An Interview with amazing guitarist Carl Verheyen: Blues touches the soul much deeper than pop music.

"The Blues is a way to communicate my deepest feelings through my instrument."

Carl Verheyen: Six-strings Wizard

In his 40-plus years of playing the instrument, Carl has created a wildly successful, multi-faceted career. He is a critically-acclaimed musician, vocalist, songwriter, arranger, producer and educator with 11 CDs and two live DVDs released worldwide. Carl is commonly regarded as a guitar virtuoso capable of playing any style of music with remarkable mastery and conviction.

He has been one of LA’s elite “first call” session players for the past 25 years, playing on hundreds of records, movie soundtracks and television shows. Carl has graced the pages of countless industry publications and been the subject of numerous articles chronicling his rise to the forefront of the modern day guitar scene. Carl has won numerous polls and musical honors in the US, Germany, France, Italy and the UK.
A member of the smash hit British rock group Supertramp since 1985, Carl has played to millions of enthusiastic fans in sold out arenas worldwide. As the creative force behind The Carl Verheyen Band, he has released an impressive and eclectic discography that showcases his endless talents across a wide array of musical genres. A much sought after studio musician, Carl plays on other artists’ CDs whenever his busy schedule permits. He has recorded and played with a virtual who’s who of the music industry.
He also has a book/CD detailing his unique “intervallic” style called Improvising Without Scales. Another book entitled Studio City is a compilation of all the columns Carl wrote for Guitar Magazine between 1996 and 1999. He has written a monthly column for Chitarre, Italy’s #1 guitar publication as well as Guitar World and Guitar Jam Daily, a website devoted to serious guitarists. He currently writes a monthly column for Guitar Player, contributes to other guitar publications and blogs regularly for and his own site. Carl also lectures and teaches at clinics regularly when not on the road.

Interview by Michael Limnios

Mr. Verheyen, when was your first desire to become involved in the blues & who were your first idols?
I had been playing for a few years when I heard Eric Clapton. Mike Bloomfield and the Allman Bros. Soon
after that I got into Freddy King and Albert King. Since the early '70s the blues have informed my playing style more than any other kind of music.

How do you describe Carl’s progress and sound?
My sound has two parts: One is crystal clear, clean and precise. The other is fat and warm, distorted but pure.

What characterize your music philosophy?
I want to play with the best musicians possible, on the highest musical level I can at all times.

What does the BLUES mean to you & what does offer you?
It’s a way to communicate my deepest feelings through my instrument.

What do you learn about yourself from music?
I learn that I can always push myself a little harder and play a little better if I try.

What experiences in your life make you a GOOD musician and songwriter?
Seeing the world. Meeting thousands of people. Having a loving family. Experiencing pain and happiness….

How/where do you get inspiration for your songs & who were your mentors in songwriting?
Sometimes al melodic idea will come to me while I’m walking down the street in a strange and foreign land. Other times I’ll play my guitar for three hours straight and ideas will begin to flow!

Do you remember anything funny or interesting from the recording time?
There are happy accidents that occur in recording. One time while playing a solo with a Strat through a Fender Princeton I noticed my Dobro, which was sitting on a stand next to the amp, was vibrating. I tuned the Dobro to Bb, the key of the song, and took a direct out from the pickup into the board. This gave me the most beautiful “tuned reverb” as I played up and down the Stratocaster neck. Now I use that technique all the time!

What are some of the most memorable gigs and jams you've had?
On three separate occasions I’ve had the great fortune to play at the Roman Coliseum in Nimes, France. The full moon rose between the ancient Roman arches while we were on stage, and I realized at that moment that this place has been a “gig” for over 2,000 years. I also played the one in Verona, Italy. Both of those were with Supertramp. A few years ago I played a theater that was built for Napoleon on the Isle of Elba, where he was exiled. These places have so much history; it’s very special to be on those stages.

Which of historical music personalities would you like to meet?
If by the word historical you mean musicians that have come before us, I would have to say: Albert King, Mike Bloomfield, John Lennon, George Harrison, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Wes Montgomery, Joe Zawinul and John Coltrane.

Some music styles can be fads but the blues is always with us. Why do think that is?
It touches the soul much deeper than pop music.

Give one wish for the BLUES
I wish the great modern blues' musicians that are alive today could make a good living. So many of them just barely make enough money to survive and play in miserable conditions.

Are there any memories from the Supertramp, which you’d like to share with us?
Many! Here’s one: Once while standing at the front of the stage at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit my eyes were closed and I was lost in the moment. The sound of the guitar, the roar of the audience and the flow of my solo all came together and I was just FLYING! Then, all of a sudden I had no sound and my strings felt dead. I opened my eyes to see a wet t-shirt wrapped around the neck of my guitar and a topless female dancing in the crowd and down below me!

Would you mind telling me your most vivid memory from John Fogerty, and B.B. King?
John singing a high “B” three feet away from me. B.B. telling stories while playing his guitar softly.

Which was the best moment of your career and which was the worst?
The worst was when I was 16-yearsold singing a song from up in the choir loft at a church, for someone’s wedding. The sheet music fell down to the pews below, during the song! I had to make up the bridge and the rest of the lyrics! The best gig is yet to come!

Of all the people you’ve meeting with, who do you admire the most?
I’ve met many guitarists. Some of the ones I’ve met that I really admire are: Larry Carlton, Pat Martino, Pat Metheny, Joe Pass, B.B. King, Brad Paisley, John Jorgenson, Steve Morse, Joe Bonamassa, Eric Johnson, Brian May and many others!

From whom have you have learned the most secrets about the blues music?
Albert King. You can hear his influence in everyone from Eric Clapton to Stevie Ray Vaughn.

What is your music DREAM?
I’m living it!

What turns you on?
When I’m playing in the moment, above my ability!

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians thinking of pursuing a career in the craft?
I believe today’s young musicians should learn many styles, not just the blues. The music advances when outside influences are melded with the traditional and cross-pollination occurs. Blues rock, country blues and jazz blues are a few of the genres that come to mind when the players stretch out from the traditional.

Happiness is……
Coming home from a great tour to my family. This is a joy you only know when you’ve been away….

Carl Verheyen’s official website

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