Q & A with Jack Carty

Jack Carty & Gus Gardiner. Photo by Natasha Saba

Jack Carty & Gus Gardiner. Photo by Natasha Saba

Award-winning singer-songwriter Jack Carty and former Papa vs. Pretty bassist Gus Gardiner have been inseparable since meeting in a university elevator in 2009. It's a friendship and creative collaboration that's seen them through shoestring tours, share-houses, breakups and bridal parties. Gardiner has also held bass and 'cello credits on three of Carty's four studio albums.

Hospital Hill – which come out on 1st June - is a truly collaborative effort from these two accomplished musicians. The ten-song collection, co-written and produced by the duo, is a reflection of their individual and combined skills, magnified throughout by a stellar string quartet that includes members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

Jack is heading our way to play Solbar on June 22, so we decided to dig further into the journey he made while making 'Hospital Hill'...

Hello Jack… congratulations on the new album. ‘Hospital Hill’ is beautifully rich, with enough air to let your lyrics and vocal melody keep us engaged and, honestly, mesmerised. How long did this album take to come together? I know it was recorded live (in complete takes) over two days… but those string arrangements, and song structures must have taken some time to finesse.

Hello! Thank you! That’s very kind.
I made the album with a great friend and amazing instrumentalist called Gus Gardiner and it took a couple of years to finish from the moment we conceived of it in the dressing room of some venue somewhere. But that was mostly because both of us were busy touring and working on other things at the same time as we were putting HOSPITAL HILL together. 
Gus was working on his old band Papa vs Pretty, and then the current artists he plays with like Montaigne and Jarryd James; and I was making my solo albums and starting to tour in the UK as well as at home in Australia.
We did put a lot of love and care into all the parts, and that always takes time - but it all flowed really freely when we were in the room together working on the music. We’re both really proud of the end result.

‘Hospital Hill’ has you focusing on the town you grew up in. A lot of people spend their time trying to escape the place where they grew up in, either because of bad memories, or the desire to see the world, and you’ve said that you have been thinking a lot of your home now… what were the triggers that caused you to think of home? And given that quite some time has passed, are the reasons you left not as big as you thought they were, hence why the thoughts of home were comforting?

I think it was getting married and starting to think about the next stage of my life that got me thinking about my home town again. For years I’d been travelling and touring solo, and
I thought that that would be my life from then on. Then all of a sudden, I started to miss having a dog, and my own kitchen, and a community around me, and my own bed to sleep in each night. I
also started thinking about how much the places and people we grow up with shape us, and the
way in which nostalgia can colour our memories. That’s a bit of a common theme throughout the record.

You reimagined an older track, ‘Kindness Is A Dying Art’ (from your album ‘Home State’)… originally a fairly driving track… what made you revisit this song and give it a new lease of life?

Funnily enough we had the string arrangement for Kindness Is A Dying Art before it ended up on ‘Home State’. It was one of the first songs Gus and I worked on together for what became Hospital Hill – but shortly after we’d finished it Gus’ schedule filled up and for a little while it looked like we might not get to make this record together after all. I always liked the song and so I reimagined it in a more rock n’ roll sense for ‘Home State’. It just so happened that that album saw the light of day first. I always thought Gus’ arrangement was too good to not also go on the strings album.

You uprooted and moved to the UK last year. What’s the state of the British music scene like currently? They can be notoriously picky and rather harsh critics one moment, and praising new talent the next…

I’ve had an amazing experience over here so far. I’ve always been in love with classic songwriting and the power of a thoughtful lyric, and there is a huge tradition of that in the UK. Gus and I are on tour here at the moment – we just played in Sheffield tonight - and it’s been a dream. The venues have been beautiful, and the crowds seem really eager to engage with the music. We’re both feeling very lucky and looking forward to hitting the road in Australia in a couple of days.

And finally, yourself and (mate/collaborator) Gus Gardiner have had a close friendship since 2009, after meeting in a university elevator… do you remember what you said to each other at all?

If I’m being honest it’s been a really big 6 years and I can barely remember what I had for dinner tonight…

I probably mentioned something about being a fan of Gus’ old band Papa vs Pretty, and knowing Gus, he probably said something witty and disarming about the weather and how Arsenal were fairing in the English Premier League football.

Thanks Jack! Have a fantastic tour, and we’ll see you at Solbar Playhouse on June 22.

Thanks a lot! See you there