Carl Verheyen’s Studio Diary

June 14, 2011
<p><img style="width: 450px; height: 676px; float: left; margin-right: 5px; margin-left: 5px;" src="/Portals/0/gp0611_backpage1_nr.jpg" alt="img" /><strong>A TREND IN THE ROCK CONCERT</strong> business is to record every night of a tour, and offer some songs for near immediate release via the Web. I was initially a little nervous about this during rehearsals for a Supertramp tour last year. Knowing there would be an official release of every show was a little daunting. I like to reach for something a little different every night in my solos to keep the music fresh, and I can occasionally fall short of my own expectations. We improvisers don&rsquo;t like to fall into patterns&mdash;we always seem to feel the need to push the creative envelope&mdash; and, for me, a seat-of-your-pants attitude gives the music an edge that is missing in most arena shows these days.</p> <p>Of course, the risk in &ldquo;going for it,&rdquo; is that I can walk offstage overwhelmed with joy, or completely bummed out, based on my perception of what I played. I&rsquo;m sure you&rsquo;ve experienced the same thing, and here&rsquo;s why: Your assessment is based on what you <em>meant </em>to play&mdash;not necessarily what you played. Many times, when you&rsquo;re going for something and you miss, what you actually played is every bit as valid. It just takes a few days (or weeks) of separation from the show to hear it.</p> <p>For example, I recently recorded a live DVD with my band, and, of course, I went through the usual morning-after thoughts such as, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s rubbish&mdash;nothing I played was cool.&rdquo; But three weeks later, I realized it was actually a fine performance&mdash; mistakes and all. One happy accident was that my wah pedal was on by mistake at the beginning of a solo, and although I cringed at the time, it sounds cool now.</p> <p>The joy of performing should override any trepidation over the red light being on during a live show. That self-conscious feeling of second-guessing everything you&rsquo;ve just played gets you nowhere in a hurry, and it can restrict you from really going for it. We&rsquo;ve all experienced a bad night when things aren&rsquo;t coming together sonically, or the band isn&rsquo;t playing together well. So how do you rise above that type of adversity?</p> <p>I&rsquo;m reminded of the advice my friend Larry Carlton gave me many years ago, at a now-defunct L.A. jazz club called Donte&rsquo;s. I came onstage and noticed him in the front row&mdash;right under my nose. If that wasn&rsquo;t intimidating enough, my 1958 Gibson ES-175 had recently undergone a neck repair, and it wouldn&rsquo;t stay in tune. The entire night was a disaster, and at the end, I asked Larry what he does when all is going badly wrong. He said simply, &ldquo;I let the music take over.&rdquo;</p> <p>The Zen ability to take yourself out of the moment that just happened, and into the moment that is happening now is a skill I continually work on. Live recording is just one of the places where that skill comes in very handy.</p> <p><em>A member of Supertramp since 1985, Carl Verheyen has also logged a dazzling 25-year career as one of L.A.&rsquo;s premier studio guitarists. His most recent Carl Verheyen Band release is the DVD, </em>The Road Divides.</p>
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