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Pop Evil brings big momentum to Dirt Fest, new album

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Thursday, August 6, 2015

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Pop Evil certainly makes plenty of noise on its albums and in its live shows, but the western Michigan group has quietly become one of the most consistent and successful young hard rock bands in the country.

The quintet has delivered a pair of Top 10 albums -- 2011's "War of Angels" and 2013's "Onyx" -- which have in turns spawned three No. 1 mainstream rock radio hits ("Trenches," "Deal With the Devil" and "Torn To Pieces") amidst other favorites. "Trenches" was also named Rock Radio Song of the Year for 2013 by the Radio Contraband promotion firm.

All of that makes "Up" an appropriate title for the group's upcoming fifth studio album.

"Yeah, we came up with that (title) in, like, the fourth quarter, the very last thing we did," frontman Leigh Kataky says by phone from a tour stop in Cleveland. "We were going back and forth and we just couldn't find the right (title). Then we had the revelation; if there's one word that summed up what we're trying to do and where we are now, 'Up' seemed like the perfect fit."

Celebratory as "Up" may sound, however, Kataky and company were bent on maintaining Pop Evil's upwards ascent stayed with the new album, which comes out Aug. 21.

Rather than dip remaining material from "Onyx" or any of the other albums, Kataky says Pop Evil decided to write the album's 13 songs from scratch. "We were just gonna go all fresh and see if we could pull it off," he explains. "That was a little bit scary." But after starting songwriting sessions Jan. 1 on the West Coast, Pop Evil quickly felt like it had the goods to take a step forward when it hunkered down in Seattle with producer Adam Kasper (Pearl Jam, Aerosmith, Nirvana, Foo Fighters and more).

"I think what fans maybe don't see or forget about us is we never really had that major budget where we went in and did our thing," Kataky says. "We've had to learn as we go. So I think the coolest thing about our band as you're watching from album to album is you're really watching our band grow up, and I think that's the biggest thing about 'Up' is when you listen to it you're like, 'Wow, this band literally has grown up. You can hear it.

"So we really tried to challenge ourselves this time around to just not be content wtih the success we had on 'Onyx.' We're like, 'Look, we're not gonna just come in here and make 'Trenches 2' because it worked for us.' That was very important on this record."

"Up" is already off to a good start with its first single, "Footsteps," which is already Top 5 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. Pop Evil -- which plays at 8:15 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8, at Dirt Fest in Birch Run -- is anxious to start playing more of the album live, and Kataky says the group will be logging the miles to make sure "Up" gets its due.

"We're gonna go nonstop 'til Christmas," he says. "We're gonna do as much as possible to get our new music out there. We're counting the days until Aug. 21; we left the studio in March, so it's been fine-tuning it and getting street dates lined up and everything. Now we're excited for everyone to get it and to see what the fans think. And we're definitely excited to get some new music in our live shows, for sure."

Dirt Fest 2015,

Friday and Saturday, Aug. 7-8. Gates open at 2 p.m. Friday, noon on Saturday.

Birch Run Expo Center, 11600 N. Beyer Road.

Tickets are $45 per day general admission in advance, $60 day of show, $89 VIP.

Visit www.dirtfest.com for more details.

Web Site: www.dirtfest.com

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