Marks describes himself as an open book, and doesn’t hold anything back on his debut album, his songs are his stories and include “the good, the bad, and the ugly.” Because of producer Kevin Churko’s schedule and Marks’ time spent touring, the album took over two years to complete, but features some impressive collaborations.
Marks chatted with us at Celeb Secrets Country to talk about his debut album (including his collaborations with some of country and rock’s biggest names!) and how his musical influences have made him the artist he is today.
Take a read at the full Q&A below and make sure to let us know what you think of Who I Am by either leaving a reaction at the bottom of the post or by sending us a tweet at @CS_Country.
You can connect with Cory by giving him a follow on Instagram at @corymarksmusic.
Cory Marks: “The record ‘Who I Am’ is stories of my life; there’s little bits of everything on this record. I think it’s the perfect mix of Country music and Rock n’ Roll; it’s a little bit of everything.”
CSC: What was it like working with Kevin Churko (Shania Twain, Ozzy Osbourne) and Kane Churko (Skillet, Papa Roach). Any particular moment that stands out?
CM: “The whole process was interesting. It was a really fun process and I think we all went into this with an image and an idea of what we wanted this album to sound like and represent. It was very easy to work with those guys – again – both being on the same page. Kevin and I are both drummers so it made it easier to figure out what kind of sound we wanted to have. Both rock fans but also country fans we knew what we wanted to do with this record; it was easy to work with them and I can’t wait to work on the second record.”
CSC: You definitely have that country mixed with rock sound on this album. Growing up, who were your musical influences?
CM: “On my dad’s side, being from Canada we’re big Rush fans. I’ve been a fan of Rush for a long time considering I started off a drummer before singing and songwriting. Definitely fans of rock bands like Rush, Deep Purple, Grand Funk Railroad. Then into my teens I got into the more heavier and harder stuff like Pantera and Arch Enemy. On the other hand, my dad was also a huge Merle Haggard fan and Waylon Jennings so I really grew up on a great variety of music.”
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April 6th 1937 Oildale, California. The greatest country music singer/songwriter Merle Haggard came into this world and on that very same day 79 years later in Palo Cedro, California he left us but his music will live forever. I am so fortunate to say that the Super Chief Merle’s bus was the first tour bus I had ever been on and I was lucky enough to meet him and share stories right in my hometown where music all started for me. I’ll never forget it, thank you Mr. Haggard. 🙏🏼 Monday, April 6th 7PM… #LongLiveTheHag #country #music #merlehaggard
CSC: Speaking of country and rock icons, your track “Outlaws & Outsiders” features Travis Tritt, a country music legend, and Ivan Moody and Mick Mars, two rock icons. How did those collaborations come together?
CM: “My label mates are actually bands like Papa Roach, Five Finger Death Punch, Mötley Crüe, so it’s really cool to be part of that. When we took this project originally to Nashville it had a little too much edge to it, but to be with a label like Better Noise it allowed me to be creative and make the record we wanted to; they loved it and believed in my sound right away. My manager also knows Travis Tritt’s manager and I didn’t want to put just any artist on the song, I wanted an artist I could really connect to it. Travis Tritt is a country legend and icon, and is definitely more on the outlaw side of things and it’s a little more Southern Rock to his country. I always say that he put some drive in his country so he’s a little more on the rockier side of things as well. Then guys like Mötley Crüe, we don’t need to explain their story…we know what they’re all about. Guys like Five Finger Death Punch and Ivan Moody create their own sound and they’re unique and different. Every artist on this track represents being an outsider and being a little bit different and I think each one of these artists, including myself, is a little bit different from everybody else out there at that time and in that genre.”
CSC: You have another collaboration on this album, this time on the track “Out In The Rain” with Lzzy Hale. How did that one come about?
CM: “She loved this [track] and what it represented. With her being such a dominant voice and a great artist, it was an honor to have her because she made it sound so great. It’s interesting to hear our two voices together. The biggest thing for me is to have artists that really believe in the songs, I’m really thankful for all of the participation on this debut record.”
CSC: You also filmed a video for the song “Out In The Rain.” What was that like? Any behind the scenes secrets you can tell us?
CM: “I think the male and female actor did a great job representing that story; it was a personal time in my life. I thought they did a great job acting it out. With Co-Vid, things are a little bit different; Lzzy and I would have liked to have actually worked together and sing together in the same studio. Due to Co-Vid I was stuck at home and she did her thing in Nashville so that was a little bit of a different process. I’m used to being around and working with the crew; this time we couldn’t all be together, but it was still a good time shooting the video nonetheless.”
CSC: Speaking of Co-Vid, how have you been staying in touch with your fans until you’re able to tour again?”
CM: “It’s slowed down a little bit now, but when this all first happened I would go live every Wednesday on my Instagram for a half hour to an hour to play songs and connect with the fans, of course. Then every Friday is ‘Five O’Clock Somewhere’ at 5pm Eastern on my Facebook. It’s been a good way to connect with fans and to get the music out there, but mainly staying connected during these crazy times.”
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You can listen to Who I Am below: