20 Questions: The Mowgli's

Evan Sawdey
Photo courtesy of Sideways Media

The Mowgli's are continuing their quest to write the catchiest, most memorable pop songs that have continue to fly under the radar, and as their newest EP teases, they're continuing to crack the code -- one anthem at a time.

I Was Starting to Wonder [EP]
The Mowgli's

CandyShop Kobalt Music

7 August 2018

The only purpose that the Mowgli's seem to have in this world is to make one new instant-classic pop song after another, and luckily for us, this band of California pop-rockers have been more happy to fulfill their duties time and time again.

Yet with so many bands trying to capitalize on "the millennial whoop" in a bit to be as broad as possible, the clean and pointed songwriting of The Mowgli's have always separated them from the pack, their so-very-specific songs of isolation, love, and sadness making for quite a devoted fan following. Their most excellent 2016 record Where'd Your Weekend Go? even helped land them on the list of PopMatters' Best Pop Albums for that year.

So what a joy it is for the band -- compromising of bassist Matthew Di Panni, keyboardist David Appelbaum, drummer Andy Warren, and vocalists/guitarists Colin Dieden, Joshua Hogan, and Katie Jayne Earl -- to drop a surprise new EP on us this year: the effervescent I Was Starting To Wonder, compromising of instantly-hummable numbers that span a range of tones and moods across its scant four songs.

To celebrate the occasion, the entire band took their hand at answering PopMatters' 20 Questions, reveling in the simple joys of book reading, pondering what questions they'd ask George Harrison, and the importance of prioritizing the audience during stage shows.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

Andy Warren: The latest book I read that made me cry was called The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak. It's a super quick read, a nerdy love story set in the '80s. It's got a fun nostalgic feel like Stranger Things. It's not necessarily a sad book, but I think I cried tears of pride for just putting my phone down and letting a good book soak up my attention.

2. The fictional character most like you?

Warren: This question takes me back to that Instagram trend a few years back where everyone picked three fictional characters that embodied them (you can't just pick one!). I went with Garth from Wayne's World, because he's laid back and just wants to play drums and keep the peace. On the flip side, sometimes when partying, I can become Animal from The Muppets. He just wants to have a good time and stir up some chaos. P.S.: my third choice was Doug Funny from the old Nick cartoon, just a good, consistent guy surrounded by a bunch of weirdos, so I identify with that.

3. The greatest album, ever?

Colin Dieden: I would have to say Deja Vu by Crosby Stills Nash & Young. The songwriting is amazing, I mean really amazing. Its absolutely perfect from song to song without a lull or moment of weakness. It's a record that I can put on at any moment and in any mood.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Warren: 100 percent Star Wars. Their world of iconic heroes and mysterious creatures is just so endearing. Plus even the bad movies are lovable (and they never took a trip to San Francisco, like in that one weird Star Trek from the '80s).

5. Your ideal brain food?

Matthew Di Panni: Most of the time a simple conversation will become the ultimate brain food. When one topic rolls into another and then another, it creates numerous ideas at once with almost no end in sight. It's ideal to keep the convo going in order to keep collecting new information. Also, books. Keep reading books people!

6. You're proud of this accomplishment, but why?

Di Panni: I am proud of the time we performed at Red Rocks. I have been listening to live versions of countless artists performing "live at Red Rocks" my entire life. It was always a dream to get to this venue, but to be able to perform on its stage blew me away. The atmosphere of being surrounded by the mountains, all of nature, and 10,000 people can make one person feel extremely proud.

7. You want to be remembered for ...?

Di Panni: I want the band to be remembered for its mission statement. We have always promoted the mentality of people taking care of people. I want people to put on our records in 20 years and think "this was a band that wanted to spread positivity in a time when we needed it the most."

8. Of those who've come before, the most inspirational are?

Di Panni: Those who choose to help others positively when no one else will.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

Di Panni: Rubber Soul by The Beatles.

10. Your hidden talents...?

Dieden: I'm actually a pretty good cook, and very passionate about it. I would say I'm above average for folks that don't actually cook for a living. I sort of study it. I have a ton of cookbooks that I read like novels and I watch a ton of YouTube tutorials, just learning all I can. If I were to do anything else for a living, it'd certainly be that.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

Katie Jayne Earl: I honestly can't remember who said it or where I read it but I never forgot it. I read an interview with an artist once, I remember it being an older artist, and they said that whenever they stepped on stage, the show was no longer about them, it was about everyone else. I think about that every time I step on the stage. I forget about whether or not I look cool, I don't worry about what people might be thinking about me. I make it about the audience: the people who paid money/got babysitters/paid for an Uber or stayed sober to drive. that's who the show is for. That little nugget of advice has never left me, and I hope it has helped to make me a better performer.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

Josh Hogan: I play out of a Fender de Ville 2x10 amp. I borrowed it from a friend in 2006, and eventually traded him for an acoustic guitar that cost only me $120. The amp is a bit loud, so it sat in a garage for many years before I broke it out to use with The Mowgli's. Now the amp has been around the country several times and is going strong.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or... .?

Dieden: Not exactly an Armani guy, but I am going through a bit of a Gucci phase. For no other reason than I think the products and ideas they create are beautiful, from a design aspect. I find it inspiring and stimulating to my mind. Other than those pieces, I'm generally a ripped jeans guy. I like wearing both together I think it's a cool duality, and that's just where I've been operating for a while now.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

Hogan: My dinner guest would have to be George Harrison. I would love to pick his brain about living a simple lifestyle while being one of the most renowned songwriters & musicians of the time. How did he navigate that life? How did he keep his cool when the drama hit the fan? I would love to get some advice on music and career and love.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?

Warren: If I could time travel to anywhere, this is kinda random but I'd chose the roaring '20s and hit up a fancy Gatsby, jazz-filled party. I've always been fascinated with that era and it just seemed like a unique and simple time in history. The '60 and '70s seemed cool too, but we still have plenty of people who survived that generation to tell their stories of that era.

Earl: As a woman, I have little to no interest in time traveling to the past. Shoot me into the future where women rule the world, please.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?

Hogan: I'm with the spa vacation. Hopefully, the spa is in California, or Colorado, or any of the other progressive cities/states in our country. [wink]

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . .?

Dieden: For me, it's red wine and great food. I mean really, really great. Kerouac said there is wisdom in wine and I couldn't agree more.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

Hogan: My choice environment would be a beautiful country get-away, hopefully on a mountain with a river nearby. I would grow my own food and learn something every day. It would have to be within an hour of a major city, let's say Paris ... so I don't completely lose it. I'm just now starting to explore Europe so I would say my ideal location is the Mediterranean.

Warren: Between city life or country life, I would 100 percent chose city. Having grown up in LA, I am just hooked on the hustle and activity of what a city has to offer. If I had to choose one city to stay in that wasn't LA, my dream city would be San Francisco, and it's not just cause we have a song about it. That city is so special, between the food, nightlife, and interesting inhabitants, I would never grow tired of it.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

Earl: I have literally nothing to say to the "leader" of our country. He doesn't deserve my breath. In fact, I'd love nothing more than to actively ignore him to the point where he feels invisible.

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

The Mowgli's: The Mowgli's are currently enjoying a "creative renaissance". It's an exciting time and we look forward to releasing new music as a group while continuing to grow and thrive as individuals.





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