05.07.05 Fiction Plane to open for Sting at Irving Plaza...

Great news today as we can confirm that Fiction Plane will open for Sting at his upcoming private show at Irving Plaza on May 14. Fiction Plane are of course currently opening for Sting, and their new EP is available to buy at the venues.

For anyone still in the dark about who Fiction Plane are, check this article from a 2003 issue of the New York Daily News...

The son also rises...

Joe Sumner, Sting's eldest, takes off with his own group, Fiction Plane

Sometimes anonymity can work in your favor.

At Irving Plaza last month, a band called Fiction Plane took the stage as openers for Juliana Theory, and faced an audience that knew nothing of its music or backstory.

Minutes after the group began playing songs from its not-yet-released debut CD, "Everything Will Never Be Okay," the crowd starting singing along with the catchy choruses and moving to the appealing beats. Dominated by young females, the audience also eagerly responded to the lanky, square-jawed front man, Joe Sumner.

It's doubtful many knew that Sumner came by his good looks through some famous DNA.

He's Sting's oldest child.

"If they don't know, that's great," said the 26-year-old Sumner several days later. "It will be hard to even measure our success at first because we'll get a boost without even trying. I'd rather people hate me for [the connection]. Then I can do my best to win them over."

He deserves to. Fiction Plane's debut, which hits stores March 11, features some of the most irresistible melodies and smart lyrics from a new band in the last year. Rocking cuts like "Listen to My Babe" and "Hate" soar on the itchy lead guitar work of Seton Daunt - and the loopy vocals of Sumner. While his singing doesn't sound at all like his dad's, the rhythms of his speaking voice and the precision of his language do. And, vocally, he shares the general forcefulness of Sting's earliest recordings with the Police (especially the whine on "Roxanne").

The younger Sumner didn't grow up with his famous dad (who was born Gordon Sumner). Sting divorced Joe's mom, actress Frances Tomelty, in 1983, the same year the Police disbanded. The boy was 5 at the time. His mother hasn't remarried, and Sumner says there was no steady father figure around the house when he was growing up. He did, however, see his dad often and says he's unresentful about his parents' split.

"I'd rather they be happy apart than miserable together," he explains.

Sumner wasn't into music as a child, and didn't fall hard for it until he heard Nirvana, at age 14. A love of all things Cobain bonded Sumner with a school friend, Dan Brown, who took up the bass around the same time Sumner started learning guitar.

The pair played in a band together, until Sumner left the strict London school he was attending for an artier education. He transferred to the Cambridge School of Weston in Massachusetts, which, he says, "Let me be creative. It's not very structured, which is fantastic for me."

When Sumner returned to London to attend Richmond College, he teamed up again with Brown, who had since met guitarist Daunt. The trio formed a group after graduating college in 1999 and dubbed it Santa's Boyfriend. It released an indie collection of demos called "Swings and Roundabouts" in May 2001, and played shows in the U.K. and the U.S. It then signed with MCA and took the name Fiction Plane, from an early song written by Sumner. "It refers to a fictitious place where you can go in your mind and experience truth," he explains.

By the time the group was signed it had split with its drummer. But the man who became its producer, David Kahne, found them a doozy. Kahne (famous for working with Sugar Ray and Sublime) landed Abe Laboriel Jr., who'd been playing in Paul McCartney's live band. While Laboriel plays on Fiction Plane's debut, he didn't accompany the group on tour because, says Sumner, "he's too expensive."

Instead, they found Indiana-born Paul Wilhoit. The band favored a jazzier sound on its indie release, but "Everything Will Never Be Okay" rings with easy hooks and clever melodies. It features no reggae influences - not to avoid comparisons with the Police, Sumner says, but because "I can't do the rhythm."

Sumner often contrasts the band's peppy music with downbeat lines like "Every time I wake up/It's a brand new day/And I realize my body's designed to die."

Death turns up in a number of tracks, an odd interest for someone in his mid-20s.

"I don't have a lot of limitations in my life other than death," explains this child of privilege.

Though three-fourths of his band is made up of British citizens, Sumner describes Fiction Plane as "an American group with a lot of English people in it."

In fact, they've chosen to base themselves in the U.S., hired an American manager and plan on concentrating on breaking here rather than in Britain.

It's not unlike the Police's early strategy. Sting's band toured here relentlessly in the late '70s and broke through at a time when many British groups couldn't. Unsurprisingly, Sumner says his dad's main career advice was "just to work hard."

Let's hope he'll do so long enough to help his band's talent outshine his famous connections.

© New York Daily News by Jim Farber
Originally published on March 2, 2003