Bands of brothers: With Hanson, Kongos, family ties strong at The Hop Jam

By | May 19, 2017

Tulsa World

So there’s this band scheduled to perform at The Hop Jam.

All the band’s members are brothers.

The name of the band is the brothers’ last name.

Are we talking about Hanson?

Or are we talking about Kongos?

Hanson (roster: Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson) will headline the music and beer festival scheduled Sunday in the Brady Arts District.

But Kongos (roster: Johnny, Jesse, Daniel and Dylan Kongos) will be among Main Stage acts. The band will perform in Tulsa two days after a gig at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas.

This was pitched to Dylan during a recent phone interview: Tell me something nobody else could understand about being in a band with your brothers unless you are actually in the band. What will an outsider never understand about that dynamic unless you are in it?

“They probably wouldn’t understand the ability to go from an explosive argument — which seems like it’s the end of the world and the band is going to break up — to immediately being able to go on stage, and then come off stage and be over the argument and not even be concerned with it anymore,” he said.

“I think maybe they can understand that just from being in a family. Sometimes you go from one emotional state to another pretty quickly. The difference here is we’re in a band and when we have to go right from that to performing. You have to change your state of mind and your emotional state pretty quickly.”

When you’re in a family, it’s easier to slip into explosive arguments, and it’s easier to move on from them, Dylan suggested.

By the way, explosive arguments aren’t the norm for Kongos. Dylan said he was just offering an example in response to the question that was pitched to him.

The brothers are in the family business. Their father, John Kongos, is a South African singer and songwriter who charted singles in the 1970s.

The bros — with roots in South Africa, London and Arizona — have produced chart singles, too, including “Come With Me Now,” which went platinum and rose to No. 1 on the U.S. alternative rock chart in 2011. “Take It From Me” on the band’s most recent album, “Egomaniac,” ascended to No. 9 on the alternative chart and No. 16 on the rock chart.

Because of the brothers’ background, influences came from everywhere.

“We grew up with our dad’s record collection, which was everything from classical music like Bach and Chopin to classic rock and then African tribal music and Burundi music and opera,” Dylan said, adding that his father was among early experimenters with computer and electronic music.

So when you hear all these things, what sticks?

“A little bit of everything honestly,” Dylan said. “Not one thing stuck so that we just tried to copy that or mimic that. A little bit of everything seeps into your subconscious and then it comes out when you are writing a song or when you are producing or arranging an album. It just all kind of comes out bit by bit.”

Kongos is no stranger to Tulsa. Dylan said it feels like he and his brothers have been to Tulsa at least two times a year for the past three years, “which is cool. We’re happy to come.”

Kongos has played at Guthrie Green and the Brady Theater and Cain’s Ballroom. The band has performed at the Center of the Universe Festival in the Brady Arts District and will take part at The Hop Jam, a fourth-year festival, for the first time.

Dylan said several things about The Hop Jam appealed to Kongos. Among those things: the lineup, the beer festival and a fondness for Tulsa.

“We know we have got a good fan base there,” he said. “And … it just happened to line up with the end of our little run that we’re doing here in the springtime, so it worked out.”

What does he hope the “takeaway” will be for those who attend Kongos’ show at The Hop Jam?

“I think we want them to really listen to the variety of songs and the variety of songwriting because I think most people still only know us for one or two songs, if they even know us,” he said.

“They might even just know the song and not know who the band is that did it. I think it’s the story of many bands that have had success in radio or had a hit single. The struggle after that is trying to represent the band as a whole and the rest of their material. I think we really get that across when we play live. I think this show particularly, with all the new songs from ‘Egomaniac,’ there is a huge spectrum of sounds and ideas, and I think that’s the takeaway that we want people to have.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *