Former Police Guitarist Andy Summers Discusses His New Band, Circa Zero

by James Wood
Posted Jul 23, 2013 at 5:31pm

Circa Zero — a new band featuring guitarist Andy Summers (the Police), singer/bassist/guitarist Rob Giles (the Rescues) and Canadian drummer Emmanuelle Caplette — got together after a mutual friend invited Summers to Giles' shows with the Rescues.

Summers was immediately impressed by Giles' vocals and instrumental skills. After getting together to jam and kick around song ideas, it quickly became apparent the duo needed to work together. They began creating edgy, lyrical rock tunes that manage to capture a sound that's both modern and classic.

While their debut album, Circus Hero, isn't expected until later this year, their debut performance takes place this very week — Thursday, July 25, at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles.

I recently spoke with Summers about Circa Zero — and also got his thoughts on the 30th anniversary of the Police's monster album, Synchronicity.

GUITAR WORLD: Tell me about the origin of Circa Zero.

After the Police tour ended in 2008, I was back in the studio working on my own music as well as with various other people. I was searching for that magical thing, but couldn't find the chemistry I was looking for. One night, a friend of mine [who was also the manager of the Rescues] took me to the Troubadour to see them perform.

I remember thinking how fantastic they were. Rob is such an amazing singer. Plus he was playing drums, bass and guitar. About a year or so later, I went back and discovered the band was on the brink of separating. So I asked Rob if he'd like to come into the studio. We started playing, and within five minutes I knew he had the groove I was looking for. The chemistry between us established itself very quickly. It was new and completely real.

How did you get hooked up with Emmanuelle Caplette?

Rob and I had actually been working with several different drummers, but nothing was working out. Then one day Rob came up with the idea of using a female drummer, and that’s when we discovered Emmanuelle, who lives in Montreal. We called her up and she came down to LA to play with us for a few days, and it was fantastic.

How do you and Rob collaborate to write songs?

We always look at doing things together, and I think that's what makes the chemistry so amazing. Sometimes I'll come in with a riff that Rob will think is cool. Then we'll start building on the hook and Rob might come up with a melody to go on top of it. Lyrically, it's very open between us. Some are mine, but more are Rob's.

Do you have a release date for the album or any tour info to share?

We have a debut show at the El-Rey on July 25. We've also got a lot of great people working with us and are ramping up to see which direction we want to go as far as releasing the album — most likely within the next few months. Touring-wise, we certainly expect to be on the road for most of next year. I'd really like to make it a point to tour Canada as well. They've always been incredible for the Police, not to mention that we also have a Canadian drummer.

What's your current setup like?

I'm always in flux. In the Police, I used to use an incredible Bradshaw setup where everything was programmed, but now I'm using just a medium-sized board. I've got a nice unit that includes a few Centaurs as well as a Love Pedal and a Box of Rock. For guitars, I’d normally always use Strats, but lately I've also been using a red Custom Shop Les Paul as well. It's a beautiful guitar that's absolutely unique.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Synchronicity. What comes to mind when you think about that album and those days?

It was an amazing time for us, and we were kings of the world. It was worldwide mania and pretty insane, particularly for 1983. You really can't do more than what we had accomplished. It was the first album of ours that went straight to No. 1 (and knocked Michael Jackson out of the top spot) and the single "Every Breath You Take" was No. 1 for eight weeks. We all knew it couldn't go on forever, but at the time we were hotter than anything you could ever imagine.

Tell me a little bit about the origins of "Every Breath You Take."

When Sting first brought that song in, I didn't think we could do it. What he came in with was something completely different from what we ended up with. He had this thing that sort of sounded like "sub-Yes" with all of these huge rolling synthesizers. He made a demo, but it didn't sound anything like us at all. But that was what the story was with much of the material. Our word was that we had to "Police-ify" it, which basically meant the chemistry of the three of us playing on the track, each guy doing his own thing.

That's what made it sound like the Police. The thing that's so great about all of those tracks is not just the songwriting, but also the way they're played. It was a sound only the three of us could get across.

What excites you the most about Circa Zero?

What I'm doing now is what I thought the Police should have done, but didn't do. This is all new music with new energy and chemistry. Rob is an amazing vocalist and these are great rock songs that have a lot of appeal. We're a brand-new band, but we've got the music and want to get it out there. As a musician, you know in your gut when something is great. And this is the real thing.

For more about Circa Zero, visit their official website and Facebook page.

James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.


Add a Comment
0 Comments

Similar Guitar News

Andy Summers' Top 10 Guitar Moments with The Police (7/14/2015)
As a result of their world-conquering commercial success, it's easy to consider the Police—Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland—mere "hit makers." But stopping there would undermine a truly phenomenal—and musically progressive—body of work ...
Andy Summers Releases New Album, 'Metal Dog,' and DVD, 'Can’t Stand Losing You' (7/13/2015)
Guitarist, songwriter, photographer and filmmaker Andy Summers—formerly of the Police—will release his latest solo music project, Metal Dog, July 14. Metal Dog is Summers’ new instrumental collection—a unique soundscape of cinematic jazz fusion....
Andy Summers Reflects on His Years with the Police and His Most Trusted Guitars (10/13/2015)
Early on in his new documentary film, Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police, guitarist Andy Summers talks about needing a sense of closure on the band that brought him massive fame in the Eighties. Before imploding from internal tensions...
Amazon Releases Amazon Acoustics with Train, Michelle Branch, Surfer Blood, Toyko Police Club and More (7/31/2015)
Amazon today announced the availability of Amazon Acoustics, a collection of over 30 original acoustic recordings available exclusively for streaming on Prime Music and purchase on Amazon. Established and up-and-coming artists can be heard acou...
Andy Summers Documentary, 'Can't Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police,' Opens Today — Video (3/20/2015)
Can't Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police, a new documentary based on Police guitarist Andy Summers’ memoir, One Train Later, opens today, March 20, in New York City. The feature-length film features Summers, Sting and Stewart Copeland and te...
Andy Summers talks guitars, effects, The Police and his new band, Circa Zero (3/27/2014)
Read more about Andy Summers talks guitars, effects, The Police and his new band, Circa Zero at MusicRadar.com
The Hunt for Pussy Riot: Russian Police Search for Two More Members of All-Girl Punk Rock Band (8/20/2012)
This past Friday, August 17, three members of Pussy Riot, a feminist, all-girl punk-rock band based in Moscow, were convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred." Each woman was sentenced to two years in prison. What did the Pussy Rio...
Stewart Copeland on recording Police hits, soundtracks, Tama Drums and more (7/22/2012)
"I'm an ecstasy player," says Stewart Copeland. "I'm an exuberant, leaping forth explosion." © Brendan McDermid/Reuters/Corbis Polo player, author, documentary filmmaker, movie score composer, photographer – by any measure, it's safe to say that...
French Police: Woman Admits to 'Inadvertently' Taking Axl Rose's Necklaces (6/6/2012)
As reported earlier today, Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose was robbed of three necklaces worth $200,000. The three gold-and-diamond items disappeared after GNR performed at Bercy Stadium in Paris, France, last night. According to RTL.fr
French Police: Axl Rose Robbed of Necklaces Worth $200,000 (6/6/2012)
A police spokesman has reported that Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose has been robbed of three necklaces worth $200,000. The three gold and diamond items disappeared after GNR performed at Bercy Stadium in Paris, France, last night. Rose wasn't w...
Stewart Copeland on The Police, drum solos, Rush, double bass pedals and more (5/28/2012)
For Stewart Copeland, playing "outside your instrument" is what makes music really sing. © Peter Foley/epa/Corbis Over the course of his storied career, Stewart Copeland has tangled and tussled with band members, music execs, drum sets, film di...
Clash, Costello Make Rock Hall (11/7/2002)
The Police, AC/DC also among induction class of 2003
Police Lead Hall's New Wave (3/11/2003)
First performance in eighteen years highlights Rock Hall ceremony
Danish Police Blame Pearl Jam for Deaths (7/24/2000)
Pearl Jam blamed for Roskilde Festival tragedy
New York Cop Apologizes for Springsteen Comments (6/17/2000)
Police leader issues an apology for remarks about Springsteen