Two Nights With the Carpenters 

Last time, my family and I were in Sydney in Australia (in Dec 2002), we missed out on meeting that Aussie powerpop legend, Michael Carpenter. Yes, sad but true.

With that in mind, we resolved that this time would be different and it was.

My wife and I had touched down at Sydney International Airport at about 8pm local time on Thursday, 11 March. After checking in at a hotel on Darling Harbour, we decided to go for a bit of a walk along that magnificent harbour front. Although we hadn’t figured out how best we would meet up with Michael, I decided to give Michael a call on the mobile. When I did, I casually mentioned that we were walking along Darling Harbour to which Michael’s response was that he was having dinner at a restaurant along Darling Harbour with his wife, Kelly! Amazing, but true!

We spent the next half hour trying to find a meeting place, we both knew, and whilst there were hilarious hiccups here and there, we finally met! And we hit it off straightaway. We chatted to almost midnight and Michael promised to show us his spanking new Stagefright studio as well as to preview some songs from his upcoming new album. Now, how could anyone refuse such a generous offer?

So, at 9pm the next night, we waited for the Carpenters on the steps of the Town Hall on George Street. We were whisked away for a little dinner and then the magic moment had arrived – Stagefright studio!

Tucked away in a Sydney suburb, the studio was just six weeks old, you could still smell the fresh paint on the walls and the guitars that lined the studio walls announced intention clearly. Michael gave us a lay of the land including the adjoining studio run by his partner Matt (Butterfly 9) Fell where the delights of the Optigan were explored.

Pretty soon, Michael had positioned himself behind the recording console and played us a few choice gems that would certainly feature on his next album and in my humble opinion, this is probably the best work that he has ever done. Mature, assured and with a sense of authority that belie the form. Not only that, Michael gave us a sneak peek of recordings done with Hitchcock Regret’s Mark Moldre, that showcased an early ‘70s vibe think the first McCartney or Harrison solo albums for a reference point.

Time passed all too quickly and Michael graciously brought us back to the hotel.

Residing in Singapore, it has often been frustrating not being able to share my passion of the music I cherish with anyone on this tiny island but I am thankful that the internet has allowed me to reach like minds around the globe. My first contact with Michael was through a sampler he’d sent me in 1998 called (inevitably) Mini Album Sampler Type Thing. Since then, of course, Michael has established himself as a powerpop artist par excellence. And even though our only previous contact had been by e-mail, the moment we met it seemed like we’d known each other forever as kindred spirits. At his side, his lovely wife Kelly, expecting the couple’s first child, completed this wonderful picture. We spoke about passion, tribulations, hopes and dreams and what the future held. Michael revealed that he had a lot of music planned for the next 18 months, which I won’t pre-empt, but expect great things, folks!  Suffice to say, I can’t wait!

So, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Michael and Kelly for making our stay all that more memorable. For me, it was the first part of a dream coming true as I begin to meet the great people I have come to be acquainted with via this great platform that is powerpop music. The first of many more, I hope…

Info on Michael Carpenter here.

Buy his CDs here.