Posted On 15 Sep 2014
Tag: african, african tribal music, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, Amadou, Artist Interview, Busta Rhymes, classic rock, Daniel Kongos, Dylan Kongos, elbow, Epic, Epic Records, Good Vibrations, James Brown, Jazz, Jesse Kongos, John Kongos, Johnny Kongos, KATY PERRY, Kings Of Leon, Kongos, Kwaito, Massive Attack, Miriam, Mohammed Raffi, One Republic, opera, Pharrell, Qawwali, Ricky Martin, Sia, South Africa, South African Music, Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boys, Tinariwen, “Come With Me Now”
Kongos (often styled as KONGOS) is a South African alternative rock/kwaito band consisting of four brothers: Johnny (accordion, keyboard, vocals), Jesse (drums, percussion, vocals), Daniel (guitar, vocals), and Dylan Kongos (bass guitar, lap slide guitar, vocals). They spent their childhoods in the city of London and in South Africa. They compose, record and perform in Phoenix, where they have lived since 1996. They graduated from Chaparral High School in Scottsdale and attended Arizona State University. The four men are the sons of John Kongos. They are of Greek origin and have attended the Greek Saheti school in Gauteng, South Africa.
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa got to catch up with the band during one of their days off from their current tour. Read more below to learn more about the South African rockers!
Hi guys! So where does this interview find you today? What’s on the agenda besides this interview?
It’s one of our few days off and we’re in Virginia Beach! So we’ll be going to the beach and chilling, eating, drinking, maybe surfing badly.
How did band come to be? What was your musical background?
We’re brothers and we all played music as kids and getting the band together was pretty easy.
Your single, “Come With Me Now” is such an infectious song and the record itself, Lunatic, is just an awesome record! It was actually released in 2012 in South Africa where it was a big hit, but right now you guys are touring the United States playing songs that are well over two years old and people are considering this “new music.” Is it weird that people in different countries consider work you put together a few years ago to be “brand new?”
It’s not that strange as it’s still new to them. Playing the songs live to an energetic audience screaming the words back to you brings a whole new vitality to our “old music”.
What was the inspiration for, “Come With Me Now”? How did that song come about?
Lyrically, it’s about losing unnecessary fears and inhibitions. Musically, it was inspired by a South African style of music called Kwaito.
You’re signed to a major label (Epic), something a lot of bands out there can’t say anymore. How has this label helped you guys succeed?
They’ve supported us creatively and have really tried to get our music into more peoples hands and to a wider audience.
Who are your influences? I understand your father John Kongos had a number of hits in South Africa and the U.K. back in the 70s. To you guys, did your dad have a direct influence on your sound and/or becoming a band? Or is this all a coincidence and just a thing how sons sometimes inherit things from their dad?
Our dad was definitely an influence, not only because of his music and career in the music business but also because of all the different styles of music and culture he exposed us to while growing up…opera, classic rock, african tribal music, jazz, Qawwali music, etc.
What was the first song you fell in love with growing up?
Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys
Who is in your current playlist? Any “guilty pleasure” songs or who would we be surprised to find on your playlist?
Tinariwen, Amadou and Miriam, Elbow, Massive Attack, James Brown, Pharrell, Mohammed Raffi, Busta Rhymes and more. No guilty pleasures as we don’t feel guilty for listening to music like Katy Perry, Sia, Ricky Martin etc.
If you had the opportunity to work with any act/artist from the past, present or future, who would it be and why? If you could spend the day with them, where would you go…and what would you do?
Stevie Wonder because he’s a genius songwriter. We would go to his studio and watch him record a song/album.
What’s your most memorable tour story so far that you can share with our readers?
Our FOH engineer being kidnapped by a taxi driver was probably the most memorable.
What’s on tap next for you guys?
Lots of touring, we finish up this Kings Of Leon tour in October, then we play a few festivals before heading to Europe with One Republic.
To keep up with Kongos, visit their website here