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Pop Evil frontman Leigh Kakaty

Pop Evil frontman Leigh Kakaty

" they want to shake a baby at you."

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Q&A (mostly A) with Leigh Kakaty from Pop Evil. Their new album Lipstick On The Mirror is in stores now!

So you guys seem to have been around for a while but are just now releasing a full length album. Give me the low down.

We got started in 2001. We started out like most garage bands, playing for anyone who would listen. We knew we wouldn't be able to just go out and play Pop Evil music. 'Everyone is gonna wanna listen to us!' News flash: No one cares. So we decided we had to play covers or whatever if we wanted to make about a thousand a night. No one cares about your original songs when you start out. So, we spent time working on writing better music while we went out and played covers.

garble garble phone dead

Oh man, this sucks. I wonder how long I was talking after the phone died. Sorry about that. I got a's horrible. Wait, don't write that! You're writing that, aren't you?


Oh great, there goes the endorsement deal!

You guys should hook up with AT&T...they'll give you iPhones.

Hell yeah iPhones! Maybe you should be our manager! You're full of good ideas.

Full of something...anyway, continue your story. Playing covers, then...

Well for the early years we played covers to get money so we could get producers and record our music properly. Right around 2005-ish we met Al Sutton and we wanted to do a 3 song sampler. We thought if we could push just one song...if we could push a single like the record labels do, then we'd be off to a good start. That year, we sold about 12,000 copies. Right around 2006 we recorded a music video for 'Somebody Like You.' We got our local station, WGRD, on board.

Right around 2007, we met the Capellini family and signed a deal with Pazzo music.

I read that your video is a big hit on MTV Latin America. How the hell does that work?

The video was shot by Jason Honeycutt. We got the video promotion to start shopping the video around. MTV Latin picked it up. It starred some people from the MTV show, 8th and Ocean.

Never heard of it. Anyway, what was it like hearing yourself on the radio for the first time?

Well there is a difference between hearing yourself on the radio and hearing it in regular rotation. You don't believe it's you sometimes. It's a great feeling. An even better feeling is pulling up next to someone else who is listening to it. And even better if they're singing along. You never know who is listening and you don't know who is hating. If things are good, everyone is in Pop Evil. If things are bad, you're totally alone. I am glad we've had a couple years to build up to this. It's been a gradual, steady pace.

So what is Pop Evil?

Pop Evil is a lifestyle. I'm a rapper and I'm a solo artist. When you grow up on conservative, white, Dutch, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and you're brown like I am... I was a pop music buff, but I was evil to that. I am too white to be a rapper and too dark to be a pop star.

How did you settle on a sound?

It wasn't like Creed or Nickelback or something like that. We really wanted to challenge our listeners. You're either with us or you're not. I just want to play to entertain. They can listen if they want to. Once you fine tune what it is you're trying to do, it's much easier to attain your goals.

Why are you brown?

My dad is from India and my mom is white. We're all different ethnicities in the band, and that plays a big part in what we do. We represent Turkish, Polish, Mexican, Indian...

When I was growing up, I listened to Tupac and Zeppelin. I had no idea where I fit in there.

I'm down with the brown.

[laughs] that's awesome!

So, your songs are really good, but the genre is familiar. Why are you a band instead of just being a really rich and famous songwriter?

Hey, we definitely don't suck live. Performing is all I have ever wanted to do. I mean if we had the kind of budget Hinder'd kill it. The thing I love about our band though is that we're truly a bunch of great musicians. The label didn't try to piece us together. All of my guys are killer...amazing, talented guys. We all come down there, go down by the beach with an acoustic guitar and we'll just rap shit. It's not like we can't use this song because it's like... I mean there is this one song we played for the Capellinis while they were making spaghetti and it's like it's a smash. We love it. Listen to the track...

(singing interlude...something about Whiskey and I can't believe I wrote a fuckin country song)

We didn't have any instruments. We're all hung over and shit from the night before and we just throw it out there. It's just the kind of people we are. What other band can just do it like that? Has anyone sung to you in an interview before?

Um...not for many years, no.

See! I mean, we're no better than anyone else as people. We worked very hard to get where we're at. We'll come down to Oklahoma and sing for you, personally. Then we'll all go to Sonic. You have that, right?

Yeah, we do.

The big thing in Michigan..I mean, there's no Sonic in Michigan, right? But we get the commercials. Everything looks so good! I want a banana split sundae at 3 in the morning! Fuck you, Sonic! Stop teasing us! We don't have you here! Stop showing the commercials!

Wait...did I answer the question?

Not really.

What was it?

I asked why you're a musician rather than a songwriter.

What makes people keep listening to Pantera all these years? I mean the riffs and the crowd involvement and all that. The better you can become as a writer, the more you can write...the more detail, the more personal, the more you move up. You reach out to them and give them a personal moment and they will remember you. If the people leave with the album or they share in the experience of singing the song with you at a show... they sing it with us, AJ. It's awesome.

I look at it like this- you're either born a musician or you're not. Anyone can be a songwriter. Who wants to go watch a band masturbate on their instruments I want someone to rock the shit out of me, personally. Show me your world. You gotta be born into that. If someone is a musician, you can't make them a songwriter and vice versa. It's that special thing that gives it longevity. It's not a lie. Why a musician? You can't just do that. You have to evolve into it. Some people are born to be great mothers and some people aren't.

Speaking of parenting, or the lack of it, let's talk about groupies. Do you have a groupie policy?

You gotta ask me in a year when the band gets bigger I'm a brown guy and we're intense on stage, so we do get attention. A girl came up to me last night...our manager had to bring her over. She was so scared. It's like 'why don't you just come up like a normal person?' If you want Burger King, get Burger King. Don't get Subway or something.

What is with you and name checking fast food?

Life on the road! [laughs] Anyway, I don't believe in taking advantage of people. You gotta respect people. Those people are gonna turn around and talk to their friends and either bring them to your next show or not. You gotta be real to people. It all comes back to you. In Pop Evil, there is no set of rules or anything. Maybe it's just cause we're new to the whole national touring thing. Maybe by then we'll have some groupie protocol.

Ask me about the album...what's my favorite song?, tell me about the album. What is your favorite song?

Funny you ask that. It's like you can read my mind! I'm really excited about the album. It's been 3 or 4 years in the making. To finally have something out there that people can embrace and take on their own time (wait..can you make me sound cooler than that somehow?) Obviously I love the heavy hitters- 'Somebody Like You,' '55'.... my favorite song right now is 'Breathe.'

Have you seen the cover? Lipstick on the Mirror? We went and trashed a hotel room like a big orgy party. We put our stickers on all the bottles and stuff. We wanted to get back to the rock and roll roots. We wanted to embrace the whole rockstar thing and we really embrace it. We're not all covered in tattoos and we're not into drugs or whatever, but we're all about the lifestyle and we live it. We live the dream.

People want to be famous musicians, but are they willing to make the sacrifices to make it happen? Are you willing to be on the road all the time? Are you will to do interviews like this one? We drive around in a motor home and the A/C just went out. It's been hellacious. Everyone wants the girls at the shows, and yeah, they are there, but it's the guys you gotta look out for. The guys are intense. Like they want to shake a baby at you. It's like 'wow dude...I appreciate it?' The first time it's cool but then for the next hour they just keep talking about how much they like you. It can get weird.

You have a song called word. I thought it was a song about the band.

Shine's supposed to be 2 words. They fucked it up. I think people get confused because they know the band Shinedown. I dunno...I really tried to not call it that, but that's how it happened. It wasn't the intention. We just scribbled it down so we could remember what song it was and just kept using it.

Is it hard being a local celebrity? Are you ready for the invasion that comes with the big time?

You know, it's already hard to keep a relationship. Even on a small scale. I mean I can't go to the movies or anything around here. It's tough. I can't imagine what it will be like when we get bigger. You get a little more cautious everywhere you go, you have to protect yourself. We got spotted in NY at the airport. Don't get me wrong, it's flattering. I mean it's what we have been waiting for! But, it's weird when it finally starts happening. It's a catch-22. That's a reference from The Office.

Ask me what's unique about Pop Evil.

[laughs] So what is unique about Pop Evil?

What's unique is... oh damn...I forgot.

Cool slogans. Catchy. This could be the title of the thing for you. Ok, tell me if this is whack- "Bringing mainstream rock back, but makin it evil...pop evil."

It's whack.

Aw, man!

How about Pope Ville?

People call us that! Or Poopville. It's like where did you even get that from??

We try to remember our roots and where we came from. We're so excited about everything that's happening right now and while we can't wait for what comes next, we're really loving and appreciating every moment of it.

Seems like a good place to stop. Thanks for talking with me and good luck with everything!

Thanks so much, AJ! See you in tornado alley!

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