• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are now available. The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy can be ordered here. A big thanks to the authors and Richard Carpenter for their tremendous effort in compiling this book! Also, the new solo piano album Richard Carpenter's Piano Songbook is available for ordering here.

🎤 Interview Richard Carpenter Interview 2014

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter

In April of 1969, the Carpenters, Richard and Karen signed to A&M Records, marking their 45th anniversary with the label this year. In this rare and introspective interview, Richard Carpenter joins us to talk about the early days at A&M, as well give us a candid and detailed look at much of what went into the creation of the Carpenters 'sound'. We also discuss a few recent unknown details, as well as some of Richard's own personal thoughts on the music business today and what he is currently doing.
 

Jeff

Well-Known Member
Chris, thank you for securing the interview with Richard Carpenter. In all honesty I must say that as an interviewer you conduct yourself brilliantly. Always amiable, focused, well-informed and direct. This was a fascinating recollection of the studio sound the duo created. Richard's undeniable genius is indeed showcased thru-out the catalog. Now the THUD and I'm sure a collective let down. Richard gave a resounding, purposeful "NO" in response to the release of vault material. Quite emphatic. A tough pill to swallow, nauseating revelation if you will. All the hopes, fantasies, wishing, wanting, obsessing ad nauseam has been a fruitless pursuit. At least we don't have to wonder what's next in terms of unreleased this-n-that's. A relief of sorts. Straight from the horses mouth. Suddenly I'm embracing the recorded output as never before. Revisiting the marvel and summoning a great deal of gratitude for what we have as opposed to what we don't. I don't know of any other way to make ultimate peace with this breaking news. Bittersweet grievance and a call to stark reality. At the same time I somewhat morbidly wonder if at RC's demise will the future of the catalog be represented by a release junkie ie: Capitol and Sinatra, Garland, Marley and the host of others who seem to have a stockpile of goods. Perhaps there's a 50 year moratorium on this stuff. But there I go into mindless, pointless speculation yet again .So despair, gratitude and a wealth of conflicting emotions prevail. I want to say S*** and a few other expletives. Although knowing a tantrum will be futile. Well Mr. Chris thanks for putting it out there with charm and purpose. Richard did sound great, on top of his game enjoying retirement. Last bit-o-comment...Could Richard Carpenter be a sadist?

God help me,

Jeff
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
Great interveiw, Chris. I wish it were an hour long. Take away: No RC Christmas album. Bummer.

Well Richard isn't *talking* about it - that's all I'm gonna say about that for now :wink:
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
Richard gave a resounding, purposeful "NO" in response to the release of vault material. Quite emphatic. A tough pill to swallow, nauseating revelation if you will. All the hopes, fantasies, wishing, wanting, obsessing ad nauseam has been a fruitless pursuit. At least we don't have to wonder what's next in terms of unreleased this-n-that's.

Well the thing people *now* need to understand, is that most of the original multi-tracks have been destroyed. This I'm sure is part of the the reason there is nothing planned in the way of "unreleased". Sad reality, but true.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Superb interview Chris! Came home dying to hear this and kudos to you for having secured it, the way you interact with him sounds so warm and he's totally engaged with your interviewing style :popcorn:

If I may, my impressions...

Amazed at his recollection of the preparation of 'Only Yesterday' for SACD ... "Something's missing right here. Right here there should be 'a thing'!". His memory about each individual track and each little corner of the recording, especially in surround sound, is AMAZING!

He gives an emphatic "No...nope!" to the release of vault material, yet in recent years, he'd been open to releasing some vault stuff (what about Karen's outtake 'Something's Missing' and especially the tracks from 'Made In America' that he seemed to value as releasable?). I wish you'd had the opportunity to challenge him on that point. My overwhelming feeling is that he's now resolutely 'retired' (the recent thread on here about him being all but retired springs to mind). Definitely sounds like he's given up on any more new releases for that reason and feels happy with the legacy he's left behind. Sad, but true.

Finally, one observation is that his speaking voice sounds terrible, raspy and as if he has cold but I know from other fans, this is how he now sounds and has done for a few years, that did shock me and can't imagine we'll hear any more singing vocals from him :sad:

In summary, this was an amazing interview and at least brings his activities right up to date for all those who hang on his every word.

Thanks again Chris :righton:
 

Dave

Well-Known Member
A sadist, No! Enjoying the fruits of his labor, whether you consider it Karen, himself, or both he & his sis' or simply whatever work that CarpenterS could put out, the interview was the final word on what could be simply put!

And as for "nothing but weeds left"--well, enjoy the well-preserved crops, that is, if you have a good-sized freezer & plenty of Tupperware!

Thank you for this and the many other interviews that you've done, Chris May!


-- Dave
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
Excellent interview Chris and thank you for this wonderful recent time spent with Richard. I wondered if this interview was longer but edited? It just seemed like the first 3/4 was going great and so much info and then the last 5 mins or so dropped off so quickly. I wished it had been longer, I'm sure Richard would have talked for much longer say like an hour. He has so much info to give but just needs the right questions to ask and you did a great job at that.

I still am confused about the part of the fire...so all the original multi track master tapes are gone in the fire but what does that really mean? So all of the demo track with only Karen on partial lead or Richard on partial lead that were never finished or released are also gone in fire? When was the last release (box set or compilation) to have used the original multi track tapes on a CD release? I'm confused about all that. So Richard has no original mixes from all their albums secured? So we will get no more releases because of the fire?

The ending of this interview is really sad....from a longtime fan...it just sounds like it's really all over and there will be no more releases period. Does that mean no more compilations or box sets from Japan with possible remix or bonus track? I'm still not clear on that. I don't understand why Richard appears to get so abrupt when asked "is there anything new to appear or any unreleased still to come" I know he is asked this all the time but to me it always expresses how the fans still yearn and love this duo that is why we keep hoping and asking...as an artist it should be there highest honor to be asked for more material...it's the reason why we love their music. I guess I look at it from a different perspective.

If you get to interview him again it would be cool to interject some questions like...the fans have really expressed interest in this or the forums were just talking about this, what do you think of this, I don't know just something to show that the fans are still out here and want to hear from him more often than every few years.

Thanks again Chris....these interviews are rare and I appreciate you sharing this with the fan base and public.
 
Great interview Chris and nice to hear from Richard. How awful that most of the original multi tracks have been destroyed!

Thanks for sharing the interview.

Laura
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
I forgot to add....I wished Chris had asked Richard about the upcoming Singles 69-73 SACD release, all I got was that the SACD format was dead. I thought Richard was involved in this upcoming release in Japan. So is one to believe this release will not occur?

I'd also like to mention that if this is really the end and no more releases to come...if I were you and you collect their catalog...I would hold on to any releases you own and don't sell them off....their prior releases, prior box sets and rare Cd's are only going to get pricier and harder to obtain as the years go on. If your considering obtaining something now and it's available I'd grab it.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I, too, greatly enjoyed the interview.
However, it is most depressing to realize that there will be no new unreleased material.
I recall news articles regarding the fire at Universal some years ago, and it did specifically mention loss of Carpenters materials.
At the time, I thought- how could this be?--that such precious, one of a kind musical artifacts from the greatest vocal duo ever, could
even be in a position to get destroyed. Those tapes should have been stored as if they were (and, they were!) priceless.
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
Wow. Great job, Chris, though I feel like I just got punched in the gut. I remember thinking the same thing as Gary when the fire took place. Just didn't seem possible.

I always heard they were stored someplace in Pennsylvania. I've heard Richard specifically mention Pennsylvania as being the place where the masters were kept.

I'm assuming not ALL of their stuff went up in flames. Certainly, Richard has PLENTY in his own collection, and I would sincerely hope he's got everything digitized. I know he recorded all the Carpenters shows for posterity, plus he's got all the Spectrum stuff at home (referencing his playing of an old reel-to-reel recording of Spectrum in 'Carpenters Forever' Japanese doc).

I wonder if this means all the alternate takes of well-known songs are also lost. Geez....Carpenters and master tape fires are not a good mix. That's including Joe Osborn's home fire that destroyed the Magic Lamp tapes and now the A&M multi-tracks. Beyond sad.
 
Last edited:

mr J.

Well-Known Member
Excellent interview Chris and thank you for this wonderful recent time spent with Richard. I wondered if this interview was longer but edited? It just seemed like the first 3/4 was going great and so much info and then the last 5 mins or so dropped off so quickly. I wished it had been longer, I'm sure Richard would have talked for much longer say like an hour. He has so much info to give but just needs the right questions to ask and you did a great job at that.

I still am confused about the part of the fire...so all the original multi track master tapes are gone in the fire but what does that really mean? So all of the demo track with only Karen on partial lead or Richard on partial lead that were never finished or released are also gone in fire? When was the last release (box set or compilation) to have used the original multi track tapes on a CD release? I'm confused about all that. So Richard has no original mixes from all their albums secured? So we will get no more releases because of the fire?

The ending of this interview is really sad....from a longtime fan...it just sounds like it's really all over and there will be no more releases period. Does that mean no more compilations or box sets from Japan with possible remix or bonus track? I'm still not clear on that. I don't understand why Richard appears to get so abrupt when asked "is there anything new to appear or any unreleased still to come" I know he is asked this all the time but to me it always expresses how the fans still yearn and love this duo that is why we keep hoping and asking...as an artist it should be there highest honor to be asked for more material...it's the reason why we love their music. I guess I look at it from a different perspective.

If you get to interview him again it would be cool to interject some questions like...the fans have really expressed interest in this or the forums were just talking about this, what do you think of this, I don't know just something to show that the fans are still out here and want to hear from him more often than every few years.

Thanks again Chris....these interviews are rare and I appreciate you sharing this with the fan base and public.

The original master tapes being destroyed in that fire is not an issue for Carpenters recordings,because every Carpenters recording has been transferred to digital master tapes-and both Richard and Universal have copies of them.

For an artist whose recordings were never issued on CD before the fire,that would be bad news-because if it hasn't been released on CD,it isn't going to be.You need those original master tapes to transfer a recording to CD.



Well the thing people *now* need to understand, is that most of the original multi-tracks have been destroyed. This I'm sure is part of the the reason there is nothing planned in the way of "unreleased". Sad reality, but true.
The vault material wasn't destroyed in that fire-it's safe and secure in Richard's personal storage facility in Pennsylvania.

Richard won't release any further material because he's not happy with the remaining unreleased material.He's been very candid about this fact over the years-and really,this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.There's a few tracks that he considers good recordings,but will not release them because they were made famous by another artist.
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
The vault material wasn't destroyed in that fire-it's safe and secure in Richard's personal storage facility in Pennsylvania.

Hmmmm, not anything in the way of the original albums - we've talked about this and as a matter of fact, even *during* the interview he'd stated that he would have taken money out of his own pocket to create further surround mixes had he known he was going to lose everything.
If he had everything still, we never would have had the conversation. He has had several items transferred digitally, but they're no longer first generation. The stuff in Pennsylvania was transported (temporarily) to California for various projects before the SACD. It was *after* the SACD project that they were supposed to have been sent back.

And on another note, I completely agree! It shouldn't come as any surprise that there isn't any unreleased stuff that he was going to part with. I knew this obviously going into the interview, but pushed him on it simply so people would hear it from him :)
 

mr J.

Well-Known Member
Hmmmm, not anything in the way of the original albums - we've talked about this and as a matter of fact, even *during* the interview he'd stated that he would have taken money out of his own pocket to create further surround mixes had he known he was going to lose everything.
If he had everything still, we never would have had the conversation. He has had several items transferred digitally, but they're no longer first generation. The stuff in Pennsylvania was transported (temporarily) to California for various projects before the SACD. It was *after* the SACD project that they were supposed to have been sent back.

And on another note, I completely agree! It shouldn't come as any surprise that there isn't any unreleased stuff that he was going to part with. I knew this obviously going into the interview, but pushed him on it simply so people would hear it from him :)
The vault material is the unreleased material.Any Carpenter recording that was not officially released by A&M is Richard's personal property.And,he's always had possession of it. When Richard delivered a recording to A&M & they release it-it became A&M's property.

The original albums are owned by A&M/Universal-they have possession of those master tapes.
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
The vault material is the unreleased material.Any Carpenter recording that was not officially released by A&M is Richard's personal property.And,he's always had possession of it. When Richard delivered a recording to A&M & they release it-it became A&M's property.

The original albums are owned by A&M/Universal-they have possession of those master tapes.

I was told they negotiated it into their contracts that the multi-track masters themselves still would be owned by Richard and Karen (estate). I'll have to ask him to verify that.
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
Which by the way would also indicate that any *unfinished/unreleased* song that was recorded on multi-track during the time the albums were recorded, on the same multi-track tape as another song that ended up being released, ultimately was destroyed in that fire as well. I guess that's all I was trying to communicate - at least if we're taking about first-generation, non-copy source recordings.
 

mr J.

Well-Known Member
Great interveiw, Chris. I wish it were an hour long. Take away: No RC Christmas album. Bummer.
Again,this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.That Christmas album was recorded twelve years ago-it's old outtake material at this point.And from the interview,it appears that Richard isn't signed to any label.

I'm assuming(from the interview) that there will be no 45th anniversary compilation release this year,either.
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
Again,this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.That Christmas album was recorded twelve years ago-it's old outtake material at this point.And from the interview,it appears that Richard isn't signed to any label.

Actually, he's started on (and nearly completed) a new Christmas album, unrelated to the one he started years ago. There is a vocalist, and it's close to completion. This is not something he is talking about, simply for the fact that as of now, there is no final marketing strategy or plan. Richard never discloses details publicly until there is a game plan. SO, all of that to say, there still may be more from Richard personally. There is nothing in the way of outtakes from Karen on any of it at this point.
 

1979lee

Well-Known Member
As for the Lost to the fire tapes. surely Ricahrd has his Own personal copis of all the recorded material in his personal archives(i would if i were him).
Chris that you again for such a nice interview with a music legand and musical genuis!
If i were a recording star he'd be at the top of my list for a producer/Musical genuis !
well rc or barry manilow.. or the late Phil Ramone
 

mr J.

Well-Known Member
Actually, he's started on (and nearly completed) a new Christmas album, unrelated to the one he started years ago. There is a vocalist, and it's close to completion. This is not something he is talking about, simply for the fact that as of now, there is no final marketing strategy or plan. Richard never discloses details publicly until there is a game plan. SO, all of that to say, there still may be more from Richard personally. There is nothing in the way of outtakes from Karen on any of it at this point.
Richard did record some Christmas tracks with his "mystery singer"(from Nashville?) in 2009-but,still,that was five years ago.

Recording an album is one thing-finding a label that wants to release it(especially in these times) is another.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
When Chris was asking Richard about labels and the record business indie vs major labels and how everything is so different now Richard says "I'm not really in it so I don't think about it"

What did you take from that?
That he has no label and at this point doesn't think about it anymore?
That sounds to me like he's not in the business anymore.
 
Top Bottom