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Progressive Rock Interviews

Carl Verheyen

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Carl Verheyen from 2015

First off, we’d love to hear about some of your musical history. Starting with Supertramp, what are some of your best memories of that band?

As of this year I’m officially a 30 year veteran with the ‘tramp. Memories abound, but an amazing moment that comes to mind was playing in the Roman Arena in Nimes, France. The full moon rose between the ancient arches, and it dawned on me that this has been a “gig” for over 2,000 years. We’ve done that one many times and there always seems to be a full moon rising. 

MSJ: You’ve also done a lot (and “a lot” is an understatement really) of studio work. Are there some particular sessions that stand out in your memory?
Some of the big film dates with 105 piece orchestras where I’ve been the “principle soloist” have been pretty amazing.  My own records, too! I remember a session on the Mustang Run CD with Simon Phillips, Jim Cox and Cliff Hugo that was absolutely magical.
MSJ: What does working with other artists do for you that you can’t get in your solo work?
It enables me to be the “well listened craftsman” instead of the artist. I love so many different kinds of music but my own musical artistic “brand” is very guitar based, obviously. So it’s fun to be a part of projects where I’m a small part of the whole. It’s also great when people ask me to sound like someone else. I did a movie called “Walking Tall” where they asked me to be Billy Gibbons. The “well listened craftsman” in me can get the exact sound out of the right guitar and amp and even differentiate between the Chicago shuffle feel and the Texas shuffle, which is ZZ Top. So that’s just nothing but fun!
MSJ: Conversely, how different is it recording your own stuff from collaborating on other people’s projects?
My goal is to make music sound different, that’s what I’m here to do. When I work as a sideman or studio musician, my goal is to interpret the artistic vision of the artist or composer and get as close to that as possible, which can be as far away from my own musical sensibilities as humanly possible!
MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
I might be a wine maker.
MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
George Harrison, Roger McGuinn, Mike Bloomfiled, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Chet Atkins, Joe Zawinul, John Coltrane, Bill Evans (keyboardist) Sonny Rollins, Duane Allman, Ry Cooder, Wayne Shorter, Donald Fagan, Joni Mitchell, Steve Stills and hundreds more!
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
In the immediate future I have six upcoming solo concerts promoting my new solo acoustic CD called “Alone.” Then my band has a festival tour in July over in Europe. Following that we have a west coast tour in September and then Supertramp goes out in November for three weeks. It will be a very musical year!
I know artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
I used to say “blues rock” but then realized there’s jazz and country in there, too.  How about “New World Fusion?”
MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?
Many! Too many to mention.  Clapton, Derek Trucks, McCartney, Wayne Shorter…
MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

Definitely a hindrance because we use the money from the sale of our last CD to make our next.  Without a patron of the arts in your camp the business model doesn’t support new music. I’m lucky my fans and demographic still buys CDs and believes they’re the best way to hear and transport recorded music.

MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?
I’m not opposed to that so much.
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
I’m pretty fed up with Kanye these days.
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
How about Jaco Pastorius on bass, Joe Zawinul on keys and Derek Trucks on second guitar. Of all the great drummers I’ve played with it would be hard to pick just one for percussion duties. How about Vinny Caliuta and John Bonham together?
MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?

Living or dead? How about Jimi Hendrix Experience or Band of Gypsies, Cream, Weather Report, The Beatles, John Coltrane Quartet and Supertramp!

MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
Allison Krause and Union Station Brand New Favorite, David Gray, Steely Dan Gaucho, The Rascals Greatest Hits, Isaac Hayes Black Moses and the latest CD I bought was Robert Plant’s new one called “Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar.”
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Felix Cavaliere and the Rascals a week ago. I dig me some Felix!
Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
Many! I like “You Were on My Mind” by the We Five.  I like all the Bee Gee’s stuff pre-Saturday Night Fever.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Some fan threw his sweat-drenched t-shirt at me while I was playing a solo out on the “ego ramp” in front of the stage at an arena in Detroit.  It wrapped around the neck of my guitar and it took me a few moments to realize why there was no sound happening when I picked the strings!
MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
The Pharaoh Khufu, Leonardo di Vinci and Wes Montgomery or Chet Atkins or Miles Davis.
MSJ: What would be on the menu?
Lamb chops and artichokes.
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
If you’re a guitar player, learn everything you like. Don’t just master one single genre of music because the cross pollinating of musical styles is what makes it grow into something new and different. It will make you infinitely more hire-able as a sideman, too.


MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 2 at
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