Andy Summers Shares The Police’s Secret To Making Their Albums Quickly
During a new interview with Total Guitar, guitarist Andy Summers talked about his perspective on music and his early inspirations. Summers revealed that improvisation has always been an important part of both his musical life and also the Police.
In their relatively short career of nine years, the Police still managed to leave a tremendous impact on the music world with their unique sound and global hits. They released only five albums throughout their recording career but all were strong records. The Police are one of the best-selling bands of all time with over 75 million records sale.
Sting is known for writing most of the band’s material but what gave them this unique sound was each band members’ dedicated contribution to their creative process. All the band members, Sting, Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland put something out of themselves, which defined the band’s characteristic sound influenced by pop, rock, punk, reggae, and jazz.
During his recent interview, Andy Summers also reflected on the band’s music production process and revealed that improvisation was an essential component of the early days of the Police. Their records were never set out as they would always come up with something while jamming. They would always have different ideas and then develop them into something new. For Summers, this process was the reason how they could make their albums that quickly. They wouldn’t spend so much time in the studio as they were always open to improvisation and new additions to the records.
Andy Summers speaking on the band’s creative process:
“I learned it all by ear – I just slowed the record down and kept trying to get to the notes until I got the whole thing. That kind of stuff gets right into your soul and stays with you for the rest of your life. In the early days of the Police, there was a lot of improvisation. People think it was all set out, and it wasn’t; we were kind of making it up as we went along. We were always stretching ourselves and seeing where our chops could go.
In soundcheck, as long as the sound was there, we wouldn’t have to rehearse ‘Roxanne’ or the rest of the set. We would just jam and sometimes things would come out of it, and we’d come back to ideas and develop them into something. And we made our albums really quickly – we didn’t sit around laboring in the studio for a year at a time. Some bands would take two years to make an album and I’d think, ‘Why? Ours are made in five days!'”
As Andy Summers pointed out, his habit of improvisation was also a significant part of his playing style besides the band’s making process. He learned to play guitar by improvising while growing up. He would just listen to records, then slow them down and try to get the notes out of them. Summers thinks that this is a more permanent learning method as it sticks in the mind more easily.