Editor’s Note: It was such a fantastic time interviewing Cory Marks for Madness To Creation. Cory does an impeccable job of mixing country music with some hard rock that both the country music and rock music industries have taken some serious notice. I mean, how often is it that you hear of a country music artist performing on Sirius XM Octane via Instagram Live. In this interview with Madness To Creation, Cory Marks discusses his singles “Outlaws & Outsiders” and “Blame It On The Double” along with his very first gig, and mental health awareness. Tomorrow, Cory will be releasing his single for “Devil’s Grin”, which fans can pre-save the single here. Fans can find Cory Marks at the following locations:
Madness To Creation: Cory, how are you doing today, thanks so much for taking the time for us. What’s going on today?
Cory: How are you doing? Just doing an interview with Madness To Creation!
Madness To Creation: You did an Instagram Live performance the other day, right?
Cory: I did yes.
Madness To Creation: How did that go?
Cory: Amazing, it’s pretty wild to see the amount of people tuning in not only in North America but worldwide. We counted over 15 different countries are tuning in these things, so it’s pretty amazing.
Madness To Creation: What are some adjustments that you have had to make to your social media accounts due to this Coronavirus pandemic?
Cory: I’m big on my socials, I love communicating with people via Instagram, Twitter and all of that stuff. I think the biggest adjustment that I’ve had to make especially with live performance is that it’s cool that there are thousands of people watching you from home, but at the same time it’s not “live” you can’t reach out and touch somebody or shake their hand. The energy levels are definitely different, but I try to put myself in this headspace that these thousands of people are watching me on stage, and I’m sitting in a chair in the middle of the stage doing an acoustic session. I try to deliver it as much as I can.
Madness To Creation: How often are you going to be doing your Instagram Live performances or Facebook Live performances?
Cory: We have it planned out for Wednesdays with it being “hump day” for people across the world to get over the hump, so on Wednesdays, we will do 4 PM on Instagram Live and on Fridays, we will do Facebook Live.
Madness To Creation: What’s your favorite song to perform live?
Cory: Honestly, I love playing everything. That’s the cool thing about this is that it’s not really a setlist, some people just shout stuff out, even if you don’t know the whole song, you play what you know and it’s a lot of fun, and they appreciate it. Honestly, I’m going to say “Outlaws & Outsiders” just because I can’t believe the requests that are coming in for this song and the amount of people that know it. I was just on Octane the other day, apparently I’m the first and only Instagram Live performance that they’ve had, so that was pretty cool, and for me going live with a rock/metal station, and you see the responses from these fans who are rock and metalheads. I love what this country boy is doing, it’s a pretty cool feeling. “Outlaws & Outsiders” has been a hit.
Madness To Creation: I definitely thought that it was a cool collaboration with Ivan of Five Finger Death Punch, Mick of Motley Crue and country artist Travis Tritt. How did that collaboration with those three come about and what were some of the biggest takeaways you got from those three artists?
Cory: I think that when we decided that we wanted these to be featured on this track, we figured that we really wanted “Outlaws & Outsiders”, and I think that everyone on this track is an outlaw and an outsider in their own right. We all kind of went through the same struggles at the start of our career and i think at all of these different times, we were out of the box, we were a little bit different from the majority that’s out there, so we were kind of outside of the box and pushing the envelope a little bit, so I think were outlaws a little bit and having that little bit of a struggle at first. That being said, when we ended up taking up these guys, the coolest part of it is very simple, they all love the song, they love what it was about, and they all love the production that Kevin does, and they all wanted to be a part of the song, so that was really cool for me. I’m glad that they’re part of the song “Outlaws & Outsiders”.
Madness To Creation: You touched upon struggles that you and the others went through, we focus on mental health awareness at Madness To Creation, what advice do you have for our readers and listeners and what are some things that help you get through?
Cory: Have a little bit of Jack Daniels, I’m just kidding! *laughs* That’s what I’ll sometimes have on a Friday night. No, I just think surrounding yourself with good people and true people and surrounding yourself and appreciating the people that you do love and that love you. I think that’s the most important. For me, doing what I love is playing music and as an artist and a songwriter, it’s a little bit easier for us to think and express how we feel when we put it down on pen and paper, whether you’re writing a book or if you’re writing songs, that’s one way of dealing with certain things. For me, going out for a run and definitely fitness is huge for me both physically and mentally, so I try to focus on that, going for a run and getting a good workout in, and of course, taking the dog for a walk.
Madness To Creation: Where are a couple of places that you like to run and how have you adjusted with all of this social distancing and quarantining from this Coronavirus?
Cory: That’s honestly what helps me is doing these Instagram and Facebook Live sessions because I’m a social butterfly, I love going out and hanging out, not necessarily going out and partying, just being around people, so even my family is like, “you know, we’re really proud of you for sticking to your guns”. I’m quarantining myself, I haven’t even seen my dad at all from this tour that I was on, we were to go across Canada for 20 dates, but it was cancelled after the second show, so I’ve been home for several weeks now, and even though my parents are ten minutes away, I still haven’t seen them. My brother had to end his hockey season, so he’s here too, right now, I want to give them a hug, but I’m unable to, just to keep the social distancing, and I’m giving myself that two week or 20 day period just in case in order to clear things up. So that’s been a little bit tough, being away from family, but yet being so close to them. Things like Facetiming with mom and dad, Instagram and Facebook Live with my fans, that has definitely helped me cope with this situation, and I’m not going to lie, being able to throw a few back while doing all of this live, makes it actually feel like it’s a live show, just trying to have fun with all of this going on the best way that you can.
Madness To Creation: Fun question for you, if I see you at the local bar and I have to buy you one drink, what would it be?
Cory: Jack and ginger is my go-to.
Madness To Creation: Your music is definitely a mix of country and rock, to me it’s very rare that an artist like yourself seems to connect so seamlessly with the rock and metal world. What’s the secret?
Cory: I can’t give you the secret formula because everyone is going to have it, but I was very fortunate to grow up on different genres of music and on my mother and dad’s side, it was classic country, it was Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings, even going way back it was Ernest Tubb and Buck Owens and Gene Rogers and even back in the 1920’s when country music started, so I was always surrounded by that as a young boy, and with my dad being a huge Merle Haggard fan and Waylon Jennings fan, but with Waylon Jennings he was a bit of a rogue too, he pushed the rock, he kind of put the rock into country, which was followed by guys like Travis Tritt, who is a huge Waylon Jennings fan, I mean he’s got a song called “Put Some Drive In Your Country” and that’s exactly what Travis Tritt did, but on the other hand, my dad was a huge rock fan, I grew up on Rush, Ozzy Osbourne, Dio, Deep Purple and into my teens, I’m a drummer before all of this, I was listening to Rush, Deep Purple and Ozzy drumming on paint cans until I got my first kit by the age of ten years old,, and by the time I was 14 or 15, I was into progressive bands like Dream Theater or metal bands like Pantera, Arch Enemy, Lamb of God, and my dad loved it too.
So, we would jam out on that, so having someone like Kevin, who worked with Mutt Lange, who is the greatest rock producer in the world, he worked with Def Leppard of course and many others, he was also on Shania Twain’s stuff, he engineered all of Shania’s stuff, besides Garth Brooks, that’s the biggest country artist out there. But of course Kevin producing Five Finger Death Punch, Disturbed and Ozzy Osbourne, there’s that country and rock mix, and me as a country artist having that country and rock mix, and we both had that same vision on what we wanted to sound like and so it was a really easy connection to write with one another. He loves Steve Earle and I love Merle Haggard, so that’s our country connection, and we have a lot of rock acts too that we love and we appreciate. We wanted to make a record and this record is just that, and the next record is Merle Haggard, Eric Church and Ozzy Osbourne all rolled into one.
Madness To Creation: Coronavirus permitting, you’re going to be opening for Breaking Benjamin, Bush and Theory Of A Deadman this summer, why should people come out early to see you and what are some pre-show rituals that you have before your show?
Cory: I’m big on whatever the crowd is feeding me, they are my energy, so whatever the crowd is like, I take from them and sometimes they’re a little bit sleepy and my job as the opening act is to wake them up. If that takes a couple of push-ups and a shot of Jack before jumping on stage, that’s what I gotta do.
Madness To Creation: When those three bands are on stage, what are some things that you’re going to try to pick up on in order to take with you to your future performances?
Cory: I just like to watch and see how they perform and that’s given we don’t have to pack up and leave for the next show right after this set, unfortunately there’s so much traveling on this tour, but the nights that I will get to watch them, probably see how the crowd reacts to their hit songs, how they connect with the crowd, they’ve all been doing it for awhile, they’re great at what they do, so just kind of watch the band and see how they break things down. I like to look at the format of the show, for me I like to come off strong and get into the singalong things and then break it down, especially when I have a little bit more time, I like to break it down to even an acoustic session and then rock it back up and end with a bang, just see how they do their show, what their show is like and how they build momentum in the show. I’m sure I’m going to learn a lot of things along the way.
Madness To Creation: Tell me about the first gig that you have ever had and what was a memory that sticks out to you from your first gig?
Cory: My first paid gig or first gig ever?
Madness To Creation: However you want to answer it, whether it was a paid gig or an open mic, however you want to answer it.
Cory: So the way this started, I was enrolled at a military college in Canada. I was inspiring to be a fighter pilot and playing hockey for the university team there, that was the whole plan. I started doing a little writing myself, so I thought I’d throw a little something on YouTube and see how people would react to it, so my teammates actually caught wind of that, so we were out one night up in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, where the real military college is, and we were at this pub called The Brass, and there was this guy there that was a friend of mine, he played there all of the time, and he’s still there. So we were out one night and we were all having drinks and I think we had a few pitchers in, with three sheets to the wind, they kind of went up to him and when I wasn’t looking they said to him, “when you take your break, you should call my buddy up”, so my nickname at the military college was “Sunshine” because I was the only one with long hair, it was a reference to the movie “Remember The Titans”, who was the star quarterback with the long hair, so I heard a lady on the mic say that they’re going to get a good friend of ours named Sunshine to come up there and sing a few songs and the guys started smacking the table and chanting for me to go on, I didn’t want to.
I was a drummer, I would sing harmonies and when I’m solo acoustic by myself, so lo and behold, I got up there and sang two originals and two covers and from then on, right after the second or third song, people were asking me where else I was playing and where can they get a CD, so I thought, “wait a minute, maybe I got something”, so long story short, it didn’t work out at the college, but I was going there for a week or two and playing a couple of songs here and there, and that was my most memorable moment, just because it started everything for me and when it didn’t work out, I went back home and started playing local bars and ended up spreading out and ended up touring and now here I am. I think that was the most memorable one because it really got me going and got things started for me, and that was where I caught the bug to do this.
Madness To Creation: And I think the buzz will continue to grow with you. Last month or so, you released the music video for “Blame It On The Double”. I really enjoy the outlaw country vibe to the song. What is your biggest takeaway from the song and take us into the video and song.
Cory: The song is obviously about what I’ve been through and what I think people go through when shit gets a little bit crazy when you’re out with the boys or out with the gals, whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing, sometimes you blame it on that extra drink or that extra shot, you blame it on the double. I think it’s just a party anthem, it’s a summer anthem for a good night out and for a great time.
Madness To Creation: After the Breaking Benjamin/Bush tour, what’s next for Cory Marks?
Cory: Well, hopefully this clears up and it doesn’t take too long, I would like to work on the second record with Kevin here in May. We talked about it a lot, at least me getting some demos done. I’ve written about 40 songs already and only one of those I believe are with Kevin so far. Kevin and I usually get together for a week or two and smash out a dozen songs, so there’s that on the table. I’m looking forward to getting down to Vegas and getting with Kevin and Cain and I’ll also be working with Jason Hook from Five Finger Death Punch and we’ve already written a song together, which was cool. So what’s next for me, is getting to work on the second record already and getting some shit done in the studio before I head out on the road.
Madness To Creation: That’s awesome man, what else would you like to add that we haven’t covered and where can people find you?
Cory: I’ll be live on Instagram every Wednesday and every Friday on Facebook. I’ll be going live for the fans and everyone can tune in there as this Coronavirus is going through this course and please follow me and keep up to date with me on www.corymarks.com and of course Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @corymarksmusic
And there you have it! Coronavirus permitting, Cory Marks will be providing support on the Breaking Benjamin/Bush tour along with Theory Of A Deadman. Check out the tour dates below:
Wed. 7/15- Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Virginia
Fri. 7/17- Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater in Virginia Beach, Virginia
Sat. 7/18- The Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton, Pennsylvania
Mon. 7/20- Northwell Health at Jones Beach in Wantagh, New York
Tue. 7/21- PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey
Thu. 7/23- BB&T Pavilion in Camden, New Jersey
Fri. 7/24- Live Nation Concerts at Darien Lake Amphitheater in Darien Center, New York
Sun. 7/26- XFinity Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut
Mon. 7/27- XFinity Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts
Wed. 7/29- S&T Bank Music Park in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania
Thu. 7/30- DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan
Sat. 8/1- St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheatre in Syracuse, New York
Sun. 8/2- Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Tue. 8/4- Ruoff Music Center in Noblesville, Indiana
Thu. 8/6- Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, Illinois
Fri. 8/7- American Family Insurance Amphitheater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Mon. 8/10- Dos Equis Pavilion in Dallas, Texas
Tue. 8/11- Germania Insurance Amphitheater in Austin, Texas
Thu. 8/13- Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands, Texas
Sat. 8/15- Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee
Sun. 8/16- Ameris Bank Amphitheater in Alpharetta, Georgia
Tue. 8/18- Coastal Credit Union Music Amphitheater in Raleigh, North Carolina
Wed. 8/19- PNC Music Pavilion in Charlotte, North Carolina
Fri. 8/21- iThink Financial Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach, Florida
Sat. 8/22- MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheater in Tampa, Florida
Mon. 8/24- The Wharf Amphitheater in Orange Beach, Alabama
Wed. 8/26- Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati, Ohio
Sat. 8/29- Providence Amphitheater in Bonner Springs, Kansas
Mon. 8/31- Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater in Greenwood Village, Colorado
Wed. 9/2- Isleta Amphitheater in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Thu. 9/3- Ak-Chin Pavilion in Phoenix, Arizona
Sun. 9/6- FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine, California
Tue. 9/8- Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California
For tickets and further information on any of the shows listed above, click here.