South African band KONGOS has already had a pretty incredible year.
The band, made up of brothers Dylan, Jesse, Daniel and Johnny Kongos - the sons of musician John Kongos - self-released their debut album, Lunatic, in the United States last October after considerable success in their home country of South Africa. But it wasn't until radio stations in the United States started to play their song, "Come With Me Now," that people really started to take notice.
The guys were soon signed to Epic Records, and they re-released the album in January. Fast forward a mere 2 months, and "Come With Me Now" is currently sitting atop the Alternative chart after the band was selected as an iHeartRadio On The Verge Artist.
KONGOS stopped by the iHeartRadio Studios when they were in New York recently, and the guys talked to us about everything from South Africa to Graceland. Get to know Dylan, Jesse, Daniel and Johnny in OffBEAT below.
How did you get here?
Danny: "We swam, we won the race. We beat 400 million others in the race to the egg... First accomplishment anybody makes."
Where are you taking us?
Johnny: "Down. And we're going to show you how.
"The song's really influenced, we say it's everyone, but it's true, it's influenced by this South African style of music called kwaito and you hear it when you walk around a lot of the downtown areas in Johannesburg and some of the townships. So it's just got this vibe that you can't really explain other than by going there and listening to their grooves. So that groove really led me on that journey for that song."
Danny: "We're going to take you to the Cajun country, South African, Hip Hop, House in South Africa."
Why wouldn't he take a bite?
Johnny: "It wasn't a buyers market? I don't know my economics. But you've got to have something worth selling you know?"
Jesse: "I think it's poking at the presumption that, you just assume that somebody's interested."
Who is your favorite lunatic?
Johnny: James Brown. I don't know if he's a lunatic, but that line where he's like 'I don't know karate but I do know crazy.'
Dylan: Yeah, I don't know if he's a lunatic either, he was a pretty genius guy but Nikola Tesla sounded like a bit of a lunatic, but obviously a genius at the same time.
Jesse: I'm going to choose a drummer called Tony Williams. He was a jazz drummer, and he was 16 when he joined the Miles Davis band and he just tore shit up.
Danny: Derek Trucks, I'll do Derek Trucks. Yeah, he's the best slide player, ever. I think.
Who is in on the joke?
Johnny: Just us four, and maybe friends?
Danny: The inner circle.
Jesse: Yeah, it's one of those things we just don't talk about but we like the fact that we get asked questions about it and we tell you 'Stop asking questions.'
Who is in the inner circle?
Dylan: The same guy who turned us down on selling ourselves.
What is Greek to you?
Jesse: The Home Shopping Network.
Where is your Graceland?
Jesse: South Africa.
Dylan: We spent 8 years there, we grew up there. We went to a Greek school in Johannesburg and we just made the best friends of our life. You know being a kid and one day you're going to school and you're in a metropolitan area and then you go to a farm on the weekend, and you're riding around looking at lions and elephants is a pretty unreal childhood.
What does the accordion say that other instruments can’t?
Who is the favorite child?
Dylan: Depending on who cooks that night. We all cook and when we cook we are the favorite child of our parents.
What did you leave in South Africa?
Jesse: We left 3 vehicles that were stolen.
Danny: Friends. We left friends. Just
Johnny: We left -- this is kind of abstract -- a feeling. We didn't go back for 16 years... it was when the radio started to pick up for us, so going back, people knew the song and knew everything. It kind of felt like we were not home, because I feel at home in America. We feel it in a lot of places, but there's just this feeling... you just go like, 'Ah, we're back here in South Africa.' It just felt right.
What do you want to learn this year?
Johnny: How to sleep sitting up.
Danny: I want to learn what it's like touring on a bus. I don't want to learn how to sleep sitting up.
Dylan: I want a bunk bed instead of a seat that doesn't recline for 12 hours.
Johnny: One of our sound engineers has been on the road a long time, and that dude can sleep literally anywhere. He would find a way to sleep on that little table there, it's amazing.
Danny: And he can switch his consciousness off and on, so we can get him in the van after having a meal or something, we've got a 3 hour drive and he'll just go out.
Dylan: He'll like sit down and (snaps fingers). It's quite a talent.
Jesse: He's a narcoleptic.
Tell us a secret.
Dylan: It will cease to be a secret.
Johnny: Can you keep a secret?
Danny: I don't have any.
Jesse: I like baked beans on toast.
Johnny: If you visualize things, they all happen. That's the secret.
Jesse: If you make a vision board, children in Africa will stop starving. You can quote Dave Chappelle on that.
Photos: Shelby Case for iHeartRadio