The Police are dead! Long live Circa Zero!
Okay, it’s not that dramatic, but Police guitarist Andy Summers - who has a new rock group Circa Zero - can’t see the British New Wave veterans touring together again after their hugely successful 2007-08 reunion tour - the seventh highest grossing trek of all time.
“I would think it unlikely at this point because I think we did it,” said Summers.
“And I don’t think we could ever do a tour as great as that again. I mean we hit at the perfect time, before the long recession set it and all the rest of it, it was perfect timing. I don’t think we could do one as big as that again. It would be very hard to pull off.”
So, with that in mind, the 71-year-old Summers has come together with L.A. singer Rob Giles to form Circa Zero, whose debut disc, Circus Hero, was released last week. Summers is also readying the Andy Grieve-directed documentary, Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving The Police, for release in July.
“I was kind of thinking about trying to put some kind of a rock band together again, I don’t know why, maybe coming off The Police tour kind of inspired me,” said Summers, who worked on his own in the studio for a year before hooking up with Giles after seeing him play with his other band, the pop-rock group The Rescues.
“I thought I’d like to work with a singer again. I met Rob and we’d never played together before and he came down and we got together and he sang a couple of songs that I’d been doing with someone else and he just kind of blew it out of the water... To me, he was the guy I was looking for.”
We caught up with Summers down the line from his Venice, Calif., studio recently to talk about his next musical chapter and find out what he thought of Sting’s latest outing with Paul Simon.
Was Circa Zero always going to be so hard-rocking sound wise?
I think the first dumb thing we said was, ‘Okay, let’s make a great RAWK album.’ We said rawk, not sort of soft alternative, or anything like that, we meant a rock album. And it is a rock album. It’s fairly edgy. We’re not as heavy as say Pearl Jam or the Foo Fighters or something like that. Obviously we’re not metal. It’s guitar-driven, edgy, lyrical rock.
I suspect you can’t help it given your background, but there a few Police-like songs on Circus Hero?
It’s very un-self-conscious. I mean I certainly had no intention, ‘Oh, I gotta make it sound like The Police.’ No, no, it’s just like that’s the way I play. There’s one or two things in there. There’s one track in particular I did do a sort of Police thing, Whenever You Hear the Rain, but that was very intentional. If it comes out occasionally like that, that’s the way I play. Generally, I think it’s more rock than most of The Police.
What happened to your Circa Zero date/Police documentary screening at South by Southwest in Austin?
It’s unbelievable. I don’t know what’s up with those people it’s just, excuse the expression, I think they call it a clusterf--k. Here I’ve got this great music film coming out and the record with an exciting new band and we thought, ‘Man, these people are going to jump on us! We’ve got an incredible double whammy.’ It just seems they’re so confused down there and there’s the film division and there’s the music division, and it seems like neither side speaks to one another... My vision was to go down and do a great concert with the press and nice stage and lighting and I think we got offered a bar on the top of some hotel at midnight. I went, ‘No, we’re not going to do that.’
Would you consider Canadian Music Week in May or NXNE in June in Toronto?
Well, I don’t know, if they ask us. The doors are open. Canada is of definite interest to us. Obviously, to The Police, it was fantastic, always great to go to Canada. It’s definitely on the books for us.
What can fans expect from your new Police documentary, Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving The Police?
It was based on my (2006 autobiography), One Train Later, and I originally contacted Brett Morgen, the director who made (the Robert Evans documentary) The Kid Stays in The Picture and I was actually inspired by his film. All made with still photographs. (Summers is also a prolific photographer.)
Is there a reason it’s called SURVIVING The Police?
That’s not my idea. A much cooler name is the name of the book. It’s just purely a film company decision. There’s no way I would call it that.
Have you seen your Police bandmate Sting on tour with Paul Simon?
No. I think he passed through L.A. but I wouldn’t be interested. What am I going to do? I spent 30 years with this guy! I’m not really interested in seeing him with Paul Simon but it’s great. ‘Have a good time mate.’