American hard rock powerhouse Pop Evil have just released their 5th album. The self titled album is some of their most accomplished work yet and shows the bands diversity as musicians and songwriters. We caught up with vocalist Leigh Kakaty to learn more about the album and he shares his excitement for the upcoming Pop Evil tour supporting Poison in USA.

SCENEzine
Firstly congrats on your self titled album. You must be pretty stoked to have new music out?

Leigh Kakaty
I am super stoked it’s been a long wait to finally have it released. The time has come and it’s out now for the public to have it become theirs, we are excited.

SCENEzine
The album itself is solid start to finish. Was it a hard process culling the songs down to what ended up on the album?

Leigh Kakaty
Yeah it was definitely tough. We demoed thirty songs and wanted to put together what we thought was the best record from start to finish. We wanted to put together songs that didn’t all sound the same. That’s what Pop Evil has always been about. We took it as a challenge this time around to make an even better record than we have in the past.

SCENEzine
The album kicks off furiously with “Waking Lions”. How did that one come about in the writing process?

Leigh Kakaty
When we write we kind of all go our separate ways. The band writes from more of a music first, lyrics second. I write from a lyric first and then music second perspective. So we went in there and started to mess around with some different tunings. Once we started dabbling with that then different melodies were starting to happen naturally and “waking lions” was born. Every now and then you just get those songs that feel bigger than you and they have that special it factor. “Waking Lions” from the beginning had that it factor and we just knew it was special. As we got further into the recording process everything became centered around that song. The way it was motivating us, the guitars, the drum tones. It was just one of those massive songs that we were all affected by and excited to have it be the first single.

 

 

SCENEzine
How did the idea for the “Colors Bleed” video come about?

Leigh Kakaty
We are always trying to be creative and like to challenge our fans and ourselves to be better. We are constantly trying to make songs and videos that can hopefully inspire people to be thinking more positively. That video was awesome. We had a great director who had a great vision for the song. We had a few different drafts and we all came together to sculpt it into what it was. Having a female drummer in our band as well with all the stuff going on with the me too movement it was important for us to stand more united rather than be divided.

 

 

SCENEzine
Would I be right in saying I hear a bit of Rage Against The Machine influence through the album?

Leigh Kakaty
Probably because Rage was one of my favourite bands going up. I was one of the many who were devastated when they broke up. The only way I could get anything Rage was I had to learn to do it myself. I always rapped growing up too, being from Michigan I was always affected by Eminem and Kid Rock. I was a mixed kid and very much influenced by hip hop and rock and roll it was always a part of my identity. I’ve done it in the past in demos and we never really felt like taking it to the Pop Evil machine. But now with this album we were like lets go for it, lets experiment, lets try some new things and not be afraid to just be us.

SCENEzine
My favourite track from the new album is “When We Were Young”. Is there much of a story behind that one?

Leigh Kakaty
That’s my favourite, nice call. “When we were young” is important to me because it reminds me it doesn’t matter if you’re from Australia, Canada, Europe, USA when we were young there was no bias. If we were all hanging out in the sandbox we were just excited to have friends. It didn’t matter what we looked like or what gender we were. Somehow as we get older those divisions start to become a part of our lives. The song is a reminder to remember when we were young and innocent how much more we could respect each other as people and as friends. It’s a very important song for me personally.

 

 

SCENEzine
Did you get to have input in the albums cover art?

Leigh Kakaty
Oh yeah for sure. I definitely wanted something to challenge our fan base visually. When you think about us as a team you take all the pros and cons of us as a five piece. When you put all that together it almost reminds me of that eighties cartoon that I used to love Voltron. We are a lot louder and stronger together standing as one. It’s really cool how the artwork depicts that in the black and white way because we are still adding the colour.

 

 

SCENEzine
Does having Hayley from McQueen now in the band help to rejuvenate the band?

Leigh Kakaty
It really does Hayley is a great person and such a beast musician. She’s brought not only great drumming to our band she’s brought her ability to be able to play the keys. So we’ve been able to have songs like “when we were young” and “a crime to remember” things that we couldn’t do live previously. She brings a female perspective and a more global perspective to the band. It’s been a blessing having her, she’s been like the little sister we never knew we wanted but so glad we have now. It’s been an awakening for all of us and probably for Hayley too. It’s super cool.

SCENEzine
One of the biggest things about Pop Evil that strikes me is how powerful your voice is. Do you do anything special to take care of your voice?

Leigh Kakaty
Funny you say that I am religiously more hardcore with my voice than I have ever been. I make sure that I am eating clean, resting and I vocal train with my coach every day before the shows. I am much more disciplined with my voice than I have ever been. Normally I would just go with the flow and do whatever but now I’m very focused on warming up and making sure my voice is in tip top shape. Thanks for noticing that’s cool.

SCENEzine
Are you excited to be hitting the road with Poison and Cheap Trick in a few months?

Leigh Kakaty
Are you kidding me I am so excited. If someone had told me back in the eighties I would be able to play with Poison I would of lost my mind. They were one of my favourites growing up. I’ve had the opportunity to hang with Bret a couple of times previously and we hit it off real well. Now this came up for an opportunity to tour with them and we jumped at the chance. I mean how often do you get to play with legends of rock royalty. We are very much excited to play with Poison and Cheap Trick. It’s going to be one heck of an awesome Spring, Summer with those guys. We can’t wait to learn as much as we can and bring an element of youth to that tour and welcome many more Pop Evil fans.

SCENEzine
When you were younger did you have a favourite Poison song?

Leigh Kakaty
Of course “Nothin’ but a good time” was one. Growing up in the Midwest it was all about having fun. That’s something that Pop Evil has tried to do on our records to remind people that rock music is fun. It’s a release from all the toxic things that are in peoples lives. Sometimes the biggest cure for anybody who’s down is music. We are trying to do our part to understand that and be responsible to write songs to remind people to have fun. Hopefully take them away for three or four minutes to give them a break from everyday life.

SCENEzine
Lastly is there any chance Pop Evil will tour Australia anytime soon?

Leigh Kakaty
Personally we don’t have control of the booking but we’ve been really hounding our managers and label for the past couple of albums. Before that it was a pipe dream but now it’s starting to become a reality getting to do more press with people like yourself. Australia is definitely on our list for this album cycle so we are really hoping to finally be able to break into the market there and become known. Hopefully this is the album where we can finally make that happen.

(interview by Christian Ross)

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