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Pop Evil Singer Leigh Kakaty Talks New Album, Upcoming Tour

Leigh Kakaty of Pop Evil
Liz Ramanand, Loudwire

Michigan’s own rock sensation Pop Evil have scored a hit with ‘Monster You Made’ off their recent album ‘War of Angels.’ The current single is a soulful yet rocking ballad which has a powerful message of self-awareness.

Produced by Grammy nominated producer and songwriter Johnny K., (Sevendust, Disturbed, 3 Doors Down) ‘War of Angels’ dropped in July of this year.

After coming off the road with Nonpoint, Pop Evil are preparing to hit the road once again as part of a big tour with 3 Doors Down and Theory of a Deadman.

In an exclusive interview, Pop Evil’s humble frontman Leigh Kakaty chatted with Loudwire about ‘War of Angels,’ his musical influences and the band’s upcoming tour:

Tell Me a little about your latest single ‘Monster You Made.’

It’s just about a struggle and it really helped me get through a tough time, things were moving real fast. Sometimes we only get three days or 24 hours back at home and it’s easy to forget the real people who are important in your life. Everyone’s always told me, “When you get famous, don’t forget where you come from or don’t forget the little people.” It’s really believes that you know when you look in the mirror at yourself everyday do you like who’s looking back at you and that’s what it’s about.

What inspired the video for the song?

The video turned out awesome and we’re super excited about it. We just kind of wanted to tell that story in a more metaphorical way where it’s still leaving it open to interpretation. Obviously, there’s a fight between people in relationships and sometimes through relying on a substance or some kind of a drug to get you through your day and you can really depend on that drug. To us, it’s always been the music, so to have the music in the subconscious of that video made is more personal for us.

Do you guys have another single picked out yet or any contenders?

Right now we got a couple of ideas for singles but it’s just been all about ‘Monster You Made,’ it’s on active rock charts and the current Billboard charts so we’re excited about that. We’re still not even to the halfway point with ‘Monster,’ so we’re really excited about how fast it’s grown. I think it’s the fastest growing single we’ve ever had on radio.

Tell me a little about what inspired ‘War of Angels’ and the name of the album?

‘War of Angels’ is just a battle between your good and bad demons that you deal with. Similar to ‘Monster You Made,’ it’s a more universal theme to say, “Hey, there’s a battle between writing heavier rock songs or writing ballads.”

We wanted to put together an album one that sends you on a journey with your mood. We didn’t want you to want to punch a wall through the whole record but if we did ten ballads then that takes away from ‘Monster You Made.’ We wanted to show what life’s about, taking you through your moods. ‘Last Man Standing’ comes in full blown, fists swinging to ‘Next Life’ which is about lost loved ones. At the end of the day, what’s really important is you family and friends and the fans.

How would you describe the difference between ‘War of Angels’ and your last album ‘Lipstick on the Mirror’?

Night and day, to be honest. Our opinion as a band is that this is our first album. ‘Lipstick on the Mirror,’ our first record, was great, it is what it is, it’s basically demos; we did that out of our own pocket, we budgeted out of our own pocket, playing shows. We started it in 2005 and finished it in 2008. It was a process. We did three songs at a time, we were growing, we went through our growing pains there. As a five piece, we all were involved differently, at different points on the first record.

On this record, we were all involved right from the beginning, which is how it should be. It’s our first opportunity not working part time jobs in between; we literally moved to Chicago with [producer] Johnny K. and did this record for six straight months. We slept and lived this album ‘War of Angels’ — we really just got in with the pens and papers and went to school with Johnny K., took a lot of notes and made sure we did all the little things we weren’t able to do. There’s so much about putting together a record that has nothing to do with music.

Whether the songs were about me or whether they were about someone we knew, we wanted to give that person, that character and that song the justice that it needs to be able to have an impact on peoples’ lives. We want to help people get through things in their life that only music is able to do.

What are some artist/bands that help you get through life?

Obviously, I think Michael Jackson back in the day, did a lot of things. When you watch that Motown 50th Anniversary, when he did the moonwalk , so many of us were there with our families watching just how electrifying that was .

And then it’s Motley Crue and Poison of the ’80s and it‘s just very loud and in your face, you either like it or you don’t — we were very influenced by the ’80s. And of course Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and the entire grunge really captivated us in the ’90s. In the early Pop Evil days, Shinedown, Theory of a Deadman, a lot of those bands were becoming the big bands that they are now.

Bands like 3 Doors Down, who we have a great opportunity to tour with and we watched what they were doing. All of those modern mainstream bands, what were they doing that we weren’t?

We did a lot of research and we played a lot of cover songs , we studied Kid Rock and a lot of Eminem, obviously being from Michigan, we wanted to know what they were doing, what did they have in common, that Pop Evil has in common now, and they have great live shows.

Everytime you went to a Kid Rock or Eminem show, they just put great emphasis on putting on a really great live show and that’s something Pop Evil tried to do. Whether it’s at Grammercy Theater and the microphone doesn’t seem to be working right for me or internally stuff’s not working, you don’t complain, you just bring it. You have to make sure on the best of nights you bring it and on the worst of nights you bring it.

I don’t think its one factor that really made us, I think it’s just a bunch of things that just led the band to get bigger and bigger. Pop Evil certainly didn’t happen overnight, it was just one thing at a time and we just evolved.

Getting back to your original question about ‘War of Angels,’ what makes it so amazing is that it’s a band’s evolution. This band wasn’t put together by a record label or a record company, we all grew up together. We’re the American Dream , a bunch of brothers who grew up in the garage and took it to the stage.

You mentioned earlier about going on tour with 3 Doors Down (and Theory of a Deadman) this fall; what’s your relationship like with them?

I think it’s going to be the biggest tour for Pop Evil yet. We’ve toured with Theory of a Deadman a couple times, they’re great guys. They’re coming off with the No.1  singles, just an awesome band, awesome recordings, awesome guys.

And of course 3 Doors Down, a couple of us know a couple of the guys and they’ve been nothing but great. We’ve had opportunities to write vaguely with some of them, we’re hoping we could get some more collaborations together. They have so many skills and so much talent, we’re hoping to get some of the knowledge they’ve learned over the years and hopefully make it our own. But those guys are just awesome and I look forward to meeting the rest of the band and just learning what they have to teach us and just having a great tour. It’s definitely going to be a money’s worth tour — three big radio bands right off the bat and it’s just going to be a lot of radio hits for the whole night.

Before I let you go, I’m just curious about where Pop Evil got its name from?

Pop Evil, the name in general, it’s about trying to separate just judging a book by the cover. We want to trigger emotion right from the name of the band; people have been offended right from the name. Whatever mainstream was, we never fit that. We’re a little bit above and a little bit below that norm and ironically we’ve become a mainstream band, so it’s kind of interesting how it’s all worked out. At the end of the day it’s about making sure that we can still keep our integrity and making sure we’re about the music and that’s the struggle and the battle.

Watch the Pop Evil ‘Monster You Made’ Video

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