Exclusive Interview with Leigh Kakaty from Pop Evil

Exclusive Interview with Leigh Kakaty from Pop Evil

Seattle Sound Live has an exclusive in depth interview with Leigh Kakaty the front man of Pop Evil about the emotional impact that the “Torn to Pieces” single has been on him personally and a very inspirational insight into his writing process.

The countdown begins for the Rock Star Energy Uproar Festival to start on August 15, Pop Evil will be in the great Pacific Northwest in September, sharing the stage with Godsmack, Seether, Skillet and Buckcherry just to name a few.

Pop Evil released the energy driven “Onyx” back in 2013 and it contains some of the hardest hitting singles like “Trenches” and “Deal with the Devil”. Earlier this year another single was released titled “Torn to Pieces” which has been topping the charts ever since and has proven to be one of the most powerful and emotional singles to date from Pop Evil.

SSL – Hi Leigh, How are you and Thank you for taking the time to talk to Seattle Sound Live.

Leigh – Of course, Thank you!

SSL – I noticed that you guys are on the road right now and will be going nonstop until October, does the touring take a toll on you or do live for rock and roll?

Leigh – We definitely live for it we have been touring nonstop since 2007. We actually had a little bit of time in July to kind of get some time with the success we had with this record and to start preparing for the UPROAR festival, the managers and booking agency gave us a little bit of time off and so we feel rejuvenated. It’s definitely a life style for us, if you want to be a rock band in this day and age you have got to stay and live on the road and spread the word.

SSL – Exactly, it can be hard at times too.

Leigh – Absolutely, just like any job or any business is, but its rewarding at the same time to be part of a band that is growing and headed in a positive direction. It’s a true honor and blessing to be where we are at, we are just trying to make the most of it.

SSL – Right ! I hear you, well congratulations on all of your success.

Leigh – Thank you so much I appreciate it.

SSL – Isn’t this your very 1st UPROAR? And your very 1st KISW 99.9 Pain in the grass. You have never done UPROAR have you?

Leigh – No, we haven’t, this is our first one, this is probably the biggest tour festival of our career so we are all stoked about it.

SSL – How do you feel about touring with a line up so diverse?

Leigh – Ahh, I think it’s a great line up, I mean we have all played with these bands at some point in our career here but, not on a festival situation with them every day. We think it is great to be included with all those bands like Buckcherry Skillet, Seether and Godsmack, they all have been influences on us growing up and its definitely an honor to be on stage with them every night and we are excited. I think our band is in a great place, I think the fans are starting to know who we are and recognize our songs and just proving it on stage every night. I think it is going to be a big step in building our fan base.

SSL – You know we have to talk about “Torn to Pieces”

Leigh – Sure.

SSL – Torn to Pieces has over 1,522,000 YouTube views in less than 4 months and is topping the charts, personally and I know with the fans that the song resonates with them and I know it is about your father, Isn’t that correct?

Leigh – Right, Right.

SSL – I want to get a little personal here, hearing about your own struggles and being able to put it into words and music, it really resonates with people and it speaks to them.

Leigh – Yeah, Yeah, I think we knew it was a powerful song as a team just because of how it was affecting me and us individually whenever you have a song that resonates to any single that we had success with, always started with moving ourselves if it doesn’t move you it certainly isn’t going to move somebody else, especially because we are the ones that have to perform it in the studio and on the stage.

SSL – Right.

Leigh – It’s so important to believe as a lyricist and as a writer you have to believe in what you write, the fans are smarter than ever before and they will see right through that.

SSL – Umm, Yes they do.

Leigh – Obviously, starting with the song for me, again some people don’t realize we are still a new band and in the scheme of it, we are rocking and rolling it. You can have 3 #1 records and still kind of fly under the radar which is fine with us but, it’s definitely a different place than 20 or 30 years ago we would be playing stadiums or arenas by now with that kind of success so, I think it’s important to keep that in mind when we are writing the songs that we are a very family based band and we didn’t get to where we are, or even close to where we are now without the support of our family.

SSL – Exactly!  (Leigh describes in deep emotion the impact of what his father means to him and how losing him created the magical ballad “Torn to Pieces”)

Leigh – For me personally, my dad gave up a lot of his life for me so that I could follow that rock and roll dream. At the time it seems obvious now when you have success, but at the same time, a band from Western Michigan making it to the radio was pretty far-fetched and my dad was always the guy that would say “you should do it” and he always believed in winning the lottery, so that was the lottery ticket you know. He was like, “worst case scenario if nothing happens you can play your instruments and write songs”. I think that was a great gift that he wanted me to have for the rest of my life. When he passed we were on tour with “War of Angels” which was our second album, it’s something I deal with to this day and he was one of my best friends on this planet other than my mom, and my mom and dad were super close. I thought it was kind of fitting to write a song to help me deal personally with my struggles and wrote “Torn to Pieces”.

SSL – Sometimes, we need to let the pain go or release it.

Leigh – It was a song that I played at home while I was off tour and I would play it for myself. I really didn’t want to show it to the band because I knew it was a powerful song and I was dreading the fact, I was like watch it become a big single and I will have to play it for the rest of my life and everyone deals with death differently and when you’re a guy, not that you want to put it off or you don’t want to think about sadness, you still have to pay bills and keep working, you got to take care of your family, I have to take care of my mom so it’s like something I didn’t want to really think about, I don’t want to be sad any more the next person does.

SSL – I can totally relate with that.

Leigh – So, we started to demo it, once we showed it to the managers they wanted it. I wasn’t really sure, but once it happen, it turned out magical and it felt like it had a bigger purpose, everything the song did it seemed like doors just opened up for it. You know? I spent time in meditation and prayer and I had to come to terms with the fact that the song wasn’t about me anymore, maybe the song is my dad’s way of helping me from the grave and helping others in a positive way and that is what this mission is really about, interesting enough now that it has become a hit. It’s amazing how much healing that the fans have taken from the song and more personally for them. It’s such a healing process for me that I can accept life in a way and to have others relate in a similar way with their lost loved ones, it’s a great feeling to know you are not alone. We all deal with things in our own way and to give it back in a positive way, that’s the beauty of it. I still fumble through the words when I talk about it, I still think about my dad. I get kind of lost and I think the fans can relate to that as well and when they hear us play it live on stage or on the radio they might get lost in the moment too as they think of their loved ones, the happy times and good memories with people that we miss and that we wish that were here today.

SSL – Some people interpret the song differently, as it holds as a special place for my brother when I listen to it.

Leigh – I was just going to say that, however you want to interpret it and once you release a song it’s no longer yours.

SSL – Yeah, I love the song, I absolutely love the song.

Leigh – Aww, thank you.

SSL – Well, when I heard the song “Divide” I thought I heard some rapping in there, some of your Harem King chiming in?

Leigh – Yeah, “Trenches” and “Divide” I think you can see some of my addiction in there, I can go in and out of a pockets in different ways, if the song needs it. The same thing with “Trenches”, I was sitting around literally trying to write lyrics with a broken down beat up iPhone 4 looking for rhymes for “here we come” that was just my pissed off mentality, you know? Music was just so infectious, I remember I awoke from a dream on the tour bus before, it was a year and half before the lyrics were ever written.

SSL – Wow.

Leigh – Yeah, I don’t even know why, I was standing in a dream, I didn’t even play it on a guitar and I just sang the riffs (inaudible as Leigh sings for me)

Kakaty went on to describe in detail the trials and tribulations behind the lyrical process.

Leigh – I just thought I would let the guys hear it later, I am sure some singers or writers can relate. Sometimes, you just get them in a dream or the weirdest places. I recorded it on my recorder and we were going to do a bonus track for the second album and we tried, tried and tried to release “Trenches” and something just didn’t come off right, gosh we didn’t feel it was good, so we held it and as we got into demo process of “Onyx” we rewrote it and got with a few different writers and producers and it just came to life and I remember sitting there and I think that’s where my life was personally, like – “No time to hide I’m alive on the inside” (lyrics to Trenches) there was a sense of urgency, it was do or die. Either write hits or go home, you know what I mean? I just don’t have time for this being away from family, I was like if we’re not going to do some work lets go do some real estate, let’s go make some money, it’s like I’ve got to make a living I have been doing this way too long and I think either way, I am leaving it all on the table like “here I come” “here I come” and that was kind of the mindset, every band member kind of felt that and was consumed by that lyrical drive in their own unique way, just like you said about “Trenches” and what it means to you. I think everyone, individually as a band unit, it all meant something different to them too.

SSL – Yeah, that is.

Leigh – As the song kept coming and growing the song became more polished in the studio, it just felt like it was our battle cry, it was deep and screaming for “Onyx’ it was like, “Onyx” is dark, one of the most underrated gem stones on the planet everyone wants the diamond, the ruby or the emerald nobody wants the onyx but when you get the onyx it’s still cool enough to be in your collection. But, not someone’s favorite you know?

SSL – Right, that is an interesting way to think of it.

Leigh – We are not planning on going anywhere anytime soon so, we want to prove it to them and show them one fan at a time one city at a time that we are for real.

SSL – Right, I think you are already doing that.

Leigh – You know this album definitely has helped us take a giant step towards that goal.

SSL – So, I know you guys are into football.

Leigh – Die hard.

SSL – Yeah, so what do you guys think about Seattle taking the Super Bowl last year?

Leigh – I love it, I picked it man, I preseason picked it.

SSL – Really ? did you ?

Leigh – I am a diehard Detroit everything, my favorite sport when I was growing up in our household was the Detroit lions football, I don’t know why cause we think we are so stubborn, I think every year we have a shot of going to the super bowl and I see the first game and go ohh man not this year. So, I know Seattle has been dealing with a lot for a long time over the years, even the Steve Largent years going back to the hay days, I’m just so happy for the Seattle fans, that had to have been an amazing experience for the 12th man.

SSL – Oh Yeah it was, it truly was.

Leigh – It’s just fun to watch, it’s just fun to watch great football, maybe there is something about those cool new uni’s (uniforms) ya’ all got that’s so infectious. (laughing)

SSL – Laughing.

Leigh – No, I like Seattle, I like Seattle, it’s hard for me to hate on teams anymore because someone on a team is either playing or listening to Pop Evil. So, I have a hard time hating on teams that support the bands. I am a die-hard Detroit Lions fan that’s for sure.

SSL – Yeah, so do you want to make a prediction for this season?

Leigh – Ahh, let’s see, that’s a tough call of course, I am going to say the Detroit lions for the super bowl this year hopefully .(laughing)

SSL – Right, well, I will be routing for your team.

Leigh -Please, please do we could use all the help, I mean Seattle certainly has got a shot, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the Broncos get a little revenge here.

SSL – Yeah.

Leigh – I wouldn’t be shocked, I think they are a little embarrassed and I think they are a little upset, I like to watch a little football and zone in and watch people running, then again I wouldn’t be shocked if the 49ers got a little.

SSL – Oh no, don’t say that (laughing)

Leigh – (laughing) No, hey I didn’t say I was fan but, they are tough, they are tough, we will see, we will see.

SSL – As my last question, I always ask musicians, do you have any advice to aspiring musicians?

Leigh – Yeah, you just got to keep after it, I mean when I tell someone, the best advice I like to say is don’t do it and the first thing I hear is well, I don’t care I am going to keep doing it, well that’s the first incentive. It’s so hard to be a radio band in this day and age, if you think about it with a 40 song top chart, that’s 40 songs out of millions of bands and it’s a lot of competition, so when you don’t get Madison square garden sold out tomorrow don’t let that deter you. I think it’s important to set realistic goals and once you achieve those goals make new ones. Your goals should be playing 2 shows a month and when you play 2 shows play 4 and when you play 4 shows try opening up for a national band, when you open up for one national band, try to buy into a tour and try to do the right things and try to get the radio station to give you a shot. There are so many different ways to become a big fish in a small pond, those are the only things that I can say because that’s what we did and that’s how we made it. There is no one rule. Always be working to be the best writer at the end of the day you have to write a song that people want to buy, don’t include your parents and your friends. You have to keep that in mind in the early stages of your career that it is a business and sometimes your heart can be on your sleeve in this business and you can’t let that happen. You have to be honest with yourself, set realistic goals and keep growing.

SSL – Right, that’s good advice thank you for answering that.

Leigh – Yeah.

SSL – Okay any big announcements for this fall? Any new albums coming out?

Leigh – We have a new single coming out in two weeks that we haven’t even announced it yet but, we have a new single coming out I think August 19th, Uproar is obviously the big thing and I think that’s it right now. (Pop Evil just announced it on their Facebook page after this interview)

SSL – Okay, well that about raps it up, I will try to see you guys at the show.

Leigh – Sounds good. We will see you in about a month, we will definitely see you in Idaho and in Washington, we got a couple of good days, so I can’t wait to get out your way, like I said every time we are out your way, it’s not only so beautiful to be out there but the atmosphere, the vibe and the scenery are so incredible but the people, love rock man, we love it.

SSL – Thank you for taking the time to talk to me and Seattle Sound Live.

Leigh – My pleasure, the pleasure is mine, alright we will see then soon.

SSL – Okay you have a good day.

Leigh – Yep, you too bye.

Make sure you catch Pop Evil at a town near you at the Rockstar Energy Uproar Tour and follow them on their Websites, Facebook pages, Twitter and Instagram.

Pop Evil is one of those bands that appreciate their fans and have a special way of interacting with them while on the road (Chachi the drummer is a blast to follow and make sure you watch his video uploads) Twitter at Drums: Chachi Riot @ChachiRiot Bass: Matt DiRito @MattDiRito








Shanna Torp

Shanna Torp

Shanna is a contributing editor at Rock Paper Rock and the resident interview guru. She is currently the Owner of SLT Social Media Services and is gearing up to finish her BA in marketing.

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