BEFORE WE WERE SO RUDELY INTERRUPTED...
In AP 257, we had ALL TIME LOW’s ALEX GASKARTH interview his longtime bro’ WILL PUGH, frontman for the band CARTEL. Bad News: We ran of magazine pages before we ran out of engaging chat. Good News: There’s always the Internet. Here Jason Pettigrew asks Pugh and Gaskarth about the state of the rock, as well as their idea for a really cool record.
The last Cartel album came out in 2007. Given the attention span of the average music fan, two years can be an eternity. Do you think Cartel feel like they have something to prove to the world?
WILL PUGH: I think we’re tryin’ to just let it happen rather than meet any kind of expectations. But, sure you read message boards and see things like, “oh, Cartel is so three years ago. There’s a certain sort of... Not pressure. Everything is typical right now, that’s why the record is titled what it is. Look at All Time Low: They were finishing high school while we were going out on the road, and here they are. Just to see a band get from that level to where they are now is awesome. While you could say the situation [of getting back on the radar] sucks, it’s actually really cool that everybody gets a shot. The biggest thing you can hope for is that your band gets an equal shot to do well. Us getting a second chance is even more rare. We feel really lucky to be at a point where we can. We don’t foster any jealousy toward any of the other bands--because anything is better than Lady Gaga. [Laughs.] It is kind of weird to be 25 and be considered “old.” [Laughs.] I bet Jordan from New Found Glory feels like a grandfather.
ALEX GASKARTH: Well said, brother. Well said.
What do you guys think is happening with today’s contemporary punk scene? Do you guys feel like dinosaurs and maybe the future of music really is stuff like Brokencyde and Millionaires?
GASKARTH: You know what? I think there’s a place for all of it. I think the big thing is that the focus shifted and the majority of listeners shift their focus onto something else. The bands that are doing the hot thing from the previous minute are still going to be around. There will still be groups of kids emulating that particular sound--that’s just the natural progression of music, I think. Every now and then you’ll get one kind of new, breakout sound that influences the next trend. But it’s all about where the scope is focused. It’s not that the music scene is going to shit; It’s just that the focus is on something the previous group hates. You have to think when the Sex Pistols and bands like that became prominent, most people called it bullshit or noise, but it ended up defining generations to come. Regardless of how you feel about bands like Millionaires or anything like them, you can’t necessarily knock it because it could end up being one of those things where, yeah, it sounds like shit to you, it might be another million kids’ punk rock or folk movement.
PUGH: It’s even more important now to carve out your niche. Those bands tend to be very polarizing. It’s good for them and only bad for people who don’t like that kind of thing. That’s the beauty of music: You only love something because you hate something else. That’s what makes me love the things that I do, even more. Nothing we are doing is going to interfere with what Brokencyde, Millionaires or Jeffree Star is doing at all. And nothing that they are doing is going to interfere with us. It’s more important to be true to what you’ve created and know who you really are, what you do and what you do well. There’s a lot more artists that sound like you, so you really need to learn to make your stand.
GASKARTH: It’s so easy for bands to bash on other bands these days. There are so many bands who have spoken out about other bands, and to what avail? Did they accomplish anything by voicing the fact that they hated some band and they wanted their fans to take a stand against it? Dude, that’s bullshit. In a scene where music is an overall matter of taste, why as a band, would anybody stand there and do that? The beauty of music is that if you don’t like it, you can turn it off. It’s as simple as that. I’m not going to talk shit on this band or that band simply because they’re not what I like. It doesn’t make it any less credible.
PUGH: But there is an aspect to a certain degree of how easy it is to do what certain artists are doing. I can tell you it’s real fuckin’ easy to make a rap beat on Logic [software]. But anything that I or you or anybody thinks shouldn’t be perceived as a movement against something. The truth is that the good stuff lasts: U2 are still around and even if you never liked them, they’re still there.
Last question: Suppose AP was going to start a record label tomorrow and the first release was a split single of All Time Low and Cartel covering each other’s songs. What songs would you cover and why?
GASKARTH: Can I cover two on a technicality? I would have to try and accomplish what they accomplished on “Q” and “A” from Chroma. That’s probably single-handedly two of the coolest songs on an album.
PUGH: I’d have to go with “Damned If I Do...” I appreciate craft in songwriting and there’s certain songs where you say, “That’s flawless,” and you wish you wrote it. That song is one of them. alt