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An interview with The Marks Cartel

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Having completed the recording of their upcoming EP early last month, The Marks Cartel have had a busy ol’ time releasing a video of their debut single Curtain Call whilst selling out a launch party to follow. Full of energy, these cheeky Welsh indie-rockers provide an insight into their experiences recording with producer Lee House, getting fined for driving in the bus lanes in Cardiff, along with revealing a few more details about drummer Emyr’s little disappearing adventure.

HUNOW: At the beginning of the month you guys finished the recording of your upcoming EP; how was the process and what was it like to work with Lee House as your producer?

TMC: It was an amazing experience. Lee is one of the nicest guys we have had the pleasure of meeting and working with. He came down to one of our songwriting sessions in Sound Haven Studios to meet us and we had the opportunity to play our songs at full volume for him which I think was very important. It meant that he could really see what the new material was all about and we had the opportunity to get to know each other before going in to the studio. We felt completely at home in Studio Toy thanks to Dan (the owner), it made things a lot easier for us and I think it’s the most all of us have laughed in a long time. It was a nice atmosphere.

HUNOW: Did any mishaps occur in the studio or was it a fairly smooth run?

TMC: Unfortunately it didn’t go as smooth as we were hoping, haha. We spent a lot of the week running around Cardiff trying to get our guitars fixed as things kept going wrong with them. Rhodri wanted a P-Bass for recording and in the two weeks leading up to recording he was sent two broken ones. The third one came the night before recording and when it was time to use it in the studio it decided not to work either. The next few hours was just a mad rush phoning and driving around Cardiff trying to find a new one, which thankfully we did in the end. We also had to take 3 guitars to get set up because of different problems. Because we live in the Welsh Valleys it meant that we didn’t have a clue how to get around Cardiff either. Lets just say we might have had bus lane fines to pay the week after…

HUNOW: The music video for Curtain Call has been debuted and it’s quite dark; who came up with the concept behind the video and is there a message you’re trying to convey?

TMC: The song itself is about obsession and revenge. It would have been ridiculous if we had cast some unicorns to run over rainbows while munching on candy floss. We might keep that stuff for our second video, haha. We worked with a great local company called weCREATE and we had a few meetings to discuss different ideas but it all evolved around the same concept. We wanted to use the shock factor as it was our first music video. It’s just about people who get so obsessive about love interests, looks and trends that they start to see things differently. I have no idea if that makes any sense but it was a lot of fun making it, haha.

HUNOW: What has been the highlight of your career as a band so far?

TMC: It has to be the gig we headlined to celebrate the release of Curtain Call at The Lemon Factory. We never expected it to be sold out. We had to turn people away from the gig because the venue was at full capacity. It just ended up being one big party. We don’t believe in hiding in the background at gigs. We drank and danced with everyone while the support bands did their thing and when it was time for our set the whole venue was bouncing. Hearing over a hundred people singing your songs back at you and chanting your name sobers you up quite quickly!

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HUNOW: Now, I have to ask… there’s been mention of Emyr having gone missing and turning up 58 miles away, what on Earth is the story behind this?!

TMC: The first time we were in the studio we decided to go out on the last day to celebrate. We might have celebrated a bit too hard. We were in Nando’s having a bit of food and a beer at 7 o’clock at night and the next thing we knew it was 10 the next morning and we had a few minutes to get out of our room. There was no sign of Emyr but when we did eventually get hold of him he was back in his house 58 miles away in Cwmllynfell. He is one of these guys that once they’ve had a few to drink he will disappear. It’s just that night he took it to the extreme.

HUNOW: Are there any other crazy stories that have happened to any of you guys since you’ve become a band?

TMC: We have a lot we could tell you but 99% of them wouldn’t be appropriate, haha. On the same night that Emyr disappeared, Rhodri’s iPhone also disappeared. To this day we don’t know how it started its adventure but in the next few days, the phone had made it on to a car boot sale stall where it was bought by a student who ended up actually phoning us asking how to unlock the phone. After a few surprisingly pleasant phone calls and police back up, Rhodri bought his iPhone back for £20 a week later.

HUNOW: Which members do you believe would be the best and worst to share a tour bus with and why?

TMC: I think we would all say that Emyr would be the worst, and I think he would be proud of that. He seems to constantly have a mission to wind people up. You will never meet anyone with quicker comebacks and better insults than him. It’s quite impressive actually and you can really appreciate it when it’s not aimed at you, haha. That’s a tough question though, we’re all very close friends and enjoy our time together.

HUNOW: If you could visit any country in the world to tear up and play a show in, what would be your top three choices and the reasons behind them?

TMC: I think our first choice would be Brazil. I think we have more of a following in Brazil than anywhere else in the world when you look at the social media figures. Our kind of music is huge over there and we would love to be given the opportunity to go show them what we can do live. The US has to be second. Who doesn’t want to go play in America?! And thirdly, anywhere else in the world. We would jump at the opportunity to play anywhere in the world.

HUNOW: Imagine if there was a law that meant you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life. Which album would you pick?

TMC: We all have our different musical influences which I think is important in a band but we have recently discussed this topic. There’s always good albums coming out and we listen to them religiously for a month and then you rarely listen to it again, but AM by the Arctic Monkeys always ends up going back into the car stereo. You just can’t get bored of that album. It always feels like you’re listening to it for the first time and we try and keep that in mind every time we go in to the studio. That is something we would love to achieve.

HUNOW: After the split of Kids in Glass Houses and the announcement that The Blackout are performing one last tour, what are your opinions on the current alternative music scene in Wales and what do you hope to bring to it?

TMC: I think this could be turned in to a positive. It means that that there is more room for new bands to come through. It’s amazing what those guys achieve because it isn’t easy but we want to change that not just for Wales, but for all of Britain. British music used to be Oasis, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and The Who but these days it’s mostly boy bands with teams of songwriters behind them. Alternative music is very rare on mainstream radio now and instead of just sitting here moaning about, we’re trying to help change that. We want to inspire people to write their own music. Too many bands are just playing covers because it’s easier to get gigs if you have Sex on Fire by the Kings of Leon in your setlist.

HUNOW: Are there any plans for a tour later this year and if so, which cities are you planning on visiting?

TMC: We are now going to try and gig all over Britain. We just want to get our music heard and show people what we can do when given the chance. Manchester and London are definitely at the top of our list but we’re not fussy. As long as we can play our set and have a beer with everyone after it then we’ll play anywhere.

HUNOW: What can we expect from The Marks Cartel in the future?

TMC: The aim is to get our new material out there and get as many people to listen to them as possible. We’re going to get round Britain as much as we can and find the right people to work with. We’re not going to stop pushing until we do.

 

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