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Interview: Cory Marks opens up about his film debut in ‘The Retaliators’ and teases his new album

The rising Country Rock star chats to us.

Cory Marks
Credit: Better Noise

Cory Marks garnered plenty of attention when he released his album ‘Who I Am‘ in 2020.

Fusing Country and Rock to create his own distinct sound, the Canadian singer-songwriter found support across the globe. Building on the success he’s had, Marks recently released the EPs ‘Nashville Mornings’ and ‘Nashville Nights’, giving fans plenty more music to listen to.

He also made his acting debut in horror film ‘The Retaliators‘, which recently had its World Premiere at Arrow Video FrightFest.

I caught up with Cory to talk about ‘The Retaliators’, discuss his recent EPs and to find out the status of his forthcoming new album…

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You recently made your big screen debut with a cameo in the horror film ‘The Retaliators’, which had its World Premiere at Arrow Video FrightFest. You also had a song on the soundtrack. What was that experience like?

It’s the first major film that I’ve been part of and even though it’s a small role, it was still a lot of fun, nonetheless, to shoot. I’m very honored to be part of this great movie with such a great cast. I’m looking forward to seeing it myself and I’m honored to have my music (be) part of a movie like ‘The Retaliators’.

Has it given you the appetite to do more acting or more horror movies?

To be honest, I’ve always been scared of horror movies. I’m not a big horror movie guy so it’s funny that I’m part of one. As far as acting goes, I’ve always wanted to act. I’ve always had a lot of fun shooting my music videos, and especially movies like this. Even though they’re small roles, every role is important so it’s good to be part of it. I’m open to being in more movies down the line.

How did your song ‘Blame It On The Double’ become a part of the film?

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I’d written and recorded that song before the film. This movie is put together by Better Noise, which is also my label, so it features a lot of the artists and bands from that label and our music. I’m glad and honored to be one of those artists featured in the movie as the cast and my song be part of this film.

You recently released your EP ‘Nashville Nights’, the follow-up to the ‘Nashville Mornings’ EP. One of them leans into rock while the other leans into Country. Why did you decide to do that?

Being a Country Rock artist, I feel like I’m mixing Country and Rock like no one is really doing right now both in the Rock world and Country world. That being said, my album (‘Who I Am’) was a little bit of a mix up of. You have songs like ‘My Whiskey or Wine’, which is just totally Merle Haggard type country, but then you have songs like ‘Keep Doing What I Do’ and ‘Outlaws & Outsiders’ are more towards the rock side of things. We wanted to give the fans something new and just a little more music to listen to during this pandemic. We released these EP s, which dissect the album. ‘Nashville Mornings’ being the Sunday morning coming down, more towards the country sound and writing on this record. This new ‘Nashville Nights’ EP is definitely more of the rock side of this record, which also includes some new music in there – a song I wrote called ‘In Me I Trust’ which will be on the new album. It’s a bit of a taste of what’s to come in the future and I’m really looking forward to releasing this new record and new music. ‘In Me I Trust’ is the gateway to what’s to come.

Cory Marks
Credit: Better Noise

Given that touring wasn’t possible during the pandemic, did that give you more time to focus on the creative side of putting this new record together?

The majority of this record is done, which is really nice. I had the opportunity to head down to Vegas in February and we were there for two or three weeks to write and record this record. A few days after that I drove down to LA and shot the music video and my parts in ‘The Retaliators’. for the movie. I’ve had a great opportunity to start writing this record and record it so I’m hoping when I go down to Arizona in October, I’ll probably skip over to Vegas and finish the record there with Kevin (Churko) and Kane (Churko). We have a couple songs left that we’d like to write and record to really make that full body of work for this new record. It’s very close and I’m very excited about this new music that’s going to be coming out. The pandemic’s given me some time to write but it’s also given me a great amount of time to finish some personal goals like my private pilot license. I got that done and out of the way so now I can really just focus on music.

Now you can fly yourself over to the UK whenever you want…

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That’s the plan. I think I’d have to work on a few things and maybe get a bigger plane but one day.

Artists are really pushing the boundaries of genre these days and I feel we’re getting past the point where artists are stuck in one genre and pigeon-holed in terms of the type of music they make. As you mentioned you fuse different genres to create your sound – is that freeing for you as an artist to be able to work without limitations?

I think that one of the greatest things about being with an indie label, such a great label like Better Noise, is the fact that they’ve really allowed me to do what I want to do. Kevin (Churko) and I both had a vision of the specific sound we wanted with this music and this previous record, ‘Who I Am’. Being a huge Country fan, and obviously a Country artist, I was also a rock and metal drummer growing up before I started singing. I love the storytelling and the melody and soul of Country music but I also like the energy and the power and the explosiveness, if you will especially when it comes to drums and guitar, of rock and metal. We wanted to mix both those genres together. I think that’s exactly what we’ve done and I’ve hopefully created a new genre for Country music to go down. This record is definitely leaning more towards country but there definitely are those rock and roll songs on there. It’s Country music with rock and roll attitude.

Here in the UK we like it when our Country leans into Rock and the two genres are just perfect companions really aren’t they?

There’s a lot of great artists out there. I just feel that, as you used the term pigeonhole, especially in Nashville if you’re not pop enough for Country, then you’re not Country (enough) unfortunately to get on mainstream. I think that’s sad that you have to be a certain way, sound a certain way and look a certain way in order to get noticed down there. There’s so many great Country artists out there that are playing more of the classic Country, if you will, and going back to those (artists like) Alan Jackson and Joe DIffie. There’s guys like Luke Combs kind of doing it, so that that’s very nice to see in younger artists like him. I love doing that stuff too but we’re more focusing on stuff like Merle Haggard if we’re going country and a little bit of Eric Church, of course, but then even mixing in musically some Ozzy Osborne and even Pantera  to mix in that rock metal vibe. It’s been great to see people loving this music on a global scale. I’m just really excited to get more music out and hopefully have the same, if not better, reaction on this next record.

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Have you managed to get back out on the road much this year?

Actually I just got back home a few days ago. I was out with Halestorm across the US. We did five dates there and man it was just so nice to be back out on the road and playing live again and playing in front of thousands of people singing my songs and knowing my music. Not only the hits, like ‘Blame It On The Double’ and ‘Outlaws & Outsiders’ but every song from ‘Devil’s Grin’ to ‘Who I Am’ and even the new one ‘In Me I Trust’, there was quite a few people singing that song back to me. It was just so nice to be on the road, especially with such a great camp like Halestorm. Lzzy and the band – Joe, Josh and Arejay – that whole crew were just fantastic and treated us like total rock stars. We’re supposed to have nine other dates and play Incarnation and be out with Theory of a Dead Man but due to COVID we just couldn’t make that happen. We had to get ourselves back home, unfortunately. I hope this was the last of the cancellations and I can get back on the road. I’d love to come to Europe and the UK, and definitely give you guys a show because you guys have been very supportive. I know there’s a lot of great fans out there so that’s my plan going into 2022, being able to cross that pond and make some noise over there.

Cory Marks
Credit: Better Noise

Was it an emotional experience to get back on the road?

Mixed emotions. There’s a bit of fright there because it’s been so long and we’re going in front of a really incredible rock crowd as a Country artist in America, so that was a little intimidating. Once we stepped foot on that stage, everything just goes behind us and we just do what we came there to do. It all comes back and you throw a few doubles back of Jack, the nerves go away and just go out there and do what you do. That’s what we did. All in all it was just really exciting times and motivating. I learned a lot from from Halestorm and Lzzy, just watching them gave me an idea of where I’d like to be as far as an artist playing these amphitheaters, rolling on buses and all that stuff was really cool. It was motivating, a learning curve and just overall very exciting. I’m looking forward to the future.

Did you pick up any hobbies during your downtime in the pandemic?

I’ve been a aviation fan since I was a little kid and one of my goals was to finish my pilot license (as I mentioned earlier). I finished my private pilot license and I bought myself a little plane to build hours on so that’s been really great. We’ve been doing a little bit of gardening. I’ve been trying to play a little more guitar and become a better guitar player but that’s what I pay my guitar players for because I’ll never be at their level and I’ve accepted that. I do like to strum and write myself. Other than that, just spending time with family during the pandemic as much as I can and trying to get to know myself a little bit more and where I’d like to be in the near future once the world gets back to normality.

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The idea of flying a plane terrifies me. How do you even get into wanting to do that?

Well, probably this right here got me into it (points at his ‘Top Gun’ t-shirt and laughs). Growing up we had an International Air Show. It was a long weekend at the beginning of August here in Canada. There was this huge air show and the static display at the airport, and a big airshow down at the waterfront. After five or six o’clock then the concert started. It was concerts from 6pm to 11pm, I’m talking the biggest names in music. There was a Country night, Rock night and a Pop night, and I think that just really got me involved both in aviation and music. I got lucky enough to be able to somewhat live that lifestyle and now building my own music career and, like I said, getting my private pilot license and trying to build that career too. I grew up in a military town so lots of fighter jets flying over the house when I was a kid. It’s not as busy as it was now but I was just very fortunate enough and lucky to have parents that not only supported my music, but they would bring me to air shows. They would pretty much take turns on who’s going to take me to the static air show up at the base and then who’s going to take me down to the water front in the afternoon. I was just very blessed to have supportive parents in a city that was able to have these things like air shows and concerts.

There’s got to be a money-spinning idea in there for you to combine those two…

Actually that’s one thing that I’ve really tried to manifest and think about during this pandemic. Eventually that’s exactly what I want to do is some sort of air show concert tour. It doesn’t have to be the craziest air show but even a few aircraft in the show and entertain during the afternoon. Then at six o’clock the lights go down and the volume goes up and we have a concert to finish off the night. That’s definitely an ultimate dream of mine to do some sort of concert airshow concert series, which I don’t think has ever been done by an actual artist themselves. That’s my future goals. A big one but we’ll see what happens.

I’m already there in my head. That sounds amazing…

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A lot of people love air shows and if they don’t then they at least have respect for the men and women flying those airplanes and performing the way they are in those airplanes. You mentioned earlier, just the thought of flying something is terrifying, so imagine flying at 300 miles an hour and three feet apart with eight other aircraft beside you looping and turning. I think that in itself is just a great entertainment and then of course at the end of that day you could sit back, relax, have a few beers and listen to some good music.

Is there anything else you’re going to fit in before Christmas?

Hopefully we’ll have an idea of some future tour dates, whether that’s here in the fall or winter, if not then the first quarter of 2022. We’re trying to figure out where we’re going to go with this given the given the way the world is right now. Hopefully, we’ll have some more tour announcements, more new music announcements and have a better idea of when the new album is coming out.

Cory Marks’ EPs ‘Nashville Mornings’ and ‘Nashville Nights’ are available to stream and download now courtesy of Better Noise. Watch the video for ‘In Me I Trust’ below:

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