If you haven’t heard of Cory Marquardt, you will. Fresh from his debut album release “This Man”, Cory is an on the rise talented Canadian Country music artist from North Bay Ontario, who will become a house hold name in the country music industry.
Cory to date has released three singles from the album all with radio play, “21” released last April with the debut of the album and the single titled from the album “This Man” released last fall. Cory’s current single just released to radio, so put in your requests for “Nowhere With You”. Cory is a talented young artist with an incredible voice and his album is cutting edge “rock country” with both country crowd singalong anthems and heartfelt ballads.
I had the pleasure to sit down with Cory recently before he performed with George Canyon at The Ranch in Barrie and I began by asking Cory what the last few years have been like for him.
“It has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride there are a lot of ups and downs in the industry, but it has been pretty up for me. I toured across Canada with Brett Kissel on the young guns tour in 2014. Last year I was with Aaron Pritchett on the Outlaws & Outsiders tour, we did about 30 dates across Canada. I’ve toured with Tobey Keith and Brantley Gilbert as well last year. And getting the opportunity to work with and record the album with Danick Dupelle and a few other awesome people was a really good experience. Now this year we already have about a dozen shows booked already for this summer, Boots and Hearts being one of them which is really exciting and I am actually signing with Kevin Churko who is Ozzy Ozz Bourne’s producer, more on the rock metal side, but he has a huge country background too he also worked on a lot of Shania Twain’s stuff. So I’ve been writing recording with him and I’ll be going down to Vegas in a little bit to finish a record with him and do some label shopping in the states. It’s been pretty busy and you know there’s been times when you have two or three months off where you’re not touring or not down in Nashville writing and recording, those are kinda the downtimes where you gotta try to find something to do in the sense where you try to write yourself or book some local shows to keep the chops up and playing. But for the most part it’s been exciting but busy and lot’s going on, it’s great and I’m excited and looking forward to this year.”
Indeed very cool and exciting busy couple of years with lots to look forward to. Now being relatively new to the country scene I was curious if this was something Cory knew he always wanted to do and how did he become part of the industry. His story of how this has all come to be for him is quite interesting.
“Music has always been part of me and what I do. I was actually a drummer, a metal drummer growing up, I started drumming and getting kicked out of class for you know, well I couldn’t stop tapping on the desks (I actually, as we all know how to do this, started tapping on the table with my pen, “exactly” he said and we had a good laugh). I then got my first drum set when I was about 11 and from there on I was in a bunch of metal bands throughout high school and other projects until I was 18 I started playing junior major hockey and at this point I really hadn’t sang yet, strummed a little on the guitar, nothing major. I would sing around the house a little bit but when my parents would come home I would stop, I wouldn’t sing in front of anybody.” Which made me jump in and ask Corey if he was a closet/shower singer, “Oh yeah closet singer for sure, I could never picture myself as a front man, I was always too nervous, I wanted to be like a Tommy Lee drumming, I thought this is where I would go with music. Then I started doing youtube videos, you know basement stuff and then after my junior career when I was 21 I was scouted by a couple of schools and one of them being the Royal Military College of Canada, where I was a fixed wing pilot, I always had a passion for aviation, my dad and I would go to air shows and I always wanted to be a pilot and once the opportunity arose I thought I would play high level university hockey and work on my degree in hopes of becoming a fighter pilot.
Well while I was there I really started picking up the guitar and posting videos to youtube some of my teammates found videos on line and we would go out to the Brass in Kingston and there’s a guy named Smitty and he’s been their local act, he’s an acoustic guy, for years. Well the guys knew him and one night when we were out having a few drinks they asked him when he took a break to call Sunshine up, that’s what the guys called me Sunshine ‘cause I was the only one that had long hair like the star quarter back from the movie Remember the Titans. Well he calls me up, and I was like no way it’s me but I had the whole team and now the bar, maybe about a hundred couple people chanting. So I was put on the spot but I got up there and sang two originals ‘cause I had been doing some writing and did a couple covers. After I had people asking if I had a CD or if I played in any other bars, which made me start to think hey maybe I could get used to this. So I would go there every couple of weeks as a special guest and play and started getting the hang of it, as well as posting more videos. Well long story short it wasn’t quite working out at RMC as planned and I thought this music thing is pretty interesting and at the time my brother’s girlfriend was managing a bar in North Bay, so I said you know maybe this isn’t the right career for me, so I dropped RMC and went back home and started playing this bar a couple times a month and I started getting more bar gigs and I was playing 3 or 4 bars in North Bay itself a month and that grew to Sudbury then Ottawa and that’s kinda where it all started. Then Louis my manager from Invictus signed me about two years after that and then a year after that I signed with Big Star recordings and Invictus. I started technically at 21, I am 26 now so over the last 5 years it’s kinda, well kinda all been a bit of a world wind. Some of the things now looking back I think yeah wow I really have done that, like I toured with Tobey Keith. I toured with Brantely Gilbert. I have crossed Canada 5 or 6 times now in really the last two years. I have made well over a dozen stops down in Nashville. Working with Kevin in Las Vegas, Ozzy Ozbourne’s producer, it’s all been a bit unreal but all great experiences and lots of fun.”
After listening to Corey telling me all about how it began, I then wanted to know what inspires Corey for writing his songs.
“Well I like to keep it real, so it’s definitely things I have been through or maybe friends have been through or family. I am a huge Merle Haggard fan, he’s one of my favourites.”
I asked Corey about his on stage appearance with George Canyon the night before and their tribute to Haggard. Corey showing me his tattoo on his arm said, ‘Yeah I did a tribute with George last night, we played Mama Tried, it was great, one of his biggest songs, tattooed right here on my forearm, this one’s for my mom, I wasn’t always an angel child. But yeah guys like Merle Haggard and Eric Church and as well as my own personal life and ones around me I try to write about that.”
I asked Corey about growing up in North Bay if there’s any country influences from there.
“Well North Bay is a bit of a bigger city and where everyone knows everyone kind of thing, and a lot of friends who grew up out of the city, you know we would go four wheeling, hunting and fishing and that kind of stuff. Country has been in the family my grandfather worked on a farm and my mother growing up north and regards to the music aspect my brothers are fiddle and guitar players. My dad was a huge Rush fan and Haggard and I guess that is where my sound comes from.”
After listening to Corey tell me about his inspirations for writing his songs, I thought I knew the answer but asked him anyway, which artists he would like to collaborate with and of course he replied; “Haggard and Church.” So I further asked him who he is listening to these days and if there are any Canadian artists on his playlist.
“Other than Church and Haggard (laughing), well I usually listen to a lot of different music, I’ve actually been into Rob Zombie lately, just the production of it and the heaviness of it. But Chris Stapleton, I think it’s phenomenal what he’s doing. For the Canadian guys, Aaron Pritchett is someone I have always looked up to especially since the tour. I’m really enjoying George’s new single I Got This.”
One of my favourites is Tim Hick’s so I had to jump in and ask Corey about him and he agreed “Tim Hicks is one of my favourite, he keeps the rock side of things and he keeps it real, he’s a really nice humble guy I have meet him a few times and have performed with him so Tim Hick’s is my Canadian guy for sure. I think it would be cool to go on tour with him, I think we would mash great together.”
Now that would be a concert I would definitely check out and would love to see happen. Since it’s not in the works just yet, I asked Corey after doing the special guest appearances with George Canyon what’s up next for him.
“I am headlining my own club tour across West, it’s called Don’t Count Saturday Night tour. We are kicking off in Winnipeg and go all the way to Fort St. Johns, about 9 days in two weeks. So I’m pretty excited, I’ve done these clubs on different tours and even as a drummer for King and Cash, so I have done a lot of these clubs but to be able to headline them myself, well it’s the dream and next would be arenas and stadiums, so this is the start to something big.”
Speaking about BIG I asked Corey about Boots & Hearts and how he felt about being added to the line-up.
“Yeah, to be added to that line-up and share that stage, I mean to think of all those artists who have played that stage and to now be one of those artists on that stage, it’s quite surreal.”
I asked Corey if he ever experienced Boots before, “I actually was drumming for an artist on the showcase stage last year and we got day passes and it was on the Saturday night of Eric Church. So I played during the day and went to Church at night, it was awesome.”
Other than Boots and Hearts I asked Corey where else we can catch him this summer.
“There’s a lot festivals this summer but a few close to home there’s the Rockin Ribfest in Sturgeon and then Summer in the Park in my home town, that’s a huge festival which I have always dreamt of playing and finally get to play that as a co-headliner on Saturday night, which will be cool. But yeah there’s gonna be tons of festivals throughout the summer and I am really looking forward to it.”
Well Cory, after seeing your guest appearance with George Canyon I am definitely looking forward to a lot more of you and catching you live this summer! As I said, if you haven’t heard of Cory Marquardt, you will!