When I catch up with Garth Carwardine on a Wednesday morning, he’s in the midst of a hectic day. Or more accurately, a hectic life. As the managing director at Spinning Top Music, he’s perpetually putting out some kind of fire. But his hard work is always repaid by watching one of his bands play on stage. “Being at a live show and seeing the crowd’s faces—it’s kind of spine-tingling,” he says. “I was with Tame Impala in Mexico for their biggest headlining show ever, about 20,000 people. The noise was just insane.”
Carwardine is from Fremantle, Australia, a city that sounds like an idyllic coastal paradise. “The beaches are never overcrowded, with white sand and crystal-clear water,” he says. “There’s nothing like them.” Though he sounds cut out for life as a surfer, his family and friends always assumed he would have a career in the arts: As a kid, Carwardine was a professional dancer. “I studied a bunch of different kinds—street and jazz and ballet all rolled into one,” he says. After nailing down the techniques, he performed in local productions and TV commercials. But around age 13, he quit. “Everyone was fairly disappointed, but it was an age thing—I just kind of lost interest,” he says.
He’d always had a love for music, of course. (“I remember at age 6 or 7, asking my parents to buy me INXS and Robert Palmer albums for Christmas.”) Then Carwardine’s cousin played bass for the Australian alt-rock band Jebediah, which formed in Perth in the mid-’90s. “When I was 19, she and I started hanging out quite a bit,” he says. “I’d be around shows all the time, getting to know people. That introduced me to Jodie [Regan], the director of Spinning Top Music.”
He and Regan became fast friends. “She was managing a live venue in Fremantle, and I sold merch and charged people as they came through the door,” says Carwardine. “Then Jodie started managing bands, and I started working with her. First I was one day a week, then two, then three, and now it’s every day of my life.” The two now run Spinning Top, a record label and artist-management firm that directs the careers of a host of bands and artists, including Pond and Tame Impala.
Artist management is a 24/7 gig, as Carwardine soon realized. “I’m managing the releases on Spinning Top Records and assisting Jodie on everything day-to-day on the management side: anything from organizing a photo shoot to a video to music royalties to merchandise to touring to booking flights. There’s just so much, and it expands to the artists’ families, making sure their partners fly to the right locations, making sure the bands’ financials are together. The list is endless.”
A year ago, Carwardine moved from Australia to L.A., where half of the Spinning Top team is based. He doesn’t get back home as much as he’d like, but that might not be a terrible thing. “Jodie and I have talked about getting some proper time off, which happens pretty rarely. When I do get a break, I head home to Fremantle, though that hasn’t happened in a while. But that’s great, because it means we’re doing really well.”