Songwriter Carpenter more than just an ‘Art Kid from the Country’

Abbey Carr

CAT will host an acoustic concert featuring Pete Francis of Dispatch and Lucas Carpenter this Saturday in the Villanova Room.

Carpenter grew up in Williamsport, Pa., as an “art kid from the country,” as the title and lead track on his latest album proclaims.

In his biography, Carpenter provides a disclaimer of sorts to listeners – “Blending rock, R&B, folk and musical theater, Lucas Carpenter creates a danceable cocktail of deliciousness you will be humming in the shower Monday morning.”

After spending an afternoon in a coffee shop with Carpenter, I learned a great deal about his songwriting style, life as a musician and more about music in general.

Like many college students, Carpenter went through a summer of reflection and soul-searching.

He decided to take one summer slow, only taking a couple of classes, taking a break from playing shows and just trying to find himself.

At some point in that summer before his senior year at Berklee, Carpenter found himself someplace in between Batman and Bubba Sparxxx.

“I think ‘Batman Begins’ is the perfect movie for 20-somethings trying to find themselves,” he says. “It is one of the few superhero movies where the plot makes sense. It’s like, ‘Of course, that’s how he became Batman! Maybe I should move to Mongolia and become a ninja, too!’ “

Bubba Sparxxx’s unique blend of country and hip hop showed Carpenter that you didn’t have to do what people expect.

“It was like a gift from the heavens when I wrote ‘Art Kids,’ ” he says. “I was trying to figure out who I was, when it hit me: I’m just this awkward, outcast musical theatre kid from the sticks.

“After talking to some friends with the same background, I realized there were these pockets of people throughout the country – we were all ‘art kids from the country’!”

Besides Batman and Bubba Sparxxx, Lucas has been inspired by a wide variety of artists from The Beatles to Pharrell Williams to Bobby Pinson.

“I try not to listen to singer/songwriters too much because a lot of it really bores me and it’s the same thing over and over again,” he says.

“That’s why I listen to a lot of hip hop because I think it’s progressing and really at the forefront of music today.

“People like Pharrell Williams are completely pushing the envelope of what music is and what music can be. I love Bobby Pinson. Not many people know him. He did that tune, ‘Don’t Ask Me How I Know.’ Lyrically, if Shakespeare wrote country music, he would be Bobby Pinson. The way he paints these pictures is so beautiful and so profound.

“What Robert Frost did for the country and rural forests, and what Ansel Adams did with photography for the country, I think Bobby Pinson does that for country music – that’s probably a bold statement for me to say, but I believe it.

“Ben Gibbard of The Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie is great, too; lyrically, he’s on another planet. I think it’s him, Bobby Pinson and Eminem hanging out on that lyrical genius planet.”

For new listeners, Lucas would recommend checking out “Art Kids from the Country” because it is probably the most representative of what he does with live looping where he records himself playing several different instruments.

If you are checking him out live for the first time, he definitely wants you to hear “Ice Cream Truck” – one of my personal favorites.

” ‘Ice Cream Truck’ is a lot of fun because I do a lot of looping with that, and I play the penny whistle for that one,” he says.

“I cover a lot of strange songs, like ‘Sexy Back’ by Justin Timberlake. This past tour, I did ‘Don’t Matter’ by Akon which is another fun song to sing. I do a few pop cover songs because they are fun and people really get into them.”

Catch him this Saturday in the Villanova Room when he opens for Pete Francis of Dispatch.

Catch him now, so you can say you knew him when …