Pop Evil - Texas Hippie Coalition - Sweatin Bullets, Another Alibi, Crossland
Named as one of iTunes "Top New Artists of '08," Pop Evil continues their march across America and the airwaves.
As their fan base grows, a history lesson on how they got to "here" might help:
Lead singer Leigh Kakaty
whose background includes rap along with rock finds
drummer Dylan Allison through Leigh's best friend's room mate. Guitarist Dave Grahs is playing in another band when Leigh and Dylan invite him to join them. If you're a Grand Rapids local, you know them as TenFive.
The time: November, 2001
Play the nightclub circuit, find fans, write, perform, fans, write, perform, fans – you get the idea.
Band cuts a deal with nightclubs: three sets a night – two sets of covers in exchange for one set of originals.
Leigh makes a promise to himself, for the band and its future.
"To take pride in the work we're doing now and the work we'll do in the future …and don't forget to pat yourself on the back for what might be considered a small thing."
Write and record a three-song EP as the band now has
earned enough money from their shows to finance the recording.
Producer Al Sutton (Kid Rock) gets demo from Leigh's bro, an entertainment attorney.
Al loves what he hears. Records the band.
Result: Ready or Not EP containing the title track, along with "Somebody Like You" and "Hard Highway."
HOMETOWN BOYS MAKE GOOD
97.9 WGRD in Grand Rapids supports the band, spinning "Somebody
Guitarist Dave Grahs shares this thought. "From the beginning it meant a lot to see our friends embrace what we were doing, but it didn't really set in just how much our local market stood behind us until I was driving down the road and heard, "Somebody Like You" on the radio.
2005. ON THE ROAD AGAIN
now with Ready or Not EP to help spread the gospel.
Two years, countless dates throughout the Midwest and Florida and 12,000 EPs sold out of the trunk of their car.
Play, write, drive, sell.
Winter, 2006. RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME
Major label radio promo rep visits WGRD in Grand Rapids to talk about label's upcoming releases. DJ gives rep a tape of Pop Evil. Leigh gets a call to meet the rep, hand delivers a five-song demo to the rep and continues to keep in contact. Rep sends Pop Evil demo to his father, who co-owns independent label, Pazzo Music. In the winter of 2007, one year following the fateful hand off at WGRD, Pop Evil signs with Pazzo Music.
2007. ROLL TAPE, FULL LENGTH CD.
Guitarist Tony Greve and bassist Matt DiRito, both from Muskegon, MI join Pop Evil. The sound is a divine collision of "crispy, crunchy, mainstream rock with a little bit of evil," thanks to the musical and cross-cultural diversity (Eastern Indian, Hispanic, Turkish, American Indian and Polish roots) of the band.
Production for CD begins with Al Sutton and Marlon Young (Kid Rock guitarist) at Rust Belt Studio in Royal Oak, Michigan. 12 songs recorded.
Band heads to spring break in Panama City for more gigs and gets word that Pazzo wants more. In Florida, in-between shows, band does pre-production at Destin Recording with Dave Cox.
Band heads back to Michigan (Canton) with producer Chuck Alkazian at Pearl Sound to complete the three final songs for the CD.
May: Pop Evil complete recording their first,
full-length CD, Lipstick on the Mirror.
August 12, 2008
Street date for Pop Evil's Lipstick on the Mirror.
After eight years of funky bars, sleeping in cars and miles of highway leading to another strange city, nothing has changed. Well, perhaps a bit.
Pop Evil has toured consistently since (and prior to) the release of Lipstick on the Mirror with a combination of headline dates and "Special Guest" support with Puddle of Mudd, Tesla, Theory of a Deadman, P.O.D. and Saliva.
"We watch the bands opening for us," states bassist Matt DiRito, "and we not only remember what it was like for us in that slot. We know that band is warming up the crowd for us and in turn, there will always be something for us to learn from them."
Lead vocalist Leigh Kakaty carries a video recorder with him at all times as the ideas for melodies or lyrics happen constantly.
"There is no separation from my life and my music," states Leigh. "Pop Evil is lifestyle; leading instead of following and having your opinions matter. It is about being heard when no one wants to listen to you. It is about trying to fit in when no one has room for you. It is about overcoming obstacle after obstacle and knowing how to reward yourself for the little things when there are no rewards from your peers. Pop Evil is about making the world BELIEVE."
Time for you to believe.
Welcome to Pop Evil.
Texas Hippie Coalition
There are two paths you can take in life. You can choose to fall in line and be a follower, always fifth or sixth back, lagging behind others. Or you can make your own line and live as you choose, with everyone else landing behind you, while you create your own thing. Want to guess which line Texas Hippie Coalition have chosen?
That's right. The purveyors of their own patented Red Dirt Metal sound are designing their own line in life and in music. For them, there is no other way.
Texas Hippie Coalition are committed to crafting a unique, original and thoroughly raucous brand of music that's born of both life experience and a respect for rock 'n' roll's forefathers. What exactly is Red Dirt Metal? Take outlaw country, toss in a dash of Southern-fried classic rock and mix it with some potent Texas power grooves and you've got a combustible sonic cocktail on your hands. Texas Hippie Coalition's third album Peacemaker is a textbook example of Red Dirt Metal, which is the sound the band has been honing and cultivating for its entire existence.
THC's frontman Big Dad Ritch, known as the "Godfather" of the RDM sound and an individual with a laser-like focus and vision when it comes to his music, believes that the band has hit its stride on Peacemaker, capturing the spirit of rock 'n' roll outlaws like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. He declares, "The outlaw spirit is still alive today. That is our goal: Bring it back."
THC, who were the first band signed to their label Carved Records back in 2009, want fans of classic rock bands to know that they are carrying the torch and that they want to be the keepers of the genre's keys. There will be no extinction of this beloved genre if THC have anything to say about it. "We want the people that love Molly Hatchet, ZZ Top, .38 Special, the Van Zandts and those bands that are growing older to know that somebody else out there is already waving the flag high," he declared. The band, in essence, is ensuring that the style continues to have new and noteworthy additions, such as itself.
But Texas Hippie Coalition aren't simply about making sure the outlaw rock style that they pretty much worship stays alive. They want it to evolve, infusing it with a modern edge and energy, thanks to the new tools (or is that weapons?) of the trade. Having also been surrounded and influenced by the likes of Black Label Society and Pantera –with Ritch proudly proclaiming to having seen the latter between 50 and 75 times live- Texas Hippie Coalition are turning in something fresh and fierce with Peacemaker. They aren't just paying homage to Southern rock's cultural milemarkers. They are proceeding with the intent to add to its canon.
The process of making the album was at first bolstered by levels of familiarity and comfort. "Me, [bassist] John Exall and [guitarist] Randy Cooper have been together a long time, and we're soldiers always ready to go into battle no matter what," Ritch said about his bandmates. The lineup is now rounded out by [drummer] Timmy Braun and [guitarist] Wes Wallace, who shared a lot of the album's writing duties with Ritch.
But there were also some changes and shifts, which also add to the album's heft and helped the band to expand. Texas Hippie Coalition recruited producer Bob Marlette (Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper) to work his magic and to help the band to further explore what it was capable of with an already established, branded sound. "We have a new producer and we already know who we are and what our brand is, so with this album, we decided that the boundaries we set for ourselves [are] in the past. We would cut that barbed wire and explore beyond those fences" Ritch said.
Exploring beyond those fences and cutting that barbed wire meant creating what the band calls "heart songs." Rather than saddle them with a generic term like "ballad," Texas Hippie Coalition chose to call 'em "heart songs" because they touch the listener's ticker. "They take you even deeper into the heart and soul, and into the deeper darkness," Ritch admitted. He even referenced his biggest musical hero's ability to vacillate between the dark and the light. "Johnny Cash could still let you inside and see the darkness of the man," Ritch pointed out. "Johnny Cash was not just wearing black on the outside. There are parts of him that are black, and that same idea comes across on this album for us."
Even with "heart songs," Ritch issues a Surgeon General's warning of sorts. "This album here takes you on a harder, longer drive, right into a brick wall. Strap yourself in." Isn't that the best type of rock 'n' roll there is?
Speaking about specific songs on Peacemaker, he said that the visceral "'Damn You to Hell' is maybe the heaviest song we've written. It has such drive and intensity that it's like a mixed martial arts event, like UFC pay per view, like someone being grounded and pounded on." You may emerge feeling like you've been administered a beating, but as evidenced in Fight Club, you can come out the other side cleansed and stronger from the catharsis.
"Think Of Me" is admittedly "the closest thing to a love song that this band would ever do. It is a great song. It goes beyond those boundaries." Other songs that typify Red Dirt Metal include "8 Seconds" and "You Ain't Seen Me," which Ritch admits is "as southern-fried as Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet."
The title song is a brilliantly written tune, told from the perspective of a gun. Ritch said, "I thought, 'What would that gun say to people?'" That's not something you come across every day in rock music, and it's further evidence of how Texas Hippie Coalition are rewriting the rule book. The song boasts the lyrics, "I just whooped the devil's ass / And you ain't seen nothing if Jesus asks / It wasn't nothing for him to see / This is all between God and me." See what we mean about the outlaw spirit? It's wholly present in every note, riff and lyric of Peacemaker.
Essentially, Peacemaker, which follows the previous albums The Pride of Texas and Rollin', is like one of those out-of-control parties that will find you without a girlfriend and with pissed off family members the very next day, but you'll be gawking over your killer new tattoo while nursing an awful hangover. It's the stuff of life, the good time ingredient that you can't manufacture or fake. It comes from a very real place, thanks to Texas Hippie Coalition's ability to understand their influences and mine them into something wholly unique.
Concerts & Tour Dates
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