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For Eliot Sumner, music requires total honesty

Eliot Sumner will perform Friday night at the Riot Room, 4048 Broadway. Brother will open. Show time is 8 p.m. Admission to the 21-and-older show is $10-$12.
Eliot Sumner will perform Friday night at the Riot Room, 4048 Broadway. Brother will open. Show time is 8 p.m. Admission to the 21-and-older show is $10-$12. File photo

Eliot Sumner bears a sometimes strong vocal resemblance to her famous father, Sting of the Police, but that’s where any such comparisons end.

Sumner, 25, first emerged in the music scene under the name I Blame Coco. In 2010, I Blame Coco released “The Constant,” an indie-pop album that included songs Sumner wrote when she was a teenager and fledgling songwriter. For her lastest album, “Information,” released in January, Sumner set off in a different direction, releasing it under her given name and exhibiting styles that are hers alone: a mix of soaring rock and electronica that can be at once as dark and brooding as it ebullient — gothic but dance-worthy.

Friday night, Sumner will display those sounds at the Riot Room, 4048 Broadway. Tuesday evening, a day after appearing on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and before a show in Silver Lake, Calif., Sumner spoke to The Star about her new album and her fondness for instrumental music and David Bowie.

Who are some of the bands who had the earliest influence on you and your music?

Pink Floyd and Radiohead. I gravitated towards that music. It was my first taste of music that was progressive and interesting as opposed to radio-friendly pop music.

What drew you to that, the music or the lyrics?

The music, I think. I connect with the music a lot more than the lyrics. I lean toward instrumental music: Vangelis, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, a lot of emotional, instrumental music. I connect with it more; it strikes me more than word. But it’s good to have lyrics and let people know what’s going on.

I hear some David Bowie in your music. Was he an influence?

Oh, yes. In so many ways. I’d listen to David Bowie albums every morning on my way to school. They were kind of drilled into my head. He was such an eclectic and a genius. He was like an alien, and I connected with that part a little bit. He was different from everyone, and he sort of made being different into a positive thing as opposed to something negative or self-isolating. On a very personal level, his music really connected with me and captivated me. It was devastating to hear he had passed. To live in the same lifetime as him was incredible.

A lot of your lyrics on “Information” are pretty personal. What’s it like to get on stage and reveal that?

It’s kind of weird. But being a musician, I think, you really have to be totally honest and be yourself 24 hours a day. It’s not like being an actor, where you can pretend to be somebody else for a bit and escape from yourself. You have to be honest. It can be frightening at times, but it’s worth it. It’s a bit like therapy.

Do you still perform anything from “The Constant” or have you moved on from those days?

More so in places like Germany, where that album had life and people there like those songs. We sometimes play a song called “Selfmachine,” which I really like. We’ve rearranged it in a way that it fits in better with the set. I’m not sure it works in America, because I’m not sure anyone knows that stuff.

What is your favorite part of the music life: touring, recording or creating?

Touring is everything to me. It’s the reason I love making music and playing music. The live aspect of my job is my favorite part.

Are you able to write and create on the road?

It’s impossible not to be creative when we’re on the road. We are all very creative, and we’re always playing around with things. A lot of cool ideas will come from this tour.

What will your new material sound like?

I’m still experimenting. We’ll write songs and see what direction they go in.

What do you tell people your music sound like?

It smells like jet fuel and air-conditioning.

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain

FRIDAY

Eliot Sumner will perform Friday night at the Riot Room, 4048 Broadway. Brother will open. Show time is 8 p.m. Admission to the 21-and-older show is $10-$12.

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