Hollywood’s guitar guru, Carlos Calvo, premieres his new single and music video “A Dozen Years From Now” today, here at Blogcritics. Shot at Behringer’s studio in L.A., the video features Hector Torres on cajon and Mai Bloomfield of Jason Mraz’s band on cello.
Carlos played guitar on King of the Hill’s score for three seasons, as well as working on Californication for six seasons, Ray Donovan, Aquarius, and the James Brown biopic Get On Up. He owns a publishing company with actor Rob Morrow, and his former and current students include David Duchovny, Adam Levine, Marg Helgenberger, Ambry Childers, Neil Diamond’s children, and Joe Perry.
How would you describe yourself?
I would say that I’m hard working, but always able to find the fun and enjoyment in hard work. But then when it’s time to relax, I’m ready to go! [laughs] Can someone be intense and relaxed at the same time? Because I think I might be.
What do you do for fun?
As I said, being a musician is quite fun! But I also love preparing food for friends, having a select and interesting group of people over my house while my wife and I spoil them with a wonderful meal!
Also, spending time with my 10-month-old daughter is about as much fun as I’ve ever had, it’s pretty amazing.
What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?
Huh, I’m not the biggest troublemaker. I broke my collarbone once in an ATV accident at a remote beach in Central America and was rushed to a sketchy clinic with a dirt floor and ancient x-ray machine; I thought I was in pretty big trouble then!
What’s your favorite song to belt out in the car or the shower?
If a Beatles song begins to play, I still lose restraint and have to sing along. Funny, I have almost the same response with early Van Halen [laughs].
What kind of guitar do you play? And why?
I play electric and acoustic guitar equally. With electric guitar, I’ve been a Fender Strat player for decades, but I recently purchased a Gretsch, and I’m in love. My main acoustic is a Bourgeois Banjo Killer; these are stunningly crafted guitars from Maine. I also have a brilliant Martin D-28, as well as a vintage Martin 00-17.
What musicians influenced you the most?
Certainly, it has always been about guitar players for me. Early on, my obsession was classical and flamenco guitar. Segovia, Bream, Williams, and Parkening on the classical side. My flamenco heroes were Sabicas, Manolo Sanlúcar, and of course the greatest of all, Paco de Lucía. Coincidently, I grew up living next door to Al DiMeola and his family. So, great guitar playing was never too far away!
Eventually, I discovered Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix, and things changed direction a bit!
How, if at all, do your musical influences shape and impact your music?
Great question! I was a very dedicated student of the guitar and music before I discovered that I could write songs, and even sing them. I feel like I dig a little deeper on the harmony side of writing, exploring secondary harmonies and chord substitutions to try to create a slightly more original palette of sounds. When a guitar solo is appropriate, or a guitar line, I tend to mix some of the classic scales, such as pentatonic, with arpeggios outlining the chords in the song, even using chord substitutions in arpeggio form. I think that sound is very cool.
How would you describe your style of music?
I would describe my style as alternative folk/pop. Really, I truly love working within the classic construct of the pop song, but also incorporating influences from outside of pop or rock.
Where do you find inspiration for your songs?
Musically, all inspiration happens when I pick up the guitar. Lyrically, it happens in life. There is so much to draw from in everyday life, or from conversations with close friends about their lives. My lyric writing style is not very literal; it’s more expressionistic and metaphorical rather than straight-up storytelling.
What is your songwriting process? Do the lyrics come first, or the music?
Again, the guitar is the facilitator of all things. I almost always start with a musical idea. I do keep some lyric ideas, themes, and song titles in mind, waiting for a chance to use them. But music happens first. Then I start babbling lyric and melody ideas over the music, hoping that something forms. If something does, it’s quite an incredible feeling that is difficult to describe!
I really like your album Further Down The Line. What inspired the album? And do you have plans for another album in the future?
It’s hard to say, the future is wide open! (Is that a Petty quote?) I am in the process of releasing a single that I’m very excited about. I’m very proud of how the song came out, in both the composition and production. It’s called “A Dozen Years From Now.” Check it out on your favorite music platform! [Scroll down for the Blogcritics premiere.]
As far as the album’s inspiration, I was kind of pondering the theme of movement. Certainly physical movement, but also social movement, or the way one evolves in life, and how the movement through life precipitates some sort of change, inevitably. Then again, I might have just made all that up. Either way, I’m glad you like the album!
Of all the things you’ve done as a guitarist/singer/songwriter/producer, what’s your favorite?
I have certainly had what I consider to be a very charmed and varied run as a working musician. I have worked as a session guitarist on amazing and fun TV shows such as Fox’s King of the Hill, which I worked on for three seasons. I have coached actors, preparing them for roles as guitar players in productions such as Get On Up, the James Brown biopic, as well as having worked six seasons on Showtime’s hit show, Californication. I have a songwriting partnership with the awesome and talented actor Rob Morrow. And I have even opened for Bob Dylan and Paul Simon with my own band. These among so many other experiences playing music with my band as well as other artists I respect and admire. It’s impossible to pick just one!
What is your primary creative focus at the present time?
I am currently trying to balance writing and recording new music of my own with writing, producing, and even performing with a handful of other artists. I really am enjoying playing with other artists more than I ever have! Besides lending a fresh perspective to working on my own music, it puts me in situations where I’m collaborating with other musicians, which is one of the greatest fraternities one can belong to. Musicians are truly some of the most inspiring people I have met, and I feel fortunate that I get to spend time with them, both making music, and sharing life. I hope that doesn’t sound overly biased! [laughs]