Fronted by singer/songwriter Joe Sumner -- who is the adult son of pop/rock superstar and former Police vocalist Sting -- Fiction Plane is a mostly British alternative pop/rock outfit that started to acquire a U.K. following in the early 2000s. The fact that Sumner is Sting's son has inevitably been mentioned quite a bit in the British press, and yet, Fiction Plane's members have never gone out of their way to exploit the Sting connection. If anything, they have downplayed it; when MCA did a promotional mailing for Fiction Plane's debut album, Everything Will Never Be OK, in 2003, the official bio didn't even mention that Sting was Sumner's dad. Thus, no one can accuse Sumner of trying to ride his father's coattails. Nor can Fiction Plane be accused of going out of its way to emulate Sting or the Police; even if Sting has affected some of Sumner's singing and writing, U2 is actually a more noticeable influence. His voice, in fact, has a somewhat Bono-ish quality. But while the highly sociopolitical U2 can be very idealistic, the words that are typically used to describe Fiction Plane's lyrics include cynical, dark, melancholy, and world-weary -- and it should be noted that Sumner has cited '90s angst-rockers like Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins as influences.
Born in England in the late '70s, Sumner was only a baby when the Police recorded their 1978 debut, Outlandos d'Amour. As a child, Sumner rebelled against music; he hated taking piano lessons and was more interested in video games. Nonetheless, he began studying the guitar at the age of ten and went on to learn the drums as well. It wasn't until 1991 -- when Sumner was 14 -- that he really became passionate about music. That year, Sumner heard Nirvana's amazingly influential Nevermind, which inspired him to start writing songs. A few years later, Sumner was jamming with his bass-playing friend Dan Brown, who shared his love of Nirvana and went on to become part of Fiction Plane. The start of Fiction Plane came in 1999, when the band was still called Santa's Boyfriend; subsequently, former art student Seton Daunt was hired to play lead guitar.
In 2001, they recorded a demo called Swings and Roundabouts, but their first official album, Everything Will Never Be OK, wasn't recorded until after they had signed with MCA and changed their name from Santa's Boyfriend to Fiction Plane. When David Kahne (known for his work with everyone from Tony Bennett to Sublime, the Bangles, and Sugar Ray) produced Everything Will Never Be OK in 2002, Fiction Plane didn't have a full-time drummer -- and the person who ended up filling in on that album was session player Abe Laboriel Jr., who had been a member of Paul McCartney's band. After that, Sumner and Brown hired an American drummer, Paul Wilhoit, to go on tour with them. MCA released Everything Will Never Be OK in the United States in March 2003. ~ Alex Henderson
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