You check out their Web site and read the promo material, and you think you have a pretty good idea what Pop Evil is all about.

    Then you get on the phone for an interview with lead singer Leigh Kakaty, and you come away with a very different impression.


You check out their Web site and read the promo material, and you think you have a pretty good idea what Pop Evil is all about.
    Then you get on the phone for an interview with lead singer Leigh Kakaty, and you come away with a very different impression.
    Pop Evil pretty much personifies the American dream. They're hard working and creative, and they've set some very high goals for themselves. They started small in their home town of Grand Rapids, Mich. Lifelong friends, they put a band together in 2001 and played covers in bars around Michigan.
    "We learned a lot about music doing those covers," Kakaty said in a phone interview with the Globe. "We learned to understand the hook and how important it is in the structure of the piece."
    The band's Michigan roots are important to them. They grew up listening to the big Detroit artists: Eminem, Kid Rock, Bob Seger. They compare the affection Michigan fans have for those musician to the affection they have for their sports teams: the Lions, the Red Wings, the Pistons.
    "Those bands and those teams never get old for people in Michigan," Kakaty said.
    They continued working the small clubs, saving up to be able to afford a producer, to put out an album.
    Eventually they recorded an EP single with acclaimed producer Al Sutton, who spent a lot of time with Kid Rock.
    Last year, they teamed up with Sutton again and created their first album, "Lipstick on the Mirror." The epic architecture of the album traces the band's musical journey and solidly states their artistic principles.
    Two months ago, the band re-released the album on the Universal Republic Records label. The latest version is remixed and remastered.
    It's the two-month-long tour in support of the re-release that brings Pop Evil to Dodge City for tonight's Rock N' Race Fest.
    Since a July 5 concert in Wallingford, Conn., Pop Evil has been opening for Judas Priest and Whitesnake. Their tour route continues through Texas, California and Florida.

'We're not in Michigan anymore'
    "Our grade school teacher kept showing us this painting — I think it was called 'Tornado Over Kansas' — and it was dark and scary. That's all I know about Kansas," Kakaty said.
    Relieved to hear that the end of July is not really tornado season in Kansas, Kakaty described the band's progress in the past year.
    "We finally signed the right deal with management, got a record deal, and the job became full-time for all of us," he said.
    The band saved up enough money to buy a bus and outfit it for comfortable touring.
    "We don't really maintain 'homes,' so the bus is home base for us most of the year. Last year, we did over a hundred shows on our own," Kakaty said.
    The five-member band tours with a crew of five, and after the concert tonight they'll pack up and head for an appearance in San Antonio Saturday.
    According to Kakaty, all five members of the band write material for the group.         "Someone will come in with a hot hook and we'll just start working on it," he said. "We're more about writing good songs than coming up with a particular sound. We want songs my grandma will sing along to."
    If you look around the Web at some of their reviews, you can tell that Pop Evil always leaves the crowd in a party mood.
    "We do our part to bring the fun back to rock 'n' roll," Kakaty said. "We want to get back to good old grimy guitar playing, raw soloing and relatable, catchy choruses that you can't get out of your head — whether you like the song or not. We want to create our own musical family."
    If you like rock 'n' roll and you complain that there's nothing to do in Dodge City, you really should head out to the Rock N' Race Fest tonight. Along with Pop Evil you'll see Jesse James DuPree with Jackyl, a band out of Georgia that mixes hard rock, heavy metal and southern rock.
    And who knows? You might even develop a taste for sprint cars.