preps for international stage
Alternative rock quartet Kongos opens for Kings of Leon at the Hollywood
Bowl on Friday.
BY KELLI SKYE FADROSKI /
Published: Oct. 1, 2014 Updated: 11:20 a.m.
When Kongos launched into
its biggest radio single, “Come With Me Now,” on the side
stage at the 2014 KROQ Weenie Roast at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
in Irvine in May, the crowd went bonkers.
As the band – brothers Dylan, Daniel, Johnny and Jesse Kongos
– delivered the foot-stompin’ track that includes some well-placed
accordion music, the audience roared along, and the guys fed on that
enthusiasm, with giant grins plastered on their faces.
Behind the main stage, where acts such as Capital Cities, Fitz &
the Tantrums, Fall Out Boy, Beck, Foster the People, Bastille and the
Neighborhood were milling about, Kongos stopped for a quick chat, still
beaming from a successful afternoon performance.
“It’s so crazy, and we never expected it to go this big
or this fast,” Dylan said of “Come With Me Now.”
Thanks to massive amounts of radio airplay, the track hit No. 1 on the
alternative charts. It also has been used in the broadcast of several
sporting events, including the bulk of WWE’s pay-per-view matches.
It was featured in the theatrical trailer for the summer action movie
“The Expendables 3.”
Kongos has been touring with Kings of Leon on its Mechanical Bull tour,
along with Orange County favorites Young the Giant, since July 31. The
tour stops by the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on Friday, but the band
drops off the bill before Kings of Leon’s jaunt officially wraps
up at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine on Sunday. The group was
committed to a performance at Austin City Limits in Texas that same
“When the Kings of Leon tour came together, there were just so
many legendary venues that we were going to get to play, like the Hollywood
Bowl,” Johnny said. “Playing these shows with two great
bands, that’s pretty much the dream. We are bummed that we won’t
get to come back here to Irvine on the tour, though.”
After the brief stint in Texas, Kongos will meet One Republic in London
to serve as support on its European tour through late November.
Heading overseas is a homecoming of sorts for the group. Three of the
four brothers were born in London before moving to South Africa, where
the youngest brother, Daniel, was born. Their father, John, is a singer-songwriter,
and their mother, Shelley, got the guys interested in playing music
at an early age. By the time the boys were in middle school, the family
relocated to the United States, settling in Phoenix, where their mother
“There’s a lot of hate on Arizona,” Johnny said. “Some
of that is for good reason because they have some ridiculous politicians,
but living there, it was nice because we weren’t in one of the
crazy music hubs like in Los Angeles, New York or London, and we didn’t
feel like we had to be involved in any sort of trend.
“We had our space to do our own thing and figure out our sound
all on our own without a particular scene putting an influence on it.”
Inspired by artists such as the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Jackson Browne,
Paul Simon, Bob Marley and Freddie King, the guys tinkered with a variety
of music genres and admit their first self-titled record, released in
2007, was purely a “trial and error process, written and recorded
live, for the most part, in the studio,” Johnny said.
The group’s second effort, “Lunatic” debuted in 2012
and sounded much more polished. When the band self-released the album
in October 2013 in the U.S., it caught the attention of Epic Records,
which eventually signed Kongos in January.
“We’re always writing and thinking of new things,”
Johnny said. “But ‘Lunatic’ really isn’t that
old, so we’re just really focusing on touring with it as much
as we can.”
For this actual band of brothers, fights between members can get a little
more personal, but Johnny said the group’s squabbles are just
like any other rock band.
“By the time any band has been together for 10 years, they might
as well be brothers,” Jesse said. “At the end of the day,
we’re actually all blood-related, so I think it would be harder
for us to actually break up as a band.”
“We are brothers, but we fight like sisters,” Dylan said.
“If we broke up, that would be a very difficult conversation to
have with our parents,” Johnny said.