The Supertramp Mystique Extends to Instrumental Records, Too
Singer/guitarist Carl Verheyen probably hasn't ever needed to file for unemployment with the musicians union. After a couple of decades as a sought-after studio axeman, he launched a solo career more than ten albums deep, teaches music at the university level, and has authored instructional books and DVDs.
Photos courtesy of Glass Onyon PR Carl Verheyen rocks out!
Oh, and he also has been a permanent member of Supertramp ("The Logical Song," "Goodbye Stranger," "Give a Little Bit") since 1996. But for his most recent effort, last year's Mustang Run (Cranktone), he offered up an almost all-instrumental guitar record, which attracts a much different audience than a standard rock one with vocals.
"I believe that the state of the art of the so-called guitar record is not about shredding and blazing down the fingerboard," he offers while on a studio break from producing (yet another gig of his). "It's more about texture and sonic tapestries that you put together with different sounds. That's where I was coming from with this. I didn't want a 'chops' record. I wanted a melodic record."
To prep for writing the tunes, Verheyen says he pulled out the Top 10 instrumental guitar-based records in his own collection. Everything from Pat Martino and Pat Metheny to the Dixie Dregs. What he found consistent with those records is that, while the artist may have been neatly placed in a category, the music ran a wide gamut of styles.
Verheyen took note, and Mustang Run includes tunes with grounding in rock, jazz, blues, melodic, funk, balladry, and even classical. He also credits his years as a gun for hire -- which might find him playing slow jazz one day and heavy metal the next -- with teaching him about versatility.
"I wanted the guitar to be the vocal for a change," he adds. "But I love to sing and love vocal music, so my next record will probably be about that."
Well, Mustang Run includes one vocal track out of the 11, a remake of the Supertramp hit "Bloody Well Right." Verheyen says that he was playing around with the riff one day, and an altered version made it into his band's live set, which led to audience requests for him to put it out properly.
Not surprisingly, his all-instrumental work has found more appreciative audiences in Europe than the U.S., as audiences over there are more used to the absence of a vocalist. However, his Houston show will consist of about half instrumentals and half songs with vocals. Verheyen says that fans think nothing of catching multiple gigs across different countries, and one married couple he's gotten to know has been to more than 70 shows.
"European audiences really appreciate that blues and jazz element to rock music," he says. "When you play in Rome, there are a lot of great musicians there, but they don't come from the blues. They also really respect improvisation over there."
Story continues on the next page.