Kongos is a really, really big deal these days, but just a few short months ago, you could have seen them in any small local venue around town. The four brothers, who split their time between South Africa and the Valley, attended Chaparral High School and Arizona State University. They’re truly homegrown heroes.
The Kongos brothers come from a musical family, including their father, John, who is best known for his 1971 Top 10 hit single, “He’s Gonna Step On You Again,” on which the ‘90s band Happy Mondays based their hit “Step On.”
“My parents taught us music from an early age,” says bass and lap slide guitarist Dylan Kongos. “They believed it was something we’d enjoy later in life. It wasn’t necessarily to create a band.”
But now that their smash hit single “Come with Me Now” is certified platinum, selling over 1 million digital copies in the United States, we’ll have to share them with the rest of the world. Sorry, Phoenix.
Kongos have had a “pretty crazy” nine months on the road, according to Dylan.
“It’s been 10 or 11 years of build up to that,” he says in his faint South African accent. “But the last eight or nine months have been insane.”
He is somewhat modest about the popularity of “Come with Me Now,” which appears on Kongos’ sophomore album, Lunatic.
“I think it’s timing and a little bit of luck,” he says. Kongos explains that bands like Mumford and Sons, with their propensity for banjos and acoustic rhythms, have opened up the minds of listeners and radio stations, paving the way for songs like “Come with Me Now.”
“But the song’s definitely connecting,” he adds. “You can’t discount that. It’s a lot of timing and luck.”
The song has resonated not only with fans and radio stations, but the rest of the entertainment industry as well. “Come with Me Now” was placed in commercials for movies like “The Expendables 3” and was chosen as the theme song for the WWE pay-per-view “Extreme Rules.”
“It’s kind of weird,” he says. “We’re on the bus and touring so much that we don’t get to watch that much TV or movies. We get texts from friends or messages saying, ‘I just saw your song on this or that.’ It’s pretty exciting.”
The brothers—Danny, 25, guitars/ vocals; Jesse, 30, drums/vocals; and Johnny, 32, accordion/keyboards— actually released Lunatic in South Africa first in December 2012.
After signing with Epic Records, they re-released the album on February 25. “The timing between the release of Lunatic in South Africa and the success it started to have here in the States has been over two years,” he says.
Now it’s just a matter of time before Kongos can get back into the studio because their touring schedule is so jam-packed, which isn’t that bad of a problem, Kongos says.
“First-world problems,” he adds with a laugh.