Stewart Copeland, the celebrated drummer of The Police, recently shared his reflections on the band’s name during an episode of the Follow Your Dream podcast. He candidly expressed his regret over choosing ‘Police’ as the band’s moniker, a decision initially driven by a desire for a hostile-sounding name to fit the era’s trend.
Copeland explained that while the name ‘The Police’ sounded edgy and confrontational, it turned out to be impractical. He pointed out that the term is too generic and doesn’t uniquely identify the band, especially in the age of internet searches where a query for ‘police’ is more likely to bring up actual law enforcement agencies rather than the band. He expressed a wish that he had chosen a name that was not a common English word or phrase, to give the band a more distinctive identity.
Addressing the origins of the name, Copeland revealed a mix of practicality and cultural context influenced his choice. Contrary to the popular belief that the name was inspired by his father, Miles Copeland Jr.’s role in founding the CIA, Stewart clarified this was not the case. He humorously noted that the name was partly chosen for its omnipresence — ‘police’ is a word seen on cars in every city around the world, offering free advertising.
This period was marked by bands with hostile or edgy names, like The Clash, Sex Pistols, and The Damned, contrasting with bands with gentler names like Renaissance. Copeland wanted to align with this trend, choosing a name that would stand out in this landscape of hostility.
The interview also debunked the misconception about the band’s name being linked to his father’s CIA connections. Although Miles Copeland Jr. was both a CIA officer and a musician, Stewart emphasized that his choice of the band’s name was independent of his father’s professional background, focusing instead on the cultural and marketing considerations of the time.
You can listen to the latest episode here.