Interview with Sting – The Last Ship – Interview by Kevin C. Olohan
Kevin C. Olohan got to talk to Sting in relation to the recent production of the Last Ship at the Bord Gais in Dublin. You can see our review of the production here.
“I’m asking questions, I have no answers, but I think the questions are important.”
So are the words of Sting referencing his self penned semi autobiographical musical The Last Ship, a show about the decline in British Industrial communities. After a rocky tenure on Broadway in 2014, the show has embarked on its debut tour of the UK and Ireland, playing the Bord Gais Energy Theatre for one week (June 5th-9th). I used to work Front of House there, which usually makes my return visits to the gigantic angular theatre, slightly obtuse anyway, never mind having to interview a bloody rock star.
A huge labour of love, evidenced by how much of himself the former front man of The Police continues to put into it, The Last Ship has already been received more warmly in the UK, obviously resonating with a nation that can relate to its industrial ship building community setting. The book of the show has been rewritten by its director Lorne Campbell. When I ask him how the show has changed, Sting says “The show is much more political. It’s much more up front about its politics, and I’m happy about that, I think it needed to be.”
When I meet him, Sting is in the middle of a lot of press, coming over, shaking my hand sitting down with me just after a radio interview. The scent of Tom Ford aftershave comes with him. He looks great, with his signature blonde spikey hair, a black jumper, jeans and boots. The kind of look that costs an extortionate amount of money to look as casual as possible. (I’m looking at you All Saints!)
He is casual, pleasant and open. But all business. Giving genuine but often well worn answers. I ask him first what his relationship to theatre is, and had he always wanted to write a show: “My first gig was playing in the pint of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour…I was payed 60 pounds a week, and I fell in love with that world, but never thought I’d ever be returning as the gaffer.” (One can only dream of a Police cover version of the entire soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar.)
What I’m most interested in is how his usual process of songwriting compared with the large scale concept of a musical: “I’ve always been interested in writing narrative songs, but that’s a three minute exercise, four minute exercise. This is a wider palate, more colours to paint with.’
He continues “It’s fascinating to write for people who aren’t you.” Ultimately he says “It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, and the most satisfying. I’m loving every minute of it.”
His answers can sometimes be short and almost deliberately enigmatic. When asked how long he worked on writing the show he answered: “This show? I would say most of my life.” And when questioned about any potential solo work in the future, he curtly replies: “Solo work? What’s that? Everything you do is collaborative.”
He has an incredibly dry wit, usually accompanied by the slightest of smirks. I woman asks can can she take a selfie with him, saying she’s a massive fan of The Police. “I’m not.” Is his deadpan response.
I didn’t get a selfie. I took a leaf out of Sting’s book, and was all business. And now, to All Saints!