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  • Break It Down: Barton Carroll

    Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:08:49

    Break It Down: Barton Carroll - The singer talks safe cracking, Wham! and the art of the up-sell

    Perhaps best known for his work with the Southern Gothic indie rock outfit Crooked Fingers, Barton Carroll is a seasoned guitar player who's also worked his magic on albums by Azure Ray and Micah P. Hinson. Even as a sought-after accompanist, he still finds time to write and perform his own music, recently releasing his sophomore LP The Lost One. A lyrical collection of gently insistent songwriting, the album wraps touching narratives and catchy melodies around Carroll's warm timbre. Impressed by his skillful song craft, we gave him a crack at our Break It Down Questions, where he told us about his days shilling tickets for Billy Joel and his proud love of Wham.

    What have you been listening to lately?

    An audiobook: Young Stalin, by Simon Sebag Montefiore

    Where’s your favorite place to chill?

    I really like staying at friends' houses when I'm on the road. I much prefer it to hotels, even if I have to sleep on the floor. I like staying up way too late pontificating and solving all of the problems of the universe, then getting a local breakfast after sleeping it off. The last time I was in New York, I had an experience like this. My friend, Scott, ordered bagels and coffee for delivery. For delivery! Only in New York.

    What’s the most dramatic thing you ever did to save money as a starving musician?

    I sold Billy Joel tickets over the phone, tele-marketer style. I think I was working for House Of Blues or some promoter, and I had to try to up-sell the callers to a dinner-before-the-Billy-Joel-show-VIP-package. Ugh, it was rough. I signed on for five days. And it was, I think, the only time I ever lied to get out of a job. On the last day, I told them I got another job or something. Four days was enough.

    Tell us one of your favorite song lyric?

    "Is it him that you see, when we make love together?
    Is it him that you see, when war fills the sky?
    Was he there as you stood in your grandmother's wedding dress
    As we made our own vows, you and I?

    " From, "The Woods Of Darney," by Richard Thompson.

    What is your most cherished musical instrument or accessory?

    I guess I'd have to choose my good ol' Yamaha acoustic guitar. It's the guitar I learned to play on when I was thirteen or so. It was my step-father's then, and he's passed it on to me. I have guitars that are worth more and have a bit more flash, but the Yamaha's the one I use the most.

    If you could change one thing about the music industry today what would it be?

    You might as well ask me what I would like to change about humanity, because the music business is one of many reflections of the way people are and where their priorities lie. And it's too big of a question for a cynical, miserable, curmudgeon like myself. Where do I start?

    What never goes out of style?

    Safe cracking.

    What’s the theme song to your life?

    "Stormbringer," by Deep Purple.

    What movies, artists, authors or athletes inspire you the most?

    Right now the film I'm obsessed with is Night Of The Hunter, starring Robert Mitchum. Author: Martin Amis. Artist: Picasso (for Guernica, particularly). Athlete: Manolete, the Bullfighter

    What's your favorite way to stay in shape?

    Drinking coffee.

    What non-musician would you most like to meet?

    Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

    What's your biggest guilty pleasure?

    Reading Tolstoy. Just kidding. It's Wham!, OK? Like, "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go." I like Wham!.

    Are you on MySpace?

    Oh yeah. And, at my age, I should be way more self-conscious about it.

    —The ARTISTdirect Staff

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