Around The Sound chats to Pop Evil’s Leigh Kakaty about all things chaos, heaviness, new singles, touring and world domination.
Following a successful Australian tour in 2019, Michigan’s Pop Evil have released the first two singles as teasers for their upcoming album, signalling the next evolution of the band’s two decades in existence with supercharged tempos, riding on some of the most scintillating riffs from end to end.
…supercharged tempos, riding on some of the most scintillating riffs from end to end…
With a massive following in the US and a conquering march across Europe, the band are set to expand their tracks across the globe with their sonic booms twirled in contemporary issues, a trend that’s continuing with added zest with some of the heaviest tracks in their catalogue.
The single Let the Chaos Reign is an outlet for the forever frustrated, exhaling fire that’s seemingly relevant in the current climate. The riffs, energised drums, guttural guitar and vocal projection will positively enrage listeners to break their silenced solitude, bringing chaos onto the streets with the mental ammunition to defeat, conquer and retain.
Work will frustrate the hell out of listeners with a compounding reflection, but with a haunting underlying message, as we questioned some of our priorities dictated by life’s hectic demands.
The latest singles are samples of their upcoming sixth album that is expected to be the heaviest, as Leigh Kakaty explains to Sheldon Ang.
Sheldon: After several number one Billboard hits, Pop Evil have come a long way since the debut album, “Lipstick on the Mirror”.
Leigh: Absolutely a long way man, after five studio albums. It’s incredible to think about it, you know it just keeps going.
Sheldon: Like the last album, “Pop Evil”, has several genres; metal, alternative, hard rock and even electronic music. The music has evolved a bit since the beginning.
Leigh: Absolutely! Oh yeah, I think it’s always evolving. It’s about the fan stuff that they can expect, but at the same time, we want to experiment constantly and be thinking of new ways, and to put new elements into the live show, while putting together the yin and yang into the album… like the extreme rap and all the way back right from the beginning. We love to come up with our anthems.
Sheldon: So are the new songs produced in response to what the fans want, or how the band feel?
Leigh: At the end of the day, I think it’s a bit of both because I’d be lying if we don’t play what the fans want. At the end of the day, we are making music for people to come and enjoy. And with social media now, it’s a one on one concert experience. When you tour, you’re constantly more of one on one with fans, therefore you get their feedback. So you’re constantly considering what the fans want. But then again, if we feel that’s something we like, and is great for our live shows, we’ll always trust our instincts. But the fans definitely dictate on what we try to do, we think about them in the back of our minds – we definitely use them to our advantage to help us grow.
Sheldon: True, as Pop Evil music are about real life issues, not about partying and booze.
Leigh: They’re definitely about real life issues, with a lot of situations I have experienced in my life. We always want to inspire and help people. Families can be there listening; doctors, teachers, and I know a lot of people can relate to that.
So I feel that I have this huge responsibility where I have to write lyrics that can really help people, and sometimes they don’t even know if they need it. Because sometimes you can write songs that affect lives by changing decisions on that day. They can change mood and it’s a responsibility that I don’t take lightly. And we want to be responsible by creating those things and bring positivity into people’s life, and especially now we need music more than ever.
Sheldon: The latest single Work. “All I do is work” – most of us can relate to that. But is this song some form of demonstration against the pyramid structure of capitalism, or it is a lot simpler than that?
Leigh: No man, for me I want the music to be a hit. I want the music to be infectious. When I was writing the lyrics, I felt everything was so monotonous, the agro…the angst…all those are being instilled in me. And I was in a mental rap then, like ‘Why am I feeling like this’. I needed human interaction, as it seems all my relationships were falling. And I look back and I’d say ‘just text me back man… I’ll talk to you later… I’ll call you back.’
And I looked back and I thought, ‘All those people that matter to me, I was only talking with them with my phone’. So I had to put my phone down, and remind myself and said, ‘yes life is stuffed, life is work’. So I said, ‘it’s time to take a moment and to appreciate others’…and ironically in a couple of months later, we are in a position now as if we predicted the future. And hey, now this song has a totally different meaning to me than it did…it’s crazy man.
Sheldon: And then we get the next single, Let the Chaos Reign – it has that rage – as my friend Nadia was saying, it has that “rap rock” feel to it. To me it has that anarchy feel, that ‘fuck you, I’ll do what I want’ impulse…that Rage Against the Machine, Killing in the Name vibe, man.
Leigh: Well I always like the powerful anthem. You can hear hints of the late 90s and early 2000 metal riffs, and when I listened to it, it brought me back when the riffs when they were being written. So we just brought the riffs back to the new kind of excitement and energy from the first verse… then opening up the you versus me mentality.
Then came the pandemic that’s almost like uniting people. And now we are all against this invisible enemy now (Covid19). And now, again, these two songs (Work and Let the Chaos Reign) couldn’t come out in a more perfect time. Again, this song is straight energy; it’s dramatic from the beginning and from the first intro, the first riff to the last, and the guitar just oozing all over the track. And the guitar breakdowns are one of my favourites in the catalogue. I can’t wait to see how the fans respond to the song, and I hope they will become massive live songs
Sheldon: Yeah like I said earlier, and I do hear a bit of Rage Against the Machine influence in your new track. You must be a fan of theirs?
Leigh: Absolutely my man, they are my base growing up. So you’ll hear a bit of influence, naturally. And that’s why you’ll get the duality of Pop Evil; that melody and then you get as what you called “rap rock” – that agro feel. We used to do writing session with my homie’s growing up…we were always battling. And they always choose me because I can sing. Then again, I grew up in Michigan, so you’ll get the Kid Rock’s and the Eminem’s as my influences.
Sheldon: How brutal is Hayley Cramer on drums on this track, or any track?
Leight: Yeah, she’s a beast there’s no doubt about it man. She’s a perfectionist and she’s not afraid to hit the drums, and the sound comes out better than any other guy I’ve seen. She’s all energy, she’s high octane. And you’re going to love her all over this album. She’s across it.
Sheldon: And it’s so refreshing to see a female captaining the musical ship of a rock band?
Leigh: Absolutely man, absolutely.
Sheldon: Speaking of steering the ship, the albums of Pop Evil has evolved since its inception. It was dark on the third album “Onyx”, then it got less dark in the last album and is quite positive in the self-titled album. What can we expect for the rest of the album?
Leigh: Yeah, this album is high energy. Like every song hits hard. And as for the “Onyx”, the album it was dark because I had just lost my father, and there was a lot of anger and sadness in me. So I was in a dark place when I was writing the album, and I was tired of being in the dark place. And the next album was a bit more positive and the last album was a bit better, but I wasn’t in a good or a bad place.
And when I had to do that album, I still had some soul searching to do. Right now, it is fun again and when you hear Let the Chaos Reign, it’s all fine. This is nothing not fun about that riff, like in those Rage Against the Machine records. I just want to go outside and break, and I cannot wait like in those days… I just cannot wait to go outside and go on to the mosh pits; this song has that vibe. I think we are closer to capturing the energy on this record as when we do live, so it will be interesting.
Sheldon: The last tour in Australia was last year. But you missed out on Perth. And I’m from Perth. How about giving us a go, man?
Leigh: I know man! I heard Perth is one place and the people there are crazy…the people are so crash hot over their metal. And I was like, ‘why didn’t we have Perth on the list, we are so close, c’mon!’ But they promised me that when we do come back, we will play in more shows in more cities. And on that occasion, it was more about ‘let’s get there quick and let’s go back quick’.
It was more about breaking the ice in the Australian market. And although we were grateful that we had the four Australian cities, we do want to come back and play in Perth. And there are so many places we want to see, and not just places but things that we want to do. And hopefully next time, there’ll be a lot more catching up to do.
Sheldon: Speaking of seeing lots of people, do you get recognised a lot in America?
Leigh: All the time man, all the time. But not so much in L.A. because people are used to celebrities there and they tend to leave you alone. But in Michigan all the time. But I don’t go out that much, but if I do go out, I do get recognised a lot.
Sheldon: Well, you do look like a true rockstar mate as you mature as well.
Leigh: (Chuckles) Appreciate that man. That’s why I get stopped a lot. So the secret is to wear a mask or something. That’s actually a good point…funny you mentioned that, because my mum asked me, ‘do you get recognised a lot still’, and I said, ‘no not anymore because I got a mask on’ (chuckles).
Sheldon: Let’s have a beer bro when you come over. I’ll talk to you late and thanks for your time.
Leigh: Let’s do it my man… let’s have a beer and get some suntan my man… stay safe and I’ll see you soon, brother.
Let The Chaos Reign sale/stream link: https://lnk.to/popevilletthechaosreign
Work sale/stream link: https://lnk.to/popevilwork