Pop Evil Shares 'Colors Bleed' Video, Talks Venturing Into Political Territory

Clay Patrick McBride
Pop EvilĀ 

Over the course of its first four albums, Pop Evil did not foray into the realm of the political and topical. But that's changing with its upcoming self-titled effort and the track "Colors Bleed," whose video has just been released.

"'Colors Bleed' was written after the Charlottesville incident, and it just came out of me naturally," frontman Leigh Kakaty tells Billboard, referring to the August white nationalist rally in Virginia where one person was killed and more were injured, causing an international outcry. "I think it was just kind of me venting, in my own way, to get people be aware that, look, there's obviously racial issues that are going on from all aspects, all different colors, minority background, throughout this country, but it's this melting pot of culture that has made America great, that's made us who we are. I think it's important to let our fan base know that we are aware of what's going on." And this may well not be the last time Kakaty and Pop Evil venture into this territory.

"I'm open to wherever the music takes me," says Kakaty. "It's important for us to have topics or subjects that matter, whether it's political, whether it's inspiring, whatever. First of all, the music's got to be good and the topics have to be relevant to what’s going on. Obviously playing around the world now we have a more global reach, so it's important for us to be aware and be open-minded to writing songs that can connect with people all over the world. If the music takes me to a little more serious place, then I'm not afraid to go there. I think that'll just happen naturally for us as the band continues to grow and as the writing maturation process continues."

"Colors Bleed" hits particularly close to home for Kakaty, who's of Indian/Canadian descent (though has lived in western Michigan, where Pop Evil is based, for most of his life) and particularly conscious about race issues. "I never had the role models," Kakaty notes. "When you look at guys like Robert Plant or even Kurt Cobain to Eddie Vedder, where does a guy like me fit in? Rage Against The Machine (Zack de la Rocha), at least he was of minority descent, but there weren't many for me to go, 'OK, cool, that's where I need to look to.' No one would ever have predicted a mixed Indian guy singing in front of a rock band years ago."

"The #MeToo movement has been a paramount inspiration to my creative endeavors," says director Columbia Tatone. "The courage of individuals has inspired and empowered me, not only as a female director but as a truth-seeker. 'Colors Bleed' highlights togetherness: standing together against global issues. #MeToo has put the spotlight on equality, and through this video, we were able to portray the many ways we’re pitted against each other and how we can’t fight fire with more fire. As men and women, we have come alongside one another and stand together peacefully. I’m grateful and honored that Pop Evil invited me to collaborate with them and be a part of their journey."

The Pop Evil album comes out Feb. 16, following successes such as 2015's Up and 2013's Onyx and a string of radio hits such as "Trenches," "Deal With the Devil," "Torn To Pieces" and "Footsteps." Kakaty says the group -- including drummer Hayley Cramer on her first recording -- and new producer Kato Khandwala walked into Pop Evil feeling the stakes are higher still and hoping to make another statement that moves the group forward.

"It's important that Pop Evil have an identity; We just felt like we haven't been able to steer it in the right direction or really give it that clear-cut yin and yang yet," Kakaty explains. "We're definitely metal and rock influenced, but there's also an opportunity to be more alt and more vibe-driven musically, and we really wanted to get that point across clear on this record. It's a challenge, so that's what we're trying to do with this record and hopefully we can steer that and define it even more as we continue to grow on future albums." In the case of "Colors Bleed," meanwhile, Kakaty also embraced a more rap-style delivery that he's generally kept at arm's length.

"This time it was important for me to not be afraid to express myself in ways I shied away from before," he says. "'Trenches' was the only time where I felt comfortable to give a more rap delivery on a song. Obviously we had success with 'Trenches' at the time but still I was just kind of afraid to go there again on future records with all the rap-rock negativity. I had to mature as a vocalist and as a frontman and have the confidence to myself to talk about these kinds of issues like this."

Kakaty and company will see how it all plays out as the group hits the road Feb. 14 for "non-stop" touring that Pop Evil hopes will take it around the world again this year and into next.

"We're really excited about sprinkling in this new material and showcasing the band as we are now and where we hope to be in the future," Kakaty says. "We want to bring it live, 'cause that's where true fans are won over. You can hear any great song on the radio or on TV, but when you see bands live, that's when you really know if you're a fan or not, if you want to come to repeat shows and keep coming to support that band. It's important for us to put all the attention into the live show and really make that experience special for our fans."