Pop Evil Frontman Leigh Kakaty Details Latest Singles, Forthcoming Album And More

Pop Evil; Photo Courtesy of Ashley Osborn

As we continue to power our way through these tough times, we can always look to music as a unifying force and rockers Pop Evil have provided us with not only one, but two amazing new singles to help us move forward to better times ahead.

The band has already released “Let Chaos Reign” and “Work,” giving us a small sample of what is to come off their forthcoming sixth studio album, which is slated for release this fall.

Before the novel COVID-19 pandemic, Pop Evil was gearing up to tour this summer, planning to hit the US summer festival circuit, however that has come to a halt like most tours and festivals due to the pandemic. As true road warriors, it seems as though Pop Evil has been everywhere over the last few years, so we are sure that they could use a bit of a breather and we absolutely can’t wait to see what is in store for their upcoming album release.

Music Mayhem had an opportunity to catch up with Pop Evil’s Leigh Kakaty to discuss the details behind the release of the first two singles, the upcoming album as well as how he is spending his time during quarantine and their plans to get back out on the road as soon as they possibly can.

We were thrilled when your two new singles “Let Chaos Reign” and “Work” dropped into our inbox! They are both fantastic. How is the new album coming along?
Awesome. I love to hear that! In terms of the new album, it’s going well, it’s just with this quarantine things got a little bit pushed back, but we’re close to being done. Michigan has been a slower state to open up so we’ll see how everything is when I get out there and start taking that risk and things start to be normal again. I don’t know how excited I am about that … but we’ll see!

How spread out are all the band members at this time?
Oh, we are definitely spread out! Haley [Cramer] is in England, so that’s the big challenge and who knows when we will be able to actually tour again and have her over here, but then Dave is close to me and Matt has been roaming around so we’ve talked a bit as far as the music goes but they’ve been busy … they’ve been working other jobs and trying to get ready and pick up extra money in the meantime, as the longer we take to get the album together. So, it’s been challenging and I’m sure everyone has their own story and again for us, too, just to stay with friends and family, as I’ve been during quarantine, we are trying to take advantage of that because we never really get to see anybody there so it’s good to get to do that.

That is definitely one of the benefits of all of this. The song Work just feels so relevant right now. Can you talk about some of the meaning behind that song and the elements that went into it, as I know you guys added in some electronic instrumentations, which is a  bit different for Pop Evil?
Exactly! Yeah, I am always thinking about various elements to add in to make the live show more fun and there is nothing I like more from other genres than drops and heavy, heavy rhythm sections and then I’ve always wanted to put my own spin on them. I think when you get a song like Work and it comes out and you’re like this is what our set needs and there is nothing else in our show that sounds like this and then you think about a lot of other Pop Evil choruses in the past they are very vocal-heavy so it is just refreshing to have the music do the talking once I say ‘All I do is work” there’s not much else to say after that and it pretty much wraps it up! I think there is a lot of people that can relate but it’s also very symbolically where my life is …. it felt like everyone that matters the most when they call me I’m busy and they have to text me or Facetime me, so everyone I knew was just stuck on my phone and I feel like I can do better than that and ironically months later we have this pandemic so I have to be stuck quarantine with loved one which is great, so you have to in some ways when you are a musician meet everyone all over again when you come back into the “real world”.

Everything we do is not normal. We don’t live in the real world … everything that is normal to us is abnormal as that’s how we can do those kinds of things so it’s interesting how now when we get thrust back into the “real world” and having to do normal things it can take a minute to adjust. We are thinking ‘Wow, we’re really not going to be playing shows this year’ and again, that’s not 100% sure, like if a miracle treatment comes out or if this virus goes away as mysteriously as it came … I don’t know, I’m not a doctor, but the interesting thing is if that does happen maybe there are some shows, but I’m not trying to get my hopes up, I’m just planning for having a year off and hopefully next year, we’ll be back.

I feel like you guys as a band hit the ground running and never really stopped!
For sure! My body is definitely not bad, but my voice feels better than it’s ever felt because I’ve been able to just sit and rest and it’s been great. But again, you just have to try to be positive because it’s definitely a bummer that we’re not touring especially with new music. We’ve been working on this album for over a year and trying to get ready to tour and really do some good things. Think, on the last record we only had three singles, it was the first album we only had three singles, so we’ve been off a long time waiting to get new music out so it’s something I know collectively as a team it is something we are really looking forward to, so it’s a bummer … and of course, all the income we are going to lose in a year, I can’t even think about it without thinking ‘how do you stay afloat?’ so there’s so much negative to think about if you want to focus on that, but we just can’t!

There’s nothing we can do and obviously we want our fans to be healthy and we want them to be safe. There’s no way around it, right? How do you get people in a show without putting people at risk? How do we get on a tour bus together where every band member does their own thing, are they bringing the virus back to the bus in small quarters? Am I going to have to do temperature checks on everyone on the bus? How do you roll with those kinds of odds? Again, it’s a very scary and not fun situation to think about, but again just trying to stay positive and if I’ve got to take a year off my body and mind aren’t going to be upset about that, so I just have to focus on that and I have tons to do behind-the-scenes so if I can take a year to get caught up then that’s what it is!

Absolutely! Ironically enough before today’s interview, I was scrolling through my Facebook memories and there was a photo I snapped of Pop Evil from backstage at the Rock On The Range/Sonic Temple Music And Arts Festival from a few years back, doing the hand walk out into the massive crowd. I made me miss the festival season and live shows so badly this year.
I know!!  We would have been playing this year too! So sad!

The new single Let Chaos Reign is one of your heaviest to date, so it appears you guys are really going across the whole spectrum with new music. How does the rest of the album balance out, does it lean toward the heavier side?
You’ll have to tell me when you hear the record, I don’t know! I don’t spend time thinking about what it means, I just know it’s infectious and it is the hookiest Pop Evil album you’ve ever heard! It’s awesome! I can’t wait for you to hear and for us to get it done. We know things that have worked for the band and we know things that haven’t so we are really trying to weed that out and find out these songs that we can bring to the table with our new albums that can really give our live show a new boost. That’s always what it’s about! It’s always about the fans when we write … the fans and the live show! If we can make both of those things better then fans will be even more excited when the come see us play live that’s always what’s it is about!

Definitely! I still have my demo copy of Lipstick on the Mirror with its paper insert and looking back from that time period now that you have achieved so much success with multiple number one singles and Billboard hits, I always recall saying you better watch this band because they are going to take over and you really have! Looking back at this being six albums now, what does that feel like?
Geez! I don’t even really think about it until people say it to me, but it’s crazy and it’s a cool story. Obviously our band has evolved and the music is always evolving, but it’s great to play some of that older stuff. It’s always great when fans give the shout outs for older stuff and I don’t even think it’s just music-based anymore it’s become … especially that Lipstick on the Mirror album … it’s become a part of people’s lives. In those days people still bought records so that album really has physically gone into people’s houses and it’s become a part of their lives. There is ownership there that fans have for the first record and it was probably in that era that they were some of the last people that bought CDs before this digital madness took over. It’s interesting and I’m grateful that we were able to be a part of that and had an album sell as well as that did and it was a huge stepping stone to get where we are today.

I remember interviewing you back then when you weren’t yet signed to a label and just watching all of that unfold has been an incredible journey to watch. You have been living it, so it has to be so surreal for you to watch these dreams come true. 
Yeah, it is! It just all happened so fast! It was always about the next song, the next single, the next album, the next tour that when you’re in it you don’t really think about it. You are always just on to the next and you want to be better and you are challenging yourself to write a better song or write that next song that can take your live show to the next level and bring more people in … that’s the thing too … you need to be more diverse and think of new ways to bring new people to your shows. It’s always the same people sometimes and you want to be creative to maybe bring people outside your genre especially today, more than ever, because it’s a streaming world and it’s all about that song … that single … so if you can create more opportunities to bring new people to your band you don’t have to point fingers and worry about things you can’t control like why isn’t this station playing that or things like that. You have to hold yourself accountable and create your own destiny.

I know our band is very proactive about not putting the blame on anyone else and we want to be creative about bringing new people and new faces to our fanbase because we know that when they do see us live and they do come and they do meet our fans, we have the best fans in the world and you know that, so they are very open to embracing new people and it’s a very special kind of family and we always try to bring new people to that family and try to create new relationships off the stage for fans through the VIP experiences to hopefully create a lifetime band where we can all grow together as people.

I love that you guys are not afraid to take risks and experiment with your music in different ways. That has to keep in interesting for the band, correct?
100%! You can’t just sit there. We can’t write another 100 in a 55, we already have it, we can’t write another Waking Lions, we already have it … we want to create different moments for our fans and we want them to hear every song they love of Pop Evil but they all stand out in their own way. I love the new songs whenever they’re new because the fans will say I love the new songs, but I like these old ones too and then of course in two years they’ll be like but ‘I love Work, I love Work‘ because it just takes time to grow these songs and they then become part of peoples lives.

You think about it, when people are Pop Evil fans, if we were to make a poll, everyone’s favorite song would be different, like “I love Footsteps‘ or ‘I love Torn To Pieces‘ and they can’t like just one and that’s when you’re doing it right. We just have to keep writing good music most importantly and positive music that betters people and gets them through these tough times. We are definitely going through a tough time right now and I feel blessed to have two new songs out and we are not planning on delaying anything other than touring right now. I am grateful!

With plans to take the rest of this year off as it stands right now, do you think Pop Evil will be hitting the road in 2021? 
I don’t know how things are going to work, as we really want to be out on the road right now. As soon as any vaccine or any kind of treatment becomes available, we’ll know when the rest of the world knows. When people feel it is safer to go out and this virus is less lethal we’re in and saying ‘Let’s go!’ and of course they have to let Haley fly over the border! We don’t want to play without her unless we absolutely have to, but she understands that whatever we have to do to keep this rolling. I mean, we still have to practice and we haven’t even finished the record 100%, so we have to get everyone over and really that’s the most fun time with any album cycle is when the songs are officially done and we can all sit together and jam them out with no pressure of writing anymore and we can just enjoy the songs.

It’s a fun time and every band may do it differently, but that is how we do it and it’s always one of my favorite times when we all come together at the start of an album cycle. The album is done and now we can make them our own live, as we would be on tour now playing these songs, but on the flip side, it will be interesting if these two songs that we’ve released become big and become hits in their own right then we can get back touring a people are already singing them before we sing them for the first time as well, so that will be a different dynamic that we’ve never experienced before. Hopefully, fans keep requesting the songs and they keep liking them and we can all sing live together when that happens.

About Kristyn Clarke

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