Interview: Jack Carty

Jack Carty at Bellingen Festival

Bello Winter Music, Bellingen | 12–15 July

There’s nothing a hometown loves more than one of their own returning to share their talent. Sydney-dwelling one-time Bellingen boy singer/songwriter Jack Carty brings the love back to Bello this year for Bello Winter Music.

Glenn Wright, Bello Festival director, described you as more of a painter than a songwriter. Obviously he’s not being literal in using those words so can you tell us what you think he may mean, how may your artistic style be seen as like a painter do you think?

That’s interesting! I don’t want to put words in Glenn’s mouth, but I can only guess it has something to do with the fact that I’ve always been really into lyrics – creating a world and filling it with things and characters. I think that requires a fair bit of imagery and there is a certain craft to it where you can communicate a whole picture without all the info – like a Monet painting or something…

You grew up in Bellingen. What was it like growing up in Bellingen and do you think your childhood was similar to that of kids growing up in other small regional towns around Australia?

Bellingen was an amazing place to grow up and I feel incredibly lucky to have had such a gentle, interesting and expansive start to life. I think I more or less knew how lucky we all were at the time, but I also felt a bit confined at times – because you knew everybody, once they had you pegged a certain way it was hard to get out from under that.

I’ve never been anywhere else just like Bellingen. I think it’s a unique place and so we must have had a unique experience in some sense. Having said that, I still loved Silverchair, played sport on the weekends and wanted to move to the big city when I grew up, just like most other smalltown kids my age.

You have said music and community have been the two constants in your life so far. How have these influenced the direction your music has taken?

I think they influence one and other all the time. I met and bonded with almost all of my best friends, and even my wife, through music! They inspire and teach me a lot, which leads to more musical adventures, which leads to new friends and new inspiration – and on and on…

What’s it like being on the road – is it anything like the stories people hear from the early days of rock’n’roll touring?

Haha! I guess that depends on what sort of stories you’re hearing! It’s been a dream come true for me to travel the world playing music. It’s heaps of fun and good for the soul. There is a lot more waiting around than most people realise, and I drink more coffee than beer – but other than that it’s exactly like whatever you have heard. 😉

Can you tell us where the poetry and playfulness in your new album Hospital Hill come from? Where did the concept and idea for the approach for this album originate?

Like I said, I’ve always been really into lyrics. A song can be melodically beautiful with interesting production but if the lyric isn’t there I’m probably not going to fall in love with it, but I’d also think I’m getting a little less earnest as I get older and taking myself a little less seriously and I think that is definitely coming through in the music. Writing the songs and the arrangements together with Gus Gardinder (my best mate and collaborator on Hospital Hill) was a big part of this, too. A string quartet can be so expressive and run the gauntlet from epic, moving and cinematic to schmaltzy; we wanted to make use of all of that.

We’ve been making music together for years (Gus played bass on three of my four albums before this, alongside his work with Papa vs Pretty, Montaigne, Jarryd James etc) and have wanted to make a collaborative record with a string quartet for years. Gus’s arrangements are amazing! It’s been incredible to watch him work.

So what’s on the horizon for Jack Carty? More touring coming up, another album?

Hospital Hill comes out worldwide on 1 June and we’ll be touring it all year from then on, across the UK, Australia and Europe. I’m really excited about it!

Hospital Hill by Jack Carty and Gus Gardiner is released on 1 June. Jack and Gus will perform at Rous Mill Hall on Saturday 7 July and at Bello Winter Musicy. For tix go to

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