‘Let’s get to the punch, let’s show these people and get them singing. The quicker you get to the chorus then the quicker the crowd sings, the quicker the energy comes back. That’s the rush, the cocaine that any musicians loves.’
Leigh Kakaty, frontman of Pop Evil, is in fine form. Always affable, Leigh is a bundle of pent up excitement and that energy comes through loud and clear.
‘If I’m jamming and it goes quiet cause people are watching, I don’t want that! I want people screaming and going nuts. Putting horns in the air.’
Pop Evil are about to release their sixth album, Versatile, in twelve years. That’s an album every two years when some bands – we’re looking at Guns N Roses here- have released one in decades.
‘Crazy right! Crazy! Bang! It’s the new norm, back in those GNR days you could have a couple of radio hits and you’re set for life you know. Now we’ve just had our sixth number one and still people don’t know the band. You gotta hustle man.’
Versatile is Pop Evil and more. Always a band that would catch you with a hook you’d find yourself humming hours later, the new album finds the band imposing that skill into different genres.
‘That’s what we bring to the table and you either love Pop Evil for it or you don’t. I mean if you want a band that always sounds the same as the first time, we are not your favourite band. I like melodies, sing along chorus and I like to be surprised, if that’s you we’re your band. It might not always be brand new and original to what you’ve heard before but there are not many bands that can do what Pop Evil can do. We bounce around textures from different genres and have success. I think that’s the duality and true versatility of this new album with Pop Evil. We move forward, grow and show that duality into this new age, which is blending instrumental genres, the heavy metal influences. Then blending that with the old school Pop Evil writing style, the style that got us here in the first place. One thing I hated about my favourite bands is that they would evolve but then forget about what got them there. So I always think of that in the back of my head. We don’t want to alienate the fan that has been with us since day 1 and they love the simplicity of the way we wrote in the past. I mean we were kids in some of those records we wrote, we were not necessarily great writers but that’s what made it great! That’s cool to a lot of our fans, so songs like ‘Survivor’, ‘Raise Your Flag’ and ‘Stronger’ are more of the school Pop Evil vibe. Of course we try and throw some twists in there. Then some of the heavy elements, we spent a lot of time trying to harvest the energy of the demo. I don’t want it recut, a lot of these choruses are firsts take . When you recut, it can get stale and lost especially a vocal.’
Leigh is a bundle of energy, who through his music craves the rush of that tangible piece of the universe that fuels adrenaline and excitement. No stone is left unturned however no stone gathers moss either.
‘A lot of time you get friends and family to listen to the demo version, then the final version and they’d be ‘I still love the demo version, I’m gonna keep that!’ And I’m going ‘Are you kidding me??!! I spent all that time and money on the real deal don’t listen to that demo!!’ I try to be constructive about it and think what did they like about the demo? And what I took from it was they liked the energy, the organic vibe when a song, a hook, is being born and you can’t recut that. We kept the vocals for ’Breathe’ ‘Let The Chaos Reign’. That’s work I did in 20 mins. Just get me in the vocal booth, shut my eyes and see what comes out and boom! ‘Oh my god we gotta keep that, it’s insane!’ Now that we have the first takes locked in we had more time to fool around with guitar tones, drum sounds, make sure we could spend time on the mixing. ‘Turn up the vocal! Hell no, turn down the vocal!’ You’re not going to like every song but we definitely think it’s the best Pop Evil record and I’m not going to lie to you, when the next one comes out we’re gonna try and make it better.’
Different producers are used for each song to keep vibrancy and safeguard from any potential pitfalls
‘That was about getting rid of things we don’t like in the recording process. Starting with me!! I’m the front man and there are things I don’t like about that. Like the studio, sure it looks good on paper but I don’t want to be getting charged to go to the toilet. It’s not conducive to be creative. It just sucks and it’s work. It should be fun. Getting the energy and excitement. Then I’ve got to get a producer and he has no idea about the band, he wants to be paid 6 figures and he’s gonna make my image for the rest of my career?! It’s just a bunch a crap. So I go with a bunch of different producers so if one is off guess what? My band, crew, label and families are not affected by this one producer. Let’s get rid of that and have fun. 6 albums in, let’s dial it in and create new exciting energy. Let’s keep it fresh and exciting for our fans!’
There’s that word again, exciting. The album mirrors Leigh’s infectious enthusiasm. It is different from Pop Evil yet familiar and catchy. It’s energetic and yes, it’s exciting.
Interview By Iain McCallum
Versatile is set for release on May 21st via eOne. Pre-orders are available now and can be purchased here.