I met Carl over 12 years ago, when we were both guest clinicians at the Summer Guitar and Bass Workshop in Pittsburgh, PA. We hit it off, and when I moved to Los Angeles in 1999, he was very generous with his time and advice, letting me tag along with session calls and witness him in action. Besides Carl playing on two of my CDs ("Ventura Blvd." on King Friday, and "Terrestrial Races" on Earth Tones), and sharing the stage at various venues in town, we had a short lived, but great blues band a couple years ago called Blue Band, which included Joey Heredia on drums and Philip Bynoe on bass.
Adrian: When did you start playing guitar? How old were you?
Carl: 11 years old. I got a guitar and my 1st lesson on my 11th birthday. Lessons were $2.50.
Adrian: Do you remember what prompted you to pick up the instrument?
Carl: It was definitely George Harrison and Roger McGuinn.
Adrian: Did you take lessons and were your parents supportive?
Carl: Yes and very!
Adrian: When did you know that you wanted to pursue music professionally?
Carl: I knew immediately that it was what I wanted to do when I grew up.
Adrian: What’s your philosophy or approach toward the role your instrument plays in a band performance? And does your approach to playing live differ than when tracking in the studio?
Carl: I play in a few different bands and musical situations in the studio, so my approach changes with each situation. But while tracking a record I believe in making the definitive version of the song FOR ALL TIME. Then later in rehearsals I'll worry about the live version, which may be an approximation of more than one guitar part.
Adrian: Who are your top 5 musical influences?
Carl: Hendrix, Bloomfield, Clapton, Zawinul, McCartney. But it might be different tomorrow.
Adrian: I know you do a lot of session work. I imagine every session is different, but gear-wise, what do you find yourself bringing to every studio?
Carl: I usually have a Stratocaster of some kind along. I have 5 different pedal boards and one of them will be there, too.
Adrian: Some people imagine that session musicians can be "a jack of all trades or a master of none", however you certainly seem to be able to play many different styles, very authentically, AND you still have a very unique identity on guitar. How do you explain this? What steps did/do you take to be able to emulate various guitar styles and develpe our own identity?
Carl: I divide my career into 2 completely different paths: the artistic solo career and the "craftsman" career. I did all that homework many years ago, figuring out the different styles and understanding the "ornamentation" of each style. But what I continue to work on every day is my own style. And everything I learned over the years about bluegrass, jazz, metal, country, rockabilly, finger-style, classical and rock informs my own musical identity, too.
Adrian: What artists have you been digging/listening to currently?
Carl: Sax player Bill Evans, Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, Herbie Hancock and John Scofield (who I just shared a double bill with in Holland.
Adrian: Can you share a career highlight? What made it so special?
Carl: In July I played a festival in France with Supertramp for 77,000 people. It was the last show of the tour and a very large audience. There were people as far as I could see in almost every direction. Those only come around about every 7 years or so. Last month my band played in Graz, Austria for the first time and it seemed everyone knew the words to my songs! Those highlights are very recent, but they're the things that keep me going!
Adrian: Most people have a “Spinal Tap” moment in their careers, any strange or funny road stories?
Carl: I had a dude throw a soaking wet t-shirt on stage and it wrapped around my guitar neck during a solo. My band pulled up to an Italian hotel that we were booked into for the night, only to find it was completely under construction, not taking reservations until 2014. I flew to Detroit to play a concert and my guitar went to Honolulu. But here's the worst: I got hired to play at my friend's big sister's wedding when I was 17. I planned on reading the sheet music to the very sappy tune "Love Story." I was in the choir loft and it blew off the railing right at the big bridge. I had to make up words, chord changes and the melody for the entire bridge and play the rest from memory. Needless to say, I packed up and split before getting paid and resolved never to show up unprepared again!
Adrian: What projects are you currently working on, and what/where can we expect to hear from you in the near future?
Carl: I just finished some instructional videos for Truefire and have touring plans with the CVB for March and June in 2012. My band will play the Canyon Club on December 1st and All Star Guitar Night at NAMM in January.