The band Ships Have Sailed is turning the old negative expression “that ship has sailed” into a more positive one and that’s what all of their songs have been doing especially their latest single LOW. While singing about being low, the uplifting melodies and music turns it on its head making us feel high. Vocalist and Guitarist Will Carpenter comes together once again with Drummer Art Andranikyan to make another uplifting song in these dark times.
This is a band that was planning on spending the year touring and performing live and even after the past few months they’ve been bringing us good vibes. We got to hear from Will C. from Ships Have Sailed as he takes a crack at the wonder of the world question – where do songs come from? While also delving into how pandemic life has treated him and the inspiration behind LOW.
How has Covid affected your music?
The biggest impact from the pandemic has been our inability to tour – it was supposed to be a live year for us, and we were out on our first leg of tour (and planning about three more) when COVID-19 started to get really bad here. Our shows all got canceled, but in a cascading way like dominos, and we had to completely reimagine a plan for the year as we made our way back to LA. We chose to find a way to pivot in a way that didn’t feel negative, even though of course we were disappointed and very much miss playing shows, so I would say COVID has affected us in a big way, and definitely the state of the world is weaving its way into what we’ve been creating.
Your recent songs are very uplifting. Have you been inspired during quarantine?
Thank you! It felt right to release both ‘Rise’ and ‘Low’ when we did…in this moment we need to find ways to put more positivity and love out into the world even as we’re all struggling, this is when we need uplifting messages the most. And yes, I’ve been staying inspired as much as I can, and creatively it’s been quite a fruitful time – I’m very thankful to have a home studio, so I can continue to create even while self-isolating. Of course it is a bit of an odd thing to not be able to see or touch other people as much, I’m sure we’re all struggling with that, but I really make an effort to find something inspiring in any situation, and there have been a lot of inspiring moments this year despite the tragedy and struggle…you just have to look for them.
How have you adapted?
For starters, we planned a couple release cycles and shifted our sights away from touring. From a personal perspective I’ve been cooking a lot more than normal (thank goodness for years of working in kitchens) so I’ve been trying to be creative in that way as well, and it kind of feeds the creativity on the musical side. And also from an industry perspective, there are a lot of folks who normally are extremely busy in our business who all of a sudden are answering their emails and listening to music when you reach out, tons of industry events over Zoom and some really great opportunities to connect with fellow artists and industry gate-keepers, so I’ve been trying to tap into that also!
Some of your videos in insta are very poetic, has poetry inspired you?
Well, lyrics are poetry in a way, right? Just set to music, so I would definitely say that poetry has inspired me, although I haven’t read any in quite sometime.
Do you have a favorite poet or poem?
Like I said, I haven’t sat down and read poetry in quite some time, but I do love the poetry in music…I find Andrew McMahon is quite poetic in his lyricism – check out the lyrics to ‘Paper Rain’…just perfectly clever!
What gets you passionate about writing a song?
Songs usually just spring into my head as a fragment (sometimes as more, but usually they start small) and then they dig in their heels and won’t leave me alone…when a fragment keeps coming back like a stubborn little kid asking the same question over and over, I know it’s a keeper and I’ll start getting super excited about it. Above all, I need to really feel the song – if the emotional connection isn’t there I won’t move forward, and that’s true for releasing music as well…I’ll keep a song for years if it doesn’t feel right to release it, because eventually you’ll find that moment and it’s like a lightbulb lights up and you’re like: “Ahhh, THIS moment is where this song belongs…”.
Is it excitement or anger that inspires a song?
It could be either, both, or something entirely different – it completely depends on the song. Some songs are a kind of catharsis, and that would be anger, grief or sadness, and then others are more contemplative or exuberant – really I just guide the initial idea into what I think it ‘needs to be’ if that makes sense?
Does it start from the words or the beat?
Again, it really depends – sometimes a melody will come first, sometimes an idea for a lyric, occasionally I’ve had a riff or a beat be the first thing to materialize, but that’s a bit more rare. For me it’s usually lyrics or melodies as the first glimmer of an idea and then you have to figure out how to bring them to life with all the other elements.
Who and what inspires your music the most?
Wow that is a tough question. I guess I would say the people in my life, the world around me, my own experiences and emotions…and empathy. I think empathy allows us to pull from other people’s experiences because if you’re truly empathetic you can almost feel them, you know? …and in order to write convincingly about something you truly have to feel it.
Where did the inspiration for LOW come from?
Well this industry can be pretty brutal. People who pursue creative careers in general experience more rejection in a day (professionally) than someone with a more traditional career path might experience in a month…so this started from a moment where we’d experienced a bunch of that and were feeling super discouraged. In those moments, I’ve learned to take a breath and remember what sent me down this path…also, close my eyes and try to imagine a world where a song pops into my head and I DON’T try to bring it to life. The first one brings me back to a place of musical joy, and I always find it impossible to remember the second. I’ve also learned to reach out to friends and colleagues in the industry, and always Art (my drummer) is my first call. So in that moment, stepping through my little coping ritual the first verse just kinda played itself back in my head, and kinda the song just blurted itself out…
How do you pick yourself up?
With help! Lol. That’s the whole idea is that you put one foot in front of the other, reach out to your fellow humans and somewhere there will be a hand or several who can help you out of whatever rut you’re in…it’s possible to find your way out alone, but it’s less lonely when you have help. …and of course, music never hurts…
Have you found new ways to stay positive in low times?
Always…my life is like a constant learning process both on the personal and professional sides of things. I’m always looking for new ways to experience joy, and that really is what positivity is, finding the silver lining even when it seems gloomy.
CONNECT WITH SHIPS HAVE SAILED
photos / courtesy of artist
story / Vogue Giambri