St. Louis multi-instrumentalist Ryan Carpenter has just returned from Vienna to God's favorite country, America. He slurps a gin and tonic as it stains the table with perspiration. He leans back and speaks.
"You know, I've never been much of a writer. I arrange a lot," he muses. "I have written songs. And I wrote songs for this Evangelical Christian band I was in -- Harlot Bride. Super good name. I wrote a few songs, but not many. I am more into taking songs other people have written and reworking those."
Carpenter recently refashioned several songs for fellow STL ex-pat Ian Fisher. Carpenter and Fisher gallivanted across Europe to record the second Ian Fisher & the Present album, as well as a segment for Germany's singer-songwriter promotional show TV Noir. And Fisher went ahead and booked a gig at Munich's Residenz Theater.
The duo began this European odyssey in April 2011. "My girlfriend broke up with me, I found out that I was going to be working the whole summer at the Muny, and Ian e-mailed me," Carpenter explains. "He wrote, 'Hey, I don't know what you're doing this summer, but what do you think about coming over to Austria and playing for a little bit? I'll show you around.'"
"I said, 'Yeah! Why the fuck not?' I came to St. Louis, worked all summer at the Muny then shipped out," he continues. "I got over there, I was in Berlin for a week. We recorded an album. We toured in Denmark for two weeks then he said, 'Hey, you can do whatever you want for a while but then you have to meet me back in Vienna.' It was like three full months of stuff booked."
Europe has been receptive of the two, he insists. "People over there want to hear this American style we have. It's a bit country, especially with the pedal steel, and Ian has a very rural Midwestern take on his songwriting. They like that stuff, but they want to hear it from Americans. People are doing that style of music in Vienna and Berlin, but it's not the same. The music is not completely understood there as it would be here."
"It's made me really aware of what American music is."
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