In order to survive over the last fifteen months, the music industry has had to go through a massive change. Ahead of the release of their new album, Versatile, we spoke to Michigan alt-rock group Pop Evil about how important it is for bands to be on top of their game in 2021 and whether or not that inspired their new record.

Thanks for your time, how is life treating you today?

“It’s been good. The new album is almost out and shows are getting booked! I’m just trying to stay positive and take it one day at a time.”

You debuted your new single ‘Set Me Free’, was this inspired by the challenges of lockdown?

“Nope, the new album was all written before the pandemic. With our songs ‘Work’, ‘Breathe Again’, and ‘Set Me Free’, the pandemic definitely gave them a new meaning and perspective. Crazy how the songs are so relatable now.”

The music industry has taken a battering over the past twelve months, what has kept you going as a band?

“Has it ever. The new music has definitely helped me stay positive. Both individually and as a band, we use music to keep us going. Finalizing and planning this album was also a huge motivator. I’m patiently waiting and looking forward to the next time we can all be back to concerts doing what we love.”

Again the title of the album Versatile has it been inspired by the lockdown and the fact that artists have had to adapt to survive?

“Both the title of the album and the songs were a weird twist of fate. Versatile encompasses Pop Evil and our ability as a band to grow and change. However, it’s incredible how this whole album is so relatable to these crazy times. All artists have definitely been forced to adapt and, well, to become more versatile.”

The new single ‘Breathe Again’ went straight into the rock radio charts, a great way to prepare for the release of the album?

“‘Breathe’ has become a battle cry for most of us waiting to return to concerts. This song has really resonated with our fans. We all can relate. It’s been amazing to see this song quickly become a fan favourite. We are excited to finally play this one live.”

The album is out on May 21, are the singles out so far a good taster for what we can expect from the rest of Versatile?

“You will have to be the judge of that. We are very proud of this album and we can’t wait to release it to the world. It’s all a part of our evolution as a band. We’ve always had a heavy side and a lighter side and we think this album captures it all. Hopefully, it will help bring positivity and smiles to a world that desperately needs it.”

Artwork for ‘Versatile’ by Pop Evil

There are other tracks on the album “Survivor,” “Human Nature,” “Fire Inside” that would suggest inspiration from your lives over the last twelve months? Is that the case and what have you learned about yourselves as people and as a band?

“I know I have learned how to appreciate the little things. You learn very quickly what is important in life when your identity is taken away. This pandemic has rocked us all to our core. I feel like these songs are going to help inspire many fans moving forward. I look forward to sharing them with our fans.”

You’ve described the sound of the album as heading into unchartered territories. Did the enforced lockdown give you the breathing space to explore new territories with your sound?

“Lockdown definitely gave us time to hone in on all the fine details ween finalizing the album. We took our time on this record. We tried a lot of different things and made sure to try to have as much fun as possible. We wanted our fans to hear for themselves the authentic energy that we were creating in the studio.”

This being the case, where do you see the sound developing from here?

“Who knows what’s going to come out after COVID. Time will tell. We just trust the process and focus on enjoying this new album.”

You’re now six albums into your career, given the enforced break, do you feel like the return to some normality in the music industry is a new chapter for the band?

“Absolutely, it feels like a new sense of urgency has been unleashed. Now more than ever, it’s important to bring your A-game. There is so much at stake with every tour, every album, and every new song we release. You never know what the future holds.”

Live music has just returned with a test event in the UK, what are your plans for when live music hopefully returns?

“We have shows booked already up until fall! If those all go well, then I would expect we would be closer to normal in 2022. I’m staying positive and I’m excited to see progress moving forward.”

As we return to normality, how would you sum up the last twelve months for Pop Evil and what are your hopes for the future?

“Eye-opening. They were very tough but I’m not going to lie. In the beginning, it was nice to rest my voice, body and mind. I needed a break and, approaching our 20 year anniversary, I was grateful for an extra-long one. We are all done resting. We are now very much ready to Rock N Roll.”

Thanks for your time, now that life appears to be returning to some normality, just to finish can you let our readers know what they can expect from Pop Evil in 2021?

“Thank you for having me. Hopefully lots, lots, and lots of touring.”

I have an unhealthy obsession with bad horror movies, the song Wanted Dead Or Alive and crap British game shows. I do this not because of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle it affords me but more because it gives me an excuse to listen to bands that sound like hippos mating.