Return to KONGOS

Kongos chat 'Come With Me Now' success, brutal honesty and more after Made in America show

By Julia Hatmaker |

on September 01, 2014

If you've turned on your television at any point this summer, you've heard the Kongos.

The all-brother group, made up of Dylan, Daniel, Jesse and Johnny Kongos, has been blowing up alternative rock charts this year with their song "Come With Me Now." The song has become a favorite of commercials. It has been featured on everything from trailers for "The Expendables 3," promos for CNN, video game adverts for "Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel" and numerous sporting events. It was also the official theme song for the WWE's "Extreme Rules" program.

Most recently, the group performed the song at Budweiser's Made in America Festival on Aug. 31 in Philadelphia, where the crowd couldn't help but go nuts.

It's a complete turn around from when the group started.

"We were struggling just to get people to give [our music] a chance, to listen to it and get it on the radio and now all of a sudden people are using it to promote like... a Stallone movie," said bass guitarist Dylan Kongos, after his Made in America set.

Part of the problem was the Kongos unusual set-up, it's a rock band with an accordion.

And the accordion gets solos.

And it works.

It's unconventional, but the Kongos have successfully proved that an accordion has some serious edge.

Combining the accordion with thumping beats, screaming guitar riffs, Kwaito (a South African blend of house and hip hop), Burundi drums, reggae and influences from bands throughout Africa and you have the Kongos signature sound - a multicultural mixture of in-your-face rock.

The African drumming influences are in part because of the groups South African heritage (they live in Phoenix, Arizona now), as well as the drum collection of their father, musician John Kongos.

"Our dad, not even intentionally, collected drums - African drums," Dylan Kongos said. "All kinds of instruments and they're kind of laying around the studio and they really became prominent on 'I'm Only Joking.' Jesse went into the studio and put out 20 or 30 drums and ran around and hit them as hard as he could in a rhythm and looped it."

Their father not only provided a drum collection, he also made sure that music was a part of his sons lives from an early age. "We came out of the womb with instruments," joked Dylan Kongos. "Our parents gave us piano lessons and encouraged us to play music as just basically another subject we would study in school, like mathematics."

When they became teens, that's when the jam sessions started. The formation of Kongos followed, along with performances at talent shows and clubs. "We didn't really want to get real jobs after that," Dylan Kongos grinned.

It could be tough being in a band with your brothers, but the Kongos make it sound easy.

"We have barricaded bunks..." joked guitarist Daniel Kongos. "And we have weekly punching sessions."

"It's not that bad," Dylan Kongos said. "We're really used to being in a band with bunch of guys and you figure out a year and a half into the tour that you actually don't much like those people."

Having your brothers with you helps creatively too. "We're brutally honest with each other," said Dylan Kongos. "Generally when you're playing with your brother you don't try to hurt the person, so you tell them the truth whether it's a song being [bad] or a song being good. If they tell you the song is good or what you're doing is good, you know it's probably the truth because you can't get your brother to say that willy nilly."

The Kongos' album "Lunatic" is available on iTunes and Check out the gallery below for more photos from the Kongos appearance at Made in America.