Saturday, August 12, 2006
PoPINIONS: MICHAEL CARPENTER
What was your criterion for the songs selected for SOOP #2?
Really, I just had a big list of songs that I'd write down in my diary as they'd dawn on me. They had to be from indie label artists and had to be reasonably recent. I wanted the songs to reflect my time in the guitar pop world. And ultimately, they just had to be songs i liked. In terms of which songs I ended up doing, it just worked out that when I had an opportunity to do a song, I'd look down my list and see which one I 'felt' like doing. I remember Mark Erelli's "Ghost"... I was hesitant to put that on my list even. Yet on that particular day, and that particular mood/frame of mind i was in, it was just the song i wanted to do. So there was a certain amount of 'planets aligning' that decided the track selection.
Any songs that didn't make the cut that you might like to mention?
I did a version of Butterfly 9's "Goodbye Angel". The story behind that is a little strange... I was never that convinced that I did a good job, mainly on the vocal. But I was never sure whether that was just because I know the band well, having started playing with them before their debut album was even finished a few years ago. I wasn't involved in the original recording, but have become very close to Matt and Suzy from Butterfly 9.. Matt is now my studio partner, and we're a great production team. So I've always LOVED the original, and thought I tried a little too hard on my version. Also, I recently produced another version of this song for an up and coming country artist, and thought that version was even better than mine. So i thought it better to leave it off. There were a lot of songs on my master list that I never recorded though.. including tracks by Cliff Hillis, Walter Clevenger, Rob Smith, Cherry Twister, Starbelly and the Pyramidiacs. I was even thinking of doing a Finkers cover. I thought it'd be a laugh to cover myself! So I could do another version of this album pretty easily. Guess we'll see if this one sells!
Which are your favourites among the bunch?
I actually like most of them a lot. "Super Tuesday" is a bit of a triumph for me, because I thought the original was like the Holy Grail of powerpop for this generation, so i was pleased that my version captured the spirit of the original while making it something uniquely mine. I'm pretty pleased with how well "Long Red Bottle Of Wine" turned out. It's hard to play guitar knowing you're up against Bobby Sutliff! And i was particularly happy with my vocal in "Long Way". I'm pretty pleased with how "Sunday Morning Drive" turned out as well. It's pretty much how I planned it and I've never been much of a finger picker or slide player, and I managed to pull off both on that track. And I'm happy that "Urban Skies" sounds a little like Jeff Lynne!
Which song was the easiest to record and which was the hardest and why?
I'm not sure which was the easiest... most of them went down pretty quickly without much fuss. I remember I ploughed through "Long Red" really quickly. I had a pretty clear idea of the general approach for that and nothing about it seemed to take too long. "Super Tuesday" was easy, becuase I only had a short time to do it, and I just went for it, left it a bit messy because I didn't have time to make it nice. Most of the others had a fair amount of vocal arranging going on and that's always time consuming. I know I spent a lot of time crafting things for "Ghost" - I wanted that to be a REALLY good production, and knew that there'd be NO backing vocals on it, so the lead vocal had to be good.The hardest ones I remember well. "Sun".. man.. I'm still not really happy with it. I was trying out a new piece of gear, and i think I got too caught up in being a bit obtuse with the layering. I mean, electric sitar, banjo and piano on one song. Plus I was never that happy with the drum sounds. I'm rarely unhappy with the drum sounds I get, but I remember doing this extremely quickly and thought the drum sounds were a bit sub par. I should have spent a little more time making sure the mics were hearing the kit right. I mean, it doesn't sound bad as obviously I still included it, but I feel like it was a bit of a missed opportunity. I think I like it mostly because it's an AMAZING song - even i couldn't kill it! It still shines through as an incredible song. But I did my best..
Which favourite artist/band would do a great cover version of one of your songs and which song?
Oh man, where do i start? If I was to go major label, I'd love to hear Tom Petty do "Believes Again" or Sheryl Crow do "The Ache" or the Dixie Chicks do "Love Is Like". Or in a fantasy world, the Beach Boys circa "Carl and The Passions" doing "Thinking About You". Keith Urban or Bruce Springsteen doing "The One For Me" would be nice too. In the indie world, which is what I think you were alluding to, I'd love to hear Andy Bopp do "Can't Be All You Need" or the Shazam do "Tonight", or Walter Clevenger do "King's Rd" or Chris von Sneidern do "Never Be Alone". Actually, probably my favourite would be Robbie Rist doing anything he'd like but i think he'd do a great version of "Good Enough"!!
Check out the SOOP #2 review at www.powerofpop.com