Dylan Kongos, the Greek-South African frontman of the alternative music group KONGOS, sat down with Greek Reporter’s music guru Markos Papadatos to talk about the success of their hit single “Come With Me Now,” as well as their “Mechanical Bull” tour which started on July 31.
Kongos are originally from South Africa, and aside from Dylan, the quartet of brothers is comprised of Daniel, Jesse and Johnny. These brothers are all multi-instrumentalists, where Dylan and Jesse handle the vocals live and they play bass and drums respectively on stage. Their older brother Johnny plays accordion and piano, while Danny is featured on slide and regular guitar.
Their breakthrough single, Come With Me Now,” has been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for digital sales of over 500,000 units. This marks the quartet’s first gold plaque in the United States. It has reached No. 1 on alternative radio for five weeks, where it enjoyed the quickest ascent to the top of that chart by a new band ever.
“The accordion/keyboard player wrote it a while ago. Johnny was just messing around with the groove and the style of music, and he added accordion to it, and then, the lyrics came after that,” he said.
“The song’s chart success was just incredible. It gained spins all around the country and it started to rise on the charts and it was reacting so well. We didn’t really expect it to go as far as it did. Everything after it hit No. 1 it has been the cherry on top.”
It has also fared well from an international standpoint. It hit No. 1 at modern rock radio and has been certified platinum in Canada, while reaching No. 1 on the Colombian rock charts as well. “Come With Me Now” is a track from their debut studio album, Lunatic, which was released via their record label, Epic Records. It has earned such high-profile television placements as American Idol, FX, CNN, NBC Sports, ESPN, NFL, WWE, among others; moreover, Ram Trucks is using the instantly recognizable anthem to fuel its latest commercial. “That’s kind of crazy,” he admitted. “It also feels like everybody is using it for commercials, television shows, sports or some type of promotions.”
KONGOS have performed “Come With Me Now” on Late Night With Seth Meyers and they made their television debut in the United States on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Their latest single “I’m Only Joking” has already impacted alternative radio.
“Jesse, the drummer wrote that song, and you could easily tell from the loud drums heard in the song. It was inspired by a rhythm from a tribe in Africa, where they walk around with these massive drums, so Jesse went into the studio and recorded it with 20 or 30 African drums around the studio and banged out this rhythm,” he said.On July 31, they embarked on the “Mechanical Bull” tour, where they will be supporting the Grammy-winning group Kings of Leon. “We just arrived in St. Louis today and it’s rehearsal day, since tomorrow is the first day of the tour. Everybody has been very kind, and we are excited to play in these huge venues for the next two months,” he said. “The next few months we will be playing five shows a week, and I think we might even play more than 200 shows this year.”
One of their tour stops will be at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, in Wantagh, New York, on August 13. “It’s going to be our first time that we will be playing in New York. The last time we were there, we were doing television shows and small little showcases for labels and publishers, but this will be the first time that we will be playing a big venue. We have seen the venue and it looks incredible, and hopefully, a good amount of people will know who we are and will show up,” he said.
This fall, they will be joining OneRepublic on their European tour run. “That starts in October, and we will be there for five weeks. That’s going to be really interesting since we have toured Europe before, and it’s going to be a lot of cities that we have never been to,” he said.
They have been lauded by Rolling Stone as one of their “10 New Artists You Need to Know,” as well as by USA Today as an artist “On The Verge” and as VH1’s “You Oughta Know” artist for the month of May, all of which were flattering for Dylan. “That was one of the first pieces of press that we got this year, and just to have your name associated with Rolling Stone or Billboard is really cool. It’s like a stamp of approval, and when they list you, then people that notice. It was really excited to see that,” he said.
Dylan grew up on such classic rock artists as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, as well as Joni Mitchell and Jackson Browne from a songwriting standpoint. “I love the singer-songwriters,” he said.
He also listed his father, South African/British singer-songwriter, John Kongos, as a major influence, and Joni Mitchell as his dream female duet choice. “My father was an inspiration musically and he introduced us to different styles of music and different cultures from an early age,” he said. “A duet with Joni Mitchell would very cool for me since I grew up listening to a lot of her songs.”
Dylan revealed that his family is of Greek origin, and he and his brothers attended Greek school in South Africa. “We went to a small, private Greek school in Johannesburg. My dad is originally from Greece, and I speak a tiny bit of Greek. When I was in Greece, I could get by ordering food and I could have a very minimal conversation with someone,” he said.
For more information on the alternative band KONGOS and their upcoming tour dates, check out their official website www.kongos.com.