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19 Things You Didn't Know About Emo Band Cartel

♪ Please don't mind what I'm trying to say 'cause I'm, I'm being honest. ♪

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Were you a Warped Tour/emo-indie rock kid in the mid 2000s? There's a good chance you've seen Cartel hit the stage, responsible for the huge hits "Honestly" and "Say Anything." Now 10 years later (yes, 10 years!) they are back on the road playing a Chroma anniversary tour. The band stopped by BuzzFeed New York to answer fan questions — ranging from their most embarrassing moment on stage to their first AIM screen names. Here's what we learned about the quad.

1. Who first influenced you at the start of your career? —Alisha Marie, Facebook

Joe Pepper: New Found Glory.

Will Pugh: Yeah, as a band, New Found Glory and Jimmy Eat World were probably the two — how our music was in the early days — those were our first loves.

2. Who did you listen to when you were in high school? —Emily Hope, Facebook

WP: 311. I'll own that, that's me. Thank you, Nick Hexum.

Kevin Sanders: A bunch of really bad underground bands.

Nic Hudson: Yeah, local undergrounds.

KS: Just the worst bands imaginable.

WP: Earth Crisis, Chokehold.

JP: Oh yeah, a lot of hardcore.

KS: A lot of screaming because, teenage boys.

JP: A lot of angst.

NH: I also liked a lot of '90s hits too, like Jon Secada. (laughs)

KS: Whatever our moms made us listen to.

WP: Genesis, a little Phil Collins.

3. With Chroma, did you guys place your songs in a specific order? —mandys4d453eea0

WP: Yes. However, the actual release is different than the way we initially intended. "Matter of Time" was supposed to be number eight, I believe?

JP: Right before "Minstrel's Prayer."

WP: Oh, yeah, so the label was like, "'Matter of Time' is the hit, man, we've got to move it up." So it turned out to be fourth and it ruined our tuning order.

JP: Now we have to go back and forth with our tunes all the time.

WP: But it ended up being all right.

KS: We started to rehearse for the tour and we were like, "Do we play it our way or how everyone else knows it?" We're kind of outnumbered, so.

Did you blend your albums to tell a story?

WP: If we did, it was on accident. (laughs)

4. What's your favorite song of yours? —teamozera

KS: My favorite is "Burn This City."

WP: *Nods in agreement*

KS: It felt more like our high school growing-up song. And then we moved to Atlanta and it was like, screw all that.

WP: Yeah that really was like our high school anthem even though we didn't write it in high school. I like "First Thing's First" a lot on the new record. Pretty much the entire new record. Every song, all the songs! (laughs)

5. What's the most fun to perform live? —terim4f9b8b805

WP: "Burn This City." Good crowd participation.


6. If you had to go back, would you still do the Band in a Bubble thing for MTV? —samanthan4ad9120d7

All: Yeah!

What was your best memory from the event?

WP: Every night after they turned the cameras off. (laughs)

KS: We would have candy fights, just chucking Starbursts at each other across the room.

WP: I think Jeff still has a little mark on his head. Who beaned him?

KS: Probably me. [My favorite memory was when] we crawled to the front door — there's a big glass window and then there's igloo doors to the side — and we pushed them open and started hitting golf balls out the front. That was hilarious.

WP: We also put all the couches together...

KS: Oh yeah! We built this huge fort and jumped off the loft structure inside. I must have thought I was 10 years younger than I was. It was like a supervised playroom.

7. Out of all the songs you've written, which one are you most proud of? —KHoogs24

JP: Yeah, I don't know. That's like asking, "Who's your favorite kid?"

WP: Personally I would say "If I Were to Write This Song," the last song on our self-titled, probably because it's the biggest departure we've ever done musically. And Tony Asher OK'd the lyrics, so that's cool. For those of you who don't know, Tony Asher co-wrote "Pet Sounds" with Brian Wilson. He came in the bubble and read the lyrics and was like, "Yeah, man it's good," and I was like... "Sweet." He wrote all my favorite songs so I was like, right on!

KS: Or the "Wasted Remix" because we got to remix with Mr. Wyclef Jean.

8. What is the craziest fan encounter you've ever had? —ordinarilyjenna

JP: I don't know if we've had any crazy fan encounters?

WP: Yeah, our fans are pretty timid.

JP: Yeah, not that many crazies.

KS: Well, I forgot that we had signed that baby until you [Will] had mentioned that.

WP: Oh yeah, we signed a baby!

Was it with a permanent marker?!

NH: Yeah, it was a Sharpie!


9. What's the best or craziest fan sign you've ever seen? —BuzzFeed

KS: Craziest fan sign was when we were at the bubble, we're on the pier and all mic'ed up, and apparently there's speakers on the outside.

WP: (laughs)

KS: So we're in the bubble talking shit, making fun of everyone because, why not? And they all have dry erase markers and a pad, and they write, "We can hear you."

WP: It's true. There was some lounge chairs and there was this one guy kicking it, reading the paper, and we're like, "Look at this guy, drinking his morning coffee, watching us being stupid," and he looks up. So whoops, we didn't know there were speakers outside, so thanks for the heads up!

KS: We just retreated.

WP: Immediately regretted everything.

JP: "Just kidding!"

10. Do you guys have any preshow rituals? —ordinarilyjenna

All: *fist bumps*

KS: That's it. We've seen some weird shit. People do weird chants.

WP: We the Kings has a good one. From the basketball Will Ferrell movie, Semi-Pro. "Let's get tropical!"

KS: Ours is more just, "Have a show."

JP: "Don't suck."

11. Have you ever been mistaken for another band, and if so, what did you do? —BuzzFeed

NH: [Will], you've been mistaken for other artists.

WP: Yeah, we were driving, this was in '05, and we were driving to a show in West Virginia. I'm sitting in shotgun seat, our old tour manager is driving, and this van pulls up next to us and rolls down the window, waving to get our attention. We look over and they're like, "Are you Aaron Carter?!" I was like, Do you think Aaron Carter is touring in a 15-passenger van in the middle of West Virginia? Hell no! But apparently he was playing somewhere near. It was just serendipity that Cartel and Aaron Carter are right next to each other, when CDs used to exist. Really glad I got those black highlights to match.

KS: Did you say yes?

WP: Oh yeah. I absolutely did.

All: (laughs)

You should have sung the Shaq song. Have you ever met Aaron Carter in real life?

WP: (laughs) No!

12. What was your favorite band to tour with, and why? —emmylove9

WP: It's between New Found and Starting Line, probably. Starting Line was our first real tour with real stuff going on, and New Found was a dream of ours. They were fun and showed us how to be actual touring artists, like how to conduct yourself in a professional manner while still kicking ass.

13. What's one thing you hate about touring? —Olliebabah

JP: Laundry?

WP: The driving, probably. The lack of sleep.

NH: It's the food.

WP: Oh yeah, you get fat on tour.

JP: Truck-stop food.

14. What is the inspiration behind "The Minstrel's Prayer"? —alexisb41d0def92

WP: You know, I don't know. I just kind of wrote it! (laughs) I guess a minstrel, for people who don't know, is the old-school medieval guys playing an instrument, just singing songs. I was like, "Hey, I guess we're kind of like minstrels."

All: (laughs)

15. What were your first AIM screen names? —BuzzFeed

All: (laughs)

KS: Mine was K-e-v (for Kevin) and then my age, which was 15, and then Conyers, GA, which is where I was from, so it was Kev15CGA. It's so stupid, it's what a dad would do!

WP: My dad is from the Deep South and for some reason calls me Bubba — not my name, obviously — but he's called me Bubba 99% of the time. So my screen name was Bubbaman84, which was the year I was born.

JP: That's what I'm calling you from now on.

KS: Super-duper.

NH: I think it was CHudson, my first middle initial and my last name, or just Nic and my birthday.

JP: The earliest I can remember was MojoPep.

WP: You probably changed it 100 times.

JP: Oh yeah, all the time.

16. How would you guys reimagine the "Honestly" video today? —BuzzFeed

WP: With smartphones instead of those big computers. (laughs) I saw a screenshot of [the video recently] and I was like, "What?! Look at how old we are. We just dated ourselves hard."

KS: Maybe do it a third time but with less alcohol. We were wasted.

WP: "Could you guys sober up a little bit?"

NH: We were running into the walls.

KS: We were so nervous. Like, "Video shoot, New York." *heavy breathing* *chugging alcohol*

17. What was your most embarrassing moment on stage? —BuzzFeed

JP: I've played with my zipper down multiple times. And then you have to try and find the right moment to fix it. It's tough.

KS: I counted us into the wrong song.

WP: Oh yeah! (laughs)

KS: It's a three-count, like 1-2-3 down and then go, and we have two songs that do that, so I had a 50-50 chance of getting that right, and I got it wrong. So the worst part of that was that it happened and I'm playing what I think is the song, and they're playing what's correct. It just sounded...

WP: Like a train wreck.

KS: It was a mess. We stopped and I start looking at the monitor guy, blaming it on him. So that was my fault.

WP: Forgetting lyrics on stage sucks.

Do you just do the whole [hold out the mic to the audience thing]?

WP: Well see, that's when people actually know the lyrics to the song, and most of the time you look out in the crowd and it's just [moving mouths]. Not really singing anything.

KS: Just bubblegum mouth.

WP: It's like the Hungry Hippos.

KS: Will also does the cough. If he forgets the lyrics he'll immediately get sick on stage.

WP: I've actually come to the drums asking the lyrics and Kevin's just like, "I don't know."

18. What have you learned about the music industry in the 10-plus years you've been around? —katertotyay

WP: There are people who are really talented that don't end up making it. It teaches you to appreciate what you do and [encourages] you to try to get better. I live in Nashville now and there's a couple sessions where I've been like, "I've played guitar since I was 12, but I don't know what the hell I'm doing at all." (laughs) So yeah, humility is probably the best thing we've learned.

19. What's in the future for you guys after the Chroma tour? —megang39

KS: Rest. Taking these old bones and soaking them in a hot tub for a good year.

WP: For the last year and a half we've been planning this tour, and the vinyl release, so with all that, we haven't thought about anything after this. But once we're done, just see what happens.

KS: Wing it.

BONUS: A user asked, "Joe Pepper: Do you remember going on a blind date to prom with me?" —Casi Hutchings, Facebook

JP: Yes I do. Blind date to prom!

KS: What was this?

JP: This girl, she was like, "My friend needs a date, want to go to prom?" I was like, "Sure!"

Catch Cartel on their 10th anniversary Chroma tour from now until May 25.