After picking up the guitar in high school and starting a band in college, it took singer Leigh Kakaty many years to find bandmates that were as dedicated to making music as he was.
Even after forming what would become Pop Evil from other local rock bands in Muskegon, Mich., in 2001, it took them until 2008 to release their debut album, ‚??Lipstick on the Mirror.‚?Ě But when their songs immediately started peaking in Active Rock radio, Kakaty knew their hard work would pay off.
‚??It‚??s very blue-collar, obviously, in the state of Michigan. So I guess people were more frugal with their money and what they want to spend it on in the live music scene and stuff. We had to make a living playing covers for the longest time and kind of gently introducing our original music to people. With the course of time and with radio we finally became popular back at home, kind of the big fish in the small pond, so to speak, and just caught the attention from there,‚?Ě Kakaty explained.
Pop Evil gave away a special edition of the album in May of 2008 as a ‚??thank you‚?Ě to their loyal fans for their support.
‚??We wanted to make an opportunity to our hometown fans to feel a little closer and to feel part of it, and I guess that‚??s the Michigan blue-collar way. We‚??re just very proud of where we come from, very proud of the people that have helped get us to where we are,‚?Ě he emphasized.
By June of 2009, the band was already opening for legendary heavy metal band Judas Priest, but ultimately, they were unhappy with the production of their first record and overcame record company issues to enlist Grammy-nominated producer Johnny Karkazis to help them work on their 2010 follow-up, ‚??War of Angels,‚?Ě and establish a definitive sound.
‚??The first thing in the meetings when we were getting ready to launch this album was we wanted to make sure that we had an identity. I think that‚??s the hard thing for any new band, not to sound like other bands,‚?Ě Kakaty noted.
‚??Whoever we were as Pop Evil, as musicians, and as brothers at that moment in time ‚?? that was literally the best we could do‚?ĽIt‚??s a true indication of a growing band. I think it‚??s an awesome sort of biography into who we were as people and a band coming into some sort of musician manhood.‚?Ě
Influenced as much by bands like Guns N‚?? Roses and Pantera as much they were by contemporaries like Shinedown, Theory of a Deadman, and Nickelback, Kakaty hopes that Pop Evil can help bring rock music back into the mainstream with its accessibility and relatable lyrics.
‚??We just try to write great hooks. I think what Johnny K helped us do was sit us down and say, ‚??We‚??re not going to try and write rock and pop songs. We‚??re going to try and write great songs that have catchy hooks and have catchy melodies that allow people to sing.‚?? Try to call it the one-time-listen records ‚?? whether you like the song or not, you know when you hear a song once or twice, you can sing a word or two or you can hum a melody. That‚??s what we‚??re trying to do ‚?? write songs that take people away and they can escape from their everyday life and hopefully have a good time,‚?Ě he said.
The help of some old pros certainly hasn‚??t hurt their mission; Motley Crue guitarist Mick Mars wrote ‚??Boss‚??s Daughter‚?Ě with the band, a single that is becoming one of their biggest to date.
‚??To be able to work with Mick and have him not only write a song with him but now a song that ended up being a single - now I think it‚??s 14 in the country right now, one of the highest songs we‚??ve had, and it could arguably be one of the biggest song we‚??ve ever had - to have Mick be a part of that, to be part of that Motley Crue legacy in some way is pretty humbling. It‚??s crazy,‚?Ě Kakaty said.
Never resting on their laurels, they spend a majority of their time on the road playing constantly to ‚??stay relevant‚?Ě despite each member of the band supporting a family back home. Pop Evil stops at Three Kings, 603 Scranton/Carbondale Hwy, Mayfield, on March 14 with Otherwise and Lansdowne.
‚??At the end of the day, there‚??s no greater form of advertisement than getting out there and meeting people and people seeing you‚?Ľ.That‚??s what this is about ‚?? proving to people. This is America. It‚??s about ‚??prove it to you‚?? mentality. It‚??s not about ‚??Give it to me. Give it to me.‚?? It‚??s, ‚??Prove it to me. Prove it to me.‚?? I mean, Americans are smart. They don‚??t just blow their money just to do it. They‚??re very finicky and very picky on what they want to spend their money on.‚?Ě
Once off the road, Pop Evil likely won‚??t slow down, with plans to possibly enter the studio again as early as the end of the year.
‚??We‚??re excited to go do this next record to hopefully have it be that much better. We have such a higher standard now that we‚??ll always have from that time period for us‚?ĽIt makes you look forward to maybe the songs that we haven‚??t written yet that will be a part of our future,‚?Ě he said.
‚??At the end of the day, whether we make money or whether we don‚??t, we love what we do, we love playing together, and we love writing music. I think that‚??s the thing that motivates us.‚?Ě
WHAT: Pop Evil, Otherwise, Lansdowne
WHERE: Three Kings, 603 Scranton/Carbondale Hwy, Mayfield
WHEN: March 14, doors 7 p.m., show 8 p.m.