Did parts of the film jog your memory? It certainly did. It brought back some great memories, particularly the early days when I worked for Martha & The Muffins and Chris Hall and all the crazy stuff that went on, particularly for somebody like me that had very little experience in the business. Certainly that side of the business, was all flying by the seat of my pants.
At the beginning of the film Bono says of you something like “Madonna, U2, Jay-Z we’re not stupid — we want to be where he is. Now why he wants to be with us is something he’ll have to discuss with his shrink.”Do you have a shrink and can you answer Bono’s question? No, I don’t have a shrink. I like to think of myself as fairly well adjusted, but you never know. Different people have different views on that. But I think that it’s a hard thing to pin down. From the very beginning when I was teenager banging away on the drums — I just wanted to be in the business. At that time, I thought I was going to be a musician and be really successful. And as I started getting older, I realized I wasn’t that good a musician and if I wanted to be a part of the music business, I’d better figure out a different way to come at it.
The underlying reality isI just wanted to be in the business, and, ultimately, once I was in, I loved it. I loved live shows and I loved learning how it all worked and at the same time creating my own identity. I’ve always been very comfortable around artists. That comes partly because of who I am as a person and partly because — I think Sting even mentions something about this in the film — when you’re comfortable and you can make artists comfortable with you, then it gives you the opportunity to become part of their world.
At the end of the film you’re playing drums in a giant empty stadium [Azteca Stadium in Mexico City], was that one of your dreams? It was at the time, that’s for sure but I guess as I got older and deeper into what it is I do, I was quite happy with where I was and what I did.
You must still play if you did that drum scene in the doc? You know I don’t. I practiced for a couple of weeks before that was shot and I hadn’t played for years before that and I haven’t played since and that was a few years ago.
So what’s the best thing about official debuting this doc in Toronto? The best thing is that it’s Toronto and it’s my hometown. I’ve lived in LA for 12 years now, so having it screen in Toronto first is really quite exciting because it’s where it all started and I have a lot of friends and family who are still there. My mother who is 90 is coming to see it.
I bet she’s happy you didn’t go into social work. (Laughs). I think so, although she never quite understood what I do. She’s gone to shows, but I don’t think she followed how it all came together. Her early skepticism about what I did took on a positive spin when I sent her a picture of myself and Pavarotti years ago.
You say in the film, it would be special if Bowie did one more tour. Is he? I surely hope so and I’d love it. But so far, I have nothing to suggest that’s the case.
The Police did it. Surely you can get Bowie back on the road? Well I’ve thrown out any number of ideas over the last seven years and none of them have impressed him, obviously (laughs).
If a sequel to the doc was made a decade from now, what would be added? What do you predict for the touring industry and your career? I don’t know exactly how I fit in, but I think this business -- certainly 2010 was a pretty rocky year; the economy was difficult and ticket sales were difficult -- but the last couple of years have been really great. This year looks even better. I’m very positive for a number of reasons, but probably mostly because I think people are genuinely excited about some of the great young talent emerging, in all genres, whether it be pop or country or rock. Ultimately, it’s cyclical and that there’s a great new wave of talent emerging and that will sustain, or help to sustain, the business at the highest level for years to come.