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MKTO – They May Have Been Gone, But They’re Still Classic.

Updated: Mar 10, 2020


MKTO – The Roxy – Los Angeles, CA – June 9, 2019 – Photo by Camille Jessie © 2019


They May Have Been Gone, But They’re Still Classic.

By Isa Barnett

Two friends wanted to make music together, and so they did. After a few years, Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller – better known as MKTO – saw their careers explode when their song “Classic” hit the charts in 2013. The duo immediately became an international success.

For the next several years, while enjoying their newfound success, Kelley and Oller continued working on new music and spent long periods of time on the road touring. By 2016, they had released five additional singles and opened for Demi Lovato in her Demi: World Tour, for Emblem3’s #BandLife Tour and also headlined their own tour.

But things started to take a toll. Oller especially, needed time to get healthy from the addiction he was struggling with, so in early 2017, MKTO announced they were taking some time off.

Addiction is real. It is life changing. After some hard work fighting for sobriety, by mid-2018, the much-needed hiatus paid off. Oller was healthy and sober. The boys were back with a new single “How Can I Forget” and the love and support of their adoring fans.

Now one year later, Kelley, 27 and Oller, 28 are ready to embark on the next step of sharing themselves with their fans as they head out on the road for three stops in their home state of California.

We’ve chatted with the guys several times over the years. One of the main things we took away from this latest interview is that addiction did not ruin them. Kelley and Oller sound even more passionate about their music, their fans, the love of what they do and their friendship. Beyond being extremely talented, they really are good guys and welcome the idea of being able to help someone else who is struggling along the way. So, no, addiction did not ruin them. We think it made them stronger.


Malcolm Kelley of MKTO – The Roxy – Los Angeles, CA – June 9, 2019 – Photo by Camille Jessie © 2019

What made you want to return from your MKTO hiatus?

Malcolm Kelley: What made us want to return? A major part of it was the fans. We wanted to come back for them and get some music out. Then we took that time to regroup. Go off and do some TV stuff and stuff like that. It took us time to restructure and put the new pieces together with the team and stuff like that. But we owe it to our fans. The opportunity was still there, and we wanted to come back and put some music out. It’s cool.

How have you to been able to remain close and keep your friendship strong during the time off?

Tony Oller: Oh man. The one thing we have always remembered is when we started, we were doing covers here and there. We hoped that we could maybe play a little show for our friends. Maybe they would like it. (laughs) I don’t think we ever really expected it to go where it did. I mean, it really surpassed anything we ever expected. It was just so much fun. You can’t really get any better than doing something you love and doing it with someone who is really your best friend. Getting to travel the world together. He’s my best friend and to be able to travel again and make music is just so much fun. It was a lot, so much travel and really didn’t stop because it was such fast pace. So, to have a few years to take it all in just made us realize we love it so much. With the support being there from our fans, it was just a no-brainer to come back and put out some music. They’re the best.

How have your fans reacted to your return?

Malcolm Kelley: The thing about our fans is that they are very supportive of us. They’ve been great. I know we took a two-year break, but the streaming took on a world of its own. People are able to listen to the songs we put out and the video. We always want to give a thank you and show our love and support to them. They’ve been great.


Tony Oller of MKTO – The Roxy – Los Angeles, CA – June 9, 2019 – Photo by Camille Jessie © 2019

Tony, if you don’t mind me asking, you struggled with addiction. How did that affect your music?

Tony Oller: Oh man. It definitely took it off the real road, that’s for sure. It’s something a lot of people go through. It’s something I go through, and I’d rather be open about it. Long story short, sometimes whatever world you’re in, it can just take a toll on you. Some people have ways to get out of that. Some people’s ways are worse and destructive. For me, I think it was about growing up. I mean, I am very happy to be sober now. I’m very grateful. At the same time, it’s something that a lot of people go through and might not even realize. It may not be drinking or drugs. There are so many other ways to deal with stuff we go through in our lives. Once you come to terms with that, you can find what works for you. It’s really fun to be doing with you love again and enjoying it; making music and doing it with one of my best friends.

Malcolm, as such a prominent figure in Tony’s life, how did you deal and support him while he was going through that?

Malcolm Kelley: So many people go through this and you got to be there for them. Try to find out what’s going on and just never stop supporting them. Caring for them is what you got to do.

How have your fans reacted to your journey Tony?

Tony Oller: So far, it’s been nice. At the end of the day when we get to meet people in person and really get to talk to people – especially people who have been supporting us – we’re just so grateful. Sometimes they tell us things that happened in their lives. It means a lot when they say how listening to our music has helped them. Sobriety on the side, it’s about being happy and thankful that we can still make our music and they are here still supporting us.


MKTO – The Roxy – Los Angeles, CA – June 9, 2019 – Photo by Camille Jessie © 2019

Your last song was in 2018 titled “How Can I Forget.” You guys got over three million views on YouTube. What can we expect next from you?

Malcolm Kelley: We want to do more content and more songs and get out there and see our fans. We have more stuff in the works.

Do you have any new dates, releases or anything else we should look out for?

Tony Oller: We have a new song coming out in about a month or so. We’re going to keep playing it at our upcoming shows. We decided to add it into the set. But yeah, we’re really excited about this. In general, the amount of time we’ve been in this, the music thing, we just want to work hard. At the end of the day you want to put out something you’re proud of and you hope it reaches where it can. Other than that, there’s nothing you can do unless you go for it. So, we’re just excited to get out there and do some shows and go out and see everyone again.

What are you most looking forward to in terms of being in front of your fans?

Malcolm Kelley: See the fans, making music, being on the road. We’re excited to keep the train going. Get out there and share.

What is something you want to share with your fans?

Tony Oller: Well, I guess we can’t overemphasize how we are very grateful. We’ve had people that we’ve met at shows and radio shows who drove for six hours just to come and meet us. At the end of the day, it’s the best vibe being with our fans. We’ve always appreciated them. We try to make sure you make time to see everybody, say hello. With us doing this for so long and being older, we still see a lot of younger fans. It’s a weird thing. When it goes away, you really realize how great and how sweet all those fans and supporters are. We really want to make the sure we take the time to say thank you to everybody. We are very lucky and excited and can’t wait to put new music out and hopefully see everyone face to face really soon.

MKTO is hitting the road for three California shows!

June 7, 2019 – Santa Ana, CA – The Constellation Room

June 8, 2019 – San Francisco, CA – Slim’s

June 9, 2019 – Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy

For tickets, go to:

Copyright ©2019 All rights reserved. Posted: June 3, 2019.

Photos © 2019 Camille Jessie. All rights reserved.

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