U.S. Rockers POP EVIL are headed to Australia for the first time in support of their latest self-titled album starting in Adelaide at Enigma Bar this Thursday. Simply put, POP EVIL is a larger-than-life true rock n’ roll band blending the earnestness of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden with the celebratory showmanship of Motley Crue and KISS, capable of empathizing with the daily struggles of their fans while simultaneously offering the escapism a truly bombastic concert provides.

The band’s latest record is a surging, contemporary sounding release that incorporates metal, alternative, hard rock and even electronic music. In the wake of the band’s peppy, upbeat 2015 album Up, it’s a wake-up call and a musical rebirth that inspired the band to self-title the release. Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles speaks to front man Leigh Kakaty about their first tour to Australia.

Awesome to be talking to you, it must be really exciting for Pop Evil being almost on the eve of their first Australian tour?
It really is, it’s been a long time in the making, and we finally get this opportunity where it feels like all the stars are aligned, we couldn’t be more excited about it.

It must be a huge buzz as a band about to hit somewhere completely different for the first time, does it have that day one feel for the band?
Yeah it does. You know starting over, playing for a couple hundred people, growing it, I mean that’s what it’s really all about. I think that a lot of these up and coming bands think there’s that one magic song, or that one hit that just blows you up, it’s certainly possible but for the rest of us it takes time, you have to grow that fan base and it’s those fans that remember being there when there wasn’t as many people around. Those are those die-hards that grow that connection with you early on in your career. So starting that now in Australia and building that and hopefully making it more of a consistent thing to get to do Australia, maybe get to do some festivals there as well. It’s exciting, that’s how it started for us in the US, Europe, it’s exciting to finally now venture out into some new, unknown territory and to just do what we do, and that’s to rock out live.

In terms of the set list for Pop Evil, is it predominantly Up your new self-titled album or do you go back deeper to right from the beginning?
There’s hits from all five albums, we try to be very in tune to what’s going on social media and YouTube. When you think about our fan base in other countries, they’re really in tune to what’s going on with the Spotify or these online radio streaming platforms but also with YouTube, they are into the videos we release, and they’re not sitting around waiting for music to be spoon-fed to them from any radio sort of avenue, so it’s definitely interesting how so many people outside of the US know the band when radio is different in every country. So it’s definitely something we try to consider when we put together these set lists to have a little bit of everything.

I know you kind of referred to it earlier that some people probably think that Pop Evil is just an overnight revelation but I guess in terms of where the band is positioned right now, particularly with how good the self-titled album is, it must be the most exciting time for the band in terms of all the hard work that’s starting to fall into place and paying off?
It really is, it’s more exciting for the set list, there’s so many hits now that we play from the first song to the last everyone is singing and everyone is very much involved, it’s our twelfth year since our record deal, since our first album so songs have become a part of people’s lives and you think about when you’ve been around for decades, those fans that have been around for two or three decades, the songs aren’t yours anymore. Enough time has gone by where your songs have become your fan’s and the way they become a part of people’s lives is special. I think that’s probably one of the most exciting things now is not only do we sing and perform the songs, but the fans sing and perform those songs with us every night. The way they’re involved, that energy is something that is what we’re known for, for our live show.

Do you think that the songs have evolved and changed over time?
Yeah, exactly right, especially singles. When you get the chance to play them when the album first starts they might mean something even more to you now, towards the end of the album cycle. Waking Lions was that first single on this album and it was a scary time, it was probably the heaviest song in the Pop Evil catalogue and we definitely wanted to get even heavier but we thought that was a first introduction and would our fans accept this? Is this where they want us to go? To see how the earlier stuff inspired people to wake their inner demons has been such a blessing to what that song means to us now on stage than it did when we started. You’re exactly right, the songs take on their own shape and form as you continue to tour.

How do you think the Pop Evil sound has changed over the five albums?
I think it’s always changing, I think that the business is changing so we’re very, starting with me I’m very picky on the fact that I don’t want everything sounding the same. I mean we’re musicians, I’m an artist, I’m a lyricist, I’m a writer, so I’m constantly not wanting to be standing still.

I think the Pop Evil way is always taking you through the peaks and valleys that are more relatable to life through our live show, and when you come to our show you might go through every single mood, you might be screaming at the top of your lungs going crazy, slapping high fives with a buddy next to you, or in that next song you could be crying in tears, just remembering about someone that you love that’s maybe past on that you remembered listening to the songs with, so it’s important to us to help people musically. When I think back on when doctors couldn’t even help me growing up when I was sick or when I was down and out it just seems like the one thing that was always there for me, to cure me, was music so I think it’s part of our responsibility as musicians and as a band that’s had success to give back in every way we can to our fans, to our music. That’s 100% what we’re doing it for.

Heading to Australia for the first time is there an experience that you want to have in Australia that you’ve been looking forward to?
We’re a little bummed out because I think it’s kind of quick, we fly in and everything is strategic on how we do this tour, but obviously the band would love to have some off time in Australia and getting that time to really see everything we could see. I think that’s the best thing about touring, is just learning about cultures and seeing the similarities and the differences, but I think it’s going to be tougher just because we fly to every show. I don’t think it’s possible to tour bus through Australia, so we’ve heard, so we fly pretty much to every show, so unfortunately that’s kind of a bummer, I don’t know if we’ll get to see as much as we would like to but obviously Sydney and The Opera House, obviously that’s the stereotypical thing we always see growing up in the US.

Anything you see about Australia is always Sydney but we’d love to see the Outback of course. Obviously I don’t think any of us would understand just how powerful and crazy it is, so we’d like to have some kind of guides to show us, but we’d love to see all of it man, I think you grow up just with the romanticised things that are Australia certainly as an American. America loves Australia and all the beautiful things about the country that come with it and hopefully we’ll just get a chance to see as much as we can, we’re going to go in open minded and just be grateful for the things we get to do and just focus on the real priority at hand which is rocking as hard as we can and bringing as many people to the Pop Evil side as we can.

Interview by Rob Lyon

Pop Evil are playing the following dates and tickets through Silverback Touring