Signing Story: Kongos--How They Got Signed


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In the first whirlwind month since finalizing their deal with Epic Records, Phoenix based brothers Dylan Kongos, Jesse Kongos, Johnny Kongos and Danny Kongos saw their infectious, accordion and slide guitar-

driven official debut single “Come With Me Now” hit the Billboard Rock Airplay chart at No. 26 and Alternative Songs chart at No. 32 (where it was No. 1 most added). The track has been used as promos for the NFL, NBA and ESPN, and their debut album, Lunatic, originally issued in 2012, was released by Epic Jan. 27.

The past few years, the Kongos brothers—who grew up partially in South Africa—have been strictly DIY. In 2011, they sent their song “I’m Only Joking” to Phoenix DJ, Beef Vegan, who helped cultivate a local fan base by playing it on his non-commercial alternative station. Then they sent tracks to radio stations in South Africa and the same song blew up on the Top 40 station 5FM.

“The resulting spike in our iTunes sales put

us on the radar of various major labels.”

Kongos followed up by touring there five times in 2011-12, including opening huge shows in Cape Town and Johannesburg for Linkin Park.

KONGOS’ headlining gig at the popular Oppikoppi rock festival caught the attention of U.K. booking agent Sean Goulding, who signed the act and soon had them opening in Europe for the bands Dispatch and AWOLNATION. The brothers soon signed with The MGMT Company in L.A., which set up showcases for the band throughout 2013, including one at South By Southwest. At the same time, the Kongos brothers started sending singles out to radio through their management and scored modern rock airplay in Chicago and Denver, and a spot at Riot Fest in Denver.

“The resulting spike in our iTunes sales put us on the radar of various major labels and we started fielding offers,” says Jesse, the band’s drummer and vocalist. “Things took shape with Epic because our management played [Epic CEO] L.A. Reid our video for ‘Come With Me Now’ and some other songs and he flipped out and said, ‘I want this band.’ He never saw us live until after we signed! The company is behind us creatively and has the infrastructure and power to make things happen on a higher level for us. They’re really enthusiastic about the music, not just the numbers.” – Jonathan Widran