May 24

Saturday: Phoenix rock band brings national hit to KFMA Day

2014-05-22T00:00:00Z Saturday: Phoenix rock band brings national hit to KFMA DayBy Gerald M. Gay Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

KFMA Day returns to Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday for its annual installment of heavy guitars and hard rock under the sweltering summer sun.

SoCal veteran band Linkin Park is slated to headline the show. Sublime with Rome is the second billed, with several other smaller acts, including Memphis May Fire from Dallas and Nico Vega from Los Angeles, rounding out the lineup.

Among the freshman class of national acts to appear is Kongos, a band of brothers from Phoenix that has taken on national airplay with its infectious, accordion-laced hit song, “Come With Me Now.”

The Kongos brothers — Dylan, Daniel, Jesse and Johnny Kongos — spent most of their childhoods in England and South Africa.

Their father, John Kongos, is a singer-songwriter who was born in Johannesburg. He met their American mom, originally from Phoenix, in London. She was a traveling model and he was recording an album.

“They met in the restaurant across the street from the studio,” drummer Jesse Kongos said last week during a phone interview from the road.

The family moved to Phoenix while the Kongos kids were still young to be closer to family. The brothers were all raised to value music. Jesse and Johnny studied jazz at Arizona State University.

Their love for the craft eventually led to forming a group.

“We thought we could put a band together and avoid getting real jobs,” Jesse said.

Despite living in the United States, the group’s music didn’t take off until they sent singles from their impending sophomore release, “Lunatic,” to radio stations in South Africa.

The band’s track, “I’m Only Joking,” began receiving regular airplay. “Lunatic” received widespread acclaim when released in the country in 2012.

“We toured South Africa five times within a year,” Jesse said. “We really got quite a lot done out there.”

Now that “Come With Me Now” has gained traction in the U.S., Kongos has been hitting the road full-force. The popularity of the song has been propelled by it being featured on shows such as “The Originals” on the CW network and on the 2014 MTV Movie Awards.

“It is moving very fast now,” Jesse said. “We are still trying to catch up.”

Jesse said the band’s sound, which incorporates global influences, was driven by living in Arizona.

“It is a relatively isolated place,” Jesse said of Phoenix. “There is a lot going on in major hubs like London, New York City or Los Angeles. You can easily get caught up in the scene. Being in Phoenix kept us to ourselves and allowed us to explore our own tastes.”

Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at ggay@azstarnet.com or 807-8430.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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