Pop Evil: “I’m Not Into Sitting In A Fucking Place For A Year And Writing Songs That Don’t Matter”

Pop Evil’s Leigh Kakaty and Hayley Cramer discuss the new album, touring and food

Leigh Kakaty of Pop Evil
Leigh Kakaty of Pop Evil

Jade Greenbrooke met up with a very ill Leigh Kakaty, who was suffering from Laryngitis, and Hayley  Cramer of Pop Evil before their gig in London to talk touring, the new album and touristy stuff…

From experience, how would you say American fans compare to British fans?

Hayley – It’s a different kind of rowdy, when Americans get rowdy it’s really, really vocal. Whereas I think England is, in some places England is too cool – I can’t describe the difference. America is very like ‘WOO’ [Hayley throws her arms up], like ‘YEAH’, would you say that’s fair?

Leigh – I know what you’re trying to say but I think in general, America is like, “prove it to me, prove it to me“, Europe is like, “give it to me, give it to me’” that’s the best way I’ve ever heard it described. Americans take for granted that American bands tour the US a lot, so they are, I mean yes when you are talking about specific fans, obviously they’re different for us because we’re bigger in the US so they’re going to be more excited about us now. Think about how American Pop Evil fans were when we were in the same position in the US as we are here now, they were always standing back and watching, you know? Almost like “prove it to me“. Whereas in Europe where we’re still fairly new but they don’t care, there’s a respect factor that European fans have for the American bands that take the time and spend the money and do the diligence to come over here. There’s a respect thing that they have for their bands that the US fans don’t have.

Hayley – I think that works for any European band going to America too, it’s like anybody who makes the effort to make that trip anywhere, like “Yeah we’ll get behind you”. It’s tough to put it into a nutshell, there were differences between Birmingham and Manchester.

Leigh – Once they love your band it’s the same thing. They come to hear the songs that they love and they want to do it with the five of us playing the songs, it’s definitely special. We have the fans now growing here in Europe, especially in the UK. It’s a dream come true, it’s been a long, long time overdue, we’ve spent a lot of time winning little battles back at home just to make these things happen. It’s definitely not an easy thing to do, so to work it’s got to have a perfect schedule, budgets got to be perfect, I mean we were set to come here last Summer and then the miracle happened, POISON and CHEAP TRICK wanted us to tour with them all Summer long and how could we pass that up, you have to do that; it’s once in a lifetime. There are a lot of different variables that play a role in coming over here. When you do get over here it’s important to make sure it’s a win and you keep growing your fans.

Last time you were here you were touring with THREE DOORS DOWN.

Hayley – That was great fun, a really good tour.

Leigh – Long time ago now, right? 2016.

Hayley
– Two and a half years ago. It was great touring with them.

Leigh – Awesome tour. Great guys, great band. Their fans were just so full of love and warm for Pop Evil, it was an awesome tour, no doubt.


I remember seeing POP EVIL at Download Festival 2015.

Leigh – Crazy, we were the breakfast band. Sunday morning, it was awesome, a dream come true. We’re hoping now to bring it back here with this line up, with Hayley and playing for real now. Not being the virgins that we were at the time, just kinda like wow this is so awesome, but obviously the dream is to play these European festivals and Download is one of them, hopefully we can get back and do it again.

What bands would you say are your biggest influences?

Leigh – I don’t think there’s any bands in particular it was just we grew up with a lot of the radio bands that were big at the time, there was SHINEDOWN, FIVE FINGER [DEATH PUNCH], BREAKING BENJAMIN, I’m just thinking those bands that were big when we were starting, like we want to do what those bands are doing. Those were the bands that were coming to my city. Obviously when you go in the 90’s or 80’s you can list them but it was just about moving people and playing songs that people could get involved with, I didn’t want to be in a band that just jammed, I wanted to be in a band that involved fans and fans could sing along and get involved with. So those were the bands that I was following, the bands that could move a room whether you liked the bands or the songs or not, like when you watched them you were like ‘hands up, hands down’ you don’t even know who it is you just love being a part of it. That’s what influenced me, I don’t think it was like METALLICA, that just wasn’t how it was with me. I was influenced by singers.

HayleyMUSE, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, FOO FIGHTERS, when I was first getting into playing the festival scene with previous bands, FOOS and QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE were right at the top, that’s what I aspired to be.

Hayley Cramer of Pop Evil
Hayley Cramer of Pop Evil
Kind of highlights the difference between British and American music culture.

Leigh – Singers too, I was watching singers, and she was watching drummers. It’s a part of what your element is; I couldn’t relate to a drummer as I’m not one.  Having one now I can because I have an awesome one in the band. But still I have to take her word over a drum thing, cause I’m not in that, and she’s great like “Singer world, I’ll let you handle that“. Those are the kind of singers, KID ROCK; Michigan was a big part of the role for me as well, that state was so big with Rock and Roll, and Detroit rock city was two hours away, which was a big part of growing up.

Speaking of being a drummer, how does it feel to be a female drummer in such a male dominated industry?

Hayley – I mean, I feel privileged to be part of a cluster of females that are really starting to break the glass. If I think back to when I first got into the industry in about 2001, I felt like I was the only female drummer on the planet, you know? And now I look around and, look, we’ve got the opening act [REWS], two females, it’s a very, very different world. I travel around with all the boys and it’s totally fine, they’re good boys.

Leigh – We don’t even think about it anymore to be honest.

Hayley – I’ve been in all boys bands, I’ve been in all girl bands, been half girls, half guys, I just don’t think about it. It’s music. I always have, I just play drums.

Leigh – And for me, ironically, I never thought I could be in a band with a girl. And now that I have I don’t even know what it would be like without Hayley, it’s like “Where’s Hayley at?” like she gives you that sisterhood, and brother sometimes too. She’s not afraid to be loving to everybody, doesn’t choose a side and does what’s best for POP EVIL and I respect that, it’s awesome.

Hayley – You just find your way it’s not even about being a guy or a girl, it’s like can you function being on a tour bus? There are guys who can’t function on a tour bus, they just don’t get the flow of being in a really small space and you have to just find your way through 10 or 11 people and not piss anyone off on a daily basis, and that goes beyond gender, that’s just the type of person you are, you’re either cut out for touring or you’re not.

Who have been your favourite bands to tour with so far?

Leigh – We’ve got a good one with us right now, FALLEN STATE are awesome.

Hayley – And just now THEM EVILS were fantastic on the previous tour in America. Obviously CHEAP TRICK are amazing. CHEAP TRICK for me was just mind blowing on a daily basis. Both personally and musically, they’re just a great sounding band still, one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen and Rick Nielsen is nearly in his 70’s.

Leigh ROYAL TUSK in Canada was another one.

Hayley – I can’t think of a bad one at the moment.


Leigh, can you think of a bad one?

Leigh – I wouldn’t tell you anyway [laughs] But no, they’ve all been good.

Hayley – Hand on heart, genuinely, we’ve had a really good run and made some really good friendships.


So what do you like to indulge in when you tour in England?

Leigh – Foods. I like Wagamama, the chocolates a little different. Anything though, the fish and chips, lots of stereotype stuff that’s like touristy because you hear about as little kids.

Hayley – Some of the lads went to Gourmet Burger [Kitchen] today.

Leigh – That’s right they were saying they wanted to go to Gourmet Burger, I mean the food and the travel and the differences are what make it awesome. Like Dominos pizzas, I don’t even eat Dominos back at home, so it’s interesting to see the differences that make it similar. We’re always down for trying different things like “hey what’s that, let’s try this“, I think today I had…[he thinks] these Malt… Maltease…

Hayley – Malteasers? They’re like Whoppers.

Leigh – Yeah they’re exactly like American Whoppers.

Hayley – And I think things like Milky Way is –

Leigh – Mars back home. Yeah.

Hayley, had you been to America much before joining POP EVIL?

Hayley – I’d been a bit, but I wanted to be over there a lot more. I love it over there, there are obviously places that I love more in America, certain states that I love more than others. Overall I absolutely love the country. I love the people, I love the differences between the states, it’s fascinating. In England there’s slight differences between our towns but in America it’s drastically different. The climates, LA, New York, Seattle, it’s so different, I just find the country so fascinating.

There’s a big difference in your music over the albums, how do you find the different inspirations?

Leigh – I think we’ve constantly been growing, we’ve gone through member changes, I’m really the only one who writes lyrics so I’ve been trying to go through things that I think can help me so I can help the fanbase. As we’ve gotten to know the fanbase over the years our songs have been a little bit more driven to try to focus on what things work for us – obviously the motivational songs seem to work for us.  We do those real well. I think this album is going to be different, our second album with Hayley, obviously we found a lot of success with Waking Lions, we want to try and get back to that and see where that takes us, but always be open to being experimental developmentally, whether that’s musically or lyrically, it’ll be interesting. I think we get just a little more driven about what we want to do but always be open minded to be where that song or where that awesome sound can come from. I want to go full blaze swinging man and trying all sorts of things with this next record and see where the band is with it when we get rocking but before we even get there we just write and see where it goes from there.

But there’s talk this record that we’re only to do a couple of songs at a time, release a song, one song at a time and at the end, [if] there’s an album, there’s an album.  I’m not into sitting in a fucking place for a year and writing songs that don’t matter. I like to have our band grow. When we do these records our band grows when we play them so it’d be awesome to have, let’s say, half a record done and now we’re still recording the record as we go so this album can mean something to us. Cause at the end of the day people don’t buy albums for our family history, our band family, our personal families, that’s our legacy we wanna leave. I’d rather leave a legacy that is something we are really proud of because we’re ageing with the record, something most bands don’t do. In today’s world that is more, especially in Europe, a Spotify playlist world, it doesn’t matter about an album, just put the single, put it on a playlist, “Oh this song isn’t even a single, we’ll put it on a playlist”.  We’ll see where it goes, man. The times are changing. We’re definitely poised to try to stay on top of that curve, I certainly am, I’m ready to try some different things like that.

To put together a record, that when it’s all said and done, we’re like, “wow, this is something we can be proud of” and we’re certainly proud of the last record. For sure. But there’s still songs on there that wow if we were recording them now, maybe they would evolve, maybe they are songs we would have cut and used this one instead, but we’re still going to be POP EVIL, we’re still going to give you the Yin and the Yang from this dimension to that but maybe there’s a way to do it better and smarter for the band members. And the band members are in a good place then the fans are going to be in an even better place ‘cause we’re going to be feeling it onstage. That’s the key. We don’t like throwaway songs that we don’t play. We have five albums, so many hit songs, so many songs on YouTube and playlists, how do we cut songs from our [set]? That’s going to be a challenge when we have three to four more hits. I don’t know what you can do, at some point if we cut any songs, somebody’s pissed. It’s going to be an interesting challenge in a good way! I’m excited about that but let’s get four more hits first!

Photographs (c) Jade Greenbrooke

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