The channels are all routed. All I have to do is hit record, and the entire room is recording."
So far, Ben Harper, Matt Stone, Danny Carey, Neil Peart, Taylor Hawkins, Larry LaLonde, Les Claypool and Serj Tankian have all dropped by the Sacred Grove. Copeland also hints at another very interesting upcoming collaboration.
"Snoop Lion's management called a month or two ago and said, 'Can you do some tracks on his new record? He's doing reggae.' I told them, 'The deal is that I'm real cheap – don't pay me a dime. But it's a day for a day. I'll certainly play some tracks for Snoop, but Snoop's got to come over to one of my parties.' And unbelievably, he did! So I've got a Snoop jam over here that is unbelievable. He's on the drums, he's on the keyboards, singing on the mic. He got over here, looked at the studio, there's like every known form of instrument. I've got tubas, trombones, cello, drums of every kind, of course, guitars, amps."
Copeland explains the appeal of the studio: "I have some buddies come over, and we jam. We jam high, we jam low, we have a wonderful time, we have a lot of laughs, they leave. And then the next morning, I come in and see what I've got. And then I cut up these jams and add overdubs, and I turn these jams into tracks. But also, Brad [Sands, Stewart's road manager] brought along a camera, and I said, 'What the hell, let's make a movie here.' So now I have six cameras – stationary, locked up, live-angle shots just around the room. And when the doorbell rings, when my buddies arrive, everything goes into 'record' and stays in record until everybody leaves. I cut up these tracks, and it's completely improvised. And since I’m not in the record business, I just put them up on YouTube for all the children to enjoy."
While the jams are just for fun, the idea of issuing some of the best performances as an album has crossed the drummer's mind. "I am thinking about that, but it can only be some kind of charity thing, because everybody came over here not on the basis of making a record, but on the basis of having fun, hanging outand jamming. And for me to go and make a record would be complicated, unless we say, 'Look, I'm going to release a record just so the people can have this, and let's do a good deed somewhere.'"
It appears as though all this YouTube posting has resulted in Copeland being bitten full-on by the Internet bug. "This week, I'm going to get myself on Facebook, godammit," he says. "Because I've got to start marketing this shit, so I can get some hits. I'm not getting paid for this, but I like to see hits. That's the 'pay' that I get."
He's also willing to answer the million-dollar question: What are the chances of the Police reuniting again? "I would say, in the fullness of time, pretty good. I can't say that there's even a scintilla of discussion on that subject, but I do know that the joys definitely outweigh the miseries . . . There are a great many of both."