Miles Copeland

Miles Copeland III was already a veteran music promoter and manager when the punk scene exploded in London. With an office in the same building as Malcolm McLaren, he found himself in a position to sign and/or promote a number of the bands, including the Sex Pistols and Sham 69. Soon after, he jumpstarted the indie label movement when he and Mark “Sniffin’ Glue” Perry started their own label. Eventually, he started I.R.S., the label that unleashed the Cramps, the Go-Go’s and R.E.M. upon the world. And, of course, he became the manager and guiding hand for his younger brother Stewart’s band, the Police. PKM’s Eric Davidson spoke with Miles Copeland about his new memoir, Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: My Life in the Music Business.

What’s that old saying? You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

There are a lot of old sayings in this interview with Miles Copeland III. As the son of one of the men who created the CIA, Copeland is a near perfect algorithmic spit-out of the Baby Boomer. He ambled away from his blue-blood upbringing and his dad’s life toward where his younger brother Stewart was headed, the music business, when it was still young and malleable enough to have managing globe-trotting rock bands as your first job. Being the guiding hand of founding prog-rock acts like Wishbone Ash and Renaissance led to an immersion into the mid-‘70s punk explosion, via managing his brother Stewart’s band, the Police, and working out of an office below Malcolm McLaren’s headquarters.

He co-founded three early punk labels (Illegal, Deptford Fun City, New Bristol) and soon formed the influential indie imprint, I.R.S. Records, which would introduce the Go-Go’s, the Cramps, and R.E.M., among many others, to the world. But it was the global chart dominance of the Police and continued management of Sting’s career that moved Copeland up to an echelon where even R.E.M.’s huge success can seem like an afterthought, as it does in Copeland’s sprawling upcoming memoir, Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: My Life in the Music Business (Jawbone Press).

Copeland’s reputation has been that of the loud-mouthed, rule-bending record mogul. As we chatted, though, it was clear that he doesn’t feel the need to answer to that rep. His unalloyed focus on management means his responses come from a diamond-hard stance of marketing. His is a rock biography that does not begin with gauzy tales of stumbling into a juke joint or partying with the garage band down the street. Nonetheless, there are more than enough fun road stories and prickly band crosstalk in his book to make it a worthy read for any music history buff.

Considering his gilded vantage point, it was kind of refreshing to learn right off the top of our talk that even Miles Copeland can’t dodge the pitfalls of the publishing industry.

Miles Copeland: I just got an email from my English publisher saying he got notified from the Chinese authorities, who are printing the book, that because I mentioned the word “Taiwan,” as a country that superstars have performed in, and I mentioned the words “Mao’s bullshit Communism,” they’ve stopped printing. So in England they’ve moved the printing to the Czech Republic, and we’re waiting to hear where the Americans are going to be able to print the book. Interesting that the Chinese government are even censoring books that are only being exported to the United States.

PKM: You finished this book during the lockdown. Did you need some ghost writer help?

Miles Copeland: I objected to the idea of a ghost writer. I remember they had to get a ghost writer in on my brother Ian’s book, who kind of changed some things around; the same thing happened to my father. So I thought, if I’m going do a book it should be honest. I want tell it like it really was, and it should be my words.

PKM: I thought it was kind of funny that at the very beginning of the book you mention how, in light of your dad’s connections to the CIA and people being suspicious of you for that over the years, that you promise to be completely honest. I mean just mentioning that right away kind of starts things out with some suspicion.

Miles Copeland: Sometimes people in the music industry don’t get a fair shake. It’s much easier to say the businessman is a crook than the artist is a crook. My father, with his books, he tried to see the funny side of things, so he might exaggerate here or there. But I tried not to. Luckily for me, a lot of what happened was pretty funny anyway. So I didn’t have to make up anything.

“They can’t play.” Well so what?! When was rock’n’roll about great musicianship? If you knew three chords, you could play a song.

PKM: Did it ever dawn on you as you got a little older, like seeing your dad’s name in a book and thinking, ‘Damn, my dad helped form the CIA, he was nation building in the 1950s…’

Miles Copeland: I grew up in the Middle East, and if you’re over there back then, that’s kind of what you do. Everybody is involved in manipulating. So the fact the U.S. government was involved in Lebanon or Syria, etc., it’s no different than what the Russians were doing, or the British, or the French, or the Egyptians or Lebanese themselves. You tend to read between the lines when you grow up in that. You don’t believe everything you read.

PKM: Did your dad’s experience make you leery of getting into politics?

Miles Copeland: I thought about it, joining the CIA at one point, but my father talked me out of it because he said the reality is, things have changed. They don’t care about what you think, they care about you saying the right things for whatever the political agenda is at the time. You’re going to think that’s a lot of crap and you’re going to be unhappy. And we’ve seen that still, during the Trump era, if you said something he objected to you got fired. If you go into politics, you have to say the right things. Which is probably why I never went into politics. But then, I was less successful in the music business than I could have been if I’d learned to keep my mouth shut. Most artists don’t want to hear the truth. They want to hear they’re great. Those artists that were willing to listen, I did very well with. The ones who did not want to listen, I did not do that well with.

Miles Copeland’s father Miles Copeland, Jr.

PKM: Just before reading your book, I read Sylvain Sylvain’s bio, and your upbringings were kind of similar. Sylvain grew up in Egypt, then went their family moved to the outskirts of Brooklyn, his mother kind of hated it because they’d had this fancier, exotic life in Egypt and Paris, but because of work circumstances ended up in this suburb. Was there any of that feeling when your family ended up living in Virginia because of your dad’s job?

Miles Copeland: Not exactly. When you’re overseas, as an American living in Egypt or wherever, you’re very conscious of who you are – you’re an American. People assume you’re wealthy. Then you go back to America, and all the sudden you’re just another American among millions. Then you’re off to overseas again. You’re like a yo-yo, going back and forth between two completely different ideas of who you are.

PKM: You talk about how, in the early days of rock’n’roll, your dad would bring records back from U.S. trips for you and your brothers.

Miles Copeland: Yeah, my teenage years were in Beirut, and it wasn’t until I was 19 and went to college in Alabama and was exposed to more music. It wasn’t that I wasn’t exposed to new music – we could hear the BBC – but it’s just that you couldn’t get at it, they didn’t have rock’n’roll records in the shops.

PKM: So pretty quickly, you found yourself managing a fairly big act right from the start, Wishbone Ash. You mention you got them over to tour the States early on, not always common for a smaller British group back then. But I’ve noticed this over the years with British acts coming to America. They do seven or eight shows around the UK, and you feel you’ve covered a whole country; then you go over to America, and there are eight-hour drives and loads of small towns to play, and it can feel huge and impenetrable, and some British bands get down on it. Did Wishbone Ash ever express that kind of frustration?

Miles Copeland: The major difference was if you got on the BBC back then, the one national radio station, that means everybody in the country hears you. Then you come to America, and every state and city has its own stations. So you can be huge in New York, and no one’s heard of you in L.A. I remember one time Wishbone were opening for the Who somewhere, and we were playing to like 30,000 people, and backstage the drummer was complaining about how America is just so huge, and how can you break into it. And just then, in walks Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend, and they said, “Well that’s exactly how you do break America. The Who played every shithole in America.” And you have to do it over and over. It takes time. And I think that was really apparent with the punk bands we worked with later. That was the only avenue we had was doing live shows and building from the ground up, because radio wasn’t there.

Wishbone Ash-  live TV performance 1971

PKM: Your experience is interesting because you basically went from just a few jam-rock bands at the very end of the late ‘60s/early ‘70s big business rock world and, then jumped right to working in the punk world – working with bands who probably thought they should be playing arenas and stadiums to bands who assumed they’d be touring dives.

Miles Copeland: Yeah, when the punks happened, no one took them seriously, so they weren’t being offered big clubs. Even in England, where it wasn’t getting a lot of attention. Well, the press gave it a lot of attention, because they bands were outrageous.

PKM: Plus, things moved from the stadium rock era – everything was about grand musicianship and technique, etc. – into where punk and new wave was about bringing back the great two-minute single and raw energy on stage.

Miles Copeland: Yeah, but even with the progressive rock and metal bands, what would be the single? It was usually the ballad, not always the one that was typical of the band. It’s usually the more easily digestible stuff that tends to get on the radio. And if it’s on the radio, you get heard by millions, instead of a couple hundred in a club.

PKM: I recall the story you tell in your book about the ill-fated “Star Truckin’” multi-band European tour you organized in 1975, and how there were two airplanes for the bands, with the “Star Truckin’” logo on the side of them. Things like that just sound impossible in today’s music business. Was there ever a time around then that it hit you that these kind of wasteful, ostentatious things were going on in big rock that young people maybe didn’t relate to anymore?

Miles Copeland: I think what was happening to the music business was that it was becoming really big business, that a lot of money could be made. So things got out of hand and it ran away with itself. And the punks came along and said, well we don’t need all of that. A lot of people look on punk as a musical force, but for me, I just looked at it as a young generation. They want to dress their way, say what they want to say, they don’t want to be the previous generation. The previous one was into Clapton guitar solos. But the punks wanted more outrageous lyrics, and say things that were socially different. It was a musical force of change, not necessarily a force of musicianship. Most of the people running things saw it as, “They can’t play.” Well so what?! When was rock’n’roll about great musicianship? If you knew three chords, you could play a song.

PKM: You explain how Lou Reed was to be one of the linchpin acts on that “Star Truckin’” tour, and he just never showed up. Was that really what happened? I mean, he was with the William-Morris agency. He really wasn’t aware that he was booked on a multi-band tour of Europe that included personal jets?

Miles Copeland: We never really got to the bottom of it. We’d made the contract with William-Morris, and all of the sudden they went quiet on us. I started panicking. I finally tracked him down in that hotel, I think in New Zealand, and I got his girlfriend on the phone. She said he was in the bathroom, and I said I would wait. And I was told, ‘well you might have a long wait ‘cause he’s been in there for three days, and I don’t know when he’s coming out.’ I never did meet Lou Reed or speak with him. All I know was he never showed up. We were in panic mode, trying to find a replacement, and it just kind of fell apart. I went into this period of being in the toilet, as it were, just being broke, and it was a disaster.

PKM: You did get Ike & Tina Turner to fill in on that tour. That’s pretty awesome.

Miles Copeland: I remember standing on the side of the stage and watching Tina do a hell of a show, and the backing band was great. It made up partially for the fact I was losing my shirt. We got them last minute, I had to pay through my nose. I got my money’s worth as far as the quality of their performance, but I basically lost everything.

PKM: So I’m guessing that “Star Truckin’” was one of many reasons you gravitated towards working with smaller, newer acts. Soon you have an office in London, and Malcolm McLaren has one right above you, so you started dealing with him and the Sex Pistols. And you seemed to understand very early on that McLaren was using the Pistols mainly as a conduit for some new ideas of marketing and art, etc.

Miles Copeland: Yeah, well I was sort of thrust into it. I was reading in the papers that the Sex Pistols couldn’t get booked. And that made me think, let me see if I can help. I’d phone up a few clubs, and the clubs would be like, “Oh yeah, I read about them. Sure I’ll book them.” Then I’d go upstairs to Malcolm and say, “Hey Mr. McLaren, I’ve got a couple of shows I can put the Pistols on,” and he would look nervous and say, well, we can’t do that because this or that. And he turned me down a few times. Then one day I went up and said, “Hey I moved those dates, but I got a couple others…,” and he started screaming at me. He said, “Don’t you understand it?! I get more press saying they can’t play than if they do. Get the fuck outta my office! You’re ruining my whole rep!” That’s when I realized he wasn’t interested in getting gigs, he was interested in the publicity he could get. But as I walked out, I turned and mentioned, “Hey, please don’t yell at me again, but I do have this gig in Holland…,” and he was like, “Oh, that we can do.” Then I went with them to that gig in Holland, and I realized from that they really wanted gigs, they wanted to be a band. They wanted to play.

PKM: So you’d never seen the Sex Pistols play before you started booking them?

Miles Copeland: I probably had run into them, don’t really remember meeting them. But then I spent three or four days with them on the road. I flew with them to Amsterdam, stayed in the same hotel, went to the shows. I was very much exposed to what they wanted in life.

“Don’t you understand it?! I get more press saying they can’t play than if they do. Get the fuck outta my office! You’re ruining my whole rep!” That’s when I realized he wasn’t interested in getting gigs, he was interested in the publicity he could get.

PKM: So you’re starting to work with some British punk bands, but you’d already had some experience going to the States, had already been at CBGB, and knew of some of those bands.

Miles Copeland: I think a lot of the initial interest came from people like Richard Hell, Ramones, Patti Smith, the New York underground. Punks looked up to that. Even going back to John Cale, the Velvets. So there were those musical influences coming from America and influenced what was going on in England. The bands in England took those influences, added their own thing. The difference was the press there jumped all over it, as opposed to the States. I mean that went back to Rupert Murdoch – putting naked girls on page 3 to sell newspapers. Having accurate news was never in the Rupert Murdoch frame of mind, any more than Fox News is today. So, from a marketing aspect you think, well I can use that. And, of course, Malcom McLaren did use that. I later used that with the Police and all the punks. They were outrageous and did things that were newsworthy.

PKM: It’s amazing to think how that worked to an advantage for the British bands; while over here, because of the size of the country, the Ramones do something wacky that makes it into the New York Post but might not make it to the local paper in Kansas City. But also there was America’s bizarre conservatism. I’m reminded of how you said A&M Records in the States asked that the back cover of the first Police album be changed because it was these three men with short blonde hair, that that would look “weird” to American rock audiences at the time.

Miles Copeland: Yeah, it took me a lot of arguing to get the American record company to let the front cover be the same. They just had a fit over that back cover, these pictures of Sting in a flight suit, and all these guys with short hair. So I relented and said, Oh whatever, it’s a back cover, as long as the front cover’s the same.

PKM: Speaking of characters who might shock an audience back then, do you remember the first time you met Wayne County?

Miles Copeland: I met him at Max’s Kansas City. I was told to meet him by an old publicist friend of mine, Jane Freidman. And she said you have got to meet him and Cherry Vanilla and, of course, John Cale, who was her boyfriend; and saw Patti Smith, and the B-52s at CBGB. So I was educated as to what was going on in New York. For Wayne, and a lot of them, they were aware of what was going on in England, and to them England seemed to be where it was at. Here we’re playing shitty cubs, and in England we’re front-page news, so let’s go to England. I booked the Television/Blondie tour of England, then brought over Wayne County, Cherry Vanilla, Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers.

PKM: Got any stories from that early Television/Blondie tour in England that you booked?

Miles Copeland: Marquee Moon was a big success in England, and they got on some front pages, and the music press took them seriously. They were sort of more musician-oriented than most of the punk bands. Let’s face it, when Television went on stage, they actually tried to play music, whereas the Sex Pistols just wanted to wreck the place. Totally different dynamic.

Miles with the Police

PKM: Do you have any memory of going to an early punk show with your brother Stewart, and getting his take on what was happening with these new bands?

Miles Copeland: I probably did, but I can’t remember.

PKM: You say in the book that you were the main impetus for Stewart forming the Police.

Miles Copeland: Well, that’s according to him, ha. The reality was I got into the new stuff before he did. He was still in Curved Air, which was a progressive rock band. I had managed them, but after that “Star Truckin’” fiasco I kind of lost my relationship with a lot of those bands because I couldn’t fund them anymore. Stewart stayed on with Curved Air for another year, while I started getting into these new bands. Stewart was slowly coming to the same conclusion, that the day of these excessive rock bands, with tons of equipment and entourage, I mean all your money went to the show and not much into your pocket. He thought the whole stripped-down idea of the punk thing was pretty intriguing. So he got into it after I did. Because I was one of the few in the music industry who took it seriously, I ended up as an agent for most of the bands I was booking, like the Police and Generation X, a few Siouxsie and the Banshees shows. I remember I hired one of the Climax Blues Band’s roadies to help me with a Siouxsie and the Banshees show, and I remember him calling me and yelling, “Miles, the band can’t fucking play! How am I supposed to work with this band?!” And I said, “Oh just let them set up and do their thing”. But that was the thing with a lot of the people who’d already been working in the industry, they were horrified with these bands that would go out and play three chords badly.

When Television went on stage, they actually tried to play music, whereas the Sex Pistols just wanted to wreck the place. Totally different dynamic.

PKM: Henry Padovani was the original guitarist in the Police, and unless I missed something, you don’t really explain how Andy Summers came to the Police.

Miles Copeland: I did not find Andy Summers. He was doing a show in France or something, and Stewart and Sting met him. They roped him into filling in for some band, and they thought, Man, he can really play, better than Henry, and they gravitated towards Andy. I was not that involved in the decision making.

PKM: So you’ve got this management office in the Dryden Chambers building in London, and you mention how local punks are passing through and hanging around. Do you remember a few that made a particular racket?

Miles Copeland: Mark Perry (founder of legendary British punk zine, Sniffin’ Glue) came in to interview a band I was working with called Chelsea. So, he does the interview, then another group shows up, and group after group started coming in for interviews. Before I knew it, Mark had basically moved his magazine into the Dryden Chambers office, and it became his office. Suddenly we were the Sniffin’ Glue office, and I figured how bad could that be? Malcolm McLaren is upstairs. All these punk bands are coming in, and none of them have agents, none of them know what they’re doing. So I found myself at the center of this new music business, and started signing some of these bands. And I said to Mark, ‘let’s start a label.’ We started Step Forward Records, signed the Cortinas, the Models, Sham 69. It was the beginning of this independent label thing, and it was all fly by the seat of your pants. If you can play three chords, start a group.

PKM: You mention a Sham 69 recording session at one point, but for the most part, you barely mention any recording sessions in the book. Did you feel you should stay away from the recording process?

Miles Copeland: It depended on the band. Sometimes I’d go in and suggest a couple things. But it’s like anything in the music business – some bands you’re very involved with, and others you’re not so involved. With the Police, me choosing to use “Roxanne” was a big moment. They dismissed the song as a non-starter. It was a ballad, the antithesis of punk. I heard it and said, ‘Guys, that’s the song!’ They looked at me like I had two heads. With the Cortinas, I probably should’ve been in the studio, because they made an album that was kind of mellow compared to the first two singles.

“Fascist Dictator”-The Cortinas:

PKM: What about the Fall, was that a band that took some getting used to, as even for that time, they were really different?

Miles Copeland: I did not spend any time in the studio with them. Some bands come to you and you think, well it’s good enough, and they have a real fan base already. Mark Perry was really into the Fall, so we signed them to Step Forward. And he was really the guy that decided who we’d sign. I mean, we would all agree on stuff, but you know, you’d have bands that one person championed more than another. Like when I started I.R.S., Jay Boberg championed R.E.M., I wasn’t that big of a fan. But a lot of people in the company really loved that band. A company grows, and more people come into it, and with more people, more opinions.

The Fall on The Cutting Edge

PKM: You did say in the book that by mid-1977, you thought the bubble had already burst on the initial interest in punk. There’s the story too about getting Wayne County on the Reading Festival in ‘78, and the audience throwing mud at them.

Miles Copeland: I learned a few lessons there. With Wayne County I thought, well the Reading Festival, you’re playing to 70.000 people, why not? But that was a mostly metal and rock crowd, so it was kind of a foregone conclusion that might happen. I remember I put Squeeze on with the Tubes, and Squeeze was a great little band, but the Tubes were such a big theatrical show, hard to compete with. You have to be careful who you put bands on with. You have to choose your environment. That’s why when we started really putting the Police out on tour, we always made sure to put another new wave act on the bill because we didn’t want to be seen lumped in with the old farts – when the reality was the Police were old farts.

PKM: I thought it was interesting that you really focus on how important that first Squeeze U.S. tour was, in 1977. They were one of the first UK bands of that era doing the hard slog through a U.S. club tour when even their kind of friendlier new wave was frowned upon. But you do admit that maybe Squeeze wasn’t always the most riveting live act. Did you run into any American punk fans that maybe didn’t like Squeeze?

Miles Copeland: Not exactly, but I do remember some people showing up and saying, Hey this new wave thing is pretty good. Because Squeeze had catchy songs and they could play. So it was kind of the reverse. If we’d show up with a bad punk band and got no press and no one liked them, then whatever. But if a radio guy or local club guy showed up and wanted to book them again, then that was good. Not to convince some wild-haired punk in the middle of Kansas City that this is a band you need to be watching.

PKM: That very first Police tour in the States, 1978, were there any opening acts who went on to become well known?

Miles Copeland: Well, the thing about that punk era was there were a ton of bands that came and went, there was a high casualty rate. I remember the Philadelphia band, the Reds, they were good, then A&M signed them. But the problem for the Police was, there were not many bands in America we could perform with. If you played out in Kansas City, you’d be hard-pressed to find a new wave band to play with, so we ended up playing on our own a lot. And we weren’t going to get put on big shows with, like, Styx or whatever.

PKM: You say in the book that most of these news bands were “hopelessly unorganized.” Is there one that you think, if they’d just had their shit a little more together they might’ve held on?

Miles Copeland: It wasn’t just that the bands were unorganized, it was that they were desperate to succeed quickly, so they’d fall afoul with some manager who would promise they could do this or that, and next thing you know, it was untrue. That happened to Generation X. They were happy to play, and we’d book shows for them. Then I remember Billy Idol calling me up and saying, “We just signed with a manager, and he’s got a different vision for us, so I’m sorry, we have to cancel all the shows.” And then they kind of ended. Finally later, some American manager came in, takes Billy to America, teaches him how to sing, and puts him with some good American players, he goes solo, and it worked.

Generation X looked on themselves like it was the Sex Pistols, the Clash, and then Generation X. So Billy going off on his own was looked at like a stab in the back of the punk movement. But Billy did the smart thing I guess. They were not a particularly good group, but Billy had this star look about him at least.

The Police in Japan

PKM: You speak in the book about how, when it came to the Police, you basically offered the first album to A&M for free, with no advance and the record having been made already. But you asked for a higher royalty rate and better publishing rights. Do you think this was around the time in the music biz where managers were figuring out that’s the better long-term way to go, as opposed to the big advance money of the early days?

Miles Copeland: No, I think people have always gravitated towards asking for lots of money up front. The only reason I came up with that is I had no other option. Does the record company care if they’re paying a higher or lower royalty rate? Not really, because if it fails, they’re never paying out royalties anyway; and if it succeeds, they’ll make money too. How bad could it be? So by offering them the record for free, I cut to the chase. Just listen to the music, you don’t have to think about money, risk, losing your job. It’s free! Most managers back then would’ve thought I was out of my mind. But if I would’ve asked for like $100,000 upfront, they would’ve said, No, come back in a year if they have something. I mean, I hoped the Police would sell a lot, but did we know they would? Did I know they would sell out Shea Stadium a couple years later? No. But like when a batter goes up, on the first pitch you’re thinking, I’ve got to get to first base first. Then you think about second base, home, etc. Let’s get the record deal first, that’ll open the door.

PKM: You’ve been someone who has worked both sides. From the label standpoint, did you always make it a priority to own the master recordings; and conversely, as an artist manager, did you try to maintain masters rights for your bands?

Miles Copeland: No, I would say I became educated as to the value of the master later on in life. The main object was to get on first base. If that meant letting someone have the master and that got me in the game, so be it. I was less precious about the details back then. You hear these stories of a lawyer coming in and what the advance is going be for album 6, 7, and 8. And you’re thinking to yourself, what’s the chances of this group ever getting beyond album one?! If I look at all the I.R.S. signings, there was only one band that got to album six, and that was R.E.M. Every other group broke up by album two or three. I.R.S. was influential in its way, but most of our bands never got to that kind of catalog level. Every band had a self-destruct in them.

PKM: The Buzzcocks were a band you signed early on who did last. You don’t say too much about them in the book.

Miles Copeland: They were a real band. They were about touring, about performing. Pete Shelley wrote great little pop songs, although they were buried in their kind of raucous guitar sound. I went on the road with them, carrying equipment. They were the first signing for I.R.S., and we sold like 25,000 albums, which was pretty good. And they continued to go out and do well. Later, I invited Pete to my songwriter retreat in France. He was drinking a bit too much at that time, but he still had that knack of writing songs.

Suddenly we were the Sniffin’ Glue office, and I figured how bad could that be? Malcolm McLaren is upstairs. All these punk bands are coming in, and none of them have agents, none of them know what they’re doing. So I found myself at the center of this new music business, and started signing some of these bands.

PKM: So as far as Faulty Products, you started that as a distribution arm for some of your early punk bands, right? Then you started Faulty as a label in L.A., and went to visit over there. You said you were interested in signing X, but in the one quick meeting you had, Billy Zoom said they’d never sign with you, claimed that you were working for the CIA., and walked out.

Miles Copeland: Ha, yeah he thought I.R.S. was a front for the CIA to “discover youth trends.” I remember thinking, you fucking asshole, what an idiot. When he walked out of the office I said, “Well if the CIA is running this, have them send me a check!”

PKM: Were you actually getting out to see some of that scene while you were there, like the Weirdos, Black Flag, etc.?

Miles Copeland: I was looking to sign bands. Someone from the office would come to me and say, Oh man, you gotta sign the Go-Gos, or you gotta see the Bangles! I went to the Whiskey to see the Go-Gos and thought, wow they’re great! And I signed them. In a way, nobody else was around. The fact that not a ton of [industry people] were interested meant that bands had to be reasonable, and that meant I didn’t need a lot of money to start a record company. I think that was the secret.

PKM: The Go-Gos were the first I.R.S. signing in the States. You mention in the book that they were so shocked when the debut album came out, that it was too poppy. Whenever I hear stories like that I think, really? Like, I assume you were there for the general instrumental set-ups; you were there for the recording; the producer, Richard Gottehrer, asked you to slow down songs a bit, and you did; I assume you were there for some of the mixing, and probably got a test pressing to listen to. So the final thing comes out, and now you’re shocked?

Miles Copeland: Well yeah, when they did hear the final mix, that’s when they were shocked. Because they’d gone back to L.A., and Gotterhrer then finished the record and sent it to them. And I guess they were thinking, we’ll see how it sounds in the end when he finally sends it, that’s when they were shocked. They weren’t in NYC when he was doing the final mixes.

APRIL 1, 1981: Kelbos Tiki Hut in Los Angeles was where The Go-Go’s signed with IRS Records.

PKM: Do you remember them being that much more seeringly punky than the way that record came out?

Miles Copeland: Well, it was sort of like the Police. When I took them into the studio for that first album, they were trying to be a punk group, Stewart wanted them to be a punk group. That’s why they thought “Roxanne” was a non-starter, because that was not punk. And the same thing with the Go-Go’s, when you’d see them on stage, they were a fun, bouncy group. The fact that they weren’t brilliant musicians, nobody cared. They were good enough, and the songs were good, and the energy was good, and so you got off on the whole thing. So then you get the record, and you’re just hearing the music, the music has to stand on its own, and that’s when you notice things you might not have noticed live.

“Beatnik Beach”-The Go Go’s, live at Mabuhay Gardens:

PKM: Did you ever have a chat with them where they expressed worries of “selling out” or anything like that?

Miles Copeland: Yeah, they pleaded with me once they heard the record, they said, Look, you have got stop this record from coming out. We’ve got to remix it. All our friends are going to hate us. And when I listened to it, I kind of agreed with them. I remember I said to Richard, I sent you a punk group and you gave me back a pop group. It was the most expensive record I’d done up to that point. I was in it for 100 grand or so. So I listened and listened and thought, you know I think Richard is right. And then I called the group and said, I’m going to go with the record as it is. And they were very upset, until it started climbing the charts, and then of course we’re heroes. Both Richard and I sort of gained some stature from that.

The Go-Go’s – Our Lips Are Sealed

PKM: It’s not until more than 100 pages in, there’s a quote from Kathy Valentine (Go-Go’s bass player) that says you were “a combustible personality.” I realize you might not describe yourself that way, but you know you have a rep, and you put Kathy’s quote in there. Did you see yourself that way, or did you just think you were working hard for the bands?

Miles Copeland: I think it’s like anything, you have to believe in what you’re doing. Not unlike a rock band, the more unhinged you are, the more attention you’re going to get. Look at Donald Trump – the crazier he is, the more press he got. And he got elected President, for Christ’s sake. It just goes to show, if you’re mister nice guy, meek and mellow, you’re probably not going to get noticed. I was convinced we were on to something.

PKM: You come across as a bottom-line guy. But you’re signing these new bands, many with a new sound, no precedent for what might happen; and just some obviously non-commercial bands. You must have signed some acts knowing they probably weren’t going to sell, but with an eye to future influence or recognition. I mean I doubt you saw the Cramps and thought, Oh yeah, Top 10 radio fodder!

Miles Copeland: Well I never looked at the Cramps as getting a #1 record. But you can’t go to a Cramps show and walk out like you’ve been to some classical concert. They were wild and crazy, they were rock’n’roll. In a way, I signed the Cramps because I liked them, I generally got off on it. They had that one thing you really want – you want a band to be committed. You want to know they believe in what they’re doing. The Police had that. The Cramps had that. The Buzzcocks had that. The Go-Gos had that. They believed in what they were doing, and that belief is infectious.

The Cramps Psychedelic Jungle

PKM: Yeah, the Cramps are the best. But I’ve heard they had their own rep, as kind of difficult to deal with.

Miles Copeland: Well, so I went to a restaurant with the Cramps, ok? And they would be told to leave. I was in a hotel, and I was visited by Bryan Gregory, and the next day I was told to leave the hotel. Here I am, Mr. Straight – I  mean I wasn’t wearing an actual suit, but I was certainly no weirdo – but I was told, literally, “We don’t want your kind here.” What kind is that?! So they were not the kind of group to get, let’s say, normal attention. And so they looked upon everybody as a crook, particularly anyone in business. And so since I was the record company, naturally I was a crook! Naturally, every record company person is a crook, aren’t they? Ha.

PKM: It seems like from your book that maybe the Cramps did more shows with the Police than I would have thought. Did those bands get along?

Miles Copeland: Well, that was probably more my doing, I put the Cramps on those Police bills. The good thing with the Police was they pretty much let me get on with what I was doing, they understood they wanted to play out with some outrageous groups that get attention, they don’t want to play with tame nice guy stuff. So I put the Cramps on some of their shows. I don’t know that it was a brilliant pairing. I think the Cramps probably thought the Police played too good, ha. But they liked to play to those big audiences of course.

Well, so I went to a restaurant with the Cramps, ok? And they would be told to leave. I was in a hotel, and I was visited by Bryan Gregory, and the next day I was told to leave the hotel. Here I am, Mr. Straight … but I was told, literally, “We don’t want your kind here.”

PKM: Stiv Bators had the Dead Boys then some solo work. But you say in the book that you put the Lords of the New Church together, you wanted a kind of punk super group. But I mean Stiv obviously knew some musicians…

Miles Copeland: I had already worked with Brian James with the Damned, thought they were pretty brilliant. I met with him and told him I’d like to form this punk group, and I think he’d mentioned Stiv because he knew him. And I knew the Dead Boys had broken up, and that they were kind of legendary. But anyway, it started with Brian James. The Damned had kind of been broken up at that point. He was a great songwriter and guitar player. His songs and Stiv’s antics I figured was a good combination.

PKM: Some of the livelier writing in the book is when you talk about Stiv and the Lords, and I got the feeling Stiv was an important character in your life.

Miles Copeland: Stiv said in an interview that the Lords were the other side of me. The Police were the big, world-conquering, money-earning band; and the Lords were the wild, screw everything up band. They were fun, they were rock’n’roll. I guess everything that succeeds has a kind of ying and yang.

PKM: You signed the Dead Kennedys to I.R.S., though they eventually were put out through Faulty Products. And you say in the book that you failed to deliver what you promised to Jello. I know Jello is still bummed about what went down, so if you can explain from your angle.

Miles Copeland: The hook was, if your band signs to my label, you’re going to have access to national distribution. I mean Jello wanted to succeed, he wanted to have a bigger profile. So I offered him what I offered the Go-Go’s – the opportunity to get in the big game. So I made the commitment to him I’d put them out through A&M distribution and I.R.S. Records. But then Jerry Moss called me into his office. He said, I’ve got to say no to one act. I’d really appreciate if you would not put this one record out – the Dead Kennedys. It’s nothing to do with the music, but literally Herb (Albert, A&M co-founder) and I are great friends with the Kennedy family, and we’d find it embarrassing if you put that out and it was distributed through A&M. I’d already made the commitment, I have to put this out. So I moved it over to Faulty, which did not have the same distribution power. So I failed to deliver what I promised, and I’ve always felt bad about that. Jello is right to feel pissed off about it.

I.R.S. Records family

PKM: You don’t say much about the Circle Jerks, and they were on Faulty Products…

Miles Copeland: With Faulty, I had John Guarneri and other people I’d hired, and they brought in groups they thought were relevant and built a market in their area. I’d look at it and think, okay sure, we can distribute that. But then I’d fly off back to England, or on the road with the Police or Sting. I wasn’t sitting in an office dealing with each act, so I had to leave things to some of the other people. So if they came to me and said, Circle Jerks, I‘d say sure, sounds good to me.

PKM: In the book, you basically say you discovered the Bangles. Carmel Conlin, who was Director of West Coast Sales & Acquisitions at Faulty Products, told me she found the Bangles, when they were the Bangs, via their demo cassette dropped off at the Faulty office, and seeing them in L.A. Said she walked into Mike Gormley’s office and asked him to manage the Bangs. If you want to clarify that.

Miles Copeland: There’s an old saying: a success has a million parents, and a failure is an orphan. I read now various people “co-founded” I.R.S. with me. Jay Boberg seems to make a big deal that he thinks he was a co-founder. If there was ever a co-founder it would’ve been Jerry Moss, because he said yes when I went in with this crazy idea to start a label. Truth is, if Jay Boberg had gone in and asked for a decent salary, I would’ve hired somebody else. Carlos Grasso was hired about the same time when the label started. There are a lot of people who claim things, some of them I don’t really know. I know other people who claim they brought the Bangles to me. Mike Gormley was my partner on several acts like the Bangles, but neither of us managed many acts that were on Faulty. It was an independent distribution company. If I had to put my hand on a Bible and swear who brought the Bangs to me, I don’t know.

PKM: You make a point in the book that you didn’t want them on I.R.S. What was that decision based on?

Miles Copeland: My worry was, they were all girls, they write their own songs, they play their instruments, they’re from Los Angeles, they’re in the punk scene – and we already have one group like that, the Go-Gos. And that was a time when all-girl groups were not common. So I thought immediately people would just think we were signing any all-girl band from L.A., or that they’d be called the poor man’s Go-Gos. So I thought we should put them on a different outlet. (Their debut EP came out on Faulty Products, before moving on to bigger fame with Columbia.) I think the band themselves were conscious of that too. They were from that scene, they had a lot of the same fans. It was a natural association. It was really more a reaction to the marketplace than it was to the groups themselves.

PKM: With the Go-Gos second album, Vacation. I like that record, but reading the timeline of activity in your book, I’m wondering if that album was a case of, well I think it was Elvis Costello who said, “You get 20 years to make your first album, and one year to make the second.” Was that album rushed a little?

Miles Copeland: Yeah, that’s true for a lot of bands. Especially if it’s a success, then the pressure is higher on the second record. There’s another old saying: Strike while the iron’s hot. Sometimes you can strike too early, or sometimes bands wait and get forgotten. Or maybe the iron wasn’t as hot as you thought, which seems to be the case with the Go-Go’s.

PKM: You claim there were some rifts within the band, as far as songwriting credits and where monies were going.

Miles Copeland: Well there were two things happening. When a band goes from zero to #1, the lawyer immediately licks his or her lips, and says, Ah-ha – let’s go renegotiate and get more money! So the management and business side decide let’s go squeeze the label for some more money because it’s a hit. The band internally look at each other and start thinking so and so got more than I did, but I’m in the same band. That’s not fair. And they were being told that the record company is not giving you what you should be getting. Needless to say, a dispute comes up. It happens all the time.

PKM: In your book, you paint a sort of general assessment that these things happen, lawyers get involved, bands have unrealistic expectations, etc. But of course, from the bands’ perspective, they’re going to read that and wonder what’s going on with the record label side. Would you admit to any financial wrongdoing on your part, that you fucked up sometimes?

Miles Copeland: I do go through that in the book. I’ve known crooks on both the label side and the music side. You can’t just assume that the record company or the management is at fault, and the artist is scot free. I do admit there were times when we screwed up. I think in the case of the band Fashion – was it the management, the label, the band? I don’t know what the reason was, maybe it was a combination of all three. With Sting, I admit, on that fourth album, I went into the studio too late, by which time he’d married himself to his songs. It was with the next record that he agreed to switch producers. I admit it was my fault. Well, Sting admitted it was his fault too.

Fashion perform the song Product Perfect live on Look! Hear! (1979) Show host Toyah Wilcox.

With the Go-Go’s, if I had known about some of the drug problems, if the managers had called me and told me we have a problem with this, we need your help, I would’ve gone in there and tried to help. But I never got that call. I only got the calls when the album was ready, come in and have a listen.

The other thing is, with say Motown or country music, a lot of that was driven by the artists accepting the fact that they didn’t write the hit song, it was written by a songwriter, and the producer had a big hand in it too. So it’s like the environment that you’re in, you have to cater to. But in rock’n’roll, the artist gets a manager, and they don’t want the record label showing up. You’re the record company – fuck off, just pay us the money! And so there’s an unwritten law that the rock’n’roll manager and band look upon the record company as the enemy. Whereas with Nashville or Motown, you realize there was an affinity between the record company that helped find the songs, songwriters, producers – it was very much a team effort. Whereas in rock’n’roll, the idea that there’s a team is shocking. That was the conversation I had with (A&M Records Chairman) Gil Friesen when he called me in to educate me how to work a record company. And he basically said, the “team” is, you give us the record, we work the record, and you sit home and wait for it to happen. And I said, well I’m sorry, but we’re not prepared to sit back and do nothing, and we believe we have to help you, we are part of the team, we’re the label and the management. We’re all in this together. And that was a revelation to A&M Records. Prior to that, the record company was looked upon as the outsider – shut up and give us the money, and the minute we succeed, we’re going to screw you to get more money.

PKM: Can you mention a band who did that, and you let them walk away from the contract, or didn’t resign them because of it?

Miles Copeland: I was not in the habit of letting a band break a contract, but there were several occasions that I decided to let a band go as the best option, if I also had an option that made sense. One case was Concrete Blonde, with Johnette (Napolitano, singer) being mercurial. We usually resolved disputes, but when I realized we should part ways and Capitol Records wanted to step in and take the band on, I agreed to sell the contract to Capitol so that both I.R.S. and the band were taken care of. Needless to say, Capitol did not realize who they were signing, and when the band delivered the first album for Capitol, they immediately broke up. So I.R.S. got paid, the band were freed, and Capitol got screwed.

“Still in Hollywood”-Concrete Blonde:

In most cases when a band succeeds, like the Go Go’s did, the manager or lawyer try to renegotiate the deal. In the Go Go’s case it got really ugly until Belinda (Carlisle, singer) called me personally to ask what was really going on. I and the band met without the lawyer or manager, and we sorted everything out. I paid more, give a higher royalty, but not with the lawyer or manager holding a gun to my head. It was a fair settlement between me and the band that we worked out between us.

PKM: I was surprised that – considering they are probably the most famous and successful band you ever signed – you barely mention R.E.M. in the book. But I guess it was your brother Ian who brought the band to I.R.S., as he was booking some early tours.

Miles Copeland: Yeah, the first time I heard of them was from my brother. Though I had met the drummer the first time I went to Macon, GA, because he was the limo chauffer that picked me up. But he wasn’t in the band yet. Eventually, Ian moved to Macon, became friends with those guys, and he was the first to put me onto them. And I said, Look, if you really want to work with them and tour them, I’ll sign them. Then Jay Boberg went to see them, not sure why, Ian probably told him to see them and make sure Miles signs them, whatever. So he became the champion for signing R.E.M. But even if Jay wasn’t there, they would’ve been signed to I.R.S. because Ian was pushing me to sign them. I said, what the hell, as long as the deal is cheap. And it was. I think the first advance was like $25,000 or something. Every advance got bigger, of course. But the band never asked for more than their advance called for, they never wanted to renegotiate, they stayed at the same royalty rate. They were nice guys, I never had any issue with them. I never got dragged into any legal battle with them, like I did with Johnette, or Wall of Voodoo, or the Cramps. It was easy. Jay did become their champion, and a lot of the people at the label became big champions, and they kept getting bigger and bigger. So I never really had to be that involved.

PKM: You mention that you saw them open for the Police at Shea Stadium in 1984, and you thought they were boring.

Miles Copeland: Yeah, I thought they were kind of boring, the Police thought they were boring. The fact is they were kind of boring.

PKM: It sounds like in the book that was the first time you saw them. I mean, they’d already been a band for like four years at that point, had two albums out. Had you seen them before that show?

Miles Copeland: Probably, I don’t remember. I mean I’m a fan now. I hear some of their songs or see some videos now and I think, wow they’re really good. But back then, they wouldn’t even appear in their own videos. I’m thinking marketing, exposure, you want people to know who the hell you are. If you’re not going to be in your own video, what the hell is the point of making a video? So they were not the kind of band that would immediately appeal to me. They were not outrageous, they were not jerks. Ha.

R.E.M. – 1985 – Cutting Edge – Feature – MTV

PKM: I assume everyone asks you about the Police, but I’d rather dig into characters like Peter Zaremba of the Fleshtones, one of I.R.S.’s early signings. I loved that band, and the I.R.S. The Cutting Edge show on MTV (1983-87).

Miles Copeland: I always liked Peter. They were one of those bands where they were good, but were they really that good?

PKM: Yes!

Miles Copeland: Ha, well, when I look back on it, they never really wrote that classic song. Were they really on that genius level? I’ve been lucky enough to come across some heavy-duty genius types – Stan Ridgeway from Wall of Voodoo; William Orbit from Torch Song; Sting had that thing in him; Jools Holland just has that something. Peter Zaremba was on that edge. He was an honest guy, I really liked him. I remember him saying something once that I always thought was a great line: “I.R.S. gave us a lot of rope to hang ourselves, and we did!” Ha ha.

The Fleshtones – “Right Side Of A Good Thing” from “Hexbreaker!

PKM: I like the stories in the book about a very young Robert Downey Jr. and Daryl Hannah coming to your house parties in the late ‘80s, and talking to you about wanting to get their music careers going. Daryl Hannah actually had a band, American Girls, right? Did either ever record anything?

Miles Copeland: You know, I’ve had a lot of conversations with actors about making music. Beverly D’Angelo was signed to A&M Records. She started as a singer. Jerry Moss called me up and asked me to manage her. She comes to me, we talked, but she was becoming a movie star. Movie stars get paid a lot of money. Who wants to go play shit clubs when you’re a movie star? Daryl Hannah liked the idea of being in a band. American Girls was set up by Hilary Shepard, who later married Nick Turner from Lords of the New Church. Hilary was a budding actress, and Daryl was already getting successful, so we thought let’s form a girl group with movie stars. It sounded like fun, but that old saying, you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Daryl would miss rehearsals all the time because she had some film to do. Robert Downy Jr. just said, I want to do a music thing, I need a manager, would you do it? Let’s have lunch. I liked Robert, I’d known him for a while, and we had a very nice lunch and talked about it. Of course I never heard from him again. Why would he get into that when he’s making millions?

Hollywood’s kind of a small town, and you meet all these people. It was kind of like that back in London for a while. I was friends with Helena Bonham Carter. One of the bands I signed was called Zohar, and that was led by Sasha Baron Cohen’s older brother, Erran Baron Cohen.

PKM: You eventually got your own “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” episode. Did you have any trepidation doing that, that maybe some of your bands might think it was cheesy?

Miles Copeland: It’s just one of those things that comes along because of who you are. I’ve actually never seen the show. I hate to watch myself in film or hear myself in an interview.

PKM: You mention when the I.R.S. / MCA merger happened, with I.R.S. leaving A&M, there were some acts around then that you thought of as shoulda-beens. Can you tell me some?

Miles Copeland: Well, over my whole career there are bands I thought should have made it but didn’t. Like 29 Palms, brilliant songwriters. And of course Wall of Voodoo. I just loved that band, I thought they were great, Even after Stan Ridgeway left and Andy Prieboy joined, they were still great. It’s hard to pinpoint what the problem was. That’s part of the message of my book. Take Stan Ridgeway. I think he was probably his own worst enemy. Timbuk 3, same thing. Pat MacDonald had a chance of making millions, but he had this idea that selling a song to a TV commercial was like selling your mother. He turned down millions, and I always thought he was crazy.

PKM: It’s funny, because you obviously come from the business side of things, and you really poo-poo leftist economic thought in the book. But then you’ve worked with bands who have these opinions about selling out, or the corrupting influence of money, etc. And you were the production company (I.R.S. Media) behind The Decline of Western Civilization Part II. So firstly, I think most people assumed that scene with Ozzy Osbourne was filmed in his kitchen; or the backyard pool was that guy from W.A.S.P.’s. But that was all filmed at your house, right?

Miles Copeland: Yeah. I was there for all that. It was nutty. The Kiss guys hanging out in your den. Penelope Spheeris was a real character, she knew all these people.

PKM: I didn’t realize I.R.S. Media made 25 films. That’s a lot!

Miles Copeland: Yeah. Some of them I was hands-on, and some of them I was hands-off. For the most part, I funded it, we cranked stuff out They were all lower budget films. Some of them I would rather forget, to tell you the truth. It was not a game I understood that well. The only reason I did it was because the budgets were cheaper. But we did discover some interesting talent. I met some interesting people and I learned a lot, but I didn’t learn enough to make me want to continue in it.

PKM: OK, so secondly, Decline II, and Decline of Western Civilization Part I – they’re literally called The Decline of Western Civilization. The themes – that things were devolving, it contains a critique of the dark outcomes of capitalism, no? I mean you express very pro-capitalist views in the book, but then you’re managing and dealing with artists who have questions about capitalism. Was that a push and pull within you?

Miles Copeland: I think a lot of things became politically correct which turn out to be bullshit. Like it turns out refusing to do a TV commercial has turned out to be bullshit. What’s bad is doing a commercial for something that is obviously not a good product. If you do a commercial for Tampax, you’re always going to be associated with vaginal fluids. But if you do a commercial for a cool car or a video game or sneakers, something that’s cool, then that’s okay. A lot of people take a rule that works in one way and apply it to everything without actually stopping and saying, Wait, why isn’t that cool? It turned out that the Jaguar car that was connected to Sting was cool, and “Desert Rose” became a huge hit. If it had been used for a Tampax commercial, believe me, it wouldn’t have been a hit.

PKM: Well, that depends on your definition of “cool.” I think with a lot of up and coming bands, it’s just a different time now. Back in the ‘90s when my band was touring and those sorts of questions about selling out were very much debated, there were other income streams you could sort of rely on, as far as actually selling hard copies of CDs and records, selling them on the road, cheap DIY touring, and just that live music was maybe more popular back then. In a way, it was a wealthier time. All this is debatable, and I am no expert on how you monetize your band today. I guess if you really know how to work Spotify and Soundcloud and a YouTube channel you could still say no to selling your song to a TV commercial. But I think bands mostly wouldn’t blink at that idea today. Of course, all this assumes making money is the main objective. And it certainly doesn’t have to be.

Jaguar Commercial featuring Sting

Miles Copeland: The reality is this, it has always been the case that what you need is exposure. What the bands didn’t realize back then is a commercial can give you exposure. If Timbuk 3 had done that Reebok commercial, for a million dollars, you can imagine Reebok would’ve made a cool commercial, they would’ve made Timbuk 3 a hit band. But Pat MacDonald was stuck in this old worldview. But wait a minute – it’s Reebok! Forget the word “commercial.” Selling out for something that’s cool, for exposure, why not? And the reason bands do it now is because getting exposure is even tougher. And they’ve realized what no one realized until I did it, that TV commercials can give you the exposure you need. The Sting Jaguar car commercial I did is what changed the business. It made everyone realize it’s cool to do that as long as the product’s good. Once Sting did it, everyone said it’s okay. Then Celine Dion did it, the Rolling Stones…

PKM: Well again, that may be “cool” for acts that are that huge. But on the level my band was on, and indie bands in general – touring clubs, making money off t-shirts, etc. – you hope to just be a working band.

Miles Copeland: Maybe. But still, the name of the game is exposure. If it’s the right kind of association, and it gets you exposure, that’s what you want. I don’t care how great you are, if nobody knows you exist, it makes no difference because nobody knows who you are and nobody’s going to buy anything.

PKM: Okay, so what’s happening with the I.R.S. documentary?

Miles Copeland: He’s made it too long, and I keep telling him to get an editor, cut it down, and make it tighter and to the point. It’s like a lot of directors, they get so married to certain footage. He’s spending time on Richard Mazda, who nobody even remembers, the Three O’Clock, the Balancing Act, or Mitch Easter – mention it, fine, but don’t spend three minutes on it, cut to the chase. Look at the Go-Go’s film. Jay Boberg, Michael Plen, a lot of people who were really involved with the Go-Go’s aren’t even in it. I’m in it, but for what, two or three minutes at the most.

The Go-Go’s (2020) Official Trailer

PKM: Did you like the Go-Go’s doc?

Miles Copeland: Oh yeah, I thought it was a very good film. I learned stuff about the drugs that I didn’t even remember or know. Made me kind of pissed off that Charlotte was into heroin right from the start. I never even knew that. She’s fine now, she’s as clean as they come. But back in the early days they were all kind of nuts. Which is probably why I liked them.

PKM: Since you weren’t imbibing much, did you often find yourself being the guy at the end of the night who had to make sure people got back home safely?

Miles Copeland: Ha. A lot of people looked at me and thought, “You were dealing with punks?! But you’re so straight.” But you are who you associate with, so it serves me right.

UPDATE (post-interview email): “All books are being printed in the Czech Republic, and that means the U.S. release will move back to July 13 to give time to ship. Audible now up as well. Am now looking at other language versions.”


Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: My Life in the Music Business (Jawbone Press)