by Shanna Torp | August 13, 2015 4:32 pm
LEIGH GIVES US AN IN-DEPTH ACCOUNT OF THE MAKING of the new album ‘UP’ and THEIR TIME IN SEATTLE. We had the pleasure to sit down with Leigh, this is our second exclusive interview, the last one we did was about one year ago to date. It’s not often that Seattle Sound Live gets an opportunity to talk this in-depth with a musician, the conversation flows easy, allowing subtle revelations of the passion that stands behind Pop Evil and the making of UP.
The new record UP is about to drop on August 21st, POP EVIL spent time in Seattle recording their new record and If I was asked to describe UP, I would say that UP has its distinguishable Michigan roots with a sprinkle of Seattle undertones. Clearly a brilliant record with power, catchy lyrics and energy running rampant through the tracks.
SSL – Hi Leigh, thank you for this second exclusive interview, so how are you doing? Long time no hear!
Leigh – Hey, I know right! It’s so good to be back this way, it’s our second home here in the Pacific Northwest.
SSL – So, you guys are in Oregon right now? First stop of the tour?
Leigh – Yeah, we are in Eugene right now and I am on campus, you know I am a football fan and I got to get into the vibe.
SSL – Right Right! So, it’s so cool to talk to you again, so much is going on I don’t even know where to start. We need to talk about “Up” the latest album to drop in August 21st and your time in Seattle. So, let’s start with London Bridges, how was that experience?
Leigh – We started the process at Robert Lang’s, then to London Bridges and then to Studio Litho, so all three were just unbelievable experiences. Robert Lang’s was the first stop so that kind of started it, this time around we wanted make sure the whole band had an opportunity to let their creative juices out. Normally, it’s just me first, doing all my old stuff this time around I wanted all new stuff. Wanted it to be fresh, when we had the success on our last record we learned very quickly that we have to play these songs for the rest of our lives. So, if you don’t keep it exciting things can get kind of tiring and tiring can get really stale so we had to make sure coming into this process we wanted to try and prevent that. With the newer material we felt would be better in the long run for us. But the band went out to Robert Lang’s for a couple weeks before I even flew out what they had done in that studio was just amazing. I really felt like if we did nothing else, they gave us like 15 to 20 songs so we had enough for an album. So, if nothing else happened we had enough for a great record and that took the pressure off right from the beginning. Just being at Robert Lang’s was just unbelievable, between the back drop, being in Seattle right there on the ocean, I could just get inspired up there, sitting on the roof and looking at the stars, looking at the ocean, it was just mind blowing. Especially, knowing our family back home was dealing with the snow and weather at the time, it was emotionally uplifting to know that I didn’t have to deal with snow and let my mind be as free as possible so I could write the best material I have written in my career that was the goal.
SSL – Sounds like an awesome experience, so you didn’t go into Seattle to Robert Lang’s and London with material already written or did you go there and write?
Leigh – No, we didn’t have anything, I mean we all had some material but, I was very driven about not having any, just to give the guys a fair shot since they didn’t contribute on the last record and everything had been so rushed for us, money was also a factor for us and we couldn’t afford to have everybody there at the same time. What people don’t understand is that this is the first time we had the same line-up going into another album, an album cycle. We had different band members on the previous album so there was a lot of different variables that we had to make sure that we had to overcome just to get a chance to write on the previous album. Now, everything was on an even playing field, everyone was excited to dive in and be creative, we thought it was best for all of us to come in there fresh with all brand new ideas. It definitely worked for creating a more energetic fun atmosphere for the guys.
SSL – I have only heard two songs “Footsteps” and “In Dissarry”, I know the “Onyx” record like the back of my hand and Onyx was a pretty heavy hard hitting album, I know you probably can’t tell me but if you could give me a little something is this “UP” album going to be similar or is it going to be different?
Leigh – This one is going to be more diverse, it’s obviously coming from many different directions, and all of the band members are contributing in different ways creatively, more than we ever had on the previous record. We know now what our set list is missing, you know everything is centered on our live shows and that’s how we make our living so we knew that there were certain songs we needed to fulfill a lifelong personal journey for our band to be able to put on the best live experience for our fans, hoping that they leave having a great time and even better time. If we are missing a couple songs, we tried to write those instead of just regurgitating those songs we already had success with. We wanted to challenge ourselves to be more creative and take a riskier chance, big risk, big reward, we feel if we don’t take those chances, what are we doing? We really do believe that we don’t want to sell our fans short by redoing what everybody expecting us to do.
SSL – Right
Leigh – There is a certainly an element of the sound that has gotten us to where we are, we just have given it steroids in our opinion and taking to the next level but we also have thrown in a more Pop Evil identity. To just say hey, and we are not afraid to pick up an acoustic guitar and we are influenced by so many different genres and styles of music , that we wanted that to finally come it in this record.
SSL – Well that’s what I was trying to say, you have your heavy hitters on Onyx and your ballads like “Beautiful” and “Torn to Pieces” and there seems to be an equal balance there, and I know that Onyx had a lot of personal inspiration driven into that writing process, other than what you just told me, wanting to take it to the next level, where was your writing process and your inspiration for this one?
Leigh – All of the stuff you said about Onyx is certainly on this record it’s just gone to the next level.
SSL – Just different?
Leigh – I think like what you said about inspiration, it is way different Onyx was written in such a dark place, I had just lost my father, there was a lot of anger, things like where the business was going, and the frustration of all those things that you can’t control. So we really tried to focus on the things we can control, we don’t want to focus on the things we can’t, it’s just being negative for no reason man nothing positive comes out of those situations.
SSL – Right Right.
Leigh – Like I said early on being at Robert Lang’s, there is something different about being out West, especially being in the Pacific Northwest in Seattle. It just had such a vibe to it that really kind of cleansed us in a way and it’s ironic. But the rain we felt in Seattle kind of washed away the depression and anger away from us and got back to the music being more creative taking more chances and respecting the sound that got us to where we are now, but amplified it to the next degree, it was fun and exciting and the producer (Adam Kasper) was a big part of that.
SSL – That’s so cool to hear, aww, when I first heard that you guys were going to London Bridges, I was like no way, the guys are coming to Seattle how cool is that?
Leigh – Yeah, well it wasn’t the original plan.
SSL – It wasn’t?
Leigh – The original plan was to go to Los Angeles. Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to be in L.A. Blah Blah Blah, but we didn’t have the producer. So, when the name Adam Kasper came up, I was like there is no way he will produce us, I doubted that he would do it, he is such a busy guy and his track record speaks for himself and this guy is the best of the best of the business that this guy deals with, the list goes on Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters, just those three alone. Grammy award winning!
SSL – Yeah.
Leigh –It’s intimidating, it’s like wow, and we are still a baby band to some degree. It’s like wow, is this guy going to take a chance on us? I told my manager listen, if Adam says yes, we will move everything to Seattle thinking it was a long shot, all the while I am thinking of going to Los Angeles and being in a mansion, recording in a mansion and being in a pool during the winter and all that.
SSL – Oh no! (Laughing)
Leigh – No, he gives me a call back, I remember it like it was yesterday, he said, Adam said yes! I said well boys, I got my Seattle Seahawks jersey, and it looks like we are going to Seattle.
SSL – That’s so cool.
Leigh – We just wanted to embrace it as our second home and we certainly did. I really didn’t believe it because everyone that’s from Seattle and the Pacific Northwest in general, but specifically Seattle everyone I have met it reminds me of Boston on the East coast there is such a loyalty and such a pride, and you always hear about this vibe and an organic kind of ether that flows through this city and once it encompasses you, you are changed. I didn’t ever believe it, I thought we were going to go out there for 3 or 4 months and I will be back in my Michigan roots all day. Literally, I was there for less than I week and I was just (inaudible). You couldn’t imagine what it did to us emotionally and what it brought out of us. You can’t be at London Bridges, Lang’s and Studio Lithos and not be inspired and you don’t want to be the weak link when you are dealing with other great musicians before you, you want to bring you’re A game to the table, you know what I mean?
SSL – I do.
Kasper had this to say about Pop Evil from the WGRD 97.9 article “Individually, these guys are all great players and writers,” says Kasper. “Collectively they are a force to be reckoned with. Musically this record is intricate, heavy and melodic. With their charismatic lead singer and a drummer that sounds like John Bohnam and Dave Grohl’s love child, I’m more than excited about this one.” Leigh – It definitely challenged us in a kind of underline invisible way, where we wanted to step it up for each other and the support that we all gave each other and in doing so, was I think a direct link to Seattle. Everybody over there is so supportive there is no jealousy, there is no kind of my band is better than your band vibe, everyone is like, and oh you’re a musician? Let’s embrace you, what can I do to help you, oh you need this or that, or whatever you need and their support over there was just endless.
SSL – That is very cool that you experienced all that.
Leigh –It just encompassed us as a band, that passion and that kind of cleansing in a way, it brought us out and there is a song called “Seattle Rain” that we feel that could not have been written if we had not gone to Seattle to do this record it’s one of our favorites on the album, it’s just powerful and just amazing how our seasons change and how you let it rain and wash it away…..
SSL – Whoa, whoa, back up what is the name of it? (Leigh is a fast talker)
Leigh –The song is called Seattle Rain
SSL – Ohhhh, whoa, whoa woo (in my really excited voice)
Leigh – I am telling you now you are going to fucking love it, it’s unbelievable
SSL –Ooooooo. (Wondering why I didn’t listen to my exclusive pre-copy of the album, after this interview took place, I was able to listen to Seattle Rain, it is BEAUTIFUL in my opinion)
Leigh – It is unbelievable! Eddie Vedder heard it and loved it. Kid Rock also heard it, my two idols and they both heard it and flipped over it and loved it.
SSL – Really?
Leigh – This album doesn’t need to do anything else! When my two idols, and I don’t get that awe struck these days but those guys, ahh, how I grew up and learned how to sing, growing up in the Midwest it’s always been Pearl Jam for me in the early years and of course Kid Rock and the Detroit roots that he has and the Michigan jive. But, to have those two guys get to hear the album and Seattle Rain physically and give you thumbs up of approval, is a huge deal. Again, if the album doesn’t do anything, it’s already a huge success for me. It’s just a powerful song. The maturity lyrically that you will hear on this record compared to where I and the band has been, it’s just a band coming of age. You are literally listening to the band growing up, actually becoming better studio musicians and that’s the reality of it. It’s pretty awesome and pretty amazing. It’s exhilarating and once those fans get the album in their hands, they will be able to relate, not just to the music but relate to the beauty of a band growing up.
SSL – I was just going to say that the album “UP” will be a beautiful thing sprouted out of Seattle and the whole scene over there can be exhilarating, I spend time over there and it is magical.
Leigh – I think it’s huge, obviously for us and in the studio! Already, the first single, in seven weeks is sitting at number 3 in the charts. It’s our fastest and biggest single already. Normally they take 25 weeks, I think “Trenches” took like 25 weeks. It’s bigger than anything we have ever seen this quick, we are kind of hanging on for dear life you know?
SSL – Are you talking about “Footsteps”? I looked at it, it’s pretty high up in there and doing really good.
Leigh – Yeah.
SSL – I was listening to “In Dissarry” and got a total Seattle sound out of that.
Leigh – Absolutely, absolutely, again that’s what the guys are influenced on, I know being in Seattle we were listening to that and stuff comes out. I was talking to Adam and the way he records guitars and the way he gets it dialed in. But, that’s the cool thing about Adam, he wasn’t pushing us any way, he gave us freedom to play with the tones. In Chicago, with Johnny we were just younger and not able to dial in the tones we wanted. They were a little more metal driven, which if you look at what Johnny has done with Disturbed. But, this time we wanted to get a little grungier, oh, how would I describe it? A little crunchier tone, but a little understated. You get that on “In Dissarry”, we certainly have metal on other songs, but Adam helped us stay in our identity and keep building and evolving on it as well.
SSL – I have seen you guys live and met you guys, shit man we had lunch together backstage, specifically last year at the Uproar Rock Hard at the Park, I am so excited to see you again, especially after “Up” comes out, to get that whole effect of the new album and a little bit of the old stuff, it’s going to make a badass set! What is the set list going to look like?
Leigh – That is a good question! That’s exactly where we are diving into now, what songs do we cut and which sounds do we keep? We are getting into that really interesting part in our career where we have had over 10 radio hits, every song that you play could be a radio hit, trying to be strategic and also respect radio and at the same time respect our album. This seems to be really the best stuff we have done and we really want to showcase it and blend that perfect marriage of old and new music. It’s still in the works, so obviously it will be interesting after the new album cycles and how we merge the two variables. We are excited and it’s a challenge.
SSL – Well, you know being a music fan that goes to lots of shows, I can tell you, and I want to hear the songs that I know! (Laughing) you know what I mean? Really!
Leigh – Absolutely, it’s a tough question, (stuttering) it sounds like I am talking to my family and friends that are always after us about this stuff.
SSL – (laughing) I am sorry, I do?
Leigh – You do, you do….
SSL – Aww. (I am not really sorry, I lied, I love this kind of stuff, and it’s an interviewers dream)
Leigh – Okay, let’s say ….. There is a responsibility to play those songs and ….
Leigh describes and completely schools me on the crowd and set list, with the energy and how many ballads to add and which type of show it is, is it adrenaline sets or ball to the wall sets…he just put me in my place…love it!
SSL – Okay, I will give you that one! (Laughing)
Leigh – (Laughing) okay, it’s a balance!
SSL – So, I noticed that this run of shows is not a festival show, I noticed this summer festival shows has dwindled down a bit for all bands. It’s more “your” show instead of the festival show, where you get more time?
Leigh – Yeah, you play longer.
SSL – Which is better right?
Leigh – Yeah, sometimes it’s better for the fans and then it’s better to get shorter times to wet that appetite, leaving them wanting more.
SSL – Yeah! (Isn’t that the truth with everything? Ha!)
Leigh – The cool thing about festivals is that you may be playing for people that never seen your band before, so, sometimes it is fun to be in the battleground winning new fans over.
SSL – Yeah, that’s true. So, when are you coming back this way around? I know you have these select dates and cities that go up until October.
Leigh – This is pushing “Footsteps” and kind of an introduction to the new record coming out, our real tour will start on the record next year, we are trying to get our feet wet and this year was getting the European festivals out and helping build the brand worldwide, we are really excited to get Australia and Japan on the board next year as well and just keep knocking countries down and building the brand so you know, I know I said this before about the last record but, this really feels like the first record, everybody on our team is started to build and gel and everyone is on the same page with releasing this record. This is really a different experience.
SSL – So, how many songs on the new album are you going to be playing on this run? I see you have 33 shows and…
Leigh – Million dollar question right? We haven’t decided yet, we are still up in the air about it, we are being strategic about the songs off the record that we are going to play, whatever we need to do to make the fans have a better experience. We are so aware of our live show now that all we are concerned about is that the fans have fun. We want to do our part one day at a time and rock once again will have a voice that matters.
SSL – So, back to the million dollar question will you be playing some songs off of UP that has not been released yet?
Leigh – Of course, as it gets closer to the release date. You are talking surprises right? Yeah, they will happen.
Here is Dead in the Water which was released August 7th
SSL – I get it, okay, just taking care of the readers!! (Chuckle)
Leigh – As it gets closer we will have more releases coming out. I know the music video for “Footsteps” is around the corner as well, which is insane, I can’t wait for you and everyone to see it, it’s ridiculous, we are just rolling with it.
The new Footsteps video just released yesterday already at over 20,000 views
SSL – I guess I should insert foot in mouth, now I am looking at your schedule, I guess you only have 10 shows before album drops right?
Leigh – Nah, it’s all good, honestly, I could be trying to micro managing all this stuff right now, but I am just trying to enjoy it. I think that goes with the UP philosophy, I have always been so uptight about it and so worried and when it is all said and done, you have to ask yourself did I even enjoy it? Did I even appreciate it? Stuff like this doesn’t happen every day, I just want to sit back and enjoy it, you know? It was amazing and one of the best musical experiences in my career easily.
SSL – Right.
Leigh – Things are just going great and we are just looking forward to doing the best touring cycle that we can do to succeed
SSL – Well, let me see Leigh, I think we covered it and I don’t want to take too much of your time, I know you have a show tonight. Is there anything we missed?
Leigh – Nah, I think we are good we covered a lot of good stuff.
SSL – Okay, well I want to wish you guys the UP most respect and a lot of success on this new album, I think it’s going to be great.
Leigh – Aww, I appreciate it and thank you, it’s always an honor interviewing with you, you are always so special and I love the questions, you definitely care and that means a lot.
SSL – Aww, Thank you.
Leigh – I appreciate that!
SSL – I like to dig deep, you know?
Leigh – You do! We need more people like you, that’s what it’s about man, you would be surprised how many interviews that I do that leave me kind of discouraged.
More off the record stuff, Leigh is one cool dude, so funny, honest, living in the moment and staying true to the music and himself. That right there my friends breathes success.
SSL – Hey, that’s a good question, what is your worst interview question that you have ever had? On the record?
Leigh – Aaahhh, shit! (Laughing) I don’t know, maybe what does Pop Evil mean, I hate that question. My answer is, what does it mean to you? …. (Laughing) I tell them to write that!
SSL – (Laughing) that’s so funny.
Leigh went on further off the record about past interviews and what not, below he describes his passion and that passion is Pop Evil.
Leigh – I love talking about my band, I can do it all day about my band, I literally do nothing else, and Pop Evil comes before my own family. It’s all I know. In order to be a successful musicians you have no choice you have to do it. I have to be out here working, it’s not like we are some huge band that can tour for 3 months and then we are done. I love touring thou, the culture, the lifestyle and being out here.
SSL – Oh yeah, traveling everywhere and seeing different places, you couldn’t ask for anything more.
Leigh – Yeah, you really can’t and to see these people, like tonight in Eugene, I am going to see these people’s faces crying and singing back the lyrics that we write, that’s the gift.
SSL – I don’t think there is anything better, when your hair rises up, that emotion and that connection with your fans.
Leigh – You are absolutely right and it’s an unbelievable feeling. It’s important to me to remind myself just how valuable and how long and hard the journey has been on me personally to just get here where we are now.
SSL – Well that’s a wrap, again thank you Leigh for taking the time to talk with me and Seattle Sound Live, wishing you and the guys the best on this run of dates, huge success on the release of UP which is about to drop on August 21st. See you at the show!
Leigh – Thank you and see you later!
Members: Vocals: Leigh Kakaty Guitar: Davey Grahs Guitar: Nick Fuelling Drums: Chachi Riot @ChachiRiot Bass: Matt DiRito @MattDiRito
PRE-ORDER “UP” on iTunes: http://smarturl.it/PEUP It’s the last week to get the EXCLUSIVE PRE-ORDER BUNDLES! Purchase now before these deals are gone! www.store.popevil.com
POP EVIL WEBSITE
POP EVIL FACEBOOK
UP TRACK LIST
3. In Disarray
4. Take It All
5. Ghost Of Muskegon
6. If Only For Now
8. Ways to Get High
11. Dead In The Water
12. Seattle Rain
13. Til Kingdom Come
**BOLD Titles are now released
7/28 – Eugene, OR – WOW Hall – Pork-n-Hops Festival
7/29 – Seattle, WA – Neumos – Headline (w/ Red Sun Rising)
7/31 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Complex – Headline (w/ Red Sun Rising)
8/1 – Colorado Springs, CO – The Black Sheep – Headline (w/ Red Sun Rising)
8/2 – Lincoln, NE – The Bourbon Theatre – Headline (w/ Red Sun Rising)
8/4 – Bloomington, IL – The Castle Theatre – Headline (w/ Red Sun Rising)
8/7 – Traverse City, MI – Ground Zero Nightclub – Headline (w/ Red Sun Rising)
8/8 – Birch Run, MI – Birch Run Expo Center – Dirtfest Birch Run
8/9 – Jackson, MI – Jackson County Fair
8/13 – Ironton, OH – Ironhorse Riverside Campground – Rally On the River
8/19 – Fort Wayne, IN – Piere’s – Red Sun Rising & Aranda
8/20 – Cincinnati, OH – Bogart’s – Red Sun Rising & Aranda
8/21 – Grand Rapids, MI – The Intersection – Red Sun Rising & Aranda
8/31 – North Charleston, SC – North Charleston Coliseum – w/Nickelback
9/1 – Jacksonville, FL – Jacksonville Veterens Memorial Arena – w/Nickelback
9/3 – Lafayette, LA – Cajundome – w/Nickelback
9/4 – Durant, OK – Choctaw Arena – w/Nickelback
9/8 – Columbia, MO – Rose Music Hall
9/9 – Joplin, MO – Venue 3405
9/10 – Ft. Collins, CO – Aggie Theatre
9/11 – Grand Junction, CO – Lincoln Park, CO
9/12 – Tucson, AZ – Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium – KFMA Fall Ball 2015
9/14 – Knoxville, TN – The International – w/ Three Days Grace
9/15 – Atlanta, GA – The Tabernacle – w/ Three Days Grace
9/16 – Charlotte, NC – The Fillmore – w/ Three Days Grace
9/18 – Norfolk, VA – The Norva – w/ Three Days Grace
9/19 – Clark, NJ – Oak Ridge Park – Food Truck and Rock Carnival
9/20 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club – w/ Three Days Grace
9/22 – Albany, NY – Upstate Concert Hall – w/ Three Days Grace
9/24 – Worcester, MA – The Palladium – w/ Three Days Grace
9/26 – Janesville, WI – Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport
10/10 – Philadelphia, PA – PPL Park
10/24 – Sacramento, CA – Discovery Park
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