By JC Poppe Special to Published Nov 16, 2011 at 4:06 PM

A lot of people like to joke that they could never work with their significant other because it'd end in some sort of catastrophe.

Lots of musicians collaborate with their respective romances, but not many end up being success stories on both the music and personal fronts.

The sad thing is that for many artists this is true, but sometimes these non-platonic professional relationships work, and work very well.

One married couple that slaps the face of statistics – and slaps it hard and repeatedly – is Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel, who also go by Mates of State.

Kori and Jason have been making music together in some form since the late '90s and married in 2001.

Since their beginning they've released a number of EPs and albums. Their latest album, "Mountaintops," was released this September.

With a new album under their belt, they've once again hit the road with their entire family in tow – which includes two children – and are visiting Milwaukee's Turner Hall Ballroom Nov. 19.

Hammel, who handles drums and percussion and half of the vocals for Mates of State, believes that he and Kori are successful because their passions are the same.

"I think really it's just that Kori and I both love making music. Luckily we found each other and were able to collaborate in a way that was successful. We work together entirely so I think a lot of it has to do with the fact we're sort of on the same page when it comes to what we want to spend our time doing for our entire lives, I guess."

Because the issue of working with a spouse is looked at as something that shouldn't be done because of the possible consequences, Hammel admits he hears about it from a lot of people.

"It's funny, a lot of people are like, "You work together and you're married? There's no way in hell I could spend that much time with my wife and still want to be with her." It's odd, since the day we met we literally moved in together and really haven't spent a lot of time apart since then. I don't know that I recommend it to people, because I know that it's a pretty rare thing."

At the end of the day what makes them work is collaboration on every level, which is helped by the fact that they don't believe in traditional male/female roles regarding family work.

"We share kind of everything, songwriting and lyric writing and melodies, but then we also share parenting," says Hammel. "A lot of traditional family set-ups are like delegation of tasks, but for us anything's fair game. Half the time I'll do this and the other half she'll do that, and then we swap. It's complete teamwork."

That teamwork has also extended a hand to other musicians in regard to their live show, something they hadn't previously done, to better show the layers and complexities of their music.

"Now we have two extra musicians on stage with us, a guitarist and a horn and keyboard player. On the records we do a lot of overdubbing and stuff, not just organ and drums like in the early days, and so we want to fill out the sound live," says Hammel. "These guys that we have now are such a solid band. One of our recent shows in New York (felt) like it was the best show we've ever played. We really feel like we're at the top of our game."

With so much material to pick from now, Mates of State are playing the longest shows they've ever played and have even more ability to create a dynamic stage show with the added musicians.

"When we start to make a couple of set lists for tour, we really try to focus on dynamics," says Hammel. "We play like an hour 25 minutes, an hour 25 minutes, depending on it. We try to make sure there's a lot of dynamics within the set. You don't want to be balls to the wall the whole time or you don't want to be mellow the whole time, but at the same time you want to play songs that people know and love and then also songs that you just feel like playing because you love playing them. So it's really a very delicate balance, but it's also kind of exciting and fun to try to create a show that is worth watching for an entire hour and a half or whatever."

The stages they typically play are in smaller venues, and that is something both Jason and Kori enjoy because it's easier for the band and the crowd to feed off of each other's energy.

"We get just as much from the people, from the listeners, that they do from our music and it really sort of gets us amped," says Hammel. "When people get excited about what they're hearing, we're like, "You like this? Good! It really makes us happy and excited when someone is dancing and singing along or whatever, just giving us energy back and we'll just – like a cascading effect – give it back even more and in turn they'll do the same thing."

In their free time, which isn't very abundant due to their family, touring, writing and recording sessions, the two lovers enjoy doing martial arts, which could be the true key to the success of their relationship.

"I can kick her ass but she always hits me in the face or kicks me in the balls so she definitely takes me out. But if you're playing by the rules, I'm stronger."

Here's a music video for one of their latest songs, "Sway."

JC Poppe Special to

Born in Milwaukee and raised in the Milwaukee suburb of Brown Deer, Concordia University Wisconsin alumnus Poppe has spent the majority of his life in or around the city and county of Milwaukee.

As an advocate of Milwaukee's hip-hop community Poppe began popular local music blog Milwaukee UP in March 2010. Check out the archived entries here.

Though heavy on the hip-hop, Poppe writes about other genres of music and occasionally about food, culture or sports, and is always ready to show his pride in Milwaukee and Wisconsin.