I once did a movie trailer
for a young producer who played me
an industrial-sounding track to “get my
direction.” The tune sounded vaguely
familiar, but I couldn’t place it. My sonic
instincts told me it was a Les Paul though
a battery of pedals, so after dialing in the
right amount of grunge, I went to work
on the “wiggle” effects. There seemed
to be some Rotovibe swirl and vintage
phase shifting in the reference track, and
I also added random beeps and squawks
with an Electrix Filter Factory.
But the producer wasn’t satisfied. After every tweak I made,
he’d play the reference track, and insist that something was
missing. I’d go back and adjust my distortion, pedals, reverbs,
and delays. The engineer would move his mics, change EQ settings,
and fine-tune compression levels. And the producer just
got more and more upset that we couldn’t achieve the sound
on his reference CD.
After about an hour, I could see we
were heading down a centrifugal bumble-
pluck to nowhere. I put down my
guitar, walked over to the mixing board,
and asked, “What CD is this, anyway?”
The producer produced the CD, and I
just had to laugh. It was the soundtrack
to a Kathryn Bigelow movie I had
played on in 1995 called Strange Days.
The guitar sound the producer was so
intent on copying was mine! I opened
the booklet and showed him where it
said “Guitars by Carl Verheyen,” but he didn’t let up. Instead,
he asked naively, “Then, why can’t you get that sound now?” I
thought about explaining how it was a different studio, different
mics, a different board, and a different engineer. Instead,
I replied, “Because I just don’t feel that way today.” That shut
him up. We tracked the tune in five minutes.
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