From music to video games, Stewart Copeland’s journey starts from the musical police to one of the most beloved characters of all time
This continuous ping pong between East and West for Music & Video Games, after a forced break due to the Nintendo Switch OLED model, leads us to another American composer: Stewart Copeland. This artist closes the circle opened by Caparezza, because Copeland’s musical work is not born in the videogame context: most know him as a drummer gods Police. If the name still does not tell you anything, just know that it is the band that precedes the career of Sting solo. Outside of his console work, the author has also composed for films and TV series.
Obviously, we will not fail to place this artist in the same context as Akira Yamaoka, Yoko Shimomura, David Wise, Motoi Sakuraba, Josh Mancell, Koji Kondo, Grant Kirkhope and Nobuo Uematsu. Fans of the videogame franchise in question will already know where we want to go, but never as today will we have to take our time: if Rolling Stone magazine defined it in 2016 the 10th best drummer of all time and if he entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Police in 2003 (and the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2005, as well as the Classic Drummer Hall of Fame in 2013), this time there is a lot to say.
“Ever since you were a puff of smoke, we knew that …”
Stewart Armstrong Copeland was born in Alexandria, Virginia on July 16 of 1952, in a family context unrelated to both music and, of course, video games. The mother is in fact the Scottish archaeologist Lorraine Adie, while the father is an agent (and founding member!) Of the CIA of Alabama, Miles Copeland Junior. The family moved temporarily to Cairo when little Stewart was still a few months old, and later in Beirut where the boy attended the American Community School. Despite the hustle and bustle of relocating, however, musical talent didn’t take long to emerge.
Already at twelve years, Copeland studied as a drummer and began playing for school dances within the first twelve months. He later moved to England, studying from 1967 to 1969 at Millfield boarding school in Somerset. Then, finally, the American West Coast: in California he studied at the Alliant International University and the California University of Berkeley. The older brother, Miles Copeland III, founded the IRS Records company and is becoming manager by The Police, overseeing the artist’s other musical projects. His other brother, the late Ian Copeland, also helped him.
“My intervention seems to be needed” (musical) – Music & Video Games: Stewart Copeland
Returning to England, Stewart Copeland worked in the music industry but long before that of video games. Before the Police, in fact, he worked as a manager for the progressive rock band Curved Air, on the 1974 reunion tour. Over the next two years, he finally served as a drummer. The band did not have much success with the European tour, causing not a little frustration in the leader Darryl Way, known perfectionist. However, despite the climate of awe Copeland was working in, a spark broke out that led Curved Air to success.
And just as the band found success, they lost it just as quickly. The breakup happened so gradually that, according to the singer Sonja Kristina, the trade press described the band’s absence as a sabbatical. Kristina and Way have embarked on solo careers, and Copeland … believe it or not, The Police group he founded it. Meanwhile, the artist has also maintained a relationship with Sonja Kristina formed on stage, culminating in a marriage in 1982. And now, finally, it’s time to talk… not about consoles, but about the Police in the strict sense.
Metro Circuit – Music & Video Games: Stewart Copeland
That’s right, video games are still a long way off, but Stewart Copeland’s path in music led him to found The Police in 1977, along with singer and bassist Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner (aka Sting) and guitarist Henry Padovani (soon replaced by Andy Summers). The group became one of the best in the late seventies and early eighties. Although Copeland was the youngest member of the band, the first songs were almost all his work, including the first single Fall Out and the song Nothing Achieving on the B side. Copeland was never missing.
The artist composed (and sang!) On Any Other Day, Does Everyone Stare, Contact, Bombs Away, Darkness and Miss Gradenko, then worked with Sting on Peanuts, Landlord, It’s Alright for You and Re-Humanize Yourself. Under the pseudonym “Klark Kent“(Later the title of a self-titled album), Copeland released several singles in the UK such as Don’t Care in 1978. In the early 1980s, Copeland began composing for films: the soundtrack of Rusty the savage (directed by Francis Ford Coppola) earned him a 1983 Golden Globe nomination.
Norc Nexus – Music & Video Games: Stewart Copeland
We have not yet reached the time to talk about video games, but in terms of music we have reached a watershed for Stewart Copeland. The album The Rhythmatist in 1985 was the result of a pilgrimage to Africa, which is why many local sounds have found their way into the project. The author, also in this case, lent his voice to the song, but in the meantime “the main workplace” had entered in crisis: the Police attempted a meeting in 1986, but the project failed. At this point, Copeland has fully embarked on a career from composer.
The list of film which bear the artist’s signature is long. We have Talk Radio, Wall Street, Riff-Raff: Better To Lose Than Find Them, Raining Stones, Survive The Game, Don’t Look At Me: I Can’t Hear You, Highlander II: The Return, A renewed love, Fresh, Filofax: A company worth a Honey, West Beirut, I’m David and Mission Hamburger. But we would like to mention one, before moving on to the list of TV series music by Copeland: Three friends, a wedding and a funeral 1996. Look on YouTube for the song Bill is Dead, which accompanies the funeral elegy of the character in question. Don’t you notice anything?
Wizard Peak – Musica & Videogiochi: Stewart Copeland
Before we really get to the heart of video games, we would also like to focus on Stewart Copeland’s music for the television. Un giustiziere a New York, Dead Like Me, Droids Adventures da Star Wars, the pilot episode of Babylon 5 and Nickelodeon’s The Amanda Show. As with the last film we mentioned, we would like to remind you to pay attention to the theme song of the TV series with Amanda Bynes as the protagonist. In that heated rhythm (from a drummer, what did you expect?) There is a clue that you can decipher with the title of this section of our special. You may have already understood, but when in doubt we close the curriculum.
We also have plays and ballets as sectors in which Copeland has dabbled, one above all the arrangement for the songs of Re Lear commissioned by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. The artist also worked as a freelance drummer. Peter Gabriel wanted him for the song Red Rain on his 1986 album simply titled So. In the same year Copeland joined forces with Mike Rutherford, Tom Waits and Adam Ant. In 1989, Copeland formed Animal Logic with bassist Stanley Clark and singer-songwriter Deborah Holland, but after the initial success the band broke up. He finally dabbled in dubbing with a cameo as an American soldier in South Park – The Movie: Bigger, Longer & Whole.
House of the Craftsman – Music & Video Games: Stewart Copeland
You may be wondering what video games Stewart Copeland has worked on, after talking about music that is completely foreign to the medium. The answer is given by the triptych Sony, Insomniac Games and Universal Interactive, which in 1998 gave birth to a platformer to better rival Nintendo’s age-restricted titles. We needed a title capable of replicating the freedom of movement of Super Mario 64, after Crash Bandicoot simply replicated in three dimensions (while succeeding) the linearity of the classic Mario seen on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Wings were needed to make Super Mario 64’s ideas even more intuitive.
It needed, in other words, Spyro The Dragon. As happened for some authors we have already talked about, such as David Wise, the artist would have played at each level (with the help of tricks) to better understand the most suitable “feel”. The result was something phenomenal, but not without some recycling around. For the music of Lofty Castle (Floating Castle in Spyro Reignited Trilogy), Copeland gave more rhythm to the song Bill is Dead, while with Wizard Peak (below; Vetta del Mago in Reignited) the author simply removed the voices from the theme song ‘Amanda Show.
Glimmer – Music & Video Games: Stewart Copeland
Stewart Copeland stayed with the project to also compose the music for later video games in the saga. After Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! (subtitled Gateway to Glimmer, “Portal to Glimmer”, for the PS1 edition; the game retained the original title in the belated PSOne Classics re-release for PSP and Reignited Trilogy), Copeland has changed things for the third chapter, Spyro: Year of the Dragon. To make room for the rich Italian dubbing and the infamous anti-piracy system in a game full of content, in fact, the European version has recycled and / or altered some songs.
The artist has taken into account how pleasant a song should be pleasant to listen to and entice the player to face the levels. Compared to the sounds of Josh Mancell, Copeland preferred to avoid the loop of the songs in favor of a gradual lowering of the volume at the end of each track (Reignited permitting). To avoid Mancell’s compromises, the different harmonies and the lower tones have come through unscathed when playing on CDs. His love of art also saw him return for the disastrous fourth installment with hasty development, Enter the Dragonfly, and years later with the triumphal medley of the title screens (Tiger Train) for Spyro Reignited Trilogy.
Dark Passage – Music & Video Games: Stewart Copeland
Although Stewart Copeland’s music for the series video games was never officially released, the limited edition of Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly came with an additional CD. The disc contained unused songs, further demonstrating the accelerated development. The song Jacques for the eponymous level and boss of the Dreamweave world of the first Spyro the Dragon made an appearance, without any changes outside the …