- - Tuesday, August 25, 2015

As one third of the legendary band The Police, Andy Summers sold over 75 million albums with his distinctive, snaky guitar riffs. The band is firmly entrenched on the list of rock’s biggest acts ever.

Away from the band, Mr. Summers has been a creative whirlwind, releasing album after album of brilliance and never afraid to follow his muse. Beyond music he has penned an autobiography, released a large-scale photo book and made forays into the world of film. His recent documentary, “Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving The Police” (now on DVD), is garnering rave reviews.

In the studio, Mr. Summers discussed the film, his latest CD, “Metal Dog,” the possibility of another Police reunion and how People magazine killed his career as a singer.

Question: Whenever anyone mentions or writes your name, they always add “from The Police” at the end.

Answer: Thank God. Yeah. There you go: It is a blessing and a curse.

Q: What aspect is a curse?

A: From my own interior point of view, I think, “Well I did so much other great stuff where I played so much better than with The Police — after The Police.” I made some brilliant records. I just got better and better at playing music and recording. People just say, “You were in The Police.”

Q: Do you ever worry about it measuring up to past success?

A: No. I do exactly what I want. I do what I’m feeling. The blessing part of the past is everybody knows who I am. So I’m gonna get attention. I can make the same record as a guy who has no past, and it could be brilliant. I’m going to get noticed where [the more anonymous artist] will not. 

Q: You sang on your first solo CD, “XYZ,” but never again. Why?

A: I think it was a review in People magazine that said something like, “How dare he think he can sing?!” I thought it was quite a good record. But that piece just killed me. I sort of shriveled inside. I went, “I can’t do it. I can’t be the singer.”

I started to make instrumental records. I thought, “I’m gonna lead bands, but it’s gonna be with the guitar as the voice.”

Q: How would you describe the new album, “Metal Dog?”

A: It’s not really jazz or rock. More avant-garde and experimental. I am pushing toward very sonic, textured material. Gnarly sounds that are degrading as you play them.

Q: Who played on the record?

A: Me, myself and I. I can play bass; it’s not really difficult. I’m a completely natural musician. In terms of the drums, I have a great drum teacher who comes here once a week, and I love it to death. It is very disciplined and hard. If I had had the drums sticks first, I would have been a drummer. 

Q: Was there more freedom in doing an entire album by yourself?

A: Yeah. It is obviously great to play with other musicians, but it’s kind of a pain as well. I liken it to being a painter. A painter turns up in a studio — one guy and his easel. It is very much like that. It’s a one-man process creating these sonic textures at my own pace. 

Q: What inspired you to make your film “Can’t Stand Losing You”?

A: I was in London putting together a big photography book of all my years in The Police. There was all this talk about the movie “The Kid Stays in the Picture” based on the biography of producer Robert Evans. I was very impressed because the film is all made of still photographs and his voiceover. It sort of occurred to me, I’ve got sort of the same stuff. Could I do that?

Q: Have your former bandmates Sting and Stewart Copeland seen it?

A: They’ve seen it. Stewart seemed to really like it. He phoned up and said, “Oh, it’s great. Fantastic!” He was really nice. Sting emailed me earlier and said, “Well, great luck with it all. Good luck.” His manager went and saw it [and] told him it was great.

Q: Is that typical of your relationships with them these days?

A: Yeah. Generally, if one wants to go and do something, we don’t stand in each other’s way. We’ve all gone off and done things. I was expecting a possible block from lawyers. They didn’t do that. I think it’s great for all of us. Everyone loves The Police. It just extends the myth.

Q: Does it fuel the fire of another reunion?

A: Maybe it’s an encouraging thing?

Q: Would you consider another reunion tour with The Police?

A: Yeah! Because it is a great band. Honestly, it sounds corny, but it makes people so happy. People absolutely love it. I think we could go out and play again.

Q: What would prevent it?

A: I think Sting has to come and make up his mind that he could join the rest of us. [laughs]

Q: What’s next?

A: I’ve got a couple opportunities to direct some films. We all want to direct, after all. [laughs]

 

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