bill bodkin speaks with the hard rock band …
The current state of the hard rock genre is not where it was a decade ago, when the Michigan-based band Pop Evil came together. A decade ago, we were inundated with the latest screams and thrashes from Limp Bizkit, Korn and an emerging Linkin Park. Since those bygone days, pop-rock-tinged country and electro-based fist-pumping jams are all the rage, leaving hard rock, in the minds of the mainstream, an afterthought.
While it might be an “afterthought” to the mainstream popular music formats and flavor-of-the-month fans, the hard rock scene is still producing really good bands. The genre has changed from relying on samples, turntables, hip-hop flows and low-end bass antics to a more vocal and guitar-driven sound. Pop Evil is one of those bands spearheading this rejuvenated sound. Taking a cue from their ’80s metal inspirations, Pop Evil’s strengths are the one-two punch of the guitar work of Tony Greve and the vocals of Leigh Katay. The two are a dynamite combination, that any child of the ’80s will enjoy not only as an homage to the greats of that decade, but as a breath of fresh in today’s current scene. And it’s not all just devil horns and mosh pits for Pop Evil — the band has a mellow side, too, delivering a number of soulful ballads.
Pop-Break’s Bill Bodkin spoke with the band about their sound, their place in the scene and their upcoming tour with 3 Doors Down and Theory Of A Deadman.
Pop-Break: I’m sure this is question you get a lot, but can you talk about the inspiration behind the name of the band since you were originally known as TenFive?
Pop Evil: The inspiration behind the band name was to create a musical outlet where we could pursue both electric and acoustic guitars. We wanted to write songs that featured both respectfully rather than be stuck writing one particular musical style. Pop Evil was the perfect name for the way we mixed our heavier songs with our ballads.
PB: Who are your musical inspirations — bands that really influenced your sound?
PE: There are so many that have influenced us, like Motely Crüe, Guns ‘N Roses in the ’80’s. Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam in the ’90s and, of course, more current bands like Shinedown and Nickelback of today.
PB: Can you describe the independent scene in Michigan. We’re an East Coast-based site, and the original scene here revolves around either New York or Philly, where hundreds of bands are fighting for time in a limited amount of venues. Is this similar to Michigan, or is it completely different?
PE: I think it’s similar everywhere, because of the economy, less people are going out to watch original live music. Therefore there are fewer places for up-and-coming bands to play and make enough money to survive. I know back at home in Michigan, a lot of the bars we used to play at aren’t even around anymore. Makes it difficult to break out.
PB: Talk about how you guys got discovered by Universal Republic and how has this label supported you.
PE: We actually aren’t with Universal anymore. We recently signed with our new label, eOne Entertainment, and couldn’t be happier. Our new home has made Pop Evil a priority, and that’s what we wanted. Our new album has been doing very well, and we credit eOne for helping us get it on the store shelves. We look forward to many more with them.
PB: Being from Michigan, how does it feel to have your song “In The Big House” played as the pump-up song for the vaunted University of Michigan football team?
PE: It feels amazing! Growing up a huge Wolverine fan since childhood, it is exciting to be able to have a song that shows our love for the football program and the Big House as an iconic American Football Stadium. It’s been incredible to see how fast this song has taken off.
PB: You toured with Judas Priest on the 30th Anniversary of British Steel tour. Were you nervous touring with one of the legends of heavy metal?
PE: I don’t think we were nervous more like excited. It was our first major tour, so we were anxious to play with Priest and all the great cities and venues that we played during the tour.
PB: Did you learn about the music industry, touring or performing while on tour with Judas Priest?
PE: We took away so many things from the Judas Priest tour. Just how polished they all were every day. You could tell they were seasoned vets and knew how to bring their “A” game every night. Lastly, they were all so humble and very supportive of Pop Evil. They treated us like little brothers, and we are forever grateful.
PB: Performing in the hard rock genre, a musical genre that isn’t as popular as it was when you first started, do you find it harder these days to sell records or bring people out to shows?
PE: It’s definitely harder these days in rock ‘n’ roll, but we have always loved what we do and we try to focus on the things we can control. Whether it being more active on our Facebook page or giving our all live for five people in an empty bar, it is all part of your legacy you leave behind. We feel very fortunate to be doing what we are doing all we can do is keep touring and making people more aware of Pop Evil only than will we ever give ourselves the best chance to succeed.
PB: Going along with that question, what is it about Pop Evil that separates you from everyone else in your genre?
PE: Our live show separates us from the pack. We believe in being entertained. Whether it’s the clothes we wear or guitars we play, everything is about putting on a show. We want the fans leaving a Pop Evil show saying that was fun. We want you leaving knowing Pop Evil believes in the songs we write. We are raw, loud, and hungry to succeed. It is that passion that has always set us apart. ‘Til the “Last Man Standing!”
PB: You’re going out on tour with Theory Of A Deadman and 3 Doors Down. Can you talk about your feelings about touring with two of the heavyweights of rock?
PE: We couldn’t be more excited for a tour. 3 Doors Down has always been a favorite of ours, as well as Theory Of A Deadman, and to be on tour with them is going to be one heck of a great show for the true rock ‘n’ roll fan. So many radio hit songs every night. Talk about getting your money worth. Can’t wait to get this tour started.
PB: Finally, what’s on tap for the rest of 2011 and for 2012 for Pop Evil?
PE: Non-stop touring is what’s on tap for us always. The only way to break your band these days is to get out there and live on the road playing every chance you get. Every show there is always someone who hasn’t seen you before. That is the journey.