At the end of 2006, Cartel -- then with the lineup of frontman Will Pugh, guitarists Joseph Pepper and Nic Hudson, drummer Kevin Sanders, and bassist Jeff Lett -- were en route to New York for a set of Christmas shows when their manager received an email from their label, Epic Records, saying MTV wanted to cast them in their own reality show. The guys knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but they had reservations. Unlike Regurgitator, an established band well into its run, Cartel had more to lose from entering the bubble.
"We were doing a bunch of radio shows, we were selling a bunch of records, things were picking up. Who else has a TV show that's dedicated to the process of their second record?" Pugh recalls over the phone.
The only hangup -- one the band sensed almost immediately -- was timing. Cartel had spent the year riding the wave of success provided by their first album, Chroma, and its lead single, "Honestly." Both were big, and the band was largely slated to be the next Fall Out Boy. But if Cartel entered the bubble, the skyrocketing hype amassed during the Chroma promotional would be cut short.