If photography is the practice of painting with light, then music is the practice of painting with sound. Andy Summers is an expert in both disciplines.
Summers, the legendary guitarist for The Police, has been taking photos for longer than he's been famous. His new solo album,Triboluminescence, provides a handy metaphor for his career in both aural and visual arts.
"[The word] means creating light from dark," he tells Q104.3 New York's Out of the Box with Jonathan Clarke of the album title. "It's very much the creative act of music. I thought it was a very applicable metaphor."
Triboluminescence is an avant-garde, cinematic slice of illusory guitar work, perhaps borne from the complicated democracy of Summers' most well-known musical project. The guitarist tells the show that he's relished the opportunity to lead a band, to call the changes himself and to not have to argue with anyone.
While he refers to The Police as an "egotistical" group more than once in his Out of the Box interview, Summers underscores how proud he is of what the band accomplished. Summers says the famous and constant power struggle within The Police is part of what caused him to dedicate so much energy to photography so early one; he was finally autonomous behind his camera.
Since then, Summers has released a number of photo books, documenting virtually his entire career with The Police and beyond.
"You have to develop an aesthetic," Summers says of learning to wield a camera. "Photography is all about the mind; it's not about the camera. The camera's secondary. You learn this as you go along. You start out as a happy-snapper. Of course like anything else, it's like playing music; you do it long enough, you get more and more sophisticated with it. You look back at five years ago and laugh. This is the way it goes."
What began as a hobby to pass the time between shows blossomed into a full-blown passion for Summers.
"It was a strange kind of psychological thing for me," he says. "I basically photographed almost every day of The Police...I was just kind of photographing my life."
Watch the full Out of the Box interview above.
Listen to Andy Summers' new song "Gigantopithecus" from Triboluminescence: