Interview: Jack Carty, Jordan Millar & Leroy Lee
Jack Carty, Jordan Millar and Leroy Lee have a lot in common. They’re all Sydney-based singer-songwriters with guitar-calloused fingers and winning voices, they’ve all had a lot of nice things said about them over the few short years that they’ve been plying their various folk-pop trades, and they all hate dickbags. (NB: While the terminology is all theirs, the BRAG heartily endorses this sentiment.) Which is why heading out on the road together in support of Carty’s new album, Millar’s new EP and Lee’s continuing awesomeness was kind of a no-brainer.
Since the beginning of this month the threesome have been tooling around NSW and Victoria in an increasingly stinky station wagon, nerding out about their guitars and keeping their fellow lonely troubadours company. With the tour halfway over (though yet to hit Sydney), we checked in for a quick catch up – and the bromance was palpable.
What did you grow up listening to?
Jordan Millar: Heaps of Motown and Steely Dan. There was always music around the house.
Jack Carty: I grew up listening to Hendrix, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Nick Drake. This was all because of my mum, really, who has a great taste in music. She once made a mixtape and the whole of one side was just Hendrix’ ‘Little Wing’ on repeat.
Leroy Lee: I had some Beach Boys, Crowded House and some Zeppelin. I got all my music from taping it off the radio – we didn’t have much music around the house – so I had lots of songs without intros. ‘Stairway To Heaven’ was my favourite song when I was a kid, but I didn’t hear the beginning til high school.
When/why did you first pick up a guitar?
JM: I was listening to a song by Oasis and my mum had a guitar in the house, so I tried to figure it out… It just felt right.
JC: The first instrument I ever learnt to play was the drums, but my dad was in an
a cappella choir and he always used to sing, so I would sing too – and people started encouraging that. I started to play the guitar because I wanted something to accompany my voice, and guitar was portable and I had one in the house.
LL: I was about eight. I remember seeing a kid at school get up and play for everyone and I thought it was magic. My dad picked me up a cheap nylon stringer, and that was that.
You’ve all toured with some incredible songwriters and performers – what’s the best thing you learnt from them?
JM: How important it is to just keep enjoying it, and to never let it become work. Not many people pick up their instruments at a young age thinking about making money or whatever. It’s a passion and a love, and you’ve just gotta keep that at the forefront of whatever you do.
JC: The best thing I’ve learnt is just to relax, because it’s only music. If you’re not enjoying it, you should be doing something else. And also to be humble and kind to people because -
JM: Yeah, because I hate dickbags.
JC: I hate dickbags. Exactly. Well put.
LL: The best piece of advice was from Steve Kilbey from The Church. He said, ‘Don’t eat before you go on stage, you need to be hungry, otherwise you get lazy.’ So I time my meals.
Tell us about your favourite guitar…
JM: My guitar is a delightful Taylor that I spent about three months trying to find, because Dave Matthews, my hero, just rocks the shit out of a Taylor. So I searched and searched until I found the perfect one, and now it’s my baby.
LL: My favourite guitar has no neck on it yet – it’s the guitar that I’m building, a National-style wooden body resonator. I’m building it at the Mandali guitar factory in Erskineville, with a little help from my friends. I’ve made the body and I’ve carved the neck. I think it’s gonna be a beauty.
JC: My favourite guitar is a Gibson J45 that I’ve had for about a year. I feel pretty lucky to have gotten my hands on one, and I just love everything about it. It’s easy to play and it sounds amazing. I always get comments at every show, which has nothing to do with me.
LL: Yeah, your guitar sounds good even when it’s on the stand.
What can we expect from this tour? On-stage jams together? A Traveling Wilburys-style folk supergroup? Smelly dude-bonding in the van?
JC: You can expect all of the above! There has already been smelly dude bonding and on-stage jams, and although we’re missing Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and George Harrison, I think there is a little bit of that Travelling Wilburys vibe… We’re probably missing a little bit of the ‘super’ part though.
JM: We’re more of just a group then, really.
LL: There’s plenty of super. Lots of harmonies and guitar/banjo duels.
JC: Yeah it’s been great fun so far! By the time we play FBi Social, I think we’ll all be playing each others’ songs.
What’s the hardest thing about performing solo? What’s the best?
JM: The hardest thing is that the onus is on you, but that’s also the best thing at the same time; you’re in control. A double-edged sword.
JC: Touring with these boys has been brilliant. When you’re touring solo you do often have people around, but also long stretches where you’re out on your own. On this tour it’s been nice to be with kindred spirits and feel like you’re part of a team.
What: Jack Carty’s One Thousand Origami Birds, Jordan Miller’s Everything EP and Leroy Lee’s self-titled LP are out now
Where: FBi Social @ King’s Cross Hotel
When: Thursday July 14
Posted: July 18th, 2011 under Brag 420 (July 11), Music, Music - Interview.
Tags: Cass French, Everything EP, Hope Smoke & Everything, Jack Caty, Jordan Millar, Leroy Lee, One Thousand Origami Birds, The Brag