The most recent name added to the impressive line-up at this year’s Lytham Festival probably got many people wondering.
So for all those who were in any doubt, to clarify Joe Sumner is indeed the son of the Friday night headliner Sting (real name Gordon Sumner).
Being the son of famous musician has to be hard; particularly when you choose to earn your living in the same business. It’s clearly an issue which Joe has thought long and hard about.
“It’s been a constant battle internally for me,” he said. “When I first started out in music and got signed to a record label (with his band Fiction Plane) I wanted to earn it; I wanted it to all be about the music and nothing else.
“Looking back now I still find that admirable but I have also learned that my situation is weird and it’s something I have to accept.
“Some people say it’s nepotism and doors have been opened for me but, look, I can’t fight a battle that’s not there and I’ve had to figure out how to deal with it.
“There are times when it does bug me; my situation is weird but I have learned that I’ve got my own life to lead and I can choose to a greater or lesser extent to be frustrated or happy about it.”
Speaking from his hotel room in Frankfurt where he is supporting his dad’s My Songs tour, Joe cuts a relaxed, friendly figure who is clearly used to having to deal with questions about ‘the family business’.
“You would not believe the number of times I get a coffee and someone says ‘here you are Mr Summers’ (Andy Summers was the guitarist in The Police alongside Sting).
“I even get Joe Strummer quite a lot - I’ll certainly take that,” he laughed.
At Lytham, fans will get the chance to hear songs from Joe’s new solo album Sunshine in the Night which is due for release in September. He’s relishing the opportunity to be playing live.
“With Covid we all spent two years doing nothing and I think that gave us a different perspective to realise that all this isn’t guaranteed,” he said. “After that and I got the chance to hit the road and play for people, it had to be done.
“I don’t feel too much pressure as I love the idea of getting out and singing my songs for people so they can hear them. With creative ideas they have just got to get out. You have got to give them a chance to fall on stony ground or grow.
“You don’t know which it will be until you do it but it has just got to be done.”
Sunshine in the Night has been a relatively long time coming. The last Fiction Plane album was released in 2015 but Joe believes that songs need time to develop.
“The most success I’ve had with songs are the ones I’ve been thinking of the idea for for years,” he said. “Then ideally everything comes at once otherwise you are shoehorning things together that don’t quite fit. Putting an album together does take me some time but I like to believe in the lyrics I’m writing.
“If I got up on stage spouting some insincere nonsense, that’s who I might become and I can’t do that.”
It was listening to Nirvana which convinced Joe that his future lay in music.
“Before that I had no interest,” he said, “I wanted to play video games. But then I got the bug and that was it; the meaning of life was being in a band and singing songs - it just felt right.”
Given that he has an award-winning songwriter on speed dial, does Joe use his dad as a sounding bird for his songs?
“I don’t play him early versions of the songs,” he said. “He’s a considered critic but he can be fierce. If you do a lyrical cliche, it’s all over.”
As well as introducing his own music to fans at Lytham, Joe is also hoping to use his visit to the coast to tick another box.
“You know, I have never been to Blackpool,” he said. “We lived in London when I was growing up so we’d go to Margate for the seaside but Blackpool is the classic. I will make time to get there.”
Joe Sumner is on the bill at Lytham Festival on Friday, June 30 alongside Sting, Blondie, Kaiser Chiefs and Germain. Other festival headliners include Jamiroquai, Lionel Richie, George Ezra and Def Leppard and Motley Crue. Details from www.lythamfestival.com