Leigh Kakaty–Lead Vocals
Nick Fuelling–Lead Guitar
Davey Grahs–Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Matt DiRito–Bass, Backing Vocals
Even as the music business was dismantled and reconfigured, large chain stores shuttered, cable TV abandoned music videos as a format, radio playlists tightened, and thick-headedly bubblegum anthems celebrated, hard rock music has actually thrived, increasing in size and championed by an elite vanguard of ambitious bands.
POP EVIL smashes through the odds like a battering ram, weathering the trials and tribulations of paying dues with a steadfast resilience owing much to their blue collar and middle class backgrounds, and building a worldwide audience one fan at a time. As the moniker promises when emblazoned on a CD or radio dial, POP EVIL conjures aggressive riffs and hard charging sing-a-longs with emotional heft and melodic power in equal measure. It’s music by the people, for the people.
There’s a reason Billboard named POP EVIL the #4 Mainstream Rock Artist of 2014, and it’s not just because of those three(!) consecutive #1 Rock Radio Singles from the last album (and a fourth that cracked the Top 10), the Top 10 Independent debut and Top 40 Billboard 200 debut of ONYX, or that album’s subsequent 180,000 in domestic sales. All of which being undoubtedly rare feats to accomplish as independent artists in any genre of music.
Simply put, POP EVIL is a larger-than-life true rock n’ roll band blending the earnestness of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden with the celebratory showmanship of Motley Crue and KISS, capable of empathizing with the daily struggles of their fans while simultaneously offering the escapism a truly bombastic concert provides. It’s an attitude and a way of life POP EVIL has put proudly on display on tour with Godsmack (as part of Rockstar Uproar), Five Finger Death Punch, Three Doors Down, Papa Roach, Stone Sour, Three Days Grace, Theory Of A Deadman, Black Stone Cherry and more.
Purposefully assembled at Studio Litho and London Bridge Studios with producer Adam Kasper (Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Foo Fighters), UP is the sound of a rock band cementing a powerful identity that’s steadily materialized over the course of three prior full-length slabs. The inspirational soon to be live staple “Footsteps,” the swaggering “Take It All” – POP EVIL prove their burgeoning success is no accident.
“There were many more highs than lows in the wake of ONYX,” summarizes band frontman LEIGH KAKATY. “The only real low was that it was hard to be gone from our families for another year. But the highs were amazing. We experienced our first #1 record with ‘Trenches,’ followed by ‘Deal with the Devil,’ and then again with ‘Torn to Pieces,’ which was a song about my father, who passed in 2011. Having that song go to #1 was a nice tribute to my pops, and closure for my personal journey.”
“Then came ‘Beautiful.’ Having four singles at radio from any album these days is a huge honor itself. We were just grateful. It humbled us,” he says. “We tasted the fruits from all of the previous years, from when we felt like nobody was listening.”
After a self-released record and EP kicked up a buzz, the first proper POP EVIL album, Lipstick on the Mirror found its way to listeners via a major label re-release, despite the business trouble that resulted in Pop Evil tearing up their major label contract on stage, in what Spin Magazine called one of the Ten Best Moments of Rock on the Range. The band’s pristine follow-up, War of Angels, brought Pop Evil to a worldwide audience, driven by the strength of radio ready tracks “Last Man Standing,” “Monster You Made,” and the Mick Mars collaboration, “Boss’s Daughter.”
Produced by Johnny K (Disturbed, 3 Doors Down, Megadeth), ONYX represented a bold new creative achievement, and provided several career milestones, including a triumphant return to Rock On The Range where the band played “Trenches” with Rock and Roll Hall Of Famer Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels as 13 U.S. Marines (showcasing the Lima Company Eyes of Freedom Memorial) stood behind them.
“People ask me all the time, ‘What it's like to hear your song on the radio?’ It never gets old!” Kakaty declares. “It's a reminder of hard work, and of having that dream sitting in your garage, trying to write a song that someone would love one day. That dream happened for our band and it's something that we don't want to take lightly.
“Now it's time to step up our game and let people know we can back it all up,” he adds. “We want to prove we aren’t a one hit wonder. We didn’t just get lucky.”
UP is a bold reintroduction and step forward, with guitarists NICK FUELLING and DAVEY GRAHS, bassist MATT DIRITO, drummer CHACHI RIOT and Kakaty at the top of their game. It’s always a bit cliché, not to mention questionable, when a band says their new album is the best one yet. But in the case of POP EVIL, it’s an absolute fact.
“When I listen rock radio today, I think, ‘Where’s the fun?’” Kakaty explains. “Where’s that release that gets people away from their everyday stress? The more we toured on ONYX, we realized we wanted more of that element in our set. ‘Some songs have a lot of discipline, anger and angst to it, which is one side of the band. It’s do or die. Other songs deal with temptations, or loss. ONYX came from a dark place, so with this album, UP, we wanted to remind ourselves to have fun, too. That attitude has led to a rebirth, a growth we haven’t seen before. We’re excited about it.”
POP EVIL sees each of their records as a time capsule, a testament to who they were and where they were at in their lives when they made it. Having conquered Rock Radio with three consecutive number one singles on the last album, the question became, “Where to from here?” They’ve been careful not to repeat themselves. The band constantly pushes forward, evolves, experiments and adapts, while staying true to their core.
It’s with this attitude that POP EVIL succeeded in building a lasting bond with their fans. It’s the type of environment created by the groups who listeners treat like family, and the bands celebrate the same way in return. Fans bring bands into their lives, they make the songs a part of them. Music doesn’t belong solely to the songwriters who create it. It’s a shared experience, a community possession, the moment it’s unleashed across the airwaves and strikes a chord with someone else.
It’s why powerhouse sports teams like the Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins, and the band’s very own Detroit Red Wings, Tigers and Michigan Wolverines bang their anthems over the loudspeakers. POP EVIL’s music brings people together, energizing listeners with power; on the radio, on ESPN, FOX, ABC, and anywhere.
POP EVIL won’t criticize the wide variety of tools at the disposal of artists these days, finding nothing inherently wrong with programming, loops, samples, or studio enhancements. Nevertheless, POP EVIL champions the special magic found when a rock n’ roll band strips it back down to drums, bass, guitars and a microphone. “One of my greatest accomplishments in life was learning how to play that guitar,” says Kakaty. “At first, it’s intimidating. You don’t even want to touch that thing! But once you learn, anytime you walk by one, you’re like, ‘Give me that damn thing.’ It’s a gift.”
That spirit, that motivation, that nearly indescribable feeling that unites people across cultural, economic, religious, and all other divides – it’s Zeppelin. It’s Sabbath. It’s Aerosmith. It’s James Brown. It’s Woodstock. It’s transcendent purity.
It’s POP EVIL.
The music of Memphis May Fire is the sound of hope and compassion, delivered by a dedicated group of men striving for something greater than the world around them. Memphis May Fire is a clarion call to those who insist on bettering themselves, their loved ones and the conditions afflicting the world. It’s not about divisive politics, it’s not about polarizing debate – it’s about the transcendent power of love through heavy rock.
The body of work Memphis May Fire has crafted over their last three albums, together with producer and collaborator Cameron Mizell (Sleeping With Sirens, The Word Alive), represents a creative achievement beyond even what the band’s formidable success would suggest. Sure, Unconditional arrived at #1 on Billboard’s Rock, Independent and Hard Music charts, but that was just the mainstream icing on a cake that was lovingly baked by fans around the world who’ve discovered Memphis May Fire in the live setting, from satellite radio, from social media and from each other.
These five guys are like family to over a million fans following Memphis May Fire on Facebook, the tens of thousands who rushed out to put this year’s Unconditional at #4 in the Billboard 200, the dedicated diehards who empty the magazine rack whenever the group graces the cover of Big Cheese, Alternative Press, Outburn, etc. and the early believers who made Challenger the highest selling debut ever for Rise Records to that point when it was released in 2012. YouTube clips like “Sleepless Nights,” “Miles Away,” “The Sinner,” and “Vices” together represent more than 20 million views.
The unity of shared purpose is palpable at a Memphis May Fire show, whether songs like “No Ordinary Love,” “Beneath the Skin” or “Losing Sight” are blasting from the Warped Tour’s main stage or emanating from the speakers at one of the packed clubs the band makes their nightly home. Cares cast aside, problems pushed to the forefront, the visceral connection between artist and audience is alive and audible with each sing-a-long chant. Melodic mood swingers like “Speechless” and “Need to Be” demonstrate the full capacity and scope of what Memphis May Fire is capable of doing, winning them spots on major radio festivals like Welcome to Rockville and Carolina Rebellion as their heavier side secures fests such as Download and With Full Force.
An organic and incremental growth has propelled Memphis May Fire ever since they followed their underground 2009 debut album with 2011’s The Hollow, a modern metalcore masterpiece that led into the broadened musical horizons of their commercial breakthrough, Challenger, and the 2014 Album of the Year contender Unconditional.
Plenty of Memphis May Fire’s contemporaries have fans that profess their adoration, gratitude & even spiritual connection to the power of music, but few groups embrace the full responsibility inherent within those reactions the way Memphis May Fire has, acknowledging that something bigger than rock n’ roll has taken hold. Make no mistake, Memphis May Fire deliver hard rock anthems steeped in modern subculture and the best of radio rock, but their purpose continues to evolve into something greatly bigger than themselves, with no limit as to what they can achieve.
Tue Apr 16 2019 8:00 PM
(Doors 7:00 PM)