I have to admit I’m a little late jumping aboard the MKTO train. But now I am SUCH a fan. They’re awesome! I’ve been listening to “Classic” on repeat nonstop for the past three days. I think I might have a problem!
Anyway, MKTO is comprised of Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller, who met on the set of the TV show Gigantic. After playing best friends on the show, they became real-life friends and realized that they wanted to make music together. Their debut album dropped earlier this year and it is GREAT!
MKTO has opened for Emblem3 and they are now embarking on their first headlining tour. Catch our super-exclusive interview here!
Q: MKTO isn’t just your initials. It also stands for “Misfit Kids and Total Outcasts.” Why is that?
Tony: Growing up in Texas, if you didn’t play sports, it was kind of the outcast thing to do anything other than that, especially when you wanted to do theater and music and that kind of stuff. I was called a lot of names. No need to bring them up again, but they were names that shouldn’t have been called! We’ve had our own bad experiences, and just want people to understand that everybody goes through it and that it’s something you can overcome.
Q: What song do you most like to perform?
Malcolm: We’re getting ready to go to Australia and do our first headlining tour and perform the whole album, so there are a couple songs we haven’t performed yet. But right now it’s probably a tie between “Thank You” and “Classic.”
Q: Who influenced you musically as you were growing up?
Malcolm: My dad was always playing a lot of music from when he was younger, which definitely influenced me. And we got to work with people like Ne-Yo, who’s on the album, which was very inspiring for us and we learned a lot from him as writers and artists. It was pretty cool.
Tony: I listen to everything! As an artist, you gotta listen to as much music as you possibly can. Part of your job is to explore everything you possibly can.
Q: What’s it like living together?
Malcolm: [Laughter] It’s cool. We play video games; we cook; we play golf . . . It’s good.
Q: What do you cook?
Tony: I can make macaroni and cheese.
Malcolm: Tacos, a little fried chicken . . . That’s about it.
Q: Are there any other artists you would like to collaborate with?
Tony: A band I really enjoy and think it’d be cool to do a rock song kind of thing with is Imagine Dragons.
Malcolm: Lorde would be pretty cool.
Q: Education is really important to you.
Malcolm: Most definitely. My dad would always say to me and my sister, “Just take 30 minutes and read a book before you go outside and play.” Now whenever we’re sitting in the van and I have free time, I’ll break out a book. It’s important to read as much as possible and learn about the world. You learn new stuff every day!
Tony: I remember going to Scholastic book fairs every year. I would always be in line for the Captain Underpants books and the Harry Potter books.
Malcolm: Clifford the Big Red Dog.
Tony: I wrote a long letter when I was maybe eight years old to the actor Bill Paxton, saying how much he inspired me. He wrote me back, and at the end of the letter he said, “Read as much as you can because you can’t fake intelligence.” I really took that to heart.
Q: What’s the weirdest or best gift you’ve gotten from a fan?
Tony: Man, I feel like a lot of people always think we never keep that stuff, but we actually have a spot in our living room where we keep the things that fans give us at signings and things like that. I think my favorite stuff is the bracelets, but I also love the letters. It’s always really nice to hear how people have positively responded to our music!
Q: What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you?
Tony: There was this one time when I asked this girl to a dance and it went terribly wrong. She was sitting in front of me in class and I thought it would be charming to write a note saying, “Do you want to go to the dance with me?” with a smiley face and yes or no check boxes. She ended up making a scene in class and said, “No!” and I was like, “Oh . . . ” It was awkward. But you know, it happens.
Malcolm: I got pantsed in P. E. one time by a girl while we were running laps.
Tony: Ha ha! That’s even worse!
Malcolm: Yeah, it was pretty embarrassing.
Interview by Marie Morreale