By Jenny Rollins
BU News Service
In person, The Mowgli’s look exactly like how they sound: A large group of musicians with different vibes coming together in the name of music. Rather than maintaining the typical uniform look of an indie band (button-up printed shirts, dark-rimmed glasses, flowing dresses, etc.), they don’t try to be anything they aren’t.
The Mowgli’s are an eclectic group—from vocalist/enthusiastic tambourinist Katie Jayne Earl’s Paramore-esque vivid red hairstyle with a lacey black shirt and dark skinny jeans to bassist Matthew Di Panni looks like a member of hipster ZZ Top, sharp-dressed with a mid-chest-length beard.
This tour was for the release of their new single, “Real Good Life,” which has a much more dancey vibe to it, with more electronic backing and a low-key build and drop. It sounds vaguely like a more EDM version of “Up All Night” era One Direction. The lyrics are not nearly as deep as most of their other songs, repeating “It’s a real good life,” over and over again.
I’ve seen this sort of shift in a lot of new stuff from alt-pop bands like the Wombats, Foster the People, Walk the Moon and Portugal the Man. Earl said that bands have to cater to the radio, and they rely on their producer to help them create a marketable sound.
“I miss dirty rock n’ roll,” Earl said. It’s still out there, but radio doesn’t really play it, and working bands that want a long-running career in music want to get on the radio. So, bands write what the radio plays. Our goal has always been to make people happy, and this production has a happy sound. Couple that with positive lyrics, and I think it does the job.”
I will admit that at first, I was skeptical of this single. The idea of such a genuine band having to cater to anything to achieve their sound disappointed me. However, it really is a great track that has grown on me and is now on my workout playlist.
The biggest thing I love about The Mowgli’s is they manage to balance being almost obnoxiously upbeat and chipper with a shot of the brutality and bitterness of life.
They sang self-love anthems like “I’m Good” and “Whatever Forever” and then vocalist/guitarist Colin Dieden played a slow, solo version of “Arms & Legs,” a song about a broken relationship.
“I don’t know if I can fix you/But I can sure take you apart.”
Earl has enough charisma and energy to be a performer on a children’s TV show. She maintains eye contact with each member of the crowd in turn, making them feel like they are important and part of the band. Photographers in black were darting back and forth trying to keep up with the band members’ movements.
Dieden and Earl cracked quirky jokes the whole time, like building up to the long-anticipated hit “San Francisco” and then yelling, “THIS IS A COVER BY NICKELBACK” and singing a couple bars of “Photograph” before actually playing the final song. The crowd loved every second of it, and so did I. They were fun and wholesome, though their language would make your grandparents blush a little.
After the show, Earl walked through and touched everyone’s hands, even pulling some fans into a bear hug. It felt like being part of a giant family.
I also got to do a quick Q&A with Earl, which I’ve included below.
People have classified your music as indie pop, punk pop, punk rock, indie rock, and alternative rock. What genre do you guys believe you belong in?
Death metal. Or Alt-pop.
Tell me about the original Mowgli namesake. What breed is he? Is he still alive? Is he a he? And why did you pick him as your band’s name?
Mowgli was a wild wolf breed who was hard to tame, and that really spoke to us at the time. If we knew we would still be doing this nine years later, we probably would have put some more time and energy into the name, but hey, here we are.
You guys have a lot of members for an indie band. How does songwriting work in a group that big?
Every record and every song has been different as we are always evolving. Sometimes someone writes a song alone and brings it to the group. Sometimes someone writes a song with a totally different group of people for a totally different musical project but everyone thinks it’s perfect for us, so we take it. Sometimes we write in our rehearsal space. It’s just always different, and I hope it always is.
What’s one strange fact that not many people know about each of you?
There are many strange facts about each of us. I truly wouldn’t even know where to begin. Okay, here I go: Andy hates cheese, which pisses me off. Colin’s secretly a really good chef. David is our tour bus driver. Matt goes on ghost hunts. Josh survived a tornado. I never shut up about 30 Rock.
You’ve performed with a lot of awesome bands during all of your touring. Who is your current band bestie?
I loved being on tour with Misterwives. Any band with a girl is a great band to tour with because having women around makes everything better.
What’s it like to be the only woman in the group?
It’s challenging. Even the most woke of straight, white men often can’t see how problematic their words and actions can be and that can be really frustrating in a time and culture that’s starting to call people out on their shit. It inspires me to inspire more females to pursue their creative dreams. I like being in my band, and I’m lucky to work with the guys that I do, but I think it’s absolute bullshit that females are so outnumbered in a business that their money controls, and I dream of working with more women in the future.