After a period of crazy ups and downs for Atlanta pop-punks Cartel, they’ll finally be bringing their energetic show back to our shores this September on their first headlining Australian tour. In the meantime they’ll be hitting the studio to record their fourth full-length album, which will be ready in time for Australian audiences to hear for their tour.

Since they graced us with their presence on the 2008 Soundwave Festival tour, Cartel have been on a bit of a rollercoaster. But hey, rollercoasters are fun!

Lead singer Will Pugh spoke about the changes the band has faced, and what they’ve conquered in doing so, including the release of their latest release, In Stereo.

With two EPs and now three full-length albums under their belt, it’s incredible that these world-renowned rockers started as a high school band.

“We’ve known each other since high school and we’ve been playing music ever since,” Pugh says. “We played a lot of shows together, leading up to the point where you decide to go on tour, or stay at home and get a real job. The choice was easy.”

In Stereo, released last year, was a feat for the boys, being their first release as an independent band, following their departure from their former label, Wind-Up Records.

“We just went back to basics, back to the way we used to do it, where it’s just us writing songs, getting together in a room, putting it together, tracking it, and recording it. The songs speak for themselves,” explains Pugh.

“Leaving the label wasn’t anything bad,” he continues, “they didn’t take advantage of us or anything. We were just tired of being on a label, and they were looking for something different to what we were trying to go for.”

“We feel like the business side of things just got in the way, not that we’re not proud of any of our other records, we definitely are. We’d rather just be about the music,” Pugh elaborates.

Their live show has also seen a change with bassist Jeff Lett leaving last year. Since then, Pugh has taken over playing bass.

“I’ve been playing guitar with the band since 2006, I’ve played guitar for a lot longer before that, but since Jeff left I’m actually playing bass now,” reasons Pugh.

“We decided with the new record, it’d be better if the guitar parts were in the hands of someone else who didn’t have to sing, so I took over bass to allow our music to grow, and it ended up working out, it’s a lot of fun.”

Pugh assures that their live performance is going to be as good as ever. “We like to have a lot of fun on stage. I think it’s a matter of coming to see a band that actually likes what they do. We have a lot of fun… I think we end up playing them better live than when we record them.”

Having only played in Australia at Soundwave, Cartel is excited to finally be able to play a longer set for Aussie fans, and might even throw in a sweet new cover or two. “We’re gonna get to play a lot more songs on our own tour that we don’t get to play in the shorter festival sets,” Pugh details.

“We’re looking forward to playing songs people don’t normally hear as well. We’ve done some Oasis covers before, and we definitely wanna do a new cover this time, so hopefully we’ll find an Australian band to cover.”

What is it about being down under that Cartel like? “Australia’s a place that we really enjoyed when we came out for Soundwave. It’s just so far away, so it’s not something that you get to do all the time.”

“It’s a place that’s so fresh for Cartel, it’s like a whole fresh market, to come and try grow the fanbase there, have a lot of fun, meet some bands and meet some people.”

At the end of the day, Pugh says it’s going on tours like this that makes what they do so special. “The best thing is just being able to go places. Being able to take what you’ve created, and travel and play it, it’s refreshing.”

Pugh says it’s all about making new music that people want to hear and never going to get sick of. “I get picky about what I listen to, so I feel like that transfers into the music,” says the bassist.

It’s safe to say Cartel have plenty on their plate – and they plan on keeping it that way.

“Touring is a good change of pace from being home. We’ll just keep up playing shows and keep having fun with it. We can’t wait for our new record to come together, and we’re really excited to come and play in Australia, and we hope people are excited to come see us!”

In Stereo is out now. Cartel begin their Australian tour September 5 in Brisbane.

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