Andy Summers seemed a bit surly on Monday, as he spoke via cell phone to people from Timesdispatch.com on his way from the B&H photo and video store in New York City to the Google offices there for another interview. Chalk it up to the hectic pace on the road. Or not.
Q. The band had to cancel a couple of shows a few weeks ago because Sting got sick. Since this is a pretty intense tour, how have you been holding up?
A. My health has been perfectly fine. What is this, a health interview?
Q. No, it’s not. I was just asking how you are doing. So when you started this tour, did you have any thought that it might keep growing the way it has?
A. It’s possible that it’s exceeded our expectations. We just take things step by step. We hoped it would do well and it was obvious that it would when tickets went on sale.
Q. You commented a few weeks ago about what you called the elephant in the room — whether The Police would record new material. Do you really see that as viable?
A. I don’t like to think about it. We’re doing what we’re doing and if it happens, fine. Why waste all of that emotion and energy dwelling on those things? I have a life of my own, too. If it happens, it happens. I’m not putting my energy into that thought. Right now, we have a long tour to do and that’s what we’re going to do.
Q. Has there been any movement toward writing new songs together?
Q. Do the three of you spend any time together when you’re not on stage?
A. We’ve spent most of our lives together. We spend time together, but we don’t desperately seek each other out.
Q. I saw you over the summer at the Virgin Festival in Baltimore and you guys really dig into “When the World Is Running Down” and you really explore your jazz instincts on “Wrapped Around Your Finger.” Is there a favorite part of the show for you as a musician?
A. Personally, I like all of the show, but just playing the guitar, those are the freest moments. Especially when we cut loose and have to interact. We’re not just playing separate parts up there.
Q. When it came time to rehearse for the tour, was any one of you more intent on changing the arrangements of some of the songs?
A. We came into this with an open mind. We never listened to our records and tried to reproduce what is on there. We’re much better musicians than that. We’re very much in the moment. In the old days, we were probably the least rehearsed band out there. But we have enough skills to wing it and pull it off.
Q. Do you still enjoy playing the pop songs?
A. There’s no point entering territory like that. This is what I do. We’re bound to play the same set every night because you have lights and choreography and people expect to hear those hits, so we can’t play a really loose show, which is more the way I’ve done it on my own.
What we do is well-played and crisp, I suppose you could call it designer music. That takes a lot to pull off every night. There are only three of us, so it’s like a Swiss watch. At any time you can fall apart. If one of us makes a mistake, it’s pretty glaring.
Q. Since you recently published a memoir [“One Train Later”] and book of photos [“I’ll Be Watching You: Inside The Police, 1980-83”], are you working on anything from this current tour, either visual or written?
A. I’ve been keeping journals and I take many photos. I haven’t assembled anything yet. I haven’t had the mind space to do it between playing, touring, traveling all the time, doing interviews, that’s the kind of life I have right now. It doesn’t leave the kind of room for new creative spaces. I’ve been out a lot during some downtime, shooting in different cities in Europe and keeping a journal. At some point in the future, I’d like to assemble something.
Q. Aside from The Police, are you working on anything else musically?
A. I have a new record out in Europe with Ben Verdery called “First You Build a Cloud” on Repertoire Records. But I haven’t had time to do anything else. I’m on tour until next summer. That’s my life. In some ways, I sort of miss my own creative space. But this is the life now. It doesn’t leave much room for anything but room service.