On this page the band explains which choices they have made concerning the production of this tribute. This page is primarily intended for the 'die-hard' The Police fans.
The Police is a special band in pop history. The band once started in the punk scene in London. Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland turned out - unlike many of the true punkers- to be brilliant musicians. The combination of their characters and musicality produced something genius that the world had never heard before. Just like you, we are captivated by their music and we feel it as an honour to be able to play it. We are happy to explain here how we have approached things and what inspired us.
First of all, we put a lot of time and effort into understanding the songs of The Police as well as we possibly could. We watched hundreds of hours of documentaries, including Everyone Stares - The Police Inside Out (Stewart Copeland) and Can't Stand Losing You - surviving The Police (Andy Summers) and live videos. We thoroughly analyzed and explored each issue. The work of The Police is ingeniously constructed, using complicated chord progressions, sometimes almost incomprehensible time signature and eccentric studio effects (such as tape echoes). Some parts were played or sung double in the studio recordings. In addition, The Police performed various live versions of their work. Both 'punk' style - with almost doubling of the tempo - and more symphonic, such as on the reunion tour of 2007-2008. We looked at exactly which instruments, amplifiers and effects were used, which recording techniques were applied and especially how they were able to play the complicated songs live.
Of all the concerts viewed, the one below from February 1979 made the most impression. This was The Police in their early years, actually just before their major international breakthrough. Stewart Copeland still played on his little Tama Blue Metallic drum set and their first album Outlandos d'Amour was just released in November 1978. Fun fact; this was the first time they played 'Message in the Bottle' live. That song still had to be recorded! The sound quality was exceptionally well recorded by the BBC. They played everything without electronic aids or background singers, as they did later on at their live concerts. The pure energy and craftsmanship on this video is phenomenal!
Further recommendations are everything from the (last) Synchronicity II Tour (1983) and the interviews of Jools Holland at the studio in Montserrat, at the recording of Ghost in the Machine (note: around 25:00 a legendary interview with drummer Stewart Copeland). After all the analysis we have chosen to play the songs as the audience knows them and that is the version of the original album. Below the five albums of The Police in order of publication.
Where we had to make choices with regard to tempo, sound image and energy, we mainly looked at the last reunion tour from 2007/2008. 'Certifiable' is the official concert registration of this tour and is breathtaking. However, the purists will see that The Police uses extra vocal samples and sometimes a backing track. In addition, an enormous amount of technology has been used to make The Police sound so remarkably good. See below a well known clip of the opening number of this concert series.
As indicated, The Police is a unique band created by three phenomenal musicians. There are countless pages on the internet dedicated to why Sting, Stewart and Andy were so exceptional and what their 'special' mutual dynamics were. In short, besides being a very gifted musician, Sting (Gordon Sumner) is primarily one of the best 'composers' of our time, something he developed in his time with The Police. He wrote the first magic hit 'Roxanne' in the hallway of a stuffed hotel in Paris in 1977. In addition, his unique high vocal sound makes you recognize Sting from thousands. As a rock guitarist, Andy Summers particularly used different influences from the jazz world. He knew how to play a lot of eccentric chords that were hardly used before that in pop music. He is not ace in playing, but unique in creativity, sound and skill. Drummer Stewart Copeland is mentioned by many famous drummers as being their greatest inspiration (Rolling Stone Magazine, top 100 drummers or all time- place 10). At the time, Copeland played with an energy, timing and 'feel' that in that combination had never been played by any drummer. Finally, the struggle and competition among themselves brought out the best (and sometimes the worst) in them. For many that makes these years 1976-1984 the most beautiful time in pop history.
To create the precise The Police sound we have made the following choices:
Just like The Police, we play in a three-man formation. This was primarily a challenge in the area of our 'Sting'. In the end we found Anton Arema who can play bass and also sing the high vocals of Sting. And both at the same time (which, incidentally, is not easy).
All the musicians sing. In the early years of The Police, all band members sang. Later (from 1980) The Police - much to the disappointment of some fans - switched to a hired ladies choir for background vocals during live performances. The Police used samples during the reunion tour (most not on 'time code', but dynamically started 'off stage'.) The vocals are high, polyphonic and often complex. That is quite challenging, our drummer has special singing lessons for that :-).
We use the same instruments as much as possible. There are extensive studies on the internet of the instruments, effect equipment and amplifiers that The Police had used over the years. We choose to use these as much as possible (but often in modern versions, such as echo effects or guitar synthesizers). In addition, we use a MOOG Taurus (played by guitarist Barth) for the low sub bass tones, just like Sting used it in live shows. Also, the drummer has one of the 50 original Tama 'Stewart Copeland' kits made for the 2007/2008 reunion tour, with the same sheets, cymbals and even microphones. We also use a small 'percussion rack' for large performances, as Copeland used in that tour. With all this, the characteristic sound of The Police is approximated as much as possible.
The Police used for live performances a backing track for a few songs. To approximate the sound of The Police - without using additional musicians - we have decided to do the same. For example with the intro of 'King of Pain' (piano and marimba), 'Spirits in the Material World' (synthesizer) and the pianos and steel drums with 'Every Little Thing She does is Magic'. In addition, the drummer occasionally invokes a short effect or sound via a Roland sample pad.
Finally, we started working with fixed sound engineers. Co-lovers of The Police who know the music well and know how to make us sound like the original and they are actively working to start the right effects (delay, echo etc.) at the right moments.
We have rehearsed every song with care, attention and love for The Police. What is the best key? What pace does the song need live? How do we get to the heart of what makes The Police so special? We also noticed that the more we played live, the more we started to approach the songs in spirit. Yes, we are proud of it.
What are our favorites? Well, that changes with time. 'Message in the Bottle' is of course the most iconic song that actually contains everything. 'King of Pain' was one of the toughest challenges to making it sound good, but we now enjoy playing this song. It is difficult to choose a favorite. 'Walking on the Moon' is awsome in terms of sound. Synchronicity II has a lot of power, but if we have to choose then it is 'Driven to tears' and our most favorite (lesser known) 'Hole in my Life' from their first LP Outlandos d'Amour.
Honestly, playing The Police and making it sound that way is not easy. A challenge of the highest level. But we hope that our diligent efforts lead to a re-experience of that special music - and energy and sound - from the early 1980s. We look forward to seeing you at one of our shows!
Anton, Barth, Kees