Cartel (User Interview) - 01.15.10

Interviewed by
Cartel (User Interview) - 01.15.10You guys asked the questions, and the guys in Cartel came together for the answers. Big thanks to the band and your questions!

Since you guys were in the studio for such a long time this past summer, I can't help but think that there were many songs that were recorded but didn't make the cut. If so, do you have any plans to release a b-sides cd? -P.S. Still waiting for a full band version of "Fiend". That song is great!

You know…one would assume that all that time would have yielded a whole heap of songs but the honest truth is that we really just spent a lot of time on the individual songs. There is one song that didn’t really get finished but that was more of a writing hurdle than a lack of desire to include it on the record. I imagine that at some point in time we will attempt to put out something like a b-sides – at least I hope so anyway.

Why wasn't "In No Hurry" included on Cycles?

Nowadays every retailer wants an “exclusive” song for their sale of the album. Knowing that iTunes wanted an exclusive we designated “In No Hurry” for that purpose. I don’t think it has a sister song that makes it relevant to the album as a whole. It’s probably better served as a stand alone song.

What's your favorite song off the new album and why? What's your favorite song you've ever written?

Retrograde and Deep South are definitely my favorite songs on the record. It’s really hard to choose between them. Retrograde takes the title lyrically while Deep South taps a vein that I really enjoy. Wasted is my all time favorite for overall and Q&A is probably our greatest “accomplishment” song-wise.

Doesn't it get you pissed when people continue to ask questions about the bubble?

Yeh, but we asked for it didn’t we? Ha ha. It’s one of those things that, good or bad, will define that record and that portion of our career. As much as it’s looked at like a blemish to some, I would argue that it took a lot of courage and confidence to put ourselves out there like that and I’ll never be regretful of an experience that grand.

How has your song writing changed over the years, from the departure of Andy Lee with "The Ransom" to the departure of Ryan with "Chroma". Did those departures have a huge impact on the writing process for the last 2 albums? Did Nic and Jeff bring a different vibe as far as writing was concerned?

I think the biggest impact upon the songwriting has been growing older. Tastes and preferences tend to change or become clearer as I continue to progress as an individual and you can see that common thread through the albums if you look hard enough. I think the “progress” throughout our discography is evident of an intense desire to not repeat the last album. I’m not comfortable doing the exact same thing all the time and I never want music to become mundane or forced because I’m trying to maintain some sort of stereotype about our band. More to your point though - as individuals all the members past and present of Cartel have had an influence in the process. I wouldn’t entirely specify songwriting as the aspect that is affected by these guys. I think the vibe within our band is significantly different member to member and that has a role in the environment in which the songs are created. I should be a speech writer with all the spinning involved in this response. Haha.

Where's your favorite venue or place to play?

I would say that Chicago House of Blues is consistently the best time overall we have. I don’t know why exactly but there’s always an evident amount of positive energy in our camp surrounding that date of tour.

What was the meaning behind your song 'The Fortunate' ? I love it and I was just wondering the inspiration for writing it.

That was a song about everybody else seeming to have the inside track on life. There will always be points in our lifetimes when we feel that others have all the avantages and get all the love when in fact that’s the least we should be worried about. Ultimately, that song ends up being about the narrator I think…or at least that’s what I, as the songwriter, am saying it does. Learning to be appreciative even in the most depressing times is a character trait that is incredibly underrated.

In "Deep South" what does the line "Born on the same day as the sun" mean?

Well, here in the South the Sun has a very specific role in making it hot as shit. The South gains a lot of it’s identity from this fact (see “Hotlanta” instead of “Atlanta”). Because of this I wanted to have a bit of a play lyrically that throws the Southern ideal into archaic times. While, I love this place, it’s not exactly at the forefront of progressive thinking so it’s nice to have a tongue in cheek love of my home. In explanation, I’m using each unique day as another birth or rising of the Sun like ancient people used to believe while also using it as a throwback to the relation between being a Southerner and the Heat index. So now take that entire explanation and throw it out the window and just take the lyric for what it is…..

What's your favorite song to play live?

Deep South has firmly placed itself on that pedestal. It’s just heavy.

Are you proud of the risks you took with the self titled album, and did the reaction to that album give you more motivation to make Cycles as great as it is?

I don’t know exactly how to take that question so I’ll just respond at face value. I love the S/T record. If I didn’t, it wouldn’t have been released. I’m proud that we didn’t make Chroma 2.0 despite the apparent hope that the S/T would be something like that. It was important that we stretched ourselves and nurtured the yearning to progress. I think it will end up being a unique record just like all of them will be since we are specifically trying to avoid repetition of ideas. However, that’s not to say we aren’t trying to push boundaries with Cycles. It’s just not our goal with this record to stray away from the sound of Cartel as our fans have defined it. We needed the S/T to be what it is in order to get past the pigeonhole that Chroma was turning out to be behind the scenes. Having survived up to now with 3.5 records under our belt I’m proud as hell of all of them for getting us to this point.

Will, where do you get most of your inspiration from. who has most influenced you to write your meaningful lyrics, and do you believe that one day all this crap music, all this meaningless synth music will die out and only the music that has substain and meaning will be left behind?

My inspiration comes from within. I try to be an agent of the universe in the way that everything I write comes naturally. I usually never walk away from a forced songwriting session with something awesome. That’s not to say it hasn’t ever happened…it’s just not an oft-occurring situation. My job would be much easier if it was. As far as the music comment goes…I’m finding that the longer I’m alive the less I understand about people’s choices in life. Beyond that, it’s even more perplexing what people define as “taste” in music. So, I’m trying my damndest to let people like what they like and hope that it includes what I create. Otherwise…fuck ‘em.

How do you come up with some of the catchiest pop songs ever?

I reach as far up my ass as possible and hope whatever comes out doesn’t get me deported.

Will you ever tell us the true meaning behind naming the album Cycles?

Here it is….get ready for Hippie rant: Everything in the material world is cyclical…matter is neither created or destroyed…yada yada. I’ve noticed in my own life the evidence of this fact. The list of instances is too long to really put down but when imagining a title for this album specifically I could think of none better that captured the moment in our career that we seem to be in right now.

Are there any plans on a UK tour next year? Possibly at Give It A Name?

I certainly hope so….we’ll see I guess. We owe you guys a few now.

Any new bands you'd like to tour with?

The Graduate rips.

Do you intentionally start all of your full-length album titles with a C? and did you realize it before I pointed it out?

We never set out to do that but after the last record ended up being self-titled and happening to be 6 letters it was funny. Cycles came out without ever purposely thinking it was 6 letters or starting with a C…it just happened. Once we realized that it fit in this little scheme we figured why the hell not keep it going.

In the song "Wasted" are you referring back to yourself in this part here? Or is that just a generalization? This is one of my favorites you've ever written. Helped me out a lot a couple of years ago, so thank you for that.

And I'm 18 couldn't wait to move out
It's been 5 years and now I'm starting to doubt...
Whether all my dreams are just aimless stares
Looking off to someplace that isn’t there

When I'm 32 will I be miserable?
With everything around based on principle
Will I have a clue, oh wouldn't it be nice
to never be alone in this wasted life.

Wasted is one of my faves as well…. especially lyrically. There is some autobiographical info strewn throughout the song but this verse in particular is completely about where I was when I wrote this song.

What's the song "Retrograde" about? I love singing to it and it really picks me up to a place i haven't felt or been to in a while both musically and lyrically, but whats your meaning behind it?

It’s about how some people, me in particular, just don’t accept the “program” we were born into. I was born into a Conservative Christian home…I turned out the opposite despite others’ best efforts. It wasn’t even a conscious choice for me…it just never seemed “right”. In the South, that’s met with a lot of opposition so it’s about having the strength and courage to be yourself no matter what – no remorse, no more shame.

Will, what's your lowest Golf round?

71…I did have a 32 on a Par 36 9 holes though. Unfortunately, it was preceded by a 46 on the front…ouch.

Any of you ever been mistaken for someone else famous, and have you got any phrases or lingo that only you guy's use?

I, no shit, was called out on the interstate in West Virginia for looking like Aaron Carter. I’m not proud of it. We have a ton of inside jokes from over the years…most of them would lose us any respect we still have. We tend to be a little vulgar at times.

What has been your biggest struggle so far in your career?

This record….haha. it’s been a long 2 years and we’ve changed labels, written a ton of songs, and had many a conversation about “what kind of band we are”. At times I didn’t know if we would come out of it with anything redeeming or worth listening to. At other times I thought we could do no wrong. Somewhere between those peaks and valleys I found peace in knowing that life is an awesome ride and you can’t have the highs if the lows don’t exist. Learning to appreciate the opportunity to struggle only reinforces my own self worth and confidence. For that I can never be thankful enough. It is truly invaluable.
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 96
01:29 PM on 01/15/10
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:-)'s Avatar
Retrograde and Deep South are definitely my favorite songs on the record. It’s really hard to choose between them. Retrograde takes the title lyrically while Deep South taps a vein that I really enjoy. Wasted is my all time favorite for overall and Q&A is probably our greatest “accomplishment” song-wise.
How I feel about their entire catalogue.
01:34 PM on 01/15/10
thoust dare quoth i?
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youareallfreaks's Avatar
big ups chicago HOB!
01:35 PM on 01/15/10
87 jeans & a fresh pair of Nikes on
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rhinitus's Avatar
He's right. Chicago HOB IS the shit.
01:38 PM on 01/15/10
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gr33ndayfr3ak's Avatar
This is an awesome interview. I love the concept of the User Interview..kinda like a chat, just a lot more direct and filtered.
01:40 PM on 01/15/10
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anamericangod's Avatar
No love for the Atlanta venues.
01:55 PM on 01/15/10
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leifstar's Avatar
Love these guys. Can't wait to see them again.
01:56 PM on 01/15/10
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No love for the Atlanta venues.
because there all shit with people that have no idea how to run a show. pure trash
01:56 PM on 01/15/10
Knows the words to 'Bye Bye Bye'
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S9Dallasoz's Avatar
Love all the love for "Deep South".
01:58 PM on 01/15/10
at least I'm not a UT fan
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refgirl23's Avatar
I would've giggled hysterically had somehow The Drunken Unicorn been mentioned. It was a hysterically funny hole in the wall, but I must say I will never forget that show.
01:59 PM on 01/15/10
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zachff's Avatar
He's right. Chicago HOB IS the shit.
I haven't been to HOB in a long time; probably like 8 years. Something about leaving work in the summer and seeing 500 feet of tweens lined up on the bridge over Wacker turns me off as well.
02:04 PM on 01/15/10
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anamericangod's Avatar
because there all shit with people that have no idea how to run a show. pure trash
02:09 PM on 01/15/10
Format, The, Format, The
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Formatfun's Avatar
Really good guys. I love them, and all of their work. Cartel was way better than some people made it out to be. I listened to it more than Chroma, I think.
02:24 PM on 01/15/10
I'll buy you a raincoat
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Yellowcard2006's Avatar
In "Deep South" what does the line "Born on the same day as the sun" mean?

My question! Nice. I liked his explanation.

So, I’m trying my damndest to let people like what they like and hope that it includes what I create. Otherwise…fuck ‘em.

This sounds like something Anamericangod would say...
02:29 PM on 01/15/10
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highfidelity203's Avatar
This was really cool...I liked the concept of the user interview...really into the explanations of lyrics...not enough interviews ask for them

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