Cartel: Special Acoustic Show at Eddie’s Attic!


by Cayla Bamberger

American pop punk band Cartel includes vocalist/bassist Will Pugh, lead guitarist Joseph Pepper, guitarist Nic Hudson, and drummer Kevin Sanders. The band is associated with many labels, including The Militia Group, Epic Records, and most recently Wind-up Records. Cartel has released two EPs, The Ransom (2004) and In Stereo (2011), as well as four studio albums, Chroma (2005), Cartel (2007), Cycles (2009), and Collider (2013).

Their second self-titled album, Cartel, was recorded and produced in an MTV experiment called “Band in a Bubble.” The TV show gave the band twenty days to write and produce a full-length album. Cartel was in the “bubble” from May 24, 2007 to June 12, 2007. After finishing the show, the band put on a live concert and released the completed album in August.

Cartel has been touring throughout their career, including earlier this year with the Chroma 10 Year Tour (2015) to commemorate their debut album’s 10th anniversary.  A highlight of the tour was their New York date (April 15, 2015), when the group held their Chroma concert at Gramercy Theater and it was available for live streaming by Yahoo! and accessible for the following 24 hours.

Will Pugh could have been a cop, firefighter, or astronaut. For a brief period of time he was even close to pursuing a career as a professional golfer, until he realized that he was going to need a lot more practice and a more sure fire way to make enough money. In Will’s words, “Yeah, you probably don’t want to be a professional golfer. The rock band thing made a lot more sense – which is hilarious.”

I sat down with Will last week to discuss the ending of the Chroma 10 Year Tour and Cartel’s upcoming Atlanta acoustic concert next month.

On December 23 at Eddie’s Attic, Cartel will be performing an intimate Christmas show featuring a set list of both classic songs from their albums as well as holiday covers. The show will mark the end of a year on tour across the US, Canada, and UK.

The anniversary tour ended this spring and the band will not get the opportunity to rehearse as an entire group until the day before the gig. However, the seasoned veterans are well prepared for the performance.

“There comes a point in time, probably two to three weeks into tour, when it becomes just automatic,” Will describes the feeling of performing live. With a career spanning over ten years, Cartel has found a groove that works every time effortlessly.

When asked how their music has developed since first entering the industry, Cartel explains,

“Our sound is more second-nature. We know what a Cartel song is, and we know what a Cartel song isn’t. If we change our sound at this point, we’re a different band. Gone are the days when bands can really progress or morph their sound so much. Not easier but lot less stressful. When you’re in the little class of bands, you occupy the space of mind that they need you to keep occupying. We’ve kind of crafted own little rule-book about how to go about making our music. In the end, we all love cartel and are committed to it, so it all works.”

Will, now 31, says that he is definitely not into writing the same music that he enjoyed creating when he was 19 and first starting his career. He considers the static nature of the band’s sound to be both “a blessing and a curse.” Cartel has learned to occupy its niche, perfecting the sound that they have come to be associated with.

Despite this limitation, Will is still as in love with his career now, as he was at age 19. “There’s been times when I’ve been on a plane and traveling for 24 hours straight and the second I land in that country I have to go straight to the stage and play a show,” Will says, “And the last thing I wanted to do is play a show. But then you wake up and realize, oh, I’m in Australia and about to play music and I’ve never even been here before in my life and there’s actually people here to see us? Oh, this isn’t so bad. Although I feel like death, I do this because I love it.”

 To aspiring musicians, Will advises, “If you don’t really believe in it, then it’s not going to happen. It’s going to suck for a long period of time. If you don’t love it, you’re going to quit.

To aspiring musicians, Will advises, “If you don’t really believe in it, then it’s not going to happen. It’s going to suck for a long period of time. If you don’t love it, you’re going to quit. For some people, music is a hobby. But to do it as a career, you basically have to give everything else up in your life and if you don’t do that, you’re not going to make it, or you’re extremely lucky… or rich. This is our one chance to be lucky.”

Over ten years later, the members still love the band and the music: “We all help each other, and push our boundaries. By now, we all have our strengths, and we support those and encourage other ideas. Just jamming with the band is as easy as it can be. If we had a favorite song to play…burn the city. It’s so fun and we love playing it together.”

“We’re really excited to play Eddie’s Attic,” says Will. “I don’t think we’ve really done any intimate shows in Atlanta. It’s going be the first show we’ll play in six months, probably the last show we’ll play for some more. Now that I don’t live there any more it feels like going home. We’ve never played at Eddie’s Attic before. It’ll be fun; definitely something off our checklist.”

Tickets are on sale for Cartel’s acoustic show in December. You definitely don’t want to miss out on this special opportunity at a wonderful location. Grab yours here before they’re gone!

Check out Will’s current favorite musicianJónsi!

“He’s so creative and progressive; it speaks to something you can’t understand. His lyrics and music are both beautiful and epic as you imagine Iceland would be.”


Also, here’s a video of Cartel’s hit, “Say Anything (Else)”:

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