The rock band hosts a special album-signing at GR’s Vertigo Music on Thursday, followed by an intimate acoustic tour kickoff show. The interview with Leigh Kakaty, videos and more at Local Spins.
SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEOS
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
After pumping up countless fans while touring the globe and racking up 20 Top 10 mainstream rock hits, West Michigan’s Pop Evil boasts fresh swagger on what lead singer Leigh Kakaty calls “by far the best record” of its two-decade-long run.
“It’s almost like a fresh start. This album especially felt like we’re kids again – all these new dreams ahead of us. The sky’s the limit. We’re having fun again,” Kakaty says of the band’s eighth album, “Skeletons,” produced by Drew Fulk and officially being released Friday (March 17).
“There’s just an element of fun energy that’s on this album that’s like no other Pop Evil album before. There’s a swagger on this album that we didn’t have in the past.”
Not only that, but Grand Rapids fans, in particular, will get a rare treat and an album preview Thursday unlike any other audience on Pop Evil’s upcoming tour – the day before “Skeletons” hits store shelves and the Internet.
At 5 p.m. Thursday, the hard rock/alt-metal band will host a free album-signing at Vertigo Music at 129 S. Division Avenue in Grand Rapids (the only place that a signed album will be available), followed at 7:30 p.m. by an all-acoustic show in the cozy confines of The Stache inside The Intersection.
Tickets ($35 for the first 100, $45 for the second 100, $50 for any remaining tickets) are available online here.
“We wanted to do something a little more intimate, a little different,” Kakaty said of the exclusive kickoff show – the only acoustic concert on the upcoming album-release tour.
“We get a lot of hometown fans who’ve been there from the beginning. There’s a lot of that old-school vibe and they like the old albums. We’re going to take ’em on a journey of all the albums. It’s really fun.”
Kakaty, who grew up in North Muskegon and cut his teeth at Grand Rapids venues such as The Intersection, said playing the smaller, 400-capacity front room “like we did when we were youngsters” will give the band a chance to “warm up with people who have been there from the beginning.”
Although the higher ticket price for the intimate show might put off some fans, Kakaty insisted the unique “storytellers” vibe offers a special opportunity for longtime devotees to hear the new album before anyone else.
VIDEO: Pop Evil, “Paranoid (Crash & Burn)” from “Skeletons”
PROUD OF THE PAST, EXCITED ABOUT THE FUTURE WITH ‘A SENSE OF URGENCY’
That new album shapes up as a milestone for the veteran band, which also features lead guitarist Nick Fuelling, rhythm guitarist Dave Grahs, bassist Joey “Chicago” Walser and drummer Hayley Cramer.
“There was definitely a drive and a passion to really pinpoint that sound and really work to getting more consistency for our fan base,” said Kakaty, speaking from his northern Michigan hideaway located between Boyne City and Traverse City.
“At the same time, (we were) respecting the old-school ways that got us in the studio, but also being open to the duality that is this new age of digital technology: Press different buttons and make different sounds. How do you make that now a Pop Evil song? Drew (Fulk) is a master at doing that.”
The new recording comes 15 years after Pop Evil released its debut studio album, with Kakaty maintaining that the band has always strived to build “on that trajectory upward” with each release. After enduring a stifling pandemic, there also was a “fun element and a sense of urgency” to create something special.
For that, the stage seems to be set: An early single from the album, “Eye of the Storm,” ranked as the fifth most-played song on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Chart in 2022, racking up more than 6.8 million plays on Spotify and 2.3 millions views on YouTube. (Watch the video below).
Other tracks feature guest performances by Ryan Kirby of Fit for a King and Blake Allison of Devour the Day.
“We’re becoming better in the studio, we’re becoming better at who we are off the stage to bring that swagger and confidence back on the stage,” Kakaty said, adding that Pop Evil is poised to take “that next step to help us graduate this band to become more of a headliner and be more of a staple at the format. We’ve done so much, but we feel there’s a lot more to prove.”
Not only that, but having done only limited touring the past couple of years due to COVID, the band is now recharged and “excited for the chaos” of a hectic spring tour that spans the United States, followed by May concerts overseas in Europe. The band follows its Grand Rapids show Thursday with a Michigan stop in Sault Ste. Marie (Kewadin Casino’s DreamMakers Theater) on Friday and Royal Oak (Royal Oak Music Theatre) on Saturday.
Kakaty conceded the band — which he still considers a blue-collar outfit — has been around long enough now that “nostalgia is very much a factor in the way that people come to see Pop Evil live.” That gives the musicians ample opportunity to blend fan favorites with dynamic new material.
“We’re certainly proud of our back catalog, but we’re excited about the future and where this evolution is taking us,” Kakaty said. “We’ve come with muscles flexed and ready to prove ourselves.”
VIDEO: Pop Evil, “Eye of the Storm” from “Skeletons”
Copyright 2023, Spins on Music LLC