MKTO Interview: Malcolm Kelley Gives Sneak Peek at American Dream Tour [EXCLUSIVE]
It’s only been a few years since Malcolm Kelley met Tony Oller, but it seems like a lifetime ago. The duo — whose admiration and respect for each other is palpable — formed MKTO, and the rest is platinum history.
Already this year, Malcolm and Tony celebrated the release of their self-titled album, their single ‘Classic’ sold one million copies in the U.S., and now the band is preparing to embark on their American Dream Tour. Malcolm chatted with PopCrush about what fans can expect at the shows, who his biggest influence as a child was and MKTO’s pre-show rituals.
When you met Tony a few years back, did you ever imagine you guys would be headlining a tour together?
Oh, man, no. I don’t think either one of us did. Even before Tony and I met, I remember people used to ask “Where do you see yourself in five years?” … Just to look back on all that and to see how far we’ve come over a certain amount of time. The progression we made. That’s one of the reasons we say we believe in fate, because we met on a TV show, we get together and then after the show ended, after the final season, we remained in contact. That’s one of my best friends, you know? We were always at each other’s houses, making music, putting stuff up on YouTube. We totally didn’t expect for any of this to happen, but ‘Classic’ has gone platinum and coming off these headlining tours that we’re starting to do now. American Dream [Tour is] coming up soon at the end of this month. It’s just so exciting and everything we could ever ask for. We’re having a great time.
What are you most looking forward to about the American Dream Tour?
Seeing as we just came off one of our first headlining tours in Australia, that kind of set the bar high and was amazing. To go to another country and to perform your album is an amazing thing, but when you can bring it to where you’re from, the United States, it’s one of the big things. I’m excited about all of the dates, but when you can perform in your hometown and have all of your friends and family come, I think that’s something really special.You know, this is our first headlining tour here in the States as well, so just to allow the people who’ve been rocking with us since the beginning, just to come out and continue to support us. We’ll just have a great time and a great party. Anybody else who wants to come and find out about the band …we also have Action Item opening up for us and Tiffany Houghton.
I’m so thankful for everybody that’s coming and everybody whose helped put this thing together. We’re just so excited for this next tour coming up and we gotta whole full band, we’ll be going the whole album and it’s just awesome. We’ve got some special guests coming to some of the cities we’ll be in. Definitely look out for that, it’ll be a good time. We’ll do radio shows and you might [see] a lot of artists that you’re cool with. Some of them happen to be in the cities we’re performing in, so we’ve already got some of that set up.
Watch MKTO’s ‘Classic’ Video
Any must-haves for the tour bus?
This will be our first tour bus, so we’re slowly figuring it out. Our band, they’re pros, they’ve played with Rihanna, Kesha, stuff like that, so they’re kind of letting us know what we should bring. We know we have to eat right. It’s a real family environment. We’ll have our PlayStation 3 on the bus, we’re talking about having some movie nights and we’re going to cook. It’s going to be a good family on the road and going to have a good time … I know we’ll definitely have our mobile studio with us. That’s pretty important, to record all the time. What else? Headphones, listen to music in our free time. I think the most important is that mobile studio. I was talking about I wanted to get a basketball court hooked on the back of the bus or something like that for me. That would be kind of awesome. We’ll try to work that out.
You’ve gotta trick out the tour bus!
Definitely. It’ll be our second home. It’s our first tour bus. We’re so excited. It looks like one of the ones Lil Wayne had, so we’re excited about that. It’s taking those next steps.
I have a quick lightning round of fan questions for you. The first one is, what was your biggest music influence as a kid?
For one, I’m probably going to have to say my dad. He used to play drums in a band when he was growing up and just his love for music. I mean, you’d just be listening to a song and he’d be picking out every little piece of the music. Just any instrument, the sounds, the style … Just growing up on Motown, Stevie Wonder … There was just so many bands and him just showing me that and instilling that in me had my love of music grow a little bit. Just wanting to learn everything about music. I’ve always loved music since I was a kid, even before I took it a little more serious. When I got that opportunity, there was no way I could it down. I talk to my dad almost every day and he’s always helping me out, being my eyes when I can’t see when we’re performing onstage and stuff like that. So it’s just that bond that we share for the love of music and performing and entertaining in general. I have to give it to my dad. It comes from my love of music and I’m a storyteller. Getting emotions across through songs and having people relate to that, and I think that’s pretty cool.
Watch MKTO’s ‘American Dream’ Video
That’s really cool! Do you guys have any pre-show rituals?
Definitely! Before our band goes onstage, we all do a group huddle, the whole team … Just to get all the energy ready for stage. We might have a little shot, you know, just to get a little energy. We still get the jitters, even though we’ve done countless numbers of shows, there’s not a time before a show that I don’t get nervous. Nerves are a good thing. It means you’re challenging yourself and when you get onstage it’s a whole different story. It’s all about having fun. Those are pretty much the only two rituals we have to make sure we do before stage and then we have a great show. Tony and I have a handshake that we do, but yeah.
What is your favorite song to perform live?
You know I love all of our songs. All of them are so special, but I think because ‘Classic,’ every time we perform that song, everybody knows the words. Some people are still getting familiar with the album, but a lot of radio stations play ‘Classic’ … When that song comes on, you can play 10 seconds. I remember, when our guitarist does soundcheck, 10 seconds of it, when the drums start, everyone starts going crazy. That’s just a good sign. Everyone gets out of their seats. When you can have the moms and the daughters, everybody up dancing, they all love a song. I think that’s really powerful. It really says something. I think I’ll go with ‘Classic.’
Lastly, can you talk about your craziest or weirdest fan experience?
They’re definitely starting to grow. When we came off our headlining tour in Australia, talk about feeling like a rock star. You have to go out a special way out of a venue. Security is walking you out and fans are banging on the bus. It’s just crazy. It makes you feel like a rock star when you haven’t had that and you’re going to that. It’s just a crazy feeling. Also being onstage, we’ve got the killer [audience]. Those guys know how to turn it up. Some of the undergarments would land onstage, which is pretty cool. We definitely had that happen to us a little bit. It’s nice. It just feels really good and we love the fans, we love the energy and all the love they give us.
MKTO American Dream Tour Dates
June 27 – Detroit, MI – St. Andrews Hall
June 28 – Cincinnati, OH – Bogart’s
June 30 – Minneapolis, MN – Varsity Theater
July 1 – Kansas City, MO – Uptown Theatre
July 5 – Englewood, CO – Gothic Theatre
July 6 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot
July 8 – Anaheim, CA – House of Blues
July 9 – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
July 11 – West Hollywood, CA – House of Blues
July 12 – Las Vegas, NV – Bank at the Bellagio
July 13 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues
July 15 – Bakersfield, CA – B Ryder’s
July 16 – Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades
July 17 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre
July 19 – Reno, NV – Reno Events Center (with Demi Lovato)
July 20 – Paso Robles, CA – California Mid-State Fair (with Demi Lovato)
July 22 – Tempe, AZ – Marquee Theatre
July 24 – Houston, TX – House of Blues
July 25 – Dallas, TX – House of Blues
July 26 – Pomona, NY – Provident Bank Park
July 27 – New Orleans, LA – House of Blues
July 29 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Revolution
July 30 – Lake Buena Vista, FL – House of Blues
August 1 – Atlanta, GA – Masquerade
August 2 – Charlotte, NC – The Fillmore
August 3 – Philadelphia, PA – Theater of Living Arts
August 5 – Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE
August 7 – New York, NY – Irving Plaza
August 8 – Toronto, ON – Virgin Mobile Mod Club
August 9 – Cleveland, OH – House of Blues
August 10 – Lewisburg, WV – State Fair of West Virginia
August 12 – Silver Spring, MD – The Fillmore Silver Spring
August 14 – Springfield, IL – Illinois State Fair
August 15 – Indianapolis, IN – Deluxe at Old National Centre
August 16 – Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall
August 17 – Chicago, IL – House of Blues
The Demi World Tour Dates
September 6 – Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Arena
September 7 – Albany, NY – Times Union Center
September 9 – Pittsburgh, PA – Petersen Events Center
September 12 – Raleigh, NC – PNC Arena
September 14 – Miami, FL – American Airlines Arena
September 15 – Orlando, FL – Amway Center
September 17 – New Orleans, LA – Lakefront Arena
September 19 – San Antonio, TX – AT&T Center
September 21 – Tulsa, OK – BOK Center
September 23 – Kansas City, MO – Sprint Center
September 25 – Denver, CO – Pepsi Center
September 28 – San Diego, CA – Viejas Arena
October 2 – Everett, WA – Comcast Arena
October 4 – Edmonton, AB – Rexall Place
October 5 – Calgary, AB – Scotiabank Saddledome
October 7 – Saskatoon, SK – Credit Union Center
October 11 – Moline, IL – iWireless Center
October 14 – Chicago, IL – United Center
October 15 – Louisville, KY – KFC Yum! Center
October 17 – Uncasville, CT – Mohegan Sun Arena
October 19 – Montreal, QC – Bell Centre
October 20 – Hamilton, ON – FirstOntario Centre
October 22 – Manchester, NH – Verizon Wireless Arena
October 24 – Hershey, PA – GIANT Center
October 25 – Newark, NJ – Prudential Center