Police guitarist Andy Summers has a new band, Circa Zero, that rocks as hard as anything he’s done in his long, arresting career. Summers sat down with FOX411 to discuss Circa Zero, his upcoming documentary, and what The Police could possibly do as its final act.
FOX411: I understand Circa Zero’s album title was inspired by someone mispronouncing the band’s name.
Andy Summers: That came from being on New York radio around 8 in the morning (affects New York accent): “And here’s a track by Circus Hero…” I came back and told Rob [Giles, the band’s singer, bassist, and drummer] what the guy had called us, and he said, “Well, that’s what we should call the album.” And I said, “Yeah, ok. Why not?” (laughs)
FOX411: Alex Lifeson of Rush once told me how you influenced him to change the way he approached soloing in the ’80s. You always found a way to play something unique that fit the specific context of the song at hand.
Summers: I think you want to sum up the whole song with the solo, whether it’s hard rock or something else. It’s your “guitar player” moment, but it has to relate to the song somehow. It all gets summed up in that bit.
FOX411: One thing the Circus Hero album isn’t lacking is its share of guitar player moments.
Summers: Oh yeah! We didn’t want to make a weird, sort-of-interesting indie album – we wanted to make a great rock album with great songs and killer hooks. It’s one of the best albums I’ve ever made. At least I certainly think so. (chuckles)
FOX411: Tell me about 'Can’t Stand Losing You,' your documentary that has a major focus on the final Police tour from 2007-08, which is getting into theaters later this Spring.
Summers: Right, it’s finally going to see the light of day in the U.S. It’s a very condensed version of my autobiography, [2006’s] One Train Later. The 24-hour flashback literary device I use in the book has instead been replaced with some fantastic Police concert footage. The filmmakers came to several places around the world to shoot me primarily onstage and backstage with The Police. There’s archival footage, my photography, and my voiceover. Basically, it shows everything I went through as a guitar player and a musician. It’s a typical rags-to-riches story: Starting from nothing, and coming out the other side.
FOX411: What Police songs were your favorites to play again during the reunion tour?
Summers: Obviously, we loved to play “Message in a Bottle.” That’s such a killer song to play live. I always liked playing “Driven to Tears,” and I always loved “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” because Sting and I would go into this big, improvised duet section where I’d find these weird nuances to play behind his vocal. That was a fun thing to do every night.
FOX411: I saw the tour at Giants Stadium in New Jersey, and I liked hearing how the three of you added new textures to the templates of songs we’ve been listening to for years.
Summers: I would add things here and there so I could play certain songs differently every night. I’m thinking of a song like “Walking on the Moon,” where we’d change the key and I’d employ other voicings and licks. We even put in a whole new passage that we’d never played before. That song just became so much better over time.
FOX411: It must have felt like you guys had put the old, comfortable gloves back on.
Summers: To some degree, absolutely! I don’t know what it is we’ve got together, but it really f---ing works! (laughs) It’s magical. Man, we were lucky we all met each other, you know?
FOX411: Did you ever think a reunion tour like that one was ever going to happen?
Summers: I never expected it to happen, no. But I thought it was a great tour, and we played better than we ever had. We were certainly more seasoned players. And it was just incredible how far the technology had come in 2007 and 2008, as opposed to what we had on the last stadium tour in 1983.
FOX411: Would you consider the 2007-08 reunion to be the final word on The Police, or is there another chapter to write?
Summers: I suppose the last move we could make would be to go do Las Vegas. “Oh, so it’s come to this, has it?” (both laugh) But I’m really into Circa Zero now, so that’s where I’m at.
Mike Mettler is the former editor-in-chief and current music editor of Sound & Vision, and he interviews artists and producers about their love of music and high-resolution audio on his own site, Soundbard.com.