ONCE AGAIN, THE SUMMER
touring season is upon us, and I’m traveling
throughout Canada, Europe, and the
USA. Once upon a time, it was impossible
to perform live in Toronto and also do
a session in Los Angeles. Session players
used to say things such as, “Everything
always happens when I’m gone,”
or “If you want your phone to ring, leave
town.” But the world has really opened
up in the recording industry. No longer
do you need to be near a studio to do
a session, as tracks can be sent via the
Internet to home studios (or production
facilities) in every corner of the planet.
But just because I can now do sessions
while I’m on the road doesn’t mean
there aren’t challenges. For one thing, my
stage gear is usually on the truck heading
to the next venue, and I’ll only have
my “hotel room guitar” with me—not
exactly the appropriate ax for recording.
You’re also at the mercy of the client’s
organizational skills, such as the time I
was called to play on a record while I was
performing in Paris. After much communication
over scheduling, styles, and
sounds, the band picked me up at my
hotel, and drove me to a nice studio on
the outskirts of the city. I proceeded to
dial in a tone using a handful of unfamiliar
pedals and a strange, no-name French
amp, but when the guys put up the track,
there was nothing on the hard drive! They
had driven nine hours from Marseilles,
and hadn’t bothered to check their drive
before leaving. Session scrapped.
It’s also difficult knowing a recording
decision is less than optimum, but
when the client is also the engineer and
producer, there’s not a lot I can do. For
example, I recently played on two tracks
at a home studio in Vancouver. The artist
had guitars, amps, pedals, plug-ins, and
a tuner all ready to go when I arrived.
However, against my better judgment, he
wanted to print my tracks with reverb and
delay effects. You’re limited later if you
want to make changes, and, sometimes, a
wet guitar will sound way too processed
against a dry drum sound.
I’ve also enjoyed doing sessions from
the comfort of my home. During the six
seasons of the TV show Lost, the composer’s
assistant would arrive with a
laptop, a mic, and charts. I’d add electric
and acoustic parts to the previously
recorded orchestral tracks, and as there
were just a few cues that needed guitar,
it saved me a trip out to the studio. We
called them “field recordings.”
So I’m very familiar with this fieldrecording
technique, having done a jingle
from backstage in Vigo, Spain, and a record
date from my hotel room in Torino, Italy. In
fact, someone sent me a CD from Sweden
that I don’t even remember playing on.
He said I did it in Seattle. Oh yeah—now,
I remember. The bass player came to my
hotel, and we did the session in a conference
room. What a life!
A member of Supertramp since 1985, Carl
Verheyen has also logged a dazzling 25-year
career as one of L.A.’s premier studio guitarists.
His most recent Carl Verheyen Band
release is the DVD, The Road Divides.
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