HONI SOIT, 21 APRIL 2010
Even for an ambitious young musician, Jack Carty has a frighteningly clear sense of direction. The talented songwriter’s confidence isn’t to be mistaken for arrogance, though, as he tells me – “I’d like to be able to pack out the Enmore Theatre, don’t get me wrong… but there’s a difference between fame that’s just for fame’s sake and just being well-known for doing something well.”
And the signs are promising for Carty so far. After the October release of his debut EP, Wine & Consequence, Carty has won the 2010 MusicOz award for Acoustic Singer/Songwriter of the year. With the awards known colloquially as the ‘independent ARIAs’, Carty’s achievement is a hint of happy times to come.
That’s not to say that Carty’s songs avoid the darker subjects. The EP’s title track yearns for a romance lost abroad, as Carty sings – If I could, I’d scream aloud ‘til she came running back, but London’s much too far away for that. On the ‘emotive solo singer/songwriter’ scale, Carty sits somewhere in the space between Paul Dempsey and Josh Pyke.
It’s other famous musical names, though, who Carty has impressed so far. He’s shared stages with Tim Freedman and Pinky Beecroft, the former frontman of alt-rock enfants terribles Machine Gun Fellatio. Last year, Carty supported American Joshua Radin at Manning Bar, to favourable reviews.
But Carty takes more pleasure in simply performing alongside his mates, like fellow independent songwriter Isaac Graham. “It’s almost like we’re all family, you know – we’re all jamming together, writing songs together, playing each other’s songs, playing at each other’s gigs. That’s one of the coolest things.”
The communal musical spirit, Carty believes, will ensure that live music survives in this city, despite high-profile venue closures. “There are still places out there, and I think you’ve just got to be tenacious and put yourself out there.” His advice to younger artists is to take every chance they’re offered – even the “really shitty gigs”. “Someone will be like, ‘Hey, do you want to play on my front lawn?’ ‘Yeah, sure!’”
Carty has barely had the time to take stock of his success, to the point where his former group – the tremendously named Jack Carty & The Party – was never officially disbanded. In losing members to Melbourne and other musical pursuits, Carty “just started focusing on the solo stuff for a while… I’m sure we’ll all come back together one day.”
Still, The Party will have a hard time hailing Carty down for a return, if his current work rate is any indication. Over the next month or two, Carty will tour from Sydney’s Excelsior Hotel all the way up to Cairns and back again.
The middle of the year will deliver a debut Jack Carty album, with its songs already written and recording underway. In testament to his perfectionism, however, Carty is delaying the release until after a writing pilgrimage to the U.S. where he’ll work with Dixie Chicks collaborator Dan Wilson. “If they turn out to be really good songs,” Carty says, “I’d like to put them on the album.”
What Carty is certain of is the musical direction the release will take. “The EP was the first time in my life that I’ve ever listened to a record of myself and gone, ‘Yeah, that sounds like me’, and I really want to keep that feeling… I think that’s a really important thing as an artist.” With a pause, he adds, “But at the same time, I’m trying to grow as a songwriter.”
If this confident young man from Bellingen has his way, that maturity will result in more success on a grander scale. Have his achievements thus far attracted the kind of screaming fans who throw their underpants at him during gigs? Not quite, he laughs. “I’ve never had underpants, no. At least not on stage.”