Sting on writing a song inspired by the loss of David Bowie + other artists who passed away

Sting stopped by the SiriusXM studios for a special Artist Confidential to discuss his new album and much more.

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SiriusXM Editor
November 10, 2016

The legendary Sting is gearing up for the release of his 12th studio album, but ahead of its release, he stopped by the SiriusXM studios for a special Artist Confidential with Spectrum host and rock journalist David Fricke to discuss his new record, memories from his career beginnings, his first impressions moving to New York, climate change, getting back into a more “rock and roll” sound, and much more.

Sting’s new album 57th & 9th is set to be released on Nov. 11 and is his first traditional rock album in 13 years. The title of the new album is a reference to the intersection Sting crossed every day to get to the studio where he did most of the recording. During the Artist Confidential, he spoke to Fricke about the writing process for the new record.

“I would get home at night, and I would lock myself out of my terrace in the freezing cold with a cup of coffee and a big coat, and I wouldn’t let myself into the house until I finished the lyric,” Sting said. “And it was kind of weird, but putting myself literally out of my comfort zone helped me to get this thing done quickly.”

Sting also talked about the influence behind some of the new songs. The album’s second single, Fifty Thousand, was inspired by the deaths of so many of his friends and fellow musicians.

“You know, David Bowie for one, Prince, Glenn Frey from the Eagles, Lemmy from Motorhead, Keith Emerson. I mean there were so many in that period,” he said. “It was shocking. And of course all of us have this child in us, which looks at our cultural icons and says, ‘Well, god, they’re immortal. How could they die?’ And were shocked and appalled by it. But of course they are as mortal as we are.”

Fricke asked Sting about the artists that influenced his career, and he pointed to Jimi Hendrix, whom he saw perform live in a life-changing experience.

“There were hardly any black people in Newcastle, and so this guy walked on the stage, left-handed guitar, afro, he looked like he was from Mars with his costume,” Sting recalled. “I mean it totally freaked me out. But what I realized was that he was a rock star in the true sense, but he was also a virtuoso musician and that really turned my head around, he wasn’t just messing around. It was totally life-changing, and I’ll never forget it.”

Sting said seeing Hendrix perform is what helped him figure out he could be a bass player.

“Once I saw Hendrix I realized I had to be a bass player,” he said. “He re-calibrated the whole idea, but I took up bass because I figured it was a good way of leading a band, being on the bottom and also being on the top, being a singer. It’s only a C chord if I play C. So I’m controlling the harmony, I’m running the show in a quietly dictatorial way.”

The Artist Confidential with Sting will air Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. ET on The Spectrum (Ch. 28).

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