Being a band of brothers is literally what Kongos are all about.
The Phoenix-based, South Africa-and-England-raised quartet of male siblings currently have a No. 1 alt-rock hit, Come with Me Now, in the U.S.
“There’s solidity (working with brothers),” said guitarist-slide guitarist Daniel Kongos during a recent promo stop in Toronto.
“We would find it very hard to work with other people because as much as we get on each other’s nerves we can also get over that kind of thing. There’s a familiarity.”
“No matter what you say, at the end of it you can’t really walk away from the relationship,” Johnny Kongos (pianist-accordion) added. “It’s physically impossible. There’s blood between us. So we say horrible things to each other but we know at the end of the day we’re brothers.”
Come with Me Now is from Kongos’ 2012 debut album, Lunatic, first released in South Africa to great acclaim and a subsequent tour before they self-released it in North America in 2013. They were eventually signed to Epic Records after label head L.A. Reid heard Come with Me Now.
Kongos, who have Canadian dates through August starting Wednesday night in London, Ont., have also performed on Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers, and more recently were announced as openers for Kings of Leon this summer along with Young The Giant.
The group come by music honestly as the four sons of John Kongos, who had a 1971 hit with He’s Going To Step On You Again subsequently covered by ‘90s Madchester pioneers, Happy Mondays, who shortened it to Step On.
“It was obvious to him that we’d learn music - he viewed it as a subject almost,” said Daniel of their father. “Music, math, gymnastics. We didn’t learn gymnastics or math.”
Dad - “an unused pair of ears” and kind of executive producer on Luntaic - ended up singing background vocals on a few songs on the album whose sound, ultimately, is hard to define.
“It’s rock and roll music with a lot of influences,” said Johnny. “We’ve actually stuck with a lot of the music we grew up listening to like we’re still into a lot of Dr. Dre and a lot of ‘90s hip hop. ... You’re not going to hear Dr. Dre in any of our album but sort of his production sensibility and minimalism, how everything is essential.”
Added Daniel: “We were like, ‘Well, what would Dr. Dre do?’ He would take out 80% of the unnecessary nonsense.’”