How Kongos Owe Their Epic Records Deal to Seether, Shazam, and . . . Terrestrial Radio?
If you'd told the brothers Kongos two years ago that their second album would still be going strong in 2014 and, in fact, gathering strength by the day with no end in sight, they would've called you "lunatic."
Courtesy Photo Kongos: Hitting the big time.
But it's true. Lunatic, the Phoenix band's sophomore effort, self-released in 2012 in the United States with major label distribution in their homeland of South Africa, handily cemented Kongos as hitmakers in that part of the world.
After the heady heights of doing huge festivals in Johannesburg and Cape Town, signing autographs and seeing their records charting in the upper echelons of South African radio, Johnny, Jesse, Dylan, and Danny Kongos returned to their adoptive United States, which, Phoenix notwithstanding, was giving them the cold shoulder and asking them to sleep it off on the couch.
Swish-pan to January 2014, and it's a different world: Billboard reports that "Come with Me Now" is the fastest-added song on alternative radio since Lorde's "Royals." Kongos sign a Sony ATV publishing agreement and a record deal with L.A. Reid at Epic.
And on January 28, when Kongos pull down their version of Lunatic from iTunes, Epic seamlessly puts up its Lunatic, virtually identical to the album Kongos remastered for America two years ago.
Fast-forward to March, after Rolling Stone predicts Kongos are about to break in America. The group makes its national television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and "Come with Me Now" is the number one record on alternative radio in the United States and in Canada.
Skip to April, to announcements that Kongos will be appearing at big festivals like Sasquatch, Summerfest, Firefly, Osheaga in Montreal, and Lollapalooza. And by the time you read this, the band will have made a second TV appearance, on Seth Meyers' late-night show.
The brothers still seem stunned -- yet not stunned -- by it all. It's the same sort of dazed acceptance you will encounter when you are actually living your dream.