Total honesty here -- Cartel is the one band in recent memory that absolutely blew me away with their live performance; everything about it was just so spot on. Like some people, when I think of Cartel, I think of their first album "Chroma" -- but it's definitely unfair to define them like that, especially when literally every other release they've put out is just as solid. Last October, Cartel released "In Stereo", an EP which received generally positive reviews.
I hung out with lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Will Pugh in the back of their trailer before they went to go soundcheck.
First off, how's tour with Set Your Goals been so far?
It's been good, it's been a few weeks so far. We just got off a 7 day run, which was pretty taxing. It's been a lot of fun though.
Has there been a favorite memory so far on this tour?
I dunno, nothing significant has really gone on so far, this tour still feels really fresh. There was a dude at venue getting pretty agressive 3 or 4 days ago, so there was so aggressive security too, haha.
What is your favorite song you're playing on this tour?
I think i'd say I really enjoy playing "Conduit" on this tour; we also play "Write This Down" too, it's always really nice having people know that song.
What's one song that you're not playing on this tour that you'd like to add if you had more time?
Probably the new one that we're still mixing right now, but it'd be weird to play a new song without having any way to hear it online. But yeah, I love playing new shit.
You just had a guitar player, Jeff, leave the band almost a year ago. How has his absence affected the setlist, if any?
Not really. There's some songs where we're like "yeah, that's a three guitar song", but for the most part we've found a way to do it with a 2 guitar lineup. There's certain stuff where we'll need someone's help, like if we ever do songs like "Wasted" and "Save Us".
You're currently touring in support of your new EP, "In Stereo". What was the big challenge of the writing process of that EP?
The writing process was actually pretty quick, we had a lot of the songs in our back pocket, they just needed to be finished up; the ideas were already there, so that made it way easier, because we needed to focus on the task of putting out ourselves. So at least the songs were easy last time, so now that we know that putting it out ourselves is easy, we can focus more on writing since we don't have as much material written so far.
You mentioned that you guys self-produced this EP. Can you see yourselves continuing to put out future releases by yourselves?
I think until future notice, we're putting our stuff out the same way; We hope to put out full length next time, we might not have the songs quick enough. I think we just want to have stuff come out more often, that's what we've always wanted to do.
Someone wanted to know the meaning behind the song "Conduit". What can you tell us about that song?
There wasn't any specific inspiration, as much as it was capturing a specific moment in time with being a band and playing music for people. That's a personal favorite of mine though.
So you're currently writing for a new album right now, right?
Well, I wouldn't say we're currently writing, we're starting that process right now.
Do you have any lyrics currently written so far?
Nope. Well, except for that new song we're mixing right now.
Can you tell us what it's about, or what you'd like to write about?
I think it's just writing about whatever, it's not going to be a bunch of girl songs or anything like that. Love songs, i'm sure there will be one or two. Lyrically? I'm married now, so anything love-wise is going to be written from a different perspective, there's not going to be songs about one night stands or anything. I think it's going to be more focused on being a person, which is what our music was based upon in the first place.
Looking back on the "Band In The Bubble" event in 2007, what was your favorite memory from that, and what did you learn about each other?
I think my favorite memory is us having a food fight inside of it, which is a close tie of the glass actually breaking, and us wondering if it was set off or if it actually happened. I think we all learned the same thing about each other, which was that we're all mentally tough individuals, but we did it together, and we didn't let it get to us and keep calm.
If you could go back in time and decide whether or not to do it or not, would you still do it?
I'd still do it, yeah. It was crazy, and there was so much valuable advice to give to people based on what we learned from that event.
Have you considered doing a "Chroma" tour, where you'd play the album from front to back?
Yeah... I mean, why not? And I think the record flows that way, so I think it'd be cool to do that.
When would be the right time to do that tour then?
I guess whenever it makes sense to do it. We don't want to make it just a tour, we want it to make it an event; having a re-release and adding more content. If it works out that way, then hopefully as soon as possible.
People have expressed interest at having Cartel stuff on vinyl. When can people expect to be able to purchase stuff on vinyl?
I would say with our next release; our next release will definitely have physical copies, so vinyl should be a part of that. We're looking to eventually re-release In Stereo on vinyl later on as well.
Can you see yourselves releasing an acoustic EP, with new and old material?
I'm not a big fan of acoustic EP's, unless it's just an actual acoustic song. Our songs we always kind of hate playing acoustic, because I don't think it translates well. Sometimes it makes sense and translates well, but sometimes it just feels forced.
What is one book and one band that you'd recommend to anyone that listens to Cartel?
A band i'd recommend is Hot Water Music; that was a band growing up where I heard them I immediately thought "This is Rock n' Roll, this is music on the edge". These guys didn't give a fuck, they just wrote the music they wanted to write; it's all about hanging out and being friends. They were really great live, and even if you don't appreciate that sort of music, you can still get a lot from it.
A book? Catcher In The Rye. It's a classic, but you have to read it.
What's next for Cartel in the rest of 2012?
Well, we're going to go home from this tour and work on more material, which we probably won't record until we get back from the U.K.; we're playing the Slam Dunk festival over there, as well as a few dates with Forever The Sickest Kids. Then we'll come home, and start to track then, and have it out by the end of the summer and tour; we want to have it released as soon as possible. Once we get it done and it gets mixed, we'll try it have it out a month after that, as opposed to the six month that happens sometimes; we want to tour in the fall and do some international stuff.
Anything else you'd like to add before we wrap up?
Thanks for the support. It's really cool doing this by ourselves, being able to pull off a release and have a good enough response to tell us that we should keep doing this. So with that, thanks, and we'll keep on doing it.