Analogue Music | The Mowgli's

The Mowgli's

By Matt Conner

The Mowgli's are serious about having fun.

To hear Katie Earl and Josh Hogan tell the story, the SoCal band literally cannot help but channel the good times. They've tried another way, with sessions intended to help them sort through their own brokenness and healing, their own ups and downs. It never worked. 

Instead the only thing that musically works for The Mowgli's is fueling a communal fire that results in a kickass time for all parties involved. It's why several shows on their upcoming spring tour are already sold out well in advance, evidence that the escapism provided is healing in itself. 

Analogue: I'd love to start with where you're at. You're on the eve of the new tour, so are you in Cleveland?

Katie Earl: We're in Cleveland. We got in late last night after many flight delays at about 2:00 a.m. We played some Mario Kart. Got some 3:00 a.m. breakfast from McDonald's and then passed out.

Analogue: [Laughs] You're already in mid-tour form.

Katie: We settled right in.

Analogue: What's the morale right now?

Josh Hogan: Well, we've had a much needed break and everyone is full of energy. We're excited to get back out there and get back to work. 

Katie: Yeah, this is one of the most exciting tours that we've ever started. Like Josh said, coming off of a long break is really exciting because, A.) we're excited to play together again, and B.) we're excited to share new music. We're debuting two new songs on this tour and we're really excited about that. We also have the best fans in the world and we've already sold out of a lot of the shows. Going into a tour knowing that the rooms will be filled with people who've been supporting you from the beginning is just a really great mindset going into this. 

Analogue: Does that feel as humbling as I'd assume it does when that first starts happening for the band?

Katie: I think it's always humbling. Sold out or not, a good crowd never loses its luster. It's always going to be a performer's favorite thing. 

Josh: I sometimes find that when we're touring for so long or we have tours close together, it becomes very routine at some point. I try personally to remind myself every day that I'm doing what I love, that I'm literally living my dream. I know so many people who would love to take my place, honestly. It's good to have a group of people around you to help remind you that we're alive and doing this thing. I think this tour is a good wake up for us all. There's just a great energy within the crew right now.

If we can distract you for a few minutes of life, to make you smile and feel good, that's the accomplishment.

Analogue: By the way, what's your most rock 'n' roll moment thus far?

Katie: Holy shit. I don't know. I might still be waiting for mine.

Josh: Let me dig in the files. [Laughs]

Katie: Wait! I have one. When we played Lollapalooza for the first time, it was our first record. It was our first touring cycle. We'd never played a major festival like that and we didn't know who would be in the audience. We had a 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. time slot on a shaded stage somewhere off to the side, but when we walked out on stage, the crowd was huge. There were people hanging off of lightposts and when it came time to play "San Francisco," a huge sea of people was singing it in this city that we're not from. It felt amazing. It felt really, really rock and roll.

Josh: We also met Vampire Weekend and they said, 'Oh, you're The Mowgli's. You're having a great year!' We were like, 'You know us? Holy shit!' That kind of stuff happens which is my favorite thing about festivals.

Analogue: So you're independent these days—

Katie: Yes, we teamed with our management team. They've been helping us since we signed with them in 2013, I think, and now we're just a hands-on small team pushing this Mowgli's company. We're independent but with the blessing of a great team and some great managers.

Josh: Yeah, we started as such a powerhouse DIY group of people because everyone had a job. They did their job and it was amazing. Then we signed to a label and let them take the reins. Now, I feel like we've really accomplished something by coming together and doing things ourselves again.

Katie: It's been great. Josh is doing all of the artwork. Andy has been making projections for our live set. Dave is helping with finances. Matt's working on our website. Colin is writing all of the time. We're all doing something. It's great.

Analogue: You sound very upbeat about it, but is ther a darker side to it or some nerves at least?

Katie: Well, we as a band have been through what I'd call a classic or even cliche band journey, where it's rags to riches to rags to riches. The first cycle, we were getting picked up limosines because Island/Def Jam had signed our independent label and there was just money to be thrown around. But then you realize you're the one buying that limo from the airport. [Laughs] You're like, 'Wait a minute! What's going on here?' 

Through it all, knowing we have a collection of music that we really believe, knowing we have a fan base that we feel an obligation to and knowing that we have this team of people who have stuck with us through the ups and downs, there's a light that we know it will all be okay if we just stick it out.

The Mowglis

Analogue: The rags to riches cycle. When you go through that, does it clarify for you why you do this in the first place?

Katie: Absolutely. Josh has said before that there are moments when you think you should get another job or go to college, but he's also the one who said to me once, 'I know it's hard, but personally I feel an obligation to the fans at this point.' We owe it to them to keep making music for them. If that means we make music for them while we have day jobs or we make music for them as the biggest pop stars in the world, we just have to keep doing this for them. 

Analogue: You guys are putting out such celebratory music in the midst of a time when most people are living under a cloud. Is that intentional?

Josh: Yes, since the beginning we've had that intention. We do realize that everything isn't amazing around the world for everyone. But if we can be three minutes to help someone take their mind off of whatever is going on, whatever it may be. If we can distract you for a few minutes of life, to make you smile and feel good, that's the accomplishment. 

Katie: Josh nailed it. We sat down for the last year and in that time, we did a lot of healing individually and as a group. During that time, whenever we sat down to work, we thought, 'What do we talk about? There's so much to talk about, so what are we going to say. Every time we tried to talk about the darkness in our world, it never worked. It was always forced. At one point, Josh and Colin did a writing session and said, 'Let's get back to our roots. Let's write songs that make people feel good.' Then they came out of the session with "Real Good Life."

As soon as we heard it, we thought, 'This is it. This is what we're supposed to do, to inject a little positivity into a deeply negative world. If we're not doing that with our music, then... there's plenty of sad music out there that talks about pain and loss and loneliness and politics. That's just not what our role in this world is. Our role is to help make people happy and appreciate what's good about their lives.