Continuing to enjoy the acclaim garnered from their latest self-titled disc, Michigan’s Pop Evil in on the road with a Red Deer stop slated for Nov. 25th at Bo’s.
The versatile disc hits the ground running in full-force fashion and never lets up from the fired-up finesse and aptly titled opening cut Waking Lions which segways into the equally intense Colors Bleed.
Be Legendary is another outstanding tune, toning things down just a touch to a more full-bodied pop/rock cut allowing frontman Leigh Kakaty’s voice to truly stand out.
When We Were Young falls in a similar vein – a simply-structured song that is impeccably executed with image-laden, insightful lyrics to match.
There really couldn’t be a more fitting tune to wrap up the project than the slowed down sentiments of the superbly-crafted Rewind. The band picked the best 11 songs from some 30 demos – no easy feat.
“We are very much aware of trying to not write the same song over and over,” said Kakaty during a recent chat. “With the latest disc, we really wanted to showcase that identity – the ‘yin and yang’ – that is Pop Evil,” he said, noting that their tunes reflect the shifting emotions and experiences that make up the human experience.
”We are people, so we try to document that with our sound. That’s something we were really trying to do with this album, was to again show the ‘yin and yang’ that is not only comparable to our band but that is also very relatable to life.”
Kakaty was tuned into music fairly early, purchasing his first tape around the time he was eight – that being Huey Lewis and the News.
“I think I was a product of that Michigan rock and roll scene. It was very much Bob Seger, KISS; and of course Kid Rock and the Eminem era. When our band was really getting started, Eminem and Kid Rock were king. The pride they have for their home state, where they come from and their roots was very much an inspiration,” he said.
“So music was part of the culture I grew up in; it kind of gave me my identity. Music is also so important in the midwest; it’s something people still believe in. People also still believe in live music, live entertainment. So when I think about where I was rooted, I think Michigan had a big part in that,” he said.
As for his vocal power, it started to take shape as he’d sing along with favourite artists as a younger guy.
“In the 90s, I was a religious Pearl Jam fan, and I would sing to the CDs,” he recalled. “I would try to resonate the different tones vocally and try to enunciate properly.”
He also started taking more of an interest in playing, and songwriting, too. Those things were instrumental in his vocal development.
“You want to hear your own voice singing a song that you think is cool and that you actually wrote. There was never that moment early on where I thought, oh my gosh, I’m a really good singer! I just wanted to do it,” he added with a laugh. “I’m going to roll with it.”
These days, the band is excited to head north and connect with Canadian fans.
Although he grew up in the U.S., Kakaty was born in Kingston, Ont.
“It always brings me full circle touring in the country I was born in,” said Kakaty. “Plus, having the opportunity to play music off our new album brings a smile to my face. We can’t wait to play for our diehard Canadian fans!”
Meanwhile, Waking Lions is the band’s fifth number one single with the previous four being Footsteps, (2015) Torn to Pieces (2014) Deal With the Devil (2013) and Trenches (2013).
And through it all, Kakaty explained how these days, being successful in the biz relates to having a stronger commitment.
“There’s more of a demand now – there’s no MTV or MuchMusic playing music videos anymore, so to really get that exposure you have to get out there and play. And at the end of the day, that’s where it’s really won – that’s where you go see that band you might have heard of, or maybe you didn’t. But when you see them live, you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, I really dig this band’ – I want to dive more into their catalogue.
”That’s rock and roll, and that’s what makes it great – it’s a lifestyle. It’s not just about making a couple pop records – here today, gone tomorrow. It’s about touring non-stop, just getting out there and doing it through thick and thin.”