Police’s Copeland, Kings of Leon’s Followill Talk Bonnaroo

To slightly sate our ever-building hunger for the 2007 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, now a mere 20 days away, SPIN.com chatted with three Bonnaroo performers — Police drummer Stewart Copeland, Kings of Leon frontman Nathan Followill, and comedian Lewis Black — to discuss the gravity of the festival, their expectations and plans as well as to obtain a handful of tips on what to pack for the backwoods Tennessee festival, slated for June 14-17.

“I think it’s going to be a completely different Police show from any of the other shows on the tour because Bonnaroo is a very different kind of gig,” Police sticksman Stewart Copeland told SPIN.com of their forthcoming festival performance. “All of the others, we’re taking our stage, it’s the Police show. We’ve been rehearsing for four months. The band is so tight. You could open a bottle with it.”

Copeland, who graced Bonnaroo’s stages last year with Oysterhead, a trio also featuring guitarist Trey Anastasio and bassist Les Claypool, claims the Police’s festival “mission” is to “completely deconstruct” the band’s material and offer fans a “new approach to the old songs.” “We’re going to go on stage at Bonnaroo and we’re going to play five songs for half an hour each…we’re going to tear it all down and rip it up,” Copeland said.

Furthermore, in a jolt of excitement, Copeland rambles off a few acts he’s looking forward to catching while stretching his festival legs down south. His eclectic list includes “youngsters like Tool,” which Copeland claimed are “nice boys,” Gogol Bordello, which he “was turned on to” by his son, and the White Stripes, fronted by Jack White, who Copeland insisted he would be happy collaborate with: “Send that guy over and we’ll give him an amp.” And Copeland is sticking to his guns, reassuring that the Police’s Bonnaroo performance will offer an opportunity to “let your hair down” and will be a “whole different deal.”

SPIN.com also caught up with comedian Lewis Black, who, along with a growing number of funny guys and gals — now including Demetri Martin, Aziz Ansari, Flight of the Conchords, Finesse Mitchell, Lynne Koplitz, Dov Davidoff, Nick Kroll and John Bowman, among others — will offer an alternative form of entertainment for concertgoers. “I used to be a hippie, so it’s easy,” said Black said of his impending Bonnaroo trip. Black, a returning festival performer, also presented a memorable festival anecdote, one the comedian certainly relates to. “This kid came up and was talking to me, and I was a little whacked, and while they were talking they’re bending their cup over and it was just pouring down the front of me, with some sort of a wine cooler,” Black explained. “I thought it was hysterical because it would be something I would have done.”

Black’s plans for this year’s festival installment: stroll freely and “see everything I didn’t get to see before.” “I love that, just wandering around in the midst of everybody. It’s just phenomenal — I mean really it is. To me…it basically vindicates all of the feelings that I’ve had for my whole life.”

Speaking to SPIN.com from Cleveland, OH, where his band was gearing up for a performance while on tour behind their latest album Because of the Times, Kings of Leon frontman Nathan Followill exposed, between cracking and downing oysters, the joys of performing at Bonnaroo, just steps from his backyard. “We’re the locals,” Followill stated, “It’s good to get it out there that the south can put on a good festival…I’m sure the whole family will pretty much be there. I’m sure they will around somewhere, probably the VIP beer tent.”

In addition to returning as a performer, Followill is also a seasoned attendee, having dropped by the festival in the past to soak up tunes even when his band wasn’t on the bill. And some of those instances produced rowdy tales: “I did run over someone’s leg in a golf cart under the influence of something”; “I met my girlfriend by the port-a-potty there”; and “I got lost last year. I’m serious. I got lost. I had no idea where I was at.” And Followill is planning to channel his wild festival demeanor to the stage and prove to concertgoers that the home team knows how to rock. “It’s our home show, so we’ve got to bring it. You know, we’ve got to show all of the other bands that Tennessee can throw it down,” said Followill. “You want to make it special.”

And while you count the final days until you can boogie down on Tennessee’s backwoods farmlands, Followill has a few suggestions to improve the quality of your Bonnaroo experience. “Take sun block. Take water. Take two-ply toilet paper,” Followill said, “and Xanax to help you come down.”

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Talk: What will you pack for your excursion to Bonnaroo?


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