Pop Evil to rock the masses at Frankie’sWritten by Mike Bauman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Since officially forming in 2001, Grand Rapids, Mich.-based quintet Pop Evil has made it a mission to rock the masses.
So when Universal Music Group stood in the way of releasing the band’s latest effort, “War of Angels,” the guys decided to make a statement at one of rock ’n’ roll’s biggest festivals. Lead singer Leigh Kakaty tore up Pop Evil’s contract with the label at Rock On The Range in Columbus last year.
“Unfortunately with music, you can’t just wave a wand and people like you,” Kakaty said. “Respect is earned, and I think at Rock On The Range last year we earned some respect. It doesn’t just happen with one show; you’ve got to just keep doing it.”
Rounded out by Tony Greve (guitar), Davey Grahs (guitar), Matt DiRito (bass) and Chachi Riot (drums), Pop Evil will perform at Frankie’s Inner City on March 7 as part of its tour in support of “War of Angels.” The group’s collective desire to make its mark on music is something that stems from years of grinding back home in Michigan.
With a Canadian mother and an Indian father, Kakaty never felt like he fit in or embodied the stereotypical frontman of a rock band. But with a competitive nature instilled in him from playing sports, Kakaty and Pop Evil’s determination helped the group gain steam in its early years.
“I had a different strategy,” Kakaty said. “We were going to play covers to make the money. We were getting paid really good money at the time, and we wouldn’t force our originals on people.”
That strategy eventually paid off for Pop Evil; the bandmates saved up enough to afford the services of Kid Rock producer Al Sutton for their 2005 EP “Ready or Not.” It wasn’t long before songs like “Somebody Like You” were getting frequent radio play in Grand Rapids.
“That outcast feeling quickly changed to ‘Holy cow, we’re in the game; we’ve got to learn how to make a living doing this now
,’” Kakaty said.
And thus the grind continued. Pop Evil released the full-length “Lipstick on the Mirror” on Aug. 12, 2008, via Pazzo Music. The album was re-released through Universal Music Group’s Universal Republic Records on April 28, 2009.
Featuring hit singles “Hero” and “100 In A 55,” the record reached No. 12 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart as Pop Evil played approximately 400 shows over a two-year period. For “War of Angels” in 2010, the band turned to acclaimed producer Johnny K (Disturbed, 3 Doors Down, Sevendust, Staind).
Though Pop Evil emerged from Johnny K’s Chicago studio with material it was proud of, differences with Universal Music Group led to the band’s split with the company and “War of Angels” was finally released June 28, 2011, through the group’s new label, eOne Entertainment.
“We called them our big brother to the rescue,” Kakaty said of eOne. “They came in and believed in the band and the music.”
Since the split with Universal, Pop Evil has been vindicated. The record debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hard Rock Albums chart while singles “Last Man Standing,” “Monster You Made” and “Boss’s Daughter” all appeared in the top 50 on the Billboard Rock Songs chart and made it to Active Rock radio.
“I mean, I don’t think we would’ve had the success with this record if it wasn’t for Johnny [K],” said Kakaty, who added that Pop Evil wants to work with him again for its next album. “He totally has helped reinvent the band, and helped shape our image and kind of give us an identity going into our upcoming future, whether it’s an album or whether it’s a live performance.”
In the meantime it’s business as usual for Pop Evil, who continues to grind it out on the road. That includes a trip back to Toledo, where it opened for 3 Doors Down in November at Huntington Center.
“We wanted to be rock stars our whole life, and now that we’re whatever this is, we don’t want nothing to do with that,” Kakaty said. “We’re musicians. We’re writers. We’ve always been that since 2001 — since before 2001. We don’t care about that, man.
“We want to write great music that can stand the test of time, that when we’re done and we’ve spent our time on this planet that hopefully that music can live on, and help save lives and help bring happiness to people and their families. I mean, that’s what it’s about.”
On March 7, Pop Evil will headline a show that features Otherwise, Landsdown and Lifeline Revolution at Frankie’s Inner City, 308 Main St. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door the day of the show. Advance tickets can be purchased through all Ticketmaster outlets, as well as locally at Culture Clash Records (419-536-LOVE) and Ramalama Records (419-531-ROCK). Doors are at 7 p.m. and all ages are welcome. For more information, visit frankiesinnercity.com.