Menomonie, Wisconsin will be treated to a case of “big band in a small venue” when Pop Evil concludes their 2018 Canadian Tour with a sold out show at the Stout Ale House. The show is sponsored by Eau Claire’s 92.9 THE X. The Michigan-based band has always been great about scheduling numerous shows in the Midwest and targeting smaller venues like the Stout Ale House. The drive from the Twin Cities will be well worth it to see this top-notch band in an intimate venue. I know Menomonie, Wisconsin is not in Canada, but the band was kind enough to tack on three Upper Midwest shows to the tail end of their 14 stop tour across Canada. Did you know singer Leigh Kakaty was born in Kingston, Ontario?
It’s great to see Pop Evil back in the vicinity of the Twin Cities after opening for Nickelback at Treasure Island Casino in July. At that show, the always energetic Kakaty finished the set with his wireless microphone way back in the lawn seating, some 100 yards away from the stage. He then stayed there for 20 minutes letting dozens of fans take selfies with him. I have to admit I got one.
Prior to that the band brought their Music Over Words Tour to the Minneapolis Music Hall touting their (soon to be released at the time) album POP EVIL +/-, and debuting new songs “Waking Lions,” “Ex Machina,” “Colors Bleed,” “Art of War,” and “Be Legendary.” I’m sure you will also hear many of their earlier hits, including “Hero,” “Deal With the Devil,” “Torn To Pieces,” “Last Man Standing,” “Boss’s Daughter,” “Monster you Made,” “Footsteps,” “Take It All,” “100 in a 55,”, and of course “Trenches.”
Burden Of The Sky is the opening act. Doors at 7pm, show at 8pm. The show is sold out but worth checking HERE in case more tickets are made available.
Pop Evil 2018 Canadian Headline Tour Dates:
November 17 – Toronto ON @ Lee’s Palace
November 18 – Montreal QC @ Café Campus
November 19 – Quebec City QC @ L’Anti
November 20 – Ottawa ON @ Brass Monkey
November 22 – Thunder Bay ON @ Crocks
November 23 – Winnipeg MB @ Pyramid Cabaret
November 24 – Regina SK @ Casino
November 25 – Red Deer AB @ Bo’s Bar
November 26 – Edmonton AB @ Starlite Room
November 28 – Vancouver BC @ Venue
November 30 – Kamloops BC @ CJ’s Nightclub
December 01 – Grande Prairie AB @ Better Than Fred’s *
December 02 – Calgary AB @ The Gateway
December 03 – Saskatoon SK @ Coors Event Centre
December 05 – Sioux Falls, SD @ The District *
December 06 – Green Bay, WI @ Green Bay Distillery *
December 07 – Menomonie, WI @ Stout Ale House *
Leigh Kakaty – vocals Dave Grahs – rhythm guitar, backing vocals Nick Fuelling – lead guitar, backing vocals Matt DiRito – bass, backing vocals Hayley Cramer – drums
When North Muskegon, Michigan native Leigh Kakaty formed Pop Evil, he chose the band’s name for a reason. He loved hard rock songs with good melodies but he also dug loud, crunchy guitars and propulsive metal rhythms. For Kakaty, it’s a natural duality that came from growing up in the Great Lakes and it eventually became the raison d’etre of his band. “It’s just a natural part of who I am,” Kakaty says. “When I was growing up we’d roll out to the beach on the weekdays with an acoustic guitar and everyone would kick it. And on the weekends, we’d turn up the amps and, boom, everyone would try to break windows. It was all about the heaviness. And I needed both of those elements – the melodic and the metallic.” Five albums into Pop Evil’s career, combining strong hooks with knockout punches is more important than ever.
The band’s new record, simply called Pop Evil, is a surging, contemporary sounding release that incorporates metal, alternative, hard rock and even electronic music. In the wake of the band’s peppy, upbeat 2015 album Up, it’s a wake-up call, a musical rebirth that inspired the band to self-title the release, partially since they’d never done so. Their first album, Lipstick on the Mirror came out in 2008, and while it introduced listeners to the band’s core sound with well-received singles like “Hero” and “100 in a 55,” Pop Evil has grown exponentially since then. Pop Evil captures Kakaty and his bandmates – rhythm guitarist Dave Grahs, lead guitarist Nick Fuelling, bassist Matt DiRito and drummer Hayley Cramer – at their most inspiring. Every song on the album offers a different spin on the concept behind the band’s name and in an era when many rock bands create a few strong singles, and six or seven less memorable songs and call it an album, Pop Evil is all killer, no filler – the best 11 songs culled from 30 demos.
There’s plenty to be excited about on Pop Evil. The first single, “Waking Lions” starts with clattery electronic drums and a chugging guitar riff interjected with a squealing harmonic, then the first verse kicks in like a mob smashing down the doors the confine them. As Kakaty hits the euphoric chorus – backed by buzzing guitars and a minor-key counter melody – he sings about reaching within and overcoming obstacles “I want to stand up 100 feet tall / ‘Cause fear will never lead my way / I’m ready to run 100 miles strong / I will never be the same.” By contrast, “Colors Bleed” – for which the band shot an insightful video — was inspired by current events and features a charged rhythm, incisive guitar licks, and confrontational vocals. “Step aside watch the colors bleed / The rise of democracy / Fight the System / Stop and listen / True colors, how can you miss ‘em? / Born with knowledge, raise the fist / Face the enemy, just resist.” The song blends aggressive rock vocals and rapping, bringing to mind Rage of Machine (even if the bridge and solo sound more like Pink Floyd). “Rage was my favorite band growing up,” admits Kakaty. “Because he was a frontman of mixed race, Zack de la Rocha was my hero. He was the guy that I could relate to when I grew up rapping. In the beginning of my career with Pop Evil, I moved away from that vocal approach in hopes to find the right song to bring it back. It just naturally happened on this record.” Lyrically, songs like “Colors Bleed” cover new ground for Pop Evil. Instead of being about dysfunctional relationships, self-empowerment or mortality, Kakaty digs into today’s headlines and addresses what he feels about capitalism, hypocrisy and violent confrontation. “It was important for me to document things that we’re going through right now, such as what happened in Charlottesville, what’s going on with North Korea and where the government is at,” he says. “As a lyricist, I need to address all sorts of subjects and emotions and politics is a part of that. I felt I needed to write about the things I’m feeling as a mixed American — someone whose mom and dad came to this culture with big dreams, hopes, and aspirations because this is the land of the free and the home of the brave. Anyone who comes to America is a native of this country, so it’s so important that we all come together. When we join together, everyone wins.” “With a band name like Pop Evil, we felt like the Evil has always been de-emphasized just because of the situations we were in,” Kakaty says. “It always seemed like the people around us wanted to focus more on radio play or writing more mainstream, melodic stuff. That’s definitely a part of what we like to do, but this time we made a rock album for rock fans. And, in general, rock fans are real Middle American, middle or lower-middle class people who get forgotten about.
Secular music has pretty much told the world that rock and roll and metal music don’t matter anymore. Having lived that life and thrived as a rock band, it’s hard not to take offense to that, but it’s important to try to be a part of the solution rather than the problem. And we’re doing that by turning up the amps and saying, “Look, we can make heavy songs that really rock and we can also write catchy songs that someone who likes Pearl Jam or Led Zeppelin can get into.” The struggle was a regular obstacle for Pop Evil as they prepared to record their definitive album. Before they could finish the UP album cycle, they had to find a new drummer. Joshua Marunde (AKA Chachi Riot), who had been with the band since 2011 gradually lost interest in being a touring musician and decided to open his own CrossFit gym. He stayed with the band until the end of May 2016 in support of Up and then amicably parted ways with the band, forcing them to find a replacement while on the road. After some soul searching, their management team brought a few ideas forward, one being a female drummer and the band members decided that it could be a terrific idea to work with a female drummer in order to give the band a new perspective that wasn’t solely motivated by testosterone. They took recommendations from industry contacts and invited a bunch of women to email them audition videos. After carefully examining a bunch of play through videos one stood out to Pop Evil. It was one video sent in by English drummer Hayley Cramer (ex-McQueen) who they invited for a try out in their hometown and absolutely blew the band away.
The band decided to bring her out on the road while Chachi was finishing his role and split time during the month of May 2016. She entered into the band with total confidence and a new artistic vision. “As soon as we saw her video we were like, ‘Oh my goodness. She’s the one,’” Leigh Kakaty says. “Her first tour with us was in packed arenas opening for Rob Zombie and Disturbed. It was crazy, but when things work, they work. She’s been like the big sister we never knew we wanted but we’re so glad we have. And she’s so passionate about the music. Songs that we’d been playing for years suddenly came to life in a different way and then she came in and killed it on this record. It was a rejuvenation for us. She’s nothing short of a blessing.” With Cramer’s help, Pop Evil wrote a batch of new songs in their practice space before they started demoing. In addition to making sure the album was heavier than Up, they wanted the time to create the album they wanted to make. While they had been forced to rush through past albums in three or four months so they could return to the road (the band had averaged 200 live concerts a year over the last ten years), they dedicated a full year to completing Pop Evil. “When you’ve got a bunch of material to work with, weeding that all out takes time,” Kakaty says. “We’d wind up going with things we didn’t know if we were completely sure was right for the album and then I’d have to put lyrics on and if I didn’t totally believe in something it was hard to put my heart and soul into the vocals. So finally, for the first time ever, the record company/management agreed to give us the time needed to make the record and we worked really hard this time to try out everything and really use the best of the best.” In Spring 2017, Pop Evil went to Sound Emporium studio in Nashville to work with Kato Khandwala.
The band worked in Nashville between June and August, then went to Los Angeles to record vocals and Sphere Studios. “In the past, we’ve all done our parts and it was a little awkward,” Kakaty says. “This time, everyone was together. Everyone was there in the studio offering their opinions and Kato was there to make sure we didn’t veer off track and to push us to deliver our best performances.” Looking back at Pop Evil, Kakaty is thrilled that it came out exactly how the band wanted it to. The experimental parts give the album a cutting edge sound and the melodic passages – whether they comprise the crux of the chorus, verse or both – are undeniably memorable. At the same time, the band didn’t compromise when it came to delivering powerhouse metal riffs and emotionally expressive vocal lines. “With every album, we’ve been able to branch off a little and do more of what we wanted to do,” Kakaty says. “With this record, we really feel like we finally got all the pieces together and created this monster of an album. It’s everything we talked about and strived for and we can’t wait to go out and really show people who we are.”
Courtesy of G&G Entertainment Consultants, LLC
BURDEN OF THE SKY
Burden Of The Sky is an American Alternative Hard Rock/Metal band. The band was born in 2012, a project of Brad Shaw and Josh Appel. Cinis Ad Cinis, the group’s debut album, came to light in 2017 and pushed the band into the public eye. The album was driven by the lead single “Same Old Page”, which has been streamed worldwide over 800,000 times.
The debut album and new single “Sirens” were produced, mixed and mastered by award winning Nashville Producer/Engineer Colt Capperrune of Dark River Studios. Says Capperrune, “Working on an album like Cinis ad Cinis makes my job as a Producer easy. The songs were extremely strong just the way the band brought them to me.”
In 2018, the band has been reborn. Still lead by Shaw and Appel on guitars, as well as keyboardist Michael Mahoney, bassist Dustin Tritsch, and drummer Rick Streeter, they moved forward with new singer/songwriter Scottie James (Aterra Tale). Infused with new life, the band has moved forward with new material and look forward to their sophomore release in 2019.
The band just released on 11/16/18 the official music video for their newest single, “The Puppeteer.” Directed by Scottie James and Jason Williams (with assistance from Savannah Bowles), “The Puppeteer” is the second single off of their upcoming sophomore release (due out 2019).
“I tend to get lost in my head quite frequently thinking about life and how we choose to live it. I see a lot of people who get stuck in the cycle of get up, go to work, come home, watch TV, go to bed, and repeat. Falling into this kind of lifestyle terrifies me, and I’ve found music is my escape from that cage. I think a lot of people get stuck into that routine because they are afraid of the unknown, afraid of failure, or just afraid of change. They let their own anxiety and emotions control their fate, much like a puppet is controlled by its strings. My hope is that this song connects with others out there like me who want to take control of their lives. To inspire them to act on what they truly want out of their life.” – Scottie James (Vocals)