The CIA, The Police, and Other Adventures from Stewart Copeland (#262)

“Get yourself into a state of calmness, and then ferocity will take care of itself.”

– Stewart Copeland

Stewart Copeland (@copelandmusic) is a Grammy Award-winning musician, considered by Rolling Stone Magazine to be one of the top ten drummers of all time. He’s a founding member of The Police, and an inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

In this conversation, we delve into lessons for surviving the music industry, why entrepreneurs (and self-directed artists) never get a day off, how The Police developed their unique sound, the decision that changed everything, and much more.

This episode comes from my new television show Fear(less), where I interview world-class performers about how they’ve overcome doubt, conquered fear, and made their toughest decisions. You can watch the entire first episode with illusionist David Blaine for free at (To watch all episodes, please visit DIRECTV NOW).

We recorded three hours of material and only one hour was used for the TV show. This podcast episode is almost entirely new content that didn’t appear on TV.


#262: The CIA, The Police, and Other Adventures from Stewart Copeland

Want to hear another podcast with an incredibly inspirational musician? — Listen to my conversation with Nicholas McCarthy. In this episode, we discuss how to overcome limitations, proving doubters wrong, how to manage ego, and much more. (Stream below or right-click here to download):

#174: The One-Handed Concert Pianist, Nicholas McCarthy

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

  • Connect with Stewart Copeland:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

Show Notes

  • As multifaceted as Stewart’s life has been, his mother’s life could easily be considered more fascinating. [07:28]
  • On growing up as an American abroad. [08:58]
  • What did Stewart aspire to be when he was a kid? [10:49]
  • Stewart talks about leaving Beirut as a teenager when his CIA father’s cover was blown. [11:20]
  • “I’m going to have to hang up now — they’re shooting at me personally!” [15:18]
  • Stewart’s brother was a war hero. He decided to take a different route. [18:30]
  • Stewart’s early entrepreneurial venture with his brother, and the summer vacation that led to the formation of The Police. [22:05]
  • Important lessons learned from running his own business in college. [23:55]
  • Why dub reggae appealed to London punks in the ’70s, and what “secret weapon” Stewart had in his arsenal from learning drums in Lebanon. [25:39]
  • How bringing Andy Summers into The Police put Sting on his A game and helped the band transcend its “punk group” roots. [26:45]
  • How did The Police make stylistic decisions? [31:06]
  • On musical differences, synergy, co-dependence, and the changing dynamic of The Police during their recording career. [32:50]
  • How scoring a film differs from playing drums in a band. [36:48]
  • For people who don’t know drums, Stewart explains why he plays with traditional grip — and what that means. [45:00]
  • Top three favorite albums. [47:26]
  • Three favorite drummers. [48:28]
  • What weaknesses does Stewart encounter in his own work, and how does he overcome them? [50:19]
  • Is Stewart the Indiana Jones of rock and roll? [54:51]
  • That time Stewart and Gene Simmons argued about Old Testament theology backstage at a charity event. [58:16]
  • Are there any inspirational quotations that influence Stewart’s lifestyle? [59:54]
  • Advice to a musician getting ready for their first “big” performance. [1:01:09]
  • On the capacity of some to switch from “on” to “off” (and vice versa) before performing. [1:03:11]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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21 Replies to “The CIA, The Police, and Other Adventures from Stewart Copeland (#262)”

  1. Tim, I’ve been a committed fan for years and this is one man’s opinion – I feel like the Podcast has been 4 Hour Work Week’d with all most of the episodes for a prolonged period of time coming from excerpts from previous episodes or leveraging other things you’ve done. I understand that you need to promote other things you’re doing. I also understand that you owe me nothing. I’m just some dude. But, my fingers are crossed that you’ll be returning soon to the format that made me become an ardent fan of this podcast.

    1. I’ve been feeling the same way. I understand that you want to promote this new series, but recycling them into podcasts seems to have sapped some of the quality. At least compared to your earlier podcasts!

  2. Awesome! Download in progress. I had suggested interviewing Dream Theater’s John Petrucci, but this will do for a while ;). Thanks Tim !

  3. Tim, I heard this once from someone and it has been with me forever and it has guided my every day:

    When you die, you die 3 times.

    One is when you give your final breath and your heart stops beating.

    Second is when they lower your casket and bury you.

    The third one is the last time someone on this planet says your name for the last time.

    We can only stop the third one from happening.

  4. I’ve been waiting for you to have another musician on for a while now. I feel it’s a group that doesn’t receive as much recognition or that it’s harder to sort of break down their “tools” that lead to success. Stewart is an beast on the drums and does a ton of other stuff off the radar.

    Rivers Cuomo has been one that I’ve been meaning to mention for a long time. Super smart student of songwriting that has had a ton of success but has also kept a low profile and remains grounded.

    Love your stuff and thank you for doing what you do so we’ll.


  5. Hello

    I have a lot of respect for all the work Tim does and greatly appreciate all the interviews on Fear {less}. I am seeking advice regarding starting an online business. t.

    I would like to know what Tim thinks about CLICKBANK.

    1. Because I doubt you’ll receive a response from Tim, I will answer it for you.

      Look at the description of this blog post and you will see he recommends some products. Those are sponsored. Basically, you’ll see affiliate programs in almost any business, it just depends on what you’re recommending and what you’re being paid for it, or what commission do you get.

      Affiliate marketing 101. Fortunately, Tim doesn’t seem to be a big fan of that. If he wants money, he’ll just charge $10k for real value rather than $297 for free info. Hope that answers part of your question.


  6. Hey! I’d love to help with your marketing and communications strategy. I’m a entrepreneurial vagabond who can manifest reality in the blink of an eye. I just visualized you getting back to me, so looking forward to working together in the future! Speak soon.

  7. Pleasantly surprised with this podcast. Didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. What could a drummer possibly teach me? Right! No more assumptions. 😀

    Thank you, as always.

    ありがとうございました。(and お疲れ様でした!)

  8. To anyone bashing the content.

    Yes, it might help Tim get more serious about this, but at the same time, it seems he’s been working on a new book. If his book will be sub par then there might be a reason to have a negative feedback, otherwise, I think we should appreciate that this is still one of the best places as far as real content goes. If you listen to many other podcasts, you’ll see what I mean.


  9. Hi Tim,

    I just watched your informative Ted Talk ‘Why you should define your fears instead of your goals’. The personal information you share in the introduction and during the presentation is moving. It takes a strong person to share their struggles. I have no doubt that in doing so in this talk and in others and on your blog, you have become a candle in the darkness for many.

  10. Hi Tim,

    Stewart makes a good point about calm. Anything empowered flows from calm. While chaos and fear and disorder and weakness flows from an frenzied mind.

    I slow down. I calm down. I relax. I work. Things seem to flow my way with ever increasing ease because I am less concerned with speeding up and pushing and more focused on being in the moment, letting the ideas flow to me and just plain enjoying the ride.

    This is what most folks struggle with; instead of choosing to spend their energy and directing their attention to bashing, or criticizing….learn from these freaking icons! Decades after the fact, I hear some Police song daily, when back in the US as I am now. Not so much in Thailand when I am whizzing around on a motorbike 😉

    Anyway, if this group is iconic, why not slow down, calm down, relax, and get inside the mind of someone who became one of the best in the world at what he did? It makes sense. Right? But if you are charging ahead from a place of fear, criticism, unhappiness and complete resistance to this man’s wisdom are the ultimate result. And it is all the critic’s fault, and has nothing to do with Tim or anything else outside of yourself.

    Carry on TF. I love what you are doing. I am forever grateful for reading 4 Hour while flying from NYC to Lima Peru, finishing the book a day or 2 into my trip, learning the concepts of leveraging and doing freely but highly uncomfortable things regularly. No better way to build the life of your dreams.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂


  11. Tim,

    Only ben listening to the show for a short time but I really like it. The Stewart Copeland interview has been my favorite so far. I am a 56 yr. old drummer and a fan Copeland’s for years. I learned some things I never knew. So thank you. Also waiting for my 1st shipment of bone broth from Kettle and Fire. Keep up the good work.


  12. Hi Tim – Here’s a question for your science friends “What’s the speed of darkness?” If you read this comment, I will consider myself the luckiest guy. I created a peer-to-peer experience sharing community where I thought people (like your fans) would love engaging with other productivity nerds about their experiences with different tools. Would it be cool if I surveyed your fans on Twitter?

  13. Not sure I agree about the comments re: Podcast being “Four Hour Work Week’d”. If I was a writer and had a podcast I’d definitely be plugging that and other projects and many podcasters do he same. The only criticism I’d have is that I enjoyed the long form interviews and the last few from the Fearless show can sometimes feel a little disjointed. That being said, it has to be remembered that the podcast is FREE and a lot of work (and therefore cost) obviously goes into producing them ie preparing questions, recording the actual interview, editing and show notes etc. So keep up the great work Tim! Btw when are you going have Australia’s most famous export to the US on the show? I’m talking of course about the Great White Shark, former golfer Greg Norman. In the 1980’s and 1990’s he held the world number 1 ranking for 331 weeks, which ranks him second behind Tiger Woods. He has gone on to become a very successful entrepreneur and friend of presidents and prime ministers. At 62 years of age he is also very fit and showing no signs of slowing down. Would love to hear how he handled the pressure both on and off the course and converted the opportunities he created from his golfing status into a thriving business career. Cheers GB

  14. I didn’t really expect to enjoy this half as much as I did, and wasn’t even going to bother listening too it. Just goes to show……

    Real interesting kind of a guy, didn’t seem big on deep insights to success, but I could listen to him telling stories all day.

    Heaps of stuff in the show notes that I want to follow up.


  15. Very funny episode. Stewart’s commentary and insights into rock and roll and orchestral music side-by-side are valuable – the music of the ear and the music of the eye. Having done a little of both, I loved this musician interview. More please! And fascinating to hear a little bit about the early days of the Police!