Thu, Sep 23
Doors: 6:30 pmShow: 7:30 pm
POP EVIL is the bridge between life-affirming hard rock hit-making and the burgeoning new
frontier of genre-bending postmodern playlists. A crowd-pleasing band unafraid to embrace the
heaviest and most melodic ends of the spectrum, with a seemingly endless stream of No. 1 hits
veering between fist-pumping anthems and timeless power ballads. POP EVIL delivers their most
ambitious rebirth yet with a jaw-dropping sixth album.
“Let the Chaos Reign” and “Work” arrive as a twin assault of invigorating readymade hits for 2020,
from an album filled to the brim with a dozen tracks each worthy of a dedicated spotlight. “Let the
Chaos Reign” is the heaviest single the band has ever dropped, a rousing fight song of
self-determination and rising to meet any challenge with courage and strength. By contrast, “Work”
puts its heavy guitars atop grooving rhythmic punch and EDM flourishes, as it champions the
working-class heroes struggling to persevere across all industries today.
“We won’t bore people with the same song over and over,” assures charismatic frontman and
bandleader Leigh Kakaty, who co-founded the band in Michigan. “When you come to our live show,
we feel like there should be an ebb and flow, peaks and valleys, that are similar to real life.
Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down. We like to take people on a journey when they listen
to our music or come to see us live.”
Pop Evil has been a staple at major festivals and in theaters and clubs for nearly two decades,
despite the group’s relative youth. As they’ve ruled the roost with No. 1 Billboard Rock singles like
“Trenches”, “Deal with the Devil”, “Torn to Pieces”, “Footsteps”, and “Waking Lions”, they’ve taken
their inspired message to the people, on tours with modern rock titans and veteran acts alike.
One listen to any of the songs from the impressive body of work laid down by the band on Lipstick
on the Mirror (2008), War of Angels (2011), Onyx (2013), Up (2015), and the self-titled smash Pop
Evil (2018) confirms exactly how Pop Evil built such a diverse fanbase.
On their go-for-broke sixth album, the group doubles down on the yin-and-yang at the heart of their
sound. There’s no other band that bounces between a song like “Waking Lions” and “A Crime to
Remember” or “100 in a 55” so effectively and with such overwhelming success.
How are Kakaty, longtime guitarists Dave Grahs and Nick Fuelling, bassist Matt DiRiot, and
powerhouse drummer Hayley Cramer able to flip the spectrum so seamlessly? “If my voice sounds
good on it, the hook is catchy and memorable with a single listen, and it will go over well live, we’re
not afraid to draw from any genre that we see fit for inspiration,” says Leigh.
Even for a Pop Evil record, that contrast and fearless genre-defying cross-cultural pollination have
never been stronger than on album number six. The preproduction process yielded close to 30
songs, whittled down to the most potent 12 that represent everything Pop Evil is about.
Songs like “Inferno”, “Breathe Again”, and “Survivor” sound equally destined to take their place in
the pantheon of Pop Evil signature songs that mean so much to devoted fans and casual listeners
alike. Each is just as poised to conquer new genre formats.
No. 1 smash “Waking Lions” was designed “to remind our fanbase that we’re not afraid to turn up
the guitars. Just because we’re Pop Evil, don’t forget about that ‘evil’ element.” The new LP builds on
the foundation laid by that 2018 album specifically, springboarding with melodic heft and
hook-filled heaviness blending hard rock, alternative, and pop with punch.
The band bunkered down in Los Angeles in the winter of 2019 to put the finishing touches on the
new record, working with new creative teams of producers and collaborators, each enlisted to
emphasize the uniquely varied aspects of the band’s sound. “We worked with multiple producers
that fit each song’s dynamic,” the band’s hardworking singer explains.
Collectively, Pop Evil’s previous five albums account for over a million copies in worldwide sales
and over 600 million streams.. Lipstick on the Mirror found its way to listeners via a major label
re-release, despite the business trouble that resulted in the band tearing up their major label
contract on stage, in what Spin Magazine called one of the Ten Best Moments of Rock on the Range.
War of Angels brought Pop Evil to a worldwide audience.
Up debuted at No. 25 on the Billboard 200 and produced no less than three Top 5 Mainstream Rock
singles: “Ways to Get High”, “Take it All”, and “Footsteps”, which went to No. 1. This was on the
heels of the three No. 1 Rock singles from Onyx. Pop Evil debuted at No. 5 on the US Top Rock
Albums chart. “Be Legendary” was one of the Top 10 most played songs of 2019.
Pop Evil combines the bigger than life bombast of Mötley Crüe or KISS with the earnest warmth of
Pearl Jam, mining the same depths of creativity and emotion found within the cosmic riff foundation
of legendary active rock, hard rock, and modern rock acts like Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. The
Pop Evil faithful are a broad and dedicated group of fans around the world, people whose support
was earned, one by one, show by show.
This is a band that unapologetically flies the flag for their chosen form of creativity. Rock n’ roll
music is as American as apple pie. It’s particularly important in the Midwest, where Pop Evil was
born. Fans who are living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to support families with a 9 to 5 gig, rely
on the music made by bands like Pop Evil to help them endure the daily grind.
The signature Pop Evil elements of the past are found in the music they make today, amplified and
sharpened like never before. The utmost respect is paid to the fans; part of that respect is in making
sure to never simply repeat what’s come before. The “Evil” will move the crowd. The Pop embodies
groove, vibe, and atmosphere, extending a warm welcome to all comers.
“We’ve got loud and heavy guitars while staying true to the groove we’ve had with songs like ‘Take
it All’ and ‘Footsteps’. We have that ‘Pop’ and that ‘Evil’ just as we’ve always done. And with this
record, we’ve taken another big step into our own definitive sound and identity.”
“That’s our thing,” Kakaty declares. “People know they’re going to get that Pop Evil.”
Vocalist - Leigh Kakaty
Bass - Matt DiRito
Drums - Hayley Cramer
Rhythm Guitars - Davey Grahs
Lead Guitarst - Nick Fuelling
By Ryan J. Downey
Amplifiers still blare out of suburban garages everywhere. Guitars, drums, and bass still translate the emotion and energy of a generation better than anything. No matter what prevailing opinion may be, rock music still maintains its foothold just behind the pop culture curtain—as if in the wings waiting to return.
BRKN LOVE carry on this tradition, while evolving it. Toronto singer and guitarist Justin Benlolo envisions a fresh future for the genre on the band’s 2019 full-length debut for Spinefarm Records produced by Joel Hamilton [Highly Suspect, Pretty Lights].
“When I first thought about starting a band, it needed all of the elements of rock ‘n’ roll that I respond to—big guitars, big drums, and big vocals,” he explains. “I didn’t want it to be too complex. It had to be something everybody could digest in a short and sweet format. It’s alternative, but it’s also heavy. I try to get right to the point. There are so many of these kids still showing up to shows and moshing to real rock music. That’s refreshing. There’s still a place for something authentic. That’s what I want to provide.”
Born and raised in Canada, Justin cut his teeth by obsessing over the likes of Soundgarden and Led Zeppelin in his youth, while learning how to write music. With the advent of bands such as Royal Blood and Highly Suspect, he recognized the potential for a “different kind of band—that’s not too macho and slick, but edgy enough for the punks.” Justin started tracking demos for BRKN LOVE and shortly after determined that Joel Hamilton was the perfect producer. Joel responded to the tracks by inviting him to Brooklyn to record at Studio G. Together, they cut the 13 tracks that would comprise the album as the band landed a deal with Spinefarm Records after a New York showcase.
Recorded live to tape in the studio, the sound preserves “a raw, real, and alive” feeling in the riffing tempered by “relatable and emotional lyrics.”
Now, the first single “Shot Down” hinges on thick guitars before Justin’s howling takes hold. It seesaws between dirty blues verses and a skyscraping refrain as he chants, “Landslide, shaking the crowd…Shot down in the bottom of a valley!”
Written at the infamous Mate’s Studio in North Hollywood, CA, it captures all of the seedy, glorious grit of the San Fernando Valley.
“It’s got a lot of sexual innuendos,” he goes on. “On the contrary, it can be interpreted as a massive disaster song. There’s a landslide shaking the ground, and we’re in the middle of the valley. The world’s ending as we’re playing away. You could also interpret as about a girl.”
The airy harmonies and syncopated riffs of “I Can’t Lie” take dead aim at West Coast fakery and “friends who stabbed me in the back for no reason” with a hypnotic and heartfelt chorus. Everything culminates on “In Your Hands,” which slides from a clean intro towards a wall of fuzz and his most impressive vocal performance. The latter serves as “an ode to life that we’re going to ride the universe’s wave without worrying.”
In the end, BRKN LOVE represent a new era for rock music that’s as powerful as it is emotional.
“The name represents who I am,” Justin leaves off. “You can honestly be a hopeless romantic and play tough music. Most of the lyrics deal with love and loss. That’s the vibe. You can share your feelings and still rock your face off at the end of the day. It’s what I’m going to do.”