Feeling the Sting

Gordon Sumner is back on the bass and rocking for his 25th anniversary tour

From Cher to Madonna, only a few of the world-renowned stars are addressed by a single name. British rock legend Sting is one of that rare breed.

The multi-talented singer/composer/actor/philanthropist is coming to town on Dec 12. Born in 1951 as Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, Sting moved from his hometown Newcastle, to London in 1977 to form the rock band The Police, where he was lead singer and bassist.

The band produced five albums and earned six coveted Grammy Awards. In 2003, The Police was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Since 1985, Sting has also had a solo career which has so far spawned 13 albums. He recently released The Best Of 25 Years to commemorate his musical journey, packed with chart-topping singles such as If You Love Somebody Set Them Free, Fragile, All This Time and Desert Rose.

Today, Sting has sold nearly 100 million albums from his combined work with The Police and as a solo artist, and has earned an additional 10 Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, an Emmy, and three Oscar nominations.

Keeping up with changing technology, the singer recently launched Sting 25, a free iPad application. Shortly after its release, the app was awarded the prestigious Cannes Lion for Best Design/Aesthetic at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Sting spoke to Life about his world tour which travels to our city next week.

You've called this tour "Back To Bass". Why did you choose this title? What can we expect to see on the tour?

I had just finished the "Symphonicity" tour, performing symphonic arrangements of my songs with large orchestras, and I wanted to do something completely different for the next tour. We had the idea to sort of go back to basics _ hence, the "Back To Bass" tour. The music is rockier and the arrangements are much more stripped-down.

How do you feel playing bass live on stage again?

I've enjoyed playing with these musicians. With a rock band, you're able to be spontaneous _ change a key, change a chorus. On the previous tour where I was performing with an orchestra, I really had to concentrate and stick to the score.

How has the reaction from fans been so far?

Wherever I perform, I often see people I recognise from 15, 20 years ago. I love touring and I still get a buzz from being on stage. There's no way to describe the feeling of playing for thousands of people who are pleased to see you. That's something you can't be blase about. And no one's asked for their money back yet. I don't think so anyway!

You have embraced the new media and launched the Sting 25 iPad app. Why did you develop a tablet app?

We're always looking for new methods of delivering music to an audience. I think it's important to embrace new technology and to try to evolve with it. The app is very innovative, but at the same time it reminds me of the days where you'd purchase an album and get to enjoy all of the photos and liner notes, and really gets a sense of how the album was made. That's missing in the digital age.

What does the Sting 25 iPad app offer?

While we were putting together the 25 Years box set, we realised there was a wealth of material that simply didn't fit _ hours of video, including exclusive footage from my 60th birthday benefit concert, hundreds of photos, interviews, and much more. The app was a natural solution. It can be constantly updated, so it's not a static thing. It's organic.

What do you think of the music scene today, compared to when you first started out 25 years ago?

I know the broad strokes of what's going on, but I don't know the minutiae of what's happening in pop. I tend to listen to classical music in my downtime. I do appreciate Lady Gaga, because I think she's a musician, she can sing, and she has an amazing integrated concept of what it means to be a pop star. My daughter, Coco, is also making great music with her band I Blame Coco. I'm very proud of her.

Is there anything that you haven't done and still have the urge to achieve?

I maintain a childlike curiosity about music, along with a sense that I need to work at it. I never want to stop learning.

You are also known as a philanthropist, with your charitable works. Is there any issue in particular that you would like to encourage fans to get involved with?

That's up to everyone to decide for themselves. I think as citizens of the world we have a responsibility to do whatever we can to help and that it's most important to choose an issue that means something to you.

"Sting: Back To Bass Fall Tour 2012" takes place at Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani on Dec 12. Tickets are available at Thai Ticket Major, call 02-262-3838.

About the author

Writer: Yanapon Musiket
Position: Life Writer