By Carolina de Busto
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
Indeed, Carenza parlayed his time with MU330 into gigs as a guitar tech and tour producer with a wide variety of bands; notable ones include Face to Face, the Get Up Kids, the Bravery, Ash and Sondre Lerche. The connections he built eventually landed him a gig producing some shows by Anjani Thomas, a jazz singer who frequently collaborates with Cohen. The success of these concerts led Carenza to a December 2007 meeting in LA with Cohen's manager, Robert Kory — ostensibly to discuss the potential of a tour.
"Robert at the time was like, 'Maybe I have three weeks of work for you, maybe three years,'" Carenza says. "'Can you do a little pre-production, put together some numbers and some ideas of what we might be able to do?' I did. [And] I just never stopped working."
Surprisingly, Carenza says that his tenure in punk clubs has parallels with the time he's spent with Cohen: "A show's a show, really. People don't like to maybe think of it in those terms, but it's the same thing as [how] old vaudeville or traveling musicians used to sing for their supper. It's a show." Still, he says that Cohen's dedication to his craft and indefatigable personality makes this a very different experience.
"The real difference is just Leonard's attention to detail and Leonard's commitment to whatever it takes to make a show just absolutely amazing every single night. When this band has a bad night, they still have an 'A' show," Carenza says, laughing.
"Leonard's one of the few people I know that sleeps less than I do," Carenza adds. "And the guy just does not stop working. He's incredibly well-read — and it doesn't matter what the subject. He's current on everything. You'll get an e-mail at like 4 o'clock in the morning, [and be like] 'What are you doing up?' he's like, 'I'm working.'
Carenza can relate to this work ethic. When he's not touring, he resides in LA where one of his projects is working with a creative partner named Amy De Souza on a Web series called Bad Date. But as Cohen's tour winds down, it's clear that working with him has given Carenza valuable perspective.
"Rock stars, entertainers, are just people," Carenza says. "And [if] you work around enough of them, you really realize that. But if you do work around enough of them, you realize that every once in awhile, one or two of 'em, they're not just people. There's really something about them that puts them head and shoulders above the rest of them.
"And that's Leonard. He's a regular dude, and he's a guy, he's a down-to-earth person, but there's also something about him that's very much not like everybody else. That's what makes him Leonard Cohen, I think. He has that something extra that's sort of semi-intangible. You read his writing and his work, and that's very tangible. He's a beacon. People are drawn to it. It's no joke; he's the real deal."