Cartel ready to take over the rock world

Madelyn Otcasek

The House of Blues in Cleveland explodes tonight with Cartel’s anthemic choruses and catchy riffs. PHOTO COURTESY OF MILITIA GROUP

Credit: Jason Hall

Cartel is ready for the big time. With their song “Honestly” gaining popularity as well as their opening slot for New Found Glory this fall, they’ve been preparing for their growing fan base.

Their fame, which has grown in the past year, is something that lead singer Will Pugh has been getting used to.

“It’s kind of weird,” he said. “From the tour with the Starting Line last February, our first tour of the year, we were making a lot of new fans. Then with Warped Tour, all the stuff with mtvU & MTV and radio – we started drawing our own crowd. It’s been kind of a slow thing for us to realize what’s happened. Going from 20K records at the start of the year to 120K now has been fast, but we’ve taken in stride.”

Kevin Sanders, drummer of the Atlanta band, said success has changed the way the members perform together.

“You want to be as awesome as possible for the fans,” he said. “And there just seem to be more eyes everywhere.”

“More people are watching and judging, so you have to be perfect.”

The band members said they have had times when the reality of their fame hit them unexpectedly. For example, family and friends were thrilled to see them on television.

“It’s one of the few ways that your parents can understand how your hard work has paid off,” Sanders said.

He also said it’s something he’s always strived for, and the thrill of being broadcast worldwide never gets old.

The band, which hails from Atlanta, said its been not only a personal achievement, but also a regional accomplishment for the band to gain a bigger fan base.

“(It’s) funny because there aren’t that many big things in rock coming out of Atlanta since Collective Soul and the Black Crowes.” he said. “It has more of a hip-hop scene so it’s a little more special because Atlanta isn’t so convoluted with rock bands and the ones that were huge are a different generation.”

The band said they’re excited about playing in Cleveland with New Found Glory because they are “extremely talented and they’re even better friends.”

Since Cartel has received some mainstream success, they’ve been given opportunities they wouldn’t have originally thought possible when they frequented Atlanta’s music scene. Sanders said his favorite moment was playing, in the club where the band all saw their first concerts, though his favorite place to play is Japan because of the beautiful scenery.

As the band is touring, Sanders said they’re also working on new songs for a follow-up to 2005’s Chroma.

“We have a lot of ideas. And we’re just starting to craft them into full songs,” he said. “I think that everyone is going to be pleased. I just can’t wait to get it out.”

He also said that Pugh starts writing the songs, but they “get their sound after it gets touched by all of us.”

As far as people calling them sellouts for being featured on MTV commercials as well as “Total Request Live,” Pugh has no worries.

“All we can do is write records we’re proud of and hope that people like them as much as we do, continue to purchase them and come to our shows,” he said. “There is no too far in ‘selling out’ unless you change yourself or your music. It’s just a stupid term people use to sound like they know what they’re talking about.”

Contact ALL correspondent Madelyn Otcasek at [email protected].

New Found Glory

Playing with Cartel, Limbeck and The Early November

Where? House of Blues

When? Tonight at 7 p.m.

How much? $18.50