Check out Stewart Copeland in his prime killing it behind the drum kit. Dude was a beast and was locked into the groove. Copeland grew up listening to a combination of Lebanese music, rock and roll, jazz, and reggae, but he selected from these styles what he needed rather than imitating them. In the 1980s, when many musicians were looking for bigger sound from bigger drums, he added Octobans. Invented by Tama in 1978, Octobans consisted of eight six-inch drums in the shape of narrow tubes. He used another innovation, a splash cymbal based on a toy that he owned and that he helped Paiste design. He relied heavily on his 13″ hi-hats.
Despite being left-handed, Copeland plays the drums right-handed with the hi-hats on his left and ride cymbal and floor toms on his right. He played his snare drum in a peculiar way: from big booming hits to jazzy counter-tempo to soft beating on the ridge. During his years with The Police, he became known for engaging only the hi-hat with the bass drum to keep the beat. Copeland is a master of the syncopated beat, and his distinct approach consolidates his position as an important drummer on the world stage, influencing generations of drummers.
In an interview with Modern Drummer, Copeland has cited Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience as a prime musical influence. He states that as a child, whenever he had a song or melody pop in his head, he would walk around wondering how Mitch Mitchell would drum to that particular tune. He also named Sandy Nelson and Ginger Baker as other fundamental influences in the youth years. He has stated that due to his ‘enforced listening’ of Buddy Rich, he considers himself ‘allergic to jazz.’
He is noted for his strong emphasis on the groove as a complement to the song, rather than as its core component. He once drove this point home at a drum clinic: Copeland announced that he would show the audience something “that very few modern drummers can do” and proceeded to play a simple rock beat for two minutes. Nonetheless, his playing often incorporates spectacular fills and subtle inflections which greatly augment the groove. Compared to most of his 1980s contemporaries, his snare sound was bright and cutting. He is also one of the few rock drummers to use traditional grip rather than matched grip.