An Interview with Lucas Carpenter

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Lucas Carpenter has been hard at work on his new EP The Shimmer. What have you been doing during the pandemic? All jokes aside, Lucas’s new EP really does “slap,” if you’re into this sort thing. I highly recommend you checking it out. You can dive in via Lucas’s Bandcamp here.

With that said, I’ve got Lucas Carpenter with us today. It was a good chat, and I really enjoyed getting to know Lucas a bit better. I think you will too. We touch on Lucas’s love for The Beatles, his admiration for not just Paul, but Linda McCartney, his thoughts on social media, and his recommendations for avoiding alcohol as an artist. If you would like to learn more about Lucas Carpenter, check out his Instagram here. Cheers.

Andrew:
Lucas, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. This last year has been rough, right? How are you holding up during this seemingly ever-raging dumpster fire?

Lucas:
Thanks for having me! Overall, I’ve just tried to work on new music, videos, and content from home as I can. I’m very fortunate I own a home in Nashville, so I’ve just spent a ton of time working on my house and home studio, as well as other projects…I always have something to keep me busy. I spent all of my 20s in one bedroom in small apartments, so I feel for people in situations like that. Had this happened 10 years ago I’d be in a one bedroom apartment in New York City, so though I’ve gotten very stir crazy at times, I know I’m VERY lucky. 

Andrew:
Tell us about your backstory. What was your musical gateway so to speak?

Lucas:
Buying Sgt. Pepper by The Beatles in middle school began my obsession with music. I started playing guitar, singing and writing soon after. I also was a BIG choir and musical theater kid in high school, which had a massive impact on me. From the jump, I was very into musical instruments of all sorts, so for a little while I thought I might go to school for Ethnomusicology, but I always knew I wanted to perform my own music professionally and eventually went to Berklee College of Music in Boston and got a BA in Songwriting. That is a very abridged version of it. Haha!

Andrew:
As an artist, who are some of your earliest and most important influences? How did you develop your signature sound?

Lucas:
The Beatles as well as solo Paul McCartney have always been #1. Early on, it was Rusted Root and Dave Matthews Band, who I still love. I always loved artists that write great Pop melodies, but used all sorts of different styles and instruments. Paul Simon and Sting are huge for me, big fan of the World-Fusion singer-songwriters. I mean, come on, the greatest melody makers/lyricists mixed with the greatest players from around the world. It’s high art, in my opinion. Rufus Wainwright, Third Eye Blind, and Rascal Flatts have always been at the top of my list as well. Mix all of that stuff together with a massive love for technology, dance music, and musical theater, and somewhere my music pops out. Haha!

The Shimmer | Lucas Carpenter

Andrew:
Let’s jump right in and talk about your new EP The Shimmer. What was the inspiration? What can you tell us about the recording? Where can we get your new EP and what formats will it be on?

Lucas:
This is the first new batch of songs I’ve released in a while and is kind of a “relaunch” for me after taking some years off to deal with life stuff. Half the songs are brand new, written in the last year or so, and the others were older. I worked with my friend Kevin Rooney at his home studio outside of Nashville. Kevin is a touring member and does production stuff for Rascal Flatts, so that was pretty special for me being such a longtime fan. I think it’s the best studio representation of my music for sure. Lots of acoustic instruments, homemade samples, Electronic elements, tons of vocals, and big Pop production. I’m just gonna say it: It slaps. As of now, it’s on all digital platforms, and eventually will be released in physical form either on it’s own or in a collection with future releases.

Andrew:
You’re not only a singer and songwriter, but you’re a multi-instrumentalist too, right? Tell us more about that. Did you play everything on your new EP yourself?

Lucas:
Kevin Rooney and I played everything, aside from some gang vocals (Elle Waters, Wren Goodkind, Steve Haan) on “Your Girlfriend” and bass on “The Persimmon Tree” was done by Blake Riley. (of lovelytheband) Kevin is a multi-instrumentalist as well and an incredible programmer, so we had a LOT of fun coming up with sounds. I’ve never been afraid to pick up other instruments and mess around with them, no matter how good I actually am at them. Haha. 

Andrew:
Let’s dive a little deeper into the EP and talk about the track “Linda McCartney.” This is a really interesting track. Any fan of Paul/The Beatles knows about the special love Linda and Paul shared. So, what is the message you’re trying to convey with this track? What is it about Linda and Paul that led you to write the track?

Lucas:
So there is a photo of Paul and Linda from the 70s where they’re holding a Gold Record plaque, rocking similar mullets, and making silly faces. They simultaneously look ridiculous, while also looking like blissful badasses. That photo to me is “Goals.” They somehow had this very down-to-earth relationship, while being on the top of the world. Their lives were so intertwined and inspired some of the greatest songs of that era…I mean to come out of THE BEATLES and you’re first solo record has “Baby I’m Amazed” on it?! THAT must’ve been a special lady. Understandably, people focus on Paul, but Linda was independently very successful and brought so much to his world. FUN FACT: Linda McCartney is the only person in history to have a photo she took on the cover of Rolling Stone (Eric Clapton, May 11, 1968), but to also BE on the cover herself. I think they beautifully represent a wholesome, romantic, creative partnership and what artist wouldn’t want that?! I want to get matching mullets and make weird music videos with the love of my life!

Andrew:
Let’s talk about the production side of things. Do you self-produce as well, or do you enlist the help of outside sources? Either way, what goes into the decision?

Lucas:
I demo stuff out myself and get general ideas of what I’m going for, but I know my limitations with audio engineering and mixing. Also, having someone else you trust to bounce ideas off of is huge for me. Back in the day, I would send tracks to a friend in Los Angeles who’d then add things, but Kevin Rooney and I did almost everything in the same room, which was SO nice. It took me a while to find someone who I really trust with what I’m trying to make, as it’s kind of left-of-center, but working with Kevin is what I’ve been looking for for a long time. Kevin is my production Linda McCartney…or my George Martin? Whatever, you get it!

Andrew:
What is the artist vision for your music going forward? How has it changed since you started? How have you evolved?

Lucas:
A big part of what I do is the one-man-band live looping show, which keeps evolving over time. I now have a battle station around me of instruments, pedals, and midi controllers, which is ever changing. I’d really like to take that as far as possible, because there’s so much you can do with technology now, even just as one person. Doing everything on the fly with no backing tracks is so much fun in front of an audience, it’s really turned into more of a performance art piece than “looping” for me. Eventually I want to play with a full band, or a smaller band who ALSO loops…it could get very whacky! There’s a ton of musical ideas in my head. I’d also like to write a musical someday.

Andrew:
Tell us about your songwriting process. Do your lyrics come from a personal place, or are you merely telling stories so to speak?

Lucas:
All the songs at least start out from a personal place, though some of the details may change in the writing process. I had a songwriting teacher named Pat Pattison who would always say, “Never let reality interfere with the truth.” If it makes for a better song as a whole, change the details. I almost always come up with a concept, then a title, then base everything around that title. It’s a fairly concise way of writing a story/thematic song. My songs tend to have, what at first, may seem like odd concepts, but within that story is a universal shared experience. Instead of writing, “I see this attractive girl who looks like trouble, but I’m going to go for it anyways against my better judgment!” My approach is, “Do you wanna be my first ex-wife? Eternity…just for a while. Well it may not go wrong, but it probably won’t go right, so I’ll be your ex-husband if you’ll be my ex-wife.” That’s way more interesting to me. Haha!

Andrew:
Touring is usually a huge part of a working artists proverbial machine, but as we know, COVID has disallowed it. What do you miss most about touring?

Lucas:
The connection with fans. Playing live shows has always been my favorite part of what I do, being on stage is where I feel the most comfortable. I love connecting with an audience and sharing that experience; it’s a very powerful and spiritual thing for me. Even if there’s only a few people in the audience, it becomes performance art in a lot of ways, and everyone is a part of the show. Also, just getting to talk to people and really learning about the people you’re making music for. I can’t imagine my life without that. It’s hard sometimes to stay motivated without having that energy charging my batteries, but I’m doing my best.

Andrew:
One disturbing face I’ve learned over time is that Spotify doesn’t pay artists well, if at all. What are your thoughts on that issue? How do we as fans do our part to help?

Lucas:
Artists seem to always be the last to make money in the music industry, and it seems like that may never change when it comes to large companies, whether it’s a giant record label, or now Spotify. Anything fans can do to DIRECTLY pay and support artists is the way to go. Buy merch, subscribe to fanclubs and Patreon type sites, tip and donate money, if possible. At the minimum, share posts on social media, join in on spreading the word to your friends. Even just interacting with posts helps the content get seen more: like, comment, share, save. All these massive social media companies want interactions, because it keeps people on their app/website, which in turn makes them more money in ad revenue, so use the multi-billion dollar tech companies to your advantage by interacting with the stuff you want to support, because they’ll push it to more people!

Andrew:
In a world dominated by capitalism and social media, can artists really, truly get ahead? How do we keep the playing field level so that everyone has a chance to succeed?

Lucas:
Making a living from art has historically been very difficult, so I don’t know if that will ever change. Most of the greatest works of art in human history were made for money, whether it was the Catholic church or a king paying for it. It’s obviously VERY difficult to be seen/heard above all the noise on social media, but I don’t think the playing field has ever been more level. Even just 20 years ago it was very expensive and challenging to get a good studio recording, let alone distribute it, but now you can make an album on your smartphone and almost instantly distribute it to the whole world. We live in magical, yet very distracting times. Haha. 

Andrew:
Are you into records? Tapes? CDs? Digital? Where do you like to shop for music?

Lucas:
Honestly, at this point, mostly streaming, just because of the convenience of it. It stinks that artists make so little money from streaming and I feel at times like I’m part of the problem, but I suppose that’s just where we’re at right now. I regularly still bought CDs up until about 5 years ago, mostly cause I loved the liner notes, but eventually the streaming era and the convenience of having access to all of my music in my pocket just sucked me in. I suppose I’ll just have to fight the man in other ways!

Andrew:
What are a few albums that mean the most to you and why?

Lucas:
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band by The Beatles will always be my #1, and the start to my whole musical journey. Dave Matthews Band’s Before These Crowded Streets, Rusted Root’s Remember, James Taylor’s Hourglass, Paul Simon’s You’re The One, and Sting’s Brand New Day albums all came out while I was in high school and still to this day, never get old to me. It’s odd, because all of them are kind of that groovy, world-singer-songwriter vibes, but also with incredibly profound, often spiritual lyrics, blurring “Love” songs with “God” songs, which I’m a huge fan of. They all sound INCREDIBLE too. Rufus Wainwright’s Want One and Third Eye Blind’s Out of the Vein are beautiful in other ways, with brutally honest lyrics…they’re MY kind of “emo.” Those two albums make me feel very sassy. Haha.

Andrew:
Who are some of your favorite artists? Ones that mean the most to you.

Lucas:
Aside from those that I’ve previously mentioned, Tim McGraw has been a big part of the soundtrack of my life. The last 2 years Carly Rae Jepsen has been my most played artist on Spotify. I love her songs, her music has been a big inspiration to me the last few years. Speaking of underrated artists, I’m a big Hanson fan. They’ve been making great Pop music for decades and everyone thinks they’re just “MmmBop.” Also, love Gordon Lightfoot, Mika, Prince, Björk, Keith Urban, The Who, Eminem, Brad Paisley, and Lindsey Buckingham/Fleetwood Mac. At the end of the day, I just love great Pop songs, in all forms.

Andrew:
Last question. What advice would you have for young artists just starting out? How do they stay afloat in a world that seems to be so abhorrent to creatives?

Lucas:
You have to figure out what brings you joy in your art even when there’s only 2 people in the audience. If you can’t find some happiness in those moments, then sadly you may get to a point in your career where you’re selling out arenas and STILL not be happy! It’s a LONG road to be a professional artist, and if you’re just looking for fame and fortune there’s a lot easier ways to get that. The world actually LOVES artists, but to be fair the average person can’t wrap their head around doing something they actually love as a job, let along playing guitar! Even something as simple as a person asking you to play at their wedding who doesn’t offer to pay you (or under-pays you)…it’s not because they don’t think you deserve money, they just think, “They LOVE playing, they’ll do it just for the fun of it!” No one says “I don’t have to pay this plumber to install my toilet because they LOVE plumbing!” Of course, it’s VERY annoying as a creative, BUT you’ll be happier if you learn to not take offense to things like that, because non-creatives probably just don’t get it. Also, if you can, stop drinking alcohol. You’ll save a LOT of money, you’ll be physically healthier, every night won’t turn into a party, which will inevitably turn into self-medicating, as you will have a LOT of bad gigs and alcohol around you all the time. There are healthier ways to cope!

Interested in learning more about artistry of Lucas Carpenter? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, Andrew has always loved writing and collecting physical music. Present-day, Andrew is proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict for fellow music addicts. Andrew lives on Long Island and works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer Music website by night.
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