The Predictable Crisis Of Modern Life. As far as titles go, it doesn’t exactly brim with optimism.
The new Jack Carty EP – in collaboration with Sydney producer Casual Psychotic – sounds like an early-onset midlife crisis; Carty dealing in his inimitable style with the concerns of identity and direction that we all inevitably face. He’s two albums deep into a promising career as a singer-songwriter, and only in his mid-twenties – so is Carty really overcome with fear about what’s coming in middle age?
“Not at all. I just am a fairly concerned person generally – I think I have a fairly high level of anxiety,” says Carty. “I used to fight it, but now I just accept that’s the way I am and in a way that makes me less anxious. So [these] songs…were not written so much from the point of view of being 35 or 40 or whatever… They’re just about anxieties and things that can occur to any adult person at any age, I guess.”
The idea for a collaborative record arrived, as these things do, out of chance. A friend’s introduction of Carty to Casual Psychotic inspired an ad-hoc recording session at the latter’s home studio in Annandale. “We ended up starting work on this song I’d written called ‘Tunnel Vision’, and because it was a fun project to begin with there were really no constraints, no sort of rules about what we were trying to do… We didn’t have any clear idea of what we wanted it to sound like before we started because it wasn’t going to be anything, it was just us having fun.”
In its finished form, the EP is tied together by the foreboding words of a narrator; an anonymous newsroom voice dissecting those anxieties of adulthood. Turns out the voice belongs to Carty’s grandfather, Phil Haldeman – a Sydney broadcasting personality with a 50-year-long career behind him.
“There’s a whole bunch of production themes that run the length of the record, and there’s also the idea of – we wanted to make it really cinematic in a way, theatrical. I think the narration really helps that happen and creates a frame through which you can look at the songs. It frames them in a certain light which takes them into a bit of a darker territory, and I really like that.”
Dark, cinematic and complex, too; between Psychotic’s production and Haldeman’s narration, multiple layers are added to Carty’s signature sound. Despite this, Carty reckons ‘Reasons to be Afraid’ is his most honest song yet. “I try not to censor myself too much, and when I do it’s not about protecting myself – it’s more about protecting the people around me who I may or may not have written a song about. [On second album] Break Your Own Heart, I didn’t censor anything about myself; I think that record is very self-deprecating. If anything, I think the other characters on that record get the good end of the stick in a funny sort of way, in hindsight, because I was going through a particularly self-loathing period of time.
“But having said that, any sort of censorship is still censorship, even if you’re doing it for the right reasons and trying to be respectful to people. And I think ‘Reasons to be Afraid’ – purely by virtue of the fact that it’s a stream-of-consciousness rant of what I think – I didn’t have to censor it at all…[if I did] it wouldn’t be as messed-up as it is, and I like that it’s messed-up. It’s a critique of everything – from a source that’s completely unreliable.”
BY CHRIS MARTIN
EP launch with Dan Parsons at Hibernian House on Thursday May 30. Jack Carty & Casual Psychotic Present… The Predictable Crisis Of Modern Life out now on Gigpiglet Recordings.