Andy Summers 11/26/19

Police guitarist Andy Summers looked back at the band’s third album and breakthrough set, 1980’s Zenyatta Mondatta. The Grammy Award-winning set, which was recorded during the summer of 1980 in the Netherlands, featured two of Sting‘s most beloved era-defining songs, “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” and “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da.”

During his new chat with Guitar Player magazine, Andy Summers spoke about the album’s sessions and was asked whether Sting would take issue with him and Stewart Copeland‘s making suggestions to his songs when building a new track: “No, no. He would get it immediately. He’d say, ‘Now it’s sounding like something.’ He was fine with providing the bones and letting Stewart and I put some flesh on it and build it into a body. It’s like taking a sketch and bringing all the color and brushwork to it. You add all these other elements and the song become larger than life — which is what we were always looking for.”

He added: “And don’t forget, Sting was involved in this whole process, as well. He didn’t hand us the song and disappear. He was part of the band chemistry that defined the Police. And because we were always playing together, we almost automatically knew the moves that would make a song sound like our band. We got really good at that.”

Although the collection doesn’t rank high on Sting and Stewart Copeland’s personal list of the band’s five albums, Summers looks back fondly, recalling, “I think Zenyatta Mondatta might be remembered more for how everything was so crazy at the time we recorded it. We were becoming the hottest band in the world, and with all the resulting demands and expectations. The studio time was being shortened by the festival gigs and having to worry about leaving for an imminent tour didn’t help.”

Summers remembered how the band came back from a series of festival gigs, only to realize the album wasn’t exactly to their liking: “We remixed every song on the album in one night. Then we left for tour early in the morning. I remember as we were leaving, we thought, ‘Oh well, we’ve probably blown it.'”

Andy Summers told us the Police always were always able to record their albums very quickly: [“We just didn’t need that much time. We were a very hot playing band. We were barely ever off the road, so we were always totally into playing. We were just red-hot playing with one another. So all this thing about ‘working it all up’ — I’ve never understood why rock bands needed a year to make an album. . . I don’t get it — can you play or not? We’d work these things out fast, you know? And Sting was a very good songwriter so the songs would come in and we had a good structure to work with. And then we would just ‘Police-ify’ them until they started to really sound tight.”] SOUNDCUE (:27 OC: . . . to sound tight)

TL; DR

  • Andy Summers revealed to Guitar Player magazine that the Police remixed its 1980 Grammy Award winning third album Zenyatta Mondatta in one night: “The studio time was being shortened by the festival gigs and having to worry about leaving for an imminent tour didn’t help.”
  • Summers remembered how the band came back from a series of festival gigs, only to remix the album wasn’t exactly to their liking: “We remixed every song on the album in one night. Then we left for tour early in the morning. I remember as we were leaving, we thought, ‘Oh well, we’ve probably blown it.'”

FAST FACTS

  • The Police‘s third album, Zenyatta Mondatta, was released on October 3rd, 1980. The collection, which was the third and final set to feature producer Nigel Gray behind the boards, marked the band’s first Top 10 album in the U.S., peaking at Number Five.
  • Both of the album’s singles, “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” and “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da,” peaked at Number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • Zenyatta Mondatta earned the Police two Grammy Awards — Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” and the Police’s second consecutive win for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for “Behind My Camel” — which followed the band’s win the previous year for “Reggatta de Blanc.”

SIDE NOTES

  • Recently released is the DVD and Blu-ray release of Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving The Police by editor/director Andy Grieveis, which is based on Andy Summers‘ 2006 memoir, One Train Later.
  • The doc features the guitarist reading passages from the book throughout the film as well as featuring over 25,000 photo stills he shot of the Police, both on and off the road