If California is all long highways and summer breezes, then The Mowgli’s are writing its saccharine-sweet soundtrack. The Los Angeles–based eight-piece — made up of Michael Vincze (guitar, vocals), Colin Louis Dieden (vocals, guitar, percussion), Katie Jayne Earl (vocals, percussion), Matthew Di Panni (bass, vocals), Josh Hogan (guitar, vocals), Dave Appelbaum (keys, vocals), Spencer Trent (percussion, guitar, melodica, vocals), and Andy Warren (drums, percussion, vocals) — are making the kind of bright, sparkly folk pop that seems built for beachside BBQs and late-night, top-down drives. Ask about the band’s goals, and you’ll get an even better glimpse into their laid-back, Golden State–centric positivity. “This band was founded on the ideals that every single person on this earth deserves equal treatment and that we are all in this together,” says Matthew. Ain’t that sweet?
This Saturday, December 14, The Mowgli’s take the stage at Velvet Jones as part of their current West Coast tour, for which each of the shows is doubling as a canned-food drive. They’re calling it the Random Acts of Kindness Tour, and it’s just one of the ways The Mowgli’s are spreading the love.
I know a number of you are from Calabasas. How did you guys all meet? Michael, Katie, Andy, David, and myself all grew up together and were in elementary school through high school. Spencer moved to Calabasas and began attending our high school. Josh moved from Oklahoma to L.A. and began playing music with Michael. I met Colin a few years after high school, and eventually everyone met each other within our crew.
When and how did music making come into the picture? The entire band has been playing music their whole lives. The band began to take shape at the end of 2009, but we brought our music to the world in 2010 and have been pushing ourselves ever since.
Were there albums or artists that you guys all agreed upon as points of influence? Most of us grew up on our parents’ record collections, so we always agreed on the classics. We all grew through the pop-punk and indie/emo bands of the early 2000s. Those bands taught all of us about emotion through music. Through the years, everyone has started to listen to various genres, but we can still sit together and listen to a record by any artist and enjoy our time together.
How has The Mowgli’s sound evolved since you guys first started jamming together? I think we have moved away from the janky, folksy-country vibe, and the band is progressing toward being a full-fledged arena rock band. Our sound is building every day.
The Los Angeles music scene is pretty vast. How did you guys work your way in? Oddly enough, it’s because of a very weird battle of the bands, which is something we swore we wouldn’t do. We met our managers at the event and continued to meet more and more people, which lead us to the present day. We weren’t one for being a lazy band. We were gigging every night in L.A., seven nights a week. Then we were hitting the West Coast every weekend we could get away. It was hurting our family lives, relationships, and work situations, but we had to stick it out.
Are there area bands that you’ve aligned yourself with? When we started this band, we created something called The Collective CA, which included 20 bands around California, and we all gigged together. We would throw two-stage festivals at the Dragonfly in Hollywood, but since then almost all of those bands have disbanded. The bands in L.A. that we still get to jam with are amazing. Currently I like to think we are aligned with bands like Walk The Moon, Hunter Hunted, and Fitz & the Tantrums, where we all have the same ideal to spread love through our music, never hate.
Can you tell me a bit about the Random Acts of Kindness tour? How did that come about? We have been working with various charities through the years, so it only seemed fitting to join with food banks across the country and do food drives every night during our winter tour. We were promoting at least one donation from each fan, and it worked. Our biggest donation of 500 canned goods came from a lovely family in St. Louis. The love from people we are feeling on this tour is insane!
It seems almost silly to ask if you had a favorite show or experience out of those concerts, but were there any nights/interactions that stood out? It’s tough to choose. We have been involved with amazing venues, crews, fans, and friends every night. Sharing the stage each night with Royal Teeth, X Ambassadors, Hunter Hunted, Blondfire, Kopecky Family Band, and The Rocketboys is a dream come true. Being able to headline a tour and meet so many people makes it all worth while.
Is it something that you guys would attempt again? I hope we will be doing this every tour eventually, and I hope other bands catch on more and more.
If you had to describe the perfect setting/location to listen to Waiting for the Dawn, what would it be? I would hope on a mountainside with the woman you love.
Similarly, if you had to associate an image with the music of The Mowgli’s, what would it look like? It would look like eight people attached to a wolf’s body flying through space. Or maybe I’m just crazy…
It being December, what were your five favorite albums from 2013?
1. Lucius, Wildewoman
2. Haim, Days Are Gone
3. The Dillinger Escape Plan, One Of Us Is The Killer
4. X Ambassadors, Love Songs Drug Songs
5. Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park
The Mowgli’s will be at Velvet Jones (423 State St.) on Saturday, December 14. For tickets and information, call (805) 965-8676 or visit velvet-jones.com.