Interview: Pop Evil’s Leigh Kakaty On Their Upcoming Australian Tour

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Interview by Tracey Moyle.

American Rock band Pop Evil have built a faithful following in the US, Canada  and Europe but now they’re on a mission to show Australian fans their true selves putting their heart and soul into showing us what Rock means to them.  It’s not just a job, it’s their life and their fans are what it’s all about.

They kick off April 4 in Adelaide followed by Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.  The venues are fantastically intimate for a band like Pop Evil and have fans extremely excited about the up close and personal feel of their show.  If you aren’t familiar with this band, do yourself a favour and listen.  You don’t want to miss this.

The tour coincides with last months release of Be Legendary the fourth single off their 2018, the self titled, ‘Pop Evil.’  With heavy hitters like Waking Lions, Trenches, Footsteps, Take it all to the heart felt Torn to Pieces and Beautiful this band are going to blow the minds of those lucky ones who are already fans of their previous four albums.

If their shows are as full of as much energy and passion as the discussion I had with lead singer, Leigh Kakaty then we are in for one hell of a ride. His soul deep love of music, his open thoughts on mental health issues, his call for unity in the rock world and why it’s important to remember the fans, are an inspiring insight to why this band are bound for greatness.

This is your first Australian tour and the fans are very ready for it. I met a lot of Pop Evil fans at Download festival in Melbourne recently and they are so pumped for the shows especially at such intimate venues.  Are you looking forward to the tour and to be playing to a whole new crowd?

Yeah I’m excited. In ways you start over you know, its weird because you spend all your time climbing and touring with the band here in the States and Canada and Europe and Mexico.  We’ve been playing those countries obviously the majority of the time, so starting over in a whole new country is a little bit scary, a little bit intimidating but at the same time it’s challenging.  It’s exciting going back into small venues playing for 50 people, 100 people, who knows.  We don’t even know what to expect.  Either way I don’t care if there’s 3 people in there we’re going to rock them.

There’s a different confidence in the band, a swagger that 12 years have given us.   We’re not afraid to play and that’s the cool thing about rock, we’ll play acoustic shows for radio stations for small unique settings, it’s always the small unique crowds I can do different things with, like take questions, I’ll stop the show mid show or around the encore and I’ll be like ‘hey I just want to take the time, like if anyone has any questions’, because I was always the kid in the back who was “what did you eat for breakfast” and “Like how did you get the record deal and like who did you meet, do you have to leave Sydney or Melbourne, where did you have to go”.

I think it’s important when its an intimate setting to just get an opportunity to show the fans the personality of the band rather than just play the songs and then ‘hey see ya later and peace out’, you know what I mean.  It’s been a long time coming so we want to spend as much time possible, I don’t even care if there’s a thousand people, we’ll try to make it as intimate as possible. We’ll get as much energy and excitement out of these runs as possible so that when people leave they’re infectious about coming back and bringing two other people, maybe they’re bringing one person, maybe they’re bringing 15 new people you know that’s how you really grow a band.   It doesn’t matter what you look like or your pretty picture on Spotify, it matters that people come to see you live and when they leave that show they’ve had fun and they want to talk about you moving forward because there are too many great bands that want your spot.

If you don’t do those extra little things you’ve forgot that, guess what, there’s another article coming up, there’s another Instagram post coming up tomorrow so you’re yesterdays news if you don’t do something a little special to remind people that you’re hungry for it and you want it for the right reasons because you respect your fans, that’s number one.”

Do you find that in each country you’ve toured, the U.S., Canada, and countries around Europe, that the fans are different, respond differently, or do you get pretty much the same energy from all rock fans around the world?

There’re differences, but the similarity is that when people love your band they love your band.  It’s, I think, one of the coolest things when you hear people singing back to your songs with accents, you know.  Like if I’m in Quebec in Montreal their singing back or the Germans singing back, its cool to see different cultures and people embrace your songs and they’re singing it back to you in their own way, it’s no different than American fans in the south singing with their southern drawl.  That’s the one thing that really hit home for me, that like when I was a little kid growing up and I wanted fans in Australia or I wanted fans in Louisiana or fans in Germany or England I never thought about those things.   So when I hear them sing back and they’re singing at the top of their lungs, it helps remind me that even though we’re different in maybe language, culture, lives, we’re still the same when those four minutes of that hour and half rock show or Pop Evil show or what ever it is, that we come together in those moments.

It just reminds me of those melodies you’d see when you were kids and the music teacher trying to teach you like, you’re out of pitch see all these waves they move but when your in perfect pitch it’s more like a straight line because its in unison.  It’s just always what I think about when I get a chance to be at home and kind of digress and think about the amazing things, the people, the places I’ve seen, people I’ve met.  Its always just crazy for me to think about these people about their lives and where they might have come from, the families they go back to and we’ve all come together in this moment to enjoy in this music and it’s all pretty humbling.

It’s like these people come back and their singing it from with perspective, their vibe their swagger, their energy it just like something that’s always kinda struck me, its very humbling.  It takes me back to why we’re here, its what we’ve always wanted.  I never dreamed about having fame, wanted money, I mean everyone obviously wants to be taken care of and comfortable but that was never my thing.  I was like ‘man I just want fans’.  Now to have an opportunity to have fans in Australia it’s awesome man, it’s an exciting thing but guess what, we don’t have all the fans yet because we haven’t played there once so we still got some work to do to really take our first step in building some special years ahead for Pop Evil in Australia and even New Zealand, we also want to get over there as well.”

Your latest self titled album is a great blend of heavy hitters with tracks like Waking Lions, Ex Machina, Colours Bleed and Be Legendary but you capture what I guess is a more melodic rock vibe with A Crime to Remember, When We Were Young and Rewind, with so much passion.  When I first heard the album I heard songs that I thought were definite hits. As a band when you hear a song come together do you stop and think ‘Wow I think we have something awesome here?’

Yeah it sometimes happens. Probably every album seems like it’s had that one song.  You don’t think its going to be a number one hit or anything but you think this song is really going to be a staple at live shows, this is going to be the one.  Three albums ago it was Trenches and we though wow this song is different.  At that time we’d never written anything like Trenches it was a game changer you know. I really don’t think we have anything like it even now. And then the last album it was Footsteps.  When Footsteps came and we were like, Wow.  It was almost like a punch in the guts, it’s what I needed, it’s like all those songs are similar right. Its like my anger toward Rock n Roll is Dead. I just can’t stand that phrase. I think it’s such a slap in the face to every one of my brothers and sisters that are fighting to play real instruments and rock out with their arms up. I mean it’s disrespectful.  We sacrifice our families and friends and we get out there and play and in a lot of instances we put our fans before our families and to have other people say Rock n Roll is dead it’s a slam to us, a slam to our families and most importantly it’s a slam to all of us as fans and I think that if we unite more together as one and the more we understand these things we can make a difference ourselves.  We can remind people we are standing here we are screaming loud and proud, Rock n Roll ain’t going nowhere, just like your genre ain’t going nowhere.   Its not going to kill you if you come listen to a rock show and respect people and listen to live instrumentation, it’s important man and I think that mentality with me with Trenches and Footsteps, I’m just going to take it. Maybe its not where we want to be right now but I’m just going to take it one step at a time.  With Trenches its just, get yourself up out of the gutter and just move and of course with Waking Lions now on this record it was like once I wrote it, it was like oh my god, this is what I needed and the heaviness, the crunch of the band, it had that aggression, that kinda pissed off mentality, like we’re not going nowhere.

You may like our band you may not, we like what we do and we love rock fans and we’re just gong to focus on them and just write songs that will hopefully make a difference, be relatable to life in general you know, life is like full of peaks and valleys, ups and downs, I mean that is Pop Evil.  If you listen to a Pop Evil catalogue there are song that adhere to all those emotions.  We are not the band that want to play the same song over and over and over again. We’re not going to give you 15 heavy songs, what’s the point of that.  We’re not going to regurgitate Waking Lions 15 times, what’s the point of that show. We want to show you our diversity as people, forget about us as musicians, we don’t care about that we want to be us as people.   People ask us all the time, ‘what musicians influenced you’.  Well come to a show, you can see the different musical styles that influenced us, we don’t even need to tell you that its just that our influences of stuff that we grew up. That’s the music we write now because all  of us are different, we love different music and different bands and when you put it together we take those different influences and put it together and that’s the music we make.”

Touching on something a little deeper, it’s been a turbulent few years with the loss of so many amazing artists to suicide. (Losing Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington ripped my heart out. ) Loving music is something that you are born with, its a part of your soul.  It’s a powerful outlet for emotion.  Do you think that mental health issues are a somewhat hidden or unspoken part of the music industry with the isolation of constant touring for example?  Or just like any human being on this planet ,some people just deal with things differently? 

That’s a furious topic. I don’t know the logistics. I know as a fan it sucks. We lost some pretty powerful icons with people we could all go tour with, go watch play, I mean it makes sense, I mean man, I put it back to that ‘Rock ‘n’ Rolls dead’ mentality, there’s a lot of pressure on rock starts of today. I mean you think about that phrase ‘rock star’,  if I want to say to somebody ‘I’m a rock star’ they’re gonna look at me and laugh and say  ‘your not a rock star’, I’m like ‘oh really I have the songs on the radio, I tour all over the world , I play over 200 shows a year, I get paid to do it, does that mean that doesn’t make me a rock star?’  What makes me a rock star?… So many people take from our genre, they have no problem taking from our genre but they throw us no bones on the way out, right? They’re the all Rock n Rolls dead, f…k them you know. I take offence to that.  We’re people to, we’re fighting for our genre to.  If we don’t get a little bit angry about it then what are we doing.

I feel like we need some of those bigger bands out there in the world to defend us.  Not Pop Evil, who cares about my band, I’m just saying for our generation, so our kids don’t have to go playing rock songs on apple computers.  I mean come on where’s the dream, where’s the American dream?   You can tell me from your perspective in Australia but the American dream for any musician, we grew up in the 70’s and 80’s,  we knew what our mission was it was like ‘hey man, I’m gong to find a buddy from my neighbourhood and steal a guitar from your Dads house and an amp from your Dads house and we’re going to go piss our neighbours off and hang out in your garage til 4am. F..k the neighbours, right?  That’s what were gonna do; and that was the American dream right? You’d like write a song and were like ‘yeah dude we are so cool, we’re rock stars’.   But really we suck and next thing you know your dreaming ‘yeah I’m gonna play in Australia one day.   I’m gonna play in Australia.’ and everyone looks at you and their like ‘hell no you won’t dude, when you gonna get a back up plan? When you gonna get a real job?’   And you say to him ‘no man I’m not getting a real job; this is my passion, this is what I love’.  That’s exactly what happened with me… Buy an instrument, be rebellious, get in your parents garage with your boys or in my particular situation my boys and one girl and take it out there to the world man! Again, its not rocket science, but I think that has a lot to do with my depression, like why do I want to keep doing this if masses don’t even want to?  it’s like every great song I think ‘wow we’re onto something, this is special, the melody is strong’ and its all ‘you suck, your band sucks, your not screaming.’ I think that’s what held rock and metal back, there’s so much competition, like ‘I’m better than you, your band sucks’, and I’m like ‘dude, stop.  … There’s no competition… We just keep flippin’ it, we keep eating each other from the inside.  It’s like, dude they’re not metal enough, they’re not rock enough, what does that mean?  We write music, its like saying your opinion sucks and mines better than your opinion.  That’s what music is……  Its ours.  And I think we get misconstrued in this world and that’s why I love being a Pearl Jam fan, its like when they’d win awards, it was like ‘Dude I don’t care about the award.’  I’ve had a talk with Eddie Vedder himself and its like they don’t care about these awards because they’re true artists man..  Its perspective and I think we forget sometimes that the more we fight each other and this generation of kids are watching us and these other genres are going right by us.

Do you think you will get any downtime when you finally get here?

“I’ve heard it’s a bit in and out but I’m hoping there will be a little more of an opportunity to see as much of Australia as possible, but you can’t take the tour bus to the outback.  I try and leave early from a venue, get my bag  and go so I’m really hoping I can see as much as possible.  But again just trying to be humble about it, be open minded so I’m hoping that I can get in and enjoy it, experience as much as I can.  Just going to go with no expectations, get excited about all the great people we’ll meet the culture and see all the differences and try and understand how those differences make us similar.   Man, I can’t wait.”

Brought to you by Silverback Touring, Pop Evil kick off their very first Australian tour this week, travelling through Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and then playing Brisbane on Sunday the 7th of April at The Zoo. GC Live highly recommend you go and check them out at one or all of the following dates, Pop Evil rock hard and their live shows capture the hearts of music loving fans everywhere. Grab your tickets now!

Pop Evil Australian Tour 2019
Thursday 4th April: Enigma Bar; Adelaide
Friday 5th April: The Prince Band Room; Melbourne
Saturday 6th April: The Lair, Metro Theatre; Sydney
Sunday 7th April: The Zoo; Brisbane

Tickets available HERE.

Follow Pop Evil on Facebook HERE. 




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