North Muskegon, Michigan ain't exactly the hippest rock 'n' roll town in the world, or even that state. Yet, despite its almost total lack of diversity (97 percent white) and very rural, out-of-the-way location on the west side of the mitten, it has managed to spawn an alt-metal/post-grunge band in Pop Evil that's lauded globally, mainly thanks to the most recent album, 2015's Up. They're hitting Tucson, so we chatted to singer Leigh Kakaty about the five albums that changed his life.
With Red Sun Rising, Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 7:45 p.m., Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress. $24-$26. All ages.
1. Guns N' Roses—Appetite For Destruction: the artwork alone was mind-blowing to a young kid. It was just so reckless, it was raw, it was dangerous, and it was the early stage of the Parental Advisory stickers. When you throw in the guitar tones, and the way that Axl's voice squealed—obviously that record affected a lot of people and I was definitely one of them. Guns N' Roses had a big impact on our band, from the drummer all the way through to our guitar player and bassist. It's also a lesson in how to make sure that you don't have a big (personal) fallout. Open the lines of communication so you don't have the situation where you have all that success but can't even play together. Every song is a hit on Appetite, and once you heard that album, it was something you wanted to push yourself to do.
2. Pearl Jam—Ten: Pearl Jam was it for me. The way Eddie Vedder's voice melodically rises and falls. The way they could pick up an acoustic guitar and of course still slay on an electric. It was a very big influence on the way I write and the way Pop Evil's been from a frontman perspective. Just dirty, so perfectly arrogant to be himself, and the way the band came together like brothers to take on the world. It's amazing that they took on Ticketmaster and MTV, and anything they felt was an injustice to the music. For us to be able to make a record in Seattle with Adam Kasper (producer of records by Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Foo Fighters, and more), and a chance to hang with Eddie Vedder at his house, was a full-circle moment for me.
3. Kid Rock—The History of Rock: The one with "American Bad Ass" on it. A Michigan guy who was able to elevate a state. When you come from Michigan with all the economic struggle that is the car business, he was able to inspire a whole state to come together and be proud, and remind us that we might not be perfect but we've got the music, we've got Detroit Rock City—Kid Rock was going to take us to the promised land.
4. Red Hot Chili Peppers—Blood Sugar Sex Magik: That whole record was a movement for me personally. That album alone made me fight to bring a Walkman to school. You just wanted to be a part of that. That was the album where you'd sit at school and learn how to rap, but also be able to learn how to sing. Trying to keep up with Anthony Kiedis on "Give it Away." That album was monumental to me.
5. Rage Against the Machine—Rage Against the Machine: That record was mind-blowing. It was unbelievable to know that you could be that passionate about something, and what they were trying to do. From track 1-12, you could be in that same zone and ready to take on the world. The way that (frontman) Zack de la Rocha could weave in and out of the pocket with a flow, but also motivate you with a chant. The way he could repeat lyrics and make you feel inspired to rise up and do something better with your life. When I think back on all the adversity I had in my life, Rage was there in the early stages to get me through.