Review & Interview with Cory Marks

Cory Marks (formerly known as Marquardt), who hails from North Bay, Ontario, is a rising star in the Canadian country music genre. His style is outlaw country/country rock and he pulls it off like no other. He has a boisterous sound and unique style that will always impress those who have come to know him and his music. There is very something special about Cory Marks!

On August 7, Marks finally released his long-time-coming full-length debut album Who I Am on label Better Noise Music. This collection of songs blends the heart and soul of country music with the energy that comes from rock and roll. It features collaborations with artists such as Lzzy Hale, Ivan Moody, Travis Tritt, and Mick Mars. Award-winning Kevin and his son the Juno Award-winning producer, songwriter, and engineer Kane Churko produced it. The full-length album consists of 13 songs; including stellar tracks like “Blame It On The Double,” “Good To Be Us,” “Better Off,” “Out In The Rain” and the latest single “Drive.”  The tunes on the album are based on Marks real life over the past five years including the good times, the bad times, and even the ugly times. It comes from deep within his soul.

Marks massive hit single and Track 2 on the album, “Outlaws & Outsiders” (feat. Ivan Moody of Five Finger Death Punch, Travis Tritt and Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe) is a song has over 12 million streams and over 17 million video views, is in the Top 10 at Rock radio in U.S., Top 12 in Canada and is trending globally on the Shazam discovery charts ranking among the greatest songs of all genres. It also spent over a month at #1 in the UK on Kerrang’s Airplay chart as well as being one of the most played tracks on Planet Rock radio of 2020. It is currently at # 5 at Rock radio in Germany. Pretty impressive!

“Good to Be Us” is a feel-good song all about living in a small town. It’s so upbeat, you just want to sing along and you do feel like you are “on top of the world” when you listen to it.

“Blame It On The Double” tells the story about what can happen on a Saturday night of drinking from an outlaw country perspective. You can imagine yourself alongside Marks having a great time! This could be your own Saturday night party anthem. “Blame It On The Double” will appear in the soundtrack of another Better Noise Films release, horror spectacular – The Retaliators. This is my favourite track from the album.

The title track, “Who I Am,” a rock-style heartbreak song pulls you in right from the start. It about being in a relationship that is bad, can you fix it or should you move on? It’s an incredible title track that you are magnetically drawn to and would be a hit in both rock and country genres.

“Out in the Rain” brings chills to my arms. This ballad featuring Lzzy Hale and the unique style that is Marks is one that has sweet harmonies is flawless and passionate.

I could go on and one about each individual track on this autobiographical album, but let me say this … it’s best if you go straight away to any platform to listen to each and every song because I believe Who I Am is one extraordinary county/rock album that will appeal to anyone who likes either one of these genres.

Now, on to the interview I had with Cory Marks, via email. This was a great opportunity for me, through Canadian Beats, to chat with Marks about his album, this time in his life, and more. Check out our questions and his answers. You will enjoy what you read.

Your debut 13-track album took five years from concept to fruition and it’s basically the story of your life, all aspects of your life, correct? Is there a reason why you waited so long to produce and release Who I Am?

When Kevin and I started working on this project back in 2015 we knew we had something very special, very different. As I was still touring in Canada I was making trips back and forth to Las Vegas to write and record this record. Before releasing the album we wanted to make sure it got all the love it deserved and wanted to make sure we had a great team that believed in me, my music, and the art. We got that with my label Better Noise then found features that loved this sound too which finally came out August 7 making an impact charting Top 5 worldwide.

Now that this album is out for the world to hear, how does it feel for you?

I’m amazed by the reaction and love worldwide. Just weird times and wish I was able to tour the record!

This album is a bit rock, country (including outlaw country), and metal. That is the kind of artist you are; it is your music style. Were there any artists (in all three genres) that came to mind when you were creating Who I Am?

There were many from Merle Haggard, Waylon, Rush, Ozzy, Pantera, and a little Eric Church that made this record. Great music I grew up on and loved!

Tell us a bit about your album and how it came to be? The lyrics seem to be real and from your heart, the kind that people can relate to. Where did your inspiration come from, to allow you to get into your head and heart so you could get in there and get down and dirty, to re-experience the highs and lows, the heartbreak, the partying with buddies, and to be able to put all of that into words and music?

This record is real. no bullshit, it’s my life over the past five years the good the bad the ugly. Like my Uncle Wolfe would say … “there’s a song in there somewhere.”

What did you discover about yourself during this creative process?

I think I’ve always had a vision of what or who I wanted to be and the sound I wanted and I can’t wait to work on more!

Can you tell us some of the background stories that brought some of your songs to life?

Each song tells their own story and if you listen to the lyrics you can hear that story unfold. My first single “Outlaws & Outsiders” was born from the Outlaws & Outsiders tour with Aaron Pritchett. At the time, that’s exactly how I felt at Canadian country radio and CCMA “Family” quite frankly still do. I felt like an outsider doing something different and stepped outside of that box and click it seemed everyone was following or trying to follow. I think country music needs a change and I want to be that change!

Tell us a bit about your songwriting process for this album. Did you write lyrics to music or vice versa? What obstacles or challenges did you face?

Some songs I write to the melody and some I play to the lyrics, it really all depends. As for challenges … another night in jail says it all.

What was the very first tune that you wrote for Who I Am and what were you feeling as you put pen to paper, so to speak, knowing that it would be a part of the compilation of telling a part of your life story?

The very first song I wrote on the record with Kevin and Kane Churko was “Outlaws & Outsiders” … when I cut the vocals and heard it for the first time I thought … damn, this is me!

You recorded Who I Am with award-winning producer Kevin Churko (Five Finger Death Punch, Shania Twain and Ozzy Osborne) in Churko’s Las Vegas studio, along with his son Kane Churko (Papa Roach, Skillet) who is also a JUNO Award-winning producer, songwriter and engineer. Can you tell us about the recording process and what was it like to work with such industry greats?

We all had a vision on what we wanted this record to sound like and what we wanted it to represent. Country music with rock and roll attitude! It hasn’t been done before like this and we are all proud of that, I’m just thankful and lucky to have these talented people believe in me and work with. I can’t wait to do it all over again, to write and record with these guys. Record Two is going to kick even more ass. I think every song tells it’s own story and can be used very specifically based on how you feel or … is it a Friday/Saturday night or Sunday morning coming down?

What are you hoping to gain with the release of Who I Am? I believe that there is a buzz out there right now because there really isn’t anything like this available to listen to, with this combination of all the music genres.

I hope to give country music a different sound and a new lane to drive in. Bringing country, rock, and metal fans together on an international level not just in North America.

With streaming and downloading, we no longer see the credits that normally appear on an album jacket. Who would you like to say thank you to, as this album is rooted in the influence of your hometown of North Bay, Ontario, where you have been surrounded by love and support from your parents, your friends, and the residents?

I’d like to thank Mom and Dad, my big brother. My entire family, friends, bandmates, and team. ANYONE who has supported me in any way. I’m very thankful for that and them.

With 2020 being as it is, how difficult is it for you to not be able to tour and promote your album? And, how big of a decision was it to release Who I Am knowing that you can’t go on a tour?

I love the road and stage, I’m looking forward to the day I can finally play these songs live. I think with or without live music, the music world needed to hear this and I’m glad it’s finally out there. We will see what happens moving forward.

Now that Who I Am is released, what does the future hold for you in regard to getting the world to hear and catch hold of and love what your music is all about?

We never know. I know we are planning some huge things for when this COVID shit finally clears up. I’m just glad it’s out there now and being played around the world.

Let’s move on to your new music video “Out of the Rain” featuring Lzzy Hale of Halestorm.

Can you tell us about what the song and video mean to you, or what you hope people take away from it?

Lzzy is so great and sounds amazing. She’s an amazing artist and glad she loves this song. I think this song is a powerful description of a destructive relationship that can either be fixed or left behind.

Let’s broach the subject that is on everyone’s mind these days – Covid-19. Artists and musicians are among the hardest hit groups by this economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

This has been such a challenging time for the music industry and the Coronavirus has drastically reshaped how artists’ livelihood has changed. How has it been for you not to be able to have that personal interaction with your fans?

It’s hard. I miss it.

What are some adjustments that you have had to make to your social media accounts due to this Coronavirus pandemic?

For almost four months straight I was performing live every Wednesday on Instagram and every Friday on Facebook. It was amazing to play to thousands of fans a week but from home in my little office … definitely not the same as being on the road and seeing them, touching them, and hearing them!

Music festival season this year, or lack of it to be more accurate … what is the one thing you miss about performing at the country music festivals?

It’s one thing to hear a crowd … it’s a whole other thing when you can actually feel their energy. I miss that.

Rising to the challenge of this pandemic, what is one message you would give to your fans?

Take this time to realize just how precious life is. Take time to slow things down, enjoy the little things in life including those people you love and that love you. Never take that for granted cause it can all change in a second. Be kind and be safe!

Let’s find out a bit about Cory Marks so those who don’t know who you are, can. Because you have amazing fans, let’s chat about some random things that will make your fans get to know you better and fun for you to answer.

Tell us a bit about your background, when you started listening to what, what instruments you learned and who taught you to play those instruments?

I started playing drums at ten and later picked up a guitar around 17. My Dad taught me the basics then I would just watch and listen to other great musicians and artists to learn and develop my own style. I’ve tried playing just about everything!

What made you want to choose music as your career as you had opportunities in other fields, like hockey and flying? What was that one thing that drew you into music’s path?

There’s just nothing else like it and I loved performing and telling my story that can relate and touch more people than just me. I still love playing hockey but for fun and flying too, I’d rather do what I love and love what I do. This way I can do it all!

Have you got your pilot’s license yet? What made you want to become a pilot? And, tell us about the joy about being in the air flying?

I have my pilot permit and will finish my license this year. I’ve been passionate about flying and aviation since I was a little boy and it all started by my Dad bringing me to air shows and living down the hill from the military base in North Bay. There is just such a sense of freedom and peace when you’re flying, that could be flying straight from city to city or flying loops, rolls and aerobatics as I’ve done privately and also had the opportunity of a lifetime flying with the Canadian Forces Snowbirds in 2017 and hope I get to do it again!

What artists have the most influence over you?

Merle Haggard, Travis Tritt, Eric Church, and Ozzy.

What have you learned about your career and fans now that you’ve been at this for a while?

Enjoy the ride!

What do you think your “biggest break” or your “greatest opportunity” has been do far in your music career? 

I’ve had many and I’m forever grateful for them all. Kevin Churko, Better Noise, every feature on this record and U.S. rock radio for my first ever Top 10 hit. THE FANS worldwide for loving me and my music.

If you could choose just one artist to collaborate with, one who you haven’t worked with, who would that be?

That’s a tough one. Cause there are many but if it were just one right now I think I would choose Kid Rock.

Because this album is about you, tell us what is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?

Too much!

And last but not least, if you can have one thing that your fans could remember about you, what would it be? 

Great music they could relate to in good or bad times and that guy puts on one hell of a show!

We, at Canadianbeats.ca, thank you Cory so much for taking the time for this interview and helping your fans get to know you a little more. We wish you much success with all the great stuff that is coming your way. I personally am very excited to see what the future holds for you! It’s been great to get to know you over the years!

Connect with Cory Marks:
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