Interview with Ships Have Sailed Frontman Will Carpenter

As they gear up for an East Coast Tour, Ships Have Sailed lead Will Carpenter talks with Kinkster MAG

Kinkster MAG has been following Ships Have Sailed for some time but only recently were we prepared to interview the band with Will Carpenter as its lead. The perfect time to introduce these talented musicians to our readers could not have been better than the week they are scheduled to perform here in New York City at The Bowery Electric as they undertake their East Coast tour.

Since the “soft launch” of the band in 2014 with their debut EP Someday, Ships Have Sailed has picked up traction organically; receiving heavy airplay on College, NPR and Commercial radio in the US and Canada. Having toured the Northeastern US and performing showcases at SXSW, CMJ Music Marathon, Canadian Music Week & NAMM, they’ve taken home some accolades along the way from ISC, Unsigned Only and The John Lennon Songwriting Competition.

In 2015 they released their first full length album Moodswings – a reflection on how the present is impacted by all other moments in time and how any sort of change can alter the trajectory of one’s life. Black Book, Wild Honey Pie and The 405 all gave it positive reviews.

Kinkster MAG readers are diverse and they enjoy a range of interests and tastes in their music. The Wild Honey Pie describes them: “Ships Have Sailed taps a massive electro pop-rock vein and rides that unbeatable high for 11 addictive tracks.” Black Book says, “Ships Have Sailed may be your favorite new discovery.”

As you read our interview with Will Carpenter, the originator and lead, you’ll soon learn that we are all human, we learn, we grow, we can create beautiful things.

Who makes up the group? What are your musical backgrounds? What brought you together?

At the core of Ships Have Sailed, it has always originated with myself (Will Carpenter) as the creative force that drives the project forward and conceives our music. I’ve always loved being in bands throughout history, so I love collaborating with people musically, and I do my best to incorporate into how Ships functions. For example, many of our songs have been co-written or co-produced with friends of mine, and we do play live as either a duo or a trio. On our upcoming east coast tour, we will be performing as a duo with myself and my dear friend Art Andranikyan on the drums!

Some of the descriptions about Ships Have Sailed say that Will has “difficulty slowing down and [has] an admittedly overactive mind.” What is your creative process like and what about the business engine behind it all? How do you all make it work?

Hah! Yes, great question. I am very over-analytical, and that translates to the music as well…my mind always just keeps spinning and I always see this as a bit of a blessing and a curse. The blessing is: there’s always a new idea, a new angle or a new thought that helps things to move forward. The curse is that, frankly, that kind of thought process can be exhausting.

But that being said, I think it really lends itself to how the project needs to operate at the moment. There really isn’t the luxury of being able to slow down, or get comfortable…it needs to move forward, and I constantly need to be pivoting to keep our direction fresh…and this applies to both the creative side and the business side – in artistic fields, these things are very much merged most of the time.

You’ve posted an image to your social media accounts with the words, “Mistakes are proof that you’re trying.” Can you elaborate on what this means for you guys?

Absolutely. It’s basically just a reminder to not be afraid to screw up or take risks…risks and ‘failures’ are what sometimes contribute to uncovering greatness, so I can’t be afraid of making a risky decision…it could be a mistake, but it could also be beautiful. If it winds up being a mistake, move on and learn from it, but don’t let it make you afraid to take the next risk…creativity is all about riskiness, but the perception of failure can be daunting, and so I like to remind myself (and others) that it’s ok to make a mistake as long as we learn along the way…that’s life!

We noticed Ships Have Sailed has been receiving of number of “head nods” from industry organizations, in particular your single ‘Drive’ has been nominated for the Hollywood Music in Media Awards this year. What does that mean for you guys?

I mean, obviously it is a huge honor…we feel blessed to be nominated, and we’re looking forward to attending the ceremony! Truly, these nods help to validate that we’re moving in the right direction…when music translates to people, it means it’s coming from the right place inside of you, and that’s really what we’re all about: creating something real that translates to our brothers and sisters in the world, and truly means something. The fact that people are recognizing our art, means it’s translating, and that is truly humbling.

We’re looking forward to your touring the East Coast this week. Have you been to NYC before or to the East Coast?

Oh absolutely! We’ve played NYC about three times in the past 2 1/2 years, but we’re always excited to come back…it’s such a vibrant city with a huge appreciation of the arts and a diversity of culture that is unparalleled in our country. I actually grew up in New England (Vermont, to be precise) and so it will be nice to get a little taste of the seasons on this tour…we’re really excited about the next two weeks.

Other than your scheduled performances, what will you be up to while you’re here?

Well, we’re playing 7 shows in 10 days, so when you count travel, there’s not a whole lot of time left over for much else…I think we have one full day off, and that’s it! I always try to stop through local radio stations as we travel, and we’ve been lucky enough to make a good network of friends in that area over the years, so that should be fun. Our day off will be in Vermont, so I’ll look forward to showing Art around my hometown and getting some visiting time with my mom!

Not to push the future onto you, but what will we have to look forward to in 2017 from Ships Have Sailed?

Well, no promises on what or when, but I will say we are working on new music right now. I’m starting to think about what comes next and how to put it out into the world, so there are no solid release plans next, but I’m feeling like 2017 is going to be a year of creation…kind of, re-conceive the project to a degree and make something exciting and new.

Although our readership is diverse, Kinkster MAG’s voice and target is gay men with an edge. We like to ask all our featured artists our signature question, “What is something you have done that would be considered edgy, unconventional, or tight-lipped?”

Well, I should preface this one by saying that, as a straight, non-ethnic male, I can’t really fathom the type of adversity that my brothers and sisters of the LBGTQ community have had to rise up against just in order to be accepted as equals in our culture. It’s a struggle that is ongoing, and I truly respect all the strength, patience and resolve that goes into making such a change in our world. This is a message that is important to me as well.

I feel that every human being deserves the right to be seen and heard, and despite my cultural privilege I know a thing or two about being marginalized – we, as a human race, should be working as hard as we can to combat the prejudices that cloud people’s perception of the humans around them.

In a way, this was the message hidden within the ‘Drive’ music video – although it’s disguised as a love story, my main focus around the story treatment was the body-painting…two people who found joy with each other in an unconventional expression of their feelings for one another. Of course, this particular story didn’t have a happy ending, but not all do.

I guess my point is: I knew not everyone would love the video, although I was pleasantly surprised at how well it was received, we certainly got some pretty angry reactions as well, specifically around the nudity and body painting. That’s ok – not everything is for everyone, but if your message means something to you, don’t be afraid to shout it from the rooftops and try not to worry about the folks that don’t get it…it’s for you, and probably not for them. 🙂

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Co-owner & VP of Operations, John is a thinker and a doer. He's a whiz at working through policies and procedures but loves taking time to explore the urban environment in which he lives and calls home. He also appreciates getting his fancy tickled.

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