For most bands, getting noticed is the hardest part of becoming successful. Luckily for the five members of pop punk band Cartel, they were almost instantly picked up by one of the most influential forces in the music industry: MTV. Featured on the show Band in a Bubble in 2007, a TV show that consists of round-the-clock live broadcasting, Cartel spent an extended period of time inside a “bubble,” writing and recording an album. In addition to their appearance on MTV, the band also shot to stardom with the single “Honestly,” featured on their 2005 debut album Chroma.
The band members of Cartel grew up in Rockdale County, Georgia, and formed the band in college while attending Georgia State University. The original line-up consisted of lead guitarist Joseph Pepper, lead singer William Pugh, drummer Kevin Sanders, bassist Jeff Lett, and guitarist Andy Lee. Eventually the band got signed to The Militia Group, an independent record company in Long Beach, California, releasing their EP The Ransom. It was around this time that personal differences between Lee and the rest of the band came to a head, and he was replaced as guitarist by band friend Nic Hudson. With their new line-up, the band released their first full-length album, Chroma, in 2005.
The band quickly grew in popularity, putting them on Alternative Press’s 2005 list for “Bands You Need to Know.” They were also named Yahoo! Music’s winner in the March 2006 “Who’s Next” competition. In April 2006 Cartel signed with Epic Records, then in late 2006 till early 2007 they began touring as support for New Found Glory with The Early November and Hit The Lights. After some local shows, they kicked off a headlining tour featuring bands Cobra Starship, Boys Like Girls, Quietdrive, New Atlantic, and Permanent ME. The band also re-released their debut album Chroma under Epic Records, which is packaged with a live EP, Live Dudes. Their song “Say Anything (Else)” was put in Madden 07 while their single “Honestly” was featured in the film John Tucker Must Die.
Their second album, a self-titled release, was recorded and produced all in an MTV experiment called Band in a Bubble, and was sponsored by Dr. Pepper. The band had to complete a full length album all inside a building shaped as a bubble in twenty days, all while being watched by their fans 24/7 using webcams. The Band in a Bubble experiment was also a four-part mini series on MTV. Upon “breaking out” of the bubble, the band put on a live concert featuring many of their new songs. The same day, they released the single “Lose It” featuring Juliet Simmons to iTunes and Napster.
Cartel’s third album, Cycles, was released in October 2009 through Wind-Up Records. On September 6th, “The Perfect Mistake” was released for digital download. The album’s pre-order on iTunes also included a special, bonus song otherwise unavailable titled “In No Hurry.” Their single “The Perfect Mistake” was featured in the pilot episode of the CW series Hellcats. The band also supported All Time Low, Boys Like Girls, Third Eye Blind, and LMFAO for part of the Bamboozle Roadshow 2010. Other supporting acts included 3OH!3, Good Charlotte, Forever the Sickest Kids, and Simple Plan.
At a recent show, Pugh stated that Cartel plans to put out a new EP, tentatively slated for 2011. It was announced that Cartel would be releasing a new single titled “Lessons in Love” on July 25th, 2011. Earlier that year, Cartel confirmed that Lett had left the band to finish school. The band and Lett split on good terms and have left no grievances against each other.
Cartel is on tour now and will be performing live at The Basement in Columbus on Monday, August 29th with opening acts Action Item and Mina Murray. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased before the show for $13 or at the door for $15. Doors open at 7 pm.