By Erika Kellerman / junior Communication and Media major / intern at Opus One Productions
We love being together on the road, in the studio, and just in general. We’d really love to be able to do this together for as long as we can, and become one of those bands that lasts forever. – Isaiah Blas, MRKTS
Previously known as “The Pennant” and “Belmont Lights,” MRKTS consists of Casey Peek, Jed Peek, Isaiah Blas, and Chad Wolf. Casey and Jed Peek are brothers from San Diego, California; Isaiah Blas, Casey and Jed Peek went to middle and high school together, while Chad Wolf has been a friend of Blas and the Peek brothers since college.
When Blas and C. Peek were in their first year of college, C. Peek played university soccer, which led to an injury. He decided to learn how to play guitar because recovery required staying inside and resting. When Isaiah Blas was home on break, he wrote some songs for fun. C. Peek and Blas then decided to play at open mic events around town. “People really responded well to the mediocre songs, and so we became delusional enough to try this whole thing out,” said Blas.
“A lot of songs have changed each of our lives at different points,” said Blas. As MRKTS, they try to write about things with substance, and according to Blas, “We try to make music that moves us and is real to us, and hopefully has an impact on listeners as well.”
MRKTS’ music is influenced by a number of different things. Blas said, “I come from a more R&B background, Chad [Wolf] loves metal, and has played in metal bands before ours, Jed [Peek] likes classic rock, and Casey [Peek] really loves pop music.” In blending all of who they are, MRKTS has been able to find a balance that makes their music “familiar but refreshing” according to Blas.
As a band, MRKTS is always trying to gain perspective from friends in the music industry who are further along in their careers.
One piece of advice that stuck with MRKTS came from Isaiah Blas’ cousins. They told him: “Try not to spend too much money recording. Do as much as you can on your own.” That’s something they remember and try to stick with, especially with the music they’re currently working on.
The members of MRKTS, as a band, have learned that anyone trying to get into the music scene should learn as much as they can about the industry and master their craft. There are some “snakes” in the industry, according to Blas, so “the more you know, the more protected your art will be.”
In 2014, Belmont Lights (name before MRKTS) found out their manager was stealing from them. They fired him, and later discovered he registered all of their music under his name on BMI, a music licensing site.
Instead of feeling sorry for themselves and putting their lives on hold, they persevered. Belmont Lights changed their name to MRKTS and started over. “It was one of the hardest decisions we ever had to make because those songs meant so much to us, and we weren’t sure if we’d ever get them back. But, we knew we just wanted to make music, and [we] wanted to get our new stuff out there,” said Blas.
MRKTS had only one day to decide on a new name because they were planning on releasing “Last Call” the week their manager fiasco happened. The name change was quick, and the meaning is secret, so only MRKTS knows what MRKTS really means.
MRKTS’ album “Last Call” was released on music streaming site Bandcamp in 2016. Fans could download the album completely free of cost. MRKTS chose to go this route as opposed to releasing it on iTunes or another paying outlet. “At the end of the day, we wanted to get our music out there for our fans,” said Blas. “That’s really why we do what we do, and since we were making the transition, we wanted to let them know, ‘we’re still here.’”
“Last Call” took about 8 months to finish once they started recording it. Some songs included on the album were already written, and some were tracked the same day they were written. Blas said, “We all pretty much had equal parts in writing each song with our producer Alejandro Barajas. We recorded [the album] at Firehouse Studios in Pasadena, California.”
To fight cabin fever and boredom, MRKTS spent a lot of late nights breaking into their neighbor’s yard and playing basketball until 3 a.m. Blas joked, “That always helped.”
A dream of Isaiah Blas’ is to play at a large venue in MRKTS’ hometown of San Diego, California, like the Qualcomm Stadium or Petco Park. “We love being together on the road, in the studio, and just in general. We’d really love to be able to do this together for as long as we can, and become one of those bands that lasts forever,” said Blas.
MRKTS plans on touring this year, but they are currently focusing on getting their new album finished. In the future, in addition to touring for their new album, MRKTS hopes to play a few festivals.