MKTO: From lunch break shenanigans to pop success (+vid)

By Chris Schulz

Pop duo MKTO are starting to live the kind of life they always dreamt of. They talk to Chris Schulz.

Working on the set of a Nickelodeon TV show, Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller dreamed of the big time - writing hit songs and touring the world playing sold out shows.

Now, with the top 10 singles Thank You and current hit Classic behind them, the American pop duo known as MKTO - after their initials - are starting to see those dreams come to life.

During a four-day promotional trip to New Zealand, the duo said they spent their breaks on now defunct kids' TV show Gigantic - cancelled after one season - writing songs together.

"When we had some downtime we cracked open the Macbook, started making songs and putting them on YouTube," says Kelley, who is also known for his role as the mysterious kid Walt in TV's Lost.

Says Oller: "The hope was to do a band, to be able to travel the world ... it was all fantasy," says Oller.

"We just liked talking about music we enjoyed and saying, 'Hey, we've got some downtime, let's open Garageband' ... We just realised, 'Hey this is a cool sound'."

That sound - classic, upbeat pop - is what has sent Thank You and Classic into the top 10 in Australia and New Zealand's singles charts.

We were, they say, "some of the first places to play our songs" - and they're "blown away" by their growing fan base.

Oller: "We met a couple of rugby players that were huge dudes who were like, '(Classic) is our workout song'. We're blown away to see that everyone is enjoying it."

With its references to Prince and Michael Jackson, Classic is earworm candy - but Oller says they didn't nail it until the Marvin Gaye line ("Let's get it on like Marvin Gaye") was added.

"Melodically we knew it, we wanted to hit it lyrically just as strong as the melody, making sense and making it catchy is what it's about. The Marvin Gaye line was like, 'Yes, we got it'."

The new album will be more "diverse" than their singles.

"We wanted to make sure this album didn't have a specific sound. I feel like each song should be like a story. We have 12 stories on this album to be proud of. We've grown a lot and the album kind of grew with us."

The album's due out by the end of the year, and MKTO say they'll return to Australia and New Zealand for shows in the New Year.

- nzherald.co.nz

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