Mixing country music with the hard-hitting stomp of rock & roll, Cory Marks
Before launching his songwriting career, and changing the trajectory of his life, Marks would prove himself in the hockey rink and pursue dreams of becoming a fighter pilot. He strapped on his first pair of skates at 3 years old, eventually earning a spot on the university hockey team at Royal Military College. He was a dominating presence on the ice, thanks to his 6-foot 1 inch, 220-pound frame. Prior to attending college, he enrolled in a private pilot school were he logged in almost 100 flight hours and eventually had the opportunity to fly one of those hours with the Canadian Forces Snowbirds in the summer of 2017. He continues working towards his private pilot license.
While in college, he never stopped playing music but did so privately… that is, until he joined his teammates at a local bar one night, and found himself pushed onstage when the regularly-scheduled musician took a break. “My friends knew I played a little music, and they were chanting for me to do some songs,” he remembers. “It was a packed little bar. I did two originals and two covers, and afterward, people were coming up to me and asking where I was playing next. I didn’t have an answer for them, because this was literally the first time I’d ever sung in front of anyone.” Cory began making weekly trips to the bar, hopping onstage with each visit. As time went on, he wrote a new batch of songs, hit the road, and hasn’t looked back since.
Cory was nice enough to answer a few questions asked by Jaz Levario one of Ignite Contributors..get to know Cory a little more below…
I really love your sound and am excited to see you live, can you tell me what is happening with your summer tour and how you’re doing?
Well I’m on day 9 of quarantine just trying to stay busy going on walks *laughs* several walks a day with my dog and working out a few times a day to make the time pass. The concert tour has been pushed back to the fall right now; but I really wanted to keep the fans engaged and be able to connect. Since there is no tour right now I am doing some live streaming through Facebook and Instagram.
Where can we see your lives?
@corymarksmusic on Instagram Wednesday at 4pm EST & on Facebook at Cory Marks on Friday at 5pm EST
So now that we all of a sudden have all this spare time on our hands, Are you working on anything new right now?
Yes, always. I’m writing a little everyday and playing around on my guitar. I’m not the best at guitar but I am taking the time now to work on it and get better. I started with drums, which was my first instrument. I always used to joke that I didn’t want to be a singer or be the lead man because I would get nervous but it’s crazy how it all works out.
Do you still get nervous going on stage?
Yes a little bit but it’s more excitement I think. I think if you don’t get nervous, if you don’t still get excited it means you don’t care.
Can you tell me a little about your song writing process? Music or Lyrics first?
A little bit of both I pull from life whether it is beer drinking or heartbreak. I take inspiration from what is around me and I like to keep it real.
Do you have a favorite song on your album?
I like them all really, they mean alot to me, but if I had to pick one it would have to be Outlaws & Outsiders. I’m really bummed I only got to perform it live only 3 times with the whole band and big production; But it’s back to the acoustic version for now
What pulled you into music and made you realize this is what you wanted to do?
Long story short…if I can. I got my first set of ice skates when I was 3 and played hockey growing up. I got a spot on the University Hockey team at the Royal Military College. While in college I was working on becoming a pilot. That was always my dream as a kid to be a fighter pilot. While I was in college I was playing music, just messing around and wrote a few songs. There was this bar we used to go to and have a pint after practice and some of my teammates asked the musician to have “sunshine” come up when he took a break. I got the nickname from Remember the Titans, because of the only guy with long hair on the football team. Well I was the only guy in military training school with long hair. I played there a few times then started playing at another local bar a few times a night and it grew from there. Now I’m touring across America and Canada.
Have you had that wow moment and known this is what you were meant to do?
I think it still happens there are the good days and the bad days. Being on stage and singing to the crowd and have them sing back to you is really amazing and a great feeling.
Is there an artist you haven’t worked with that you would like to collaborate with?
Ozzy, Kid Rock, Luke Bryant, Post Malone
Alright now for some super personal questions, are you ready?
My house of Memories by Merle Haggard
What show are you binge watching right now?
What is your go to food?
What is your secret talent?
Who was your celebrity crush as a kid?
Jennifer Aniston & Christina Aguilara
A road warrior, Cory has built a strong following not only in Canada, but also in America, where he recorded WHO I AM with award-winning producer Kevin Churko. The two worked together in Churko’s Las Vegas studio, capturing the energy and electricity of Cory’s live show. It was a natural partnership. Like Cory, Kevin had grown up playing drums, eventually expanding his career to include collaborations with country artists like Shania Twain and rock icons like Ozzy Osbourne. “We both appreciate country music greats like Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings, but we love the heavier side of rock & roll and metal, too,” Cory says of his producer and mentor. “We decided to mash it all together. It’s funny, because when I was growing up, my favorite records were Ozzy records. I dreamt of having that kind of production on one of my own records. Sure enough, seven years into my career, I’ve partnered with the producer who worked on all those albums. What a cool circle.”
With help from Kevin and his son — the Juno Award-winning producer, songwriter, and engineer Kane Churko — the three musicians wrote many of the songs together, including the anthemic “Blame It on the Double”. Cory finished a number of tunes on his own, too, banging out tracks like the Haggard-influenced ballad “My Whiskey Your Wine” and the swampy, swaggering title track during the morning hours before each studio session. “Drive” was inspired by a video shoot earlier in his career, when on the flight home he imagined what it would be like if the fictional story told in the video became real life. After asking the flight attendant for a pen and napkin, he wrote the song at 30,000 feet. While the more true to life “Better Off” reveals a time of struggle and contemplation of a relationship ending, leaving Cory with a lot to write about. WHO I AM‘s 13 songs tell stories of heartbreak, hell-raising, and everything in between. Cory shines a light on his wilder side with stomping rock songs with gang vocals such as “Devil’s Grin” one moment, and his tender side the next in the beautiful ballad “Out in The Rain”. The result is an authentic album that might as well be Cory Marks’ autobiography. It’s a story that’s still unfolding…but what a first chapter.