Kongos' new album 1929: Part 1 signals a new direction for the band.


1929 Tour, with guests

When: Jan 13, 7 p.m.

Where: Imperial

Tickets: $25 to $265, at livenation.com

Kongos formed in 2003 in Phoenix, and put out their self-titled debut four years later in 2007. The sibling band — South African-born and raised brothers Johnny (accordion, keyboards, vocals), Jesse (drums, percussion, vocals), Dylan (bass, guitar, vocals) and Danny Kongos (guitar, vocals) — released Lunatic in 2012, topping the charts in their ancestral homeland with the single I’m Only Joking.

The album’s second single, Come with Me Now, hit the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart and launched the group globally with its upbeat, sunny energy. Kongos toured solidly for the next three years, and Come with Me Now has since been certified platinum.

Kongos’ fourth album, 1929: Part 1, is released on Jan. 18. PNG

Unsurprisingly, followup album Egomaniac (2016) wasn’t a smash of that level, although it still made the Top 100 albums in both Canada and the United States. As the group headed into the studio to record its next record, it took control of its affairs from its former label and greatly expanded its social media presence.  Weekly podcast The Front Lounge began in November, 2017, and an official tour documentary, Bus Call, debuted on the group’s website in Jan. 2018.

Their fourth album, 1929: Part 1, is released on Jan. 18.

Contrary to the idea that Kongos write sunny, happy songs, Johnny says the members discovered they are far darker.

“We scored Bus Call with our own music, and found that the majority of our stuff leans toward rainy days,” he said. “So much so that we actually had to bring in some of our dad’s music to fill out the soundtrack.”

Dad is Johannesburg singer-songwriter John Kongos. The South African/British musician first hit the Top 10 in 1971 with the single He’s Gonna Step on You Again, and Happy Mondays later reworked the tune into their Top 5 single, Step On.


Before his children hit it big, you almost needed to be from the UK or South Africa to know who he was. Since Kongos took off, songs such as Tokoloshe Man, Ride the Lightning and others have been appearing on compilations. Before that, his synthesizer programming on Def Leppard’s monster hit album Pyromania was one of his greatest claims to fame.

“Dad never really cracked the US or Canada, but he’s really familiar to a few generations in the UK because of his first singles and then the Happy Mondays,” Johnny said.

“It’s cool that his music is being rediscovered, but it also means that people can go listen to it and realize where we stole half of our s–t from. There is a direct influence of looped African tribal rhythms, similar instrumentation, and a Dylan-esque lyrical sense.”