Sophie O’Neill and Haley Albert of WRBB’s Media Team were lucky enough to interview Katie Jayne Earl of The Mowgli’s a couple of weeks ago. Make sure to head to The Sinclair TOMORROW (Oct. 4, 2016) to see them kick some indie butt with Colony House.
So tell me a little bit about how you guys all met?
A lot of us met in school. We all grew up in LA, or not all of us, four of us grew up in LA and we went to elementary, middle school, high school together, and then Josh and Colin moved to LA. Colin has been back and forth between Kansas City and LA his whole life and Josh moved to LA almost…over ten years ago to pursue music. And then through the arts and music scene out there we all met.
Can you tell us a little bit about your writing and recording process for the new album?
Yeah! This past album we wrote a lot on the road, because we’ve been touring consistently. You know Colin and Josh had a bunch of great ideas that they brought to the band, and we helped them to finish some really cool ideas they had. And we got back into our rehearsal space, like we used to at the beginning, and kind of wrote some songs as a full band and it was all kind of done while we were working and it was a lot of fun.
So have audiences been responding to your newest album, Where’d Your Weekend Go?
They haven’t yet! Tonights the first night of tour. It’s our first night, we’re kicking off the tour and hopefully they respond well because we’re really stoked about it.
Well, I kind of want to know what your favorite song is on the new album? I know that’s like asking you to pick a favorite child but we all have them.
You know I really think I’m going to have to see what it feels like playing a lot of the new ones, cause that has a lot to do with making a song my favorite. But “Spacin Out” is definitely one of my favorites.
Well I’m excited for you to see how the audience responds to it tonight.
Me too! We’re so excited to start playing, we’ve been working really hard and rehearsing a lot so we’re very, very stoked to actually get out there and start playing the songs.
I’ve seen in a lot of your old music videos. They’re very colorful and vibrant and I was wondering, do you guys have to put a lot of effort into the staging or visuals that are going to go along with this tour?
Well, we’re all wearing white shirts and jeans like the girl on the album cover, and we have red balloons, like the girl on the album cover, but to be totally honest we don’t really have a ton of… I mean it costs a lot of money to get a crew together and all the stuff for that kind of thing, so hopefully this album does really, really well and in the Spring we’re playing a much bigger tour, and we can afford to have pyrotechnics and explosions and stuff going off (laughs). But we do whatever we can with what we have, we’re wearing costumes kind of, uniforms if you will, and we’re really just putting all of our energy into making sure the show itself is of high production value.
How do you think your music has evolved throughout the past three albums, from Sound the Drum in 2012, to now?
Well, I think that each and every one of us have become much, much, much better musicians, just by way of playing so often. We’ve been playing so many shows, we’ve written three albums and we’ve written with a ton of different great artists, and experimented, and pushed ourselves. And I think that we’re just a better band, as individuals and as a collective, and I think that really shows up on this album.
Yeah thats amazing, I have to imagine that over the course of three albums, your sound would be fine tuned and you’d be able to figure out what works best and really what your sound is.
Yeah totally, we’ve settled into our roles and I think we’re just more comfortable pushing ourselves and stepping up out of the box than we were seven years ago.
Well, I have a question just about like the general landscape of music. Now with streaming services at the forefront of music consumption, how has that changed the way you put out music, if you think it has at all?
Well, it does in a way, you know musicians, just…it’s a lot harder to make a living as a touring musician nowadays. Bands have to tour consistently in order to be able to be musicians and not have a day job. Records sales just aren’t what they were, I think that if record sales were what they were in the 90’s, we would probably all own houses right now (laughs) and the only way for us to pay our rent is to constantly tour. So in some ways, you know, I love that there’s so much new music out there, and I love that it’s so accessible, as a music fan, and I like playing shows…but it’s a grind. I mean I think for people to be working musicians and to be able to focus solely on their music it just takes a lot more effort and it’s pretty strenuous on musicians, honestly. Whereas, you could have a hit song 20 years ago and buy a house and not really have to worry about your money after that, but nowadays it’s just not like that. We’re putting our third record and we’re still working musicians and we’ve had some success, you know, we’ve had songs used in commercials and movies, we’ve had radio success and still, we have to consistently tour to keep our name relevant and to keep, you know, finances coming in. I just think it makes musicians have to work a lot harder and in some ways that’s a really good thing because I think that musicians who work hard are going to inevitably become much better musicians, but in some ways, you know, it makes a lot of people quit. A lot of people don’t want to put the work in that it’s going to take to be a successful musician in 2016.
Yeah and it’s tough because you want to focus on the art and making the best album possible and sometimes that takes a long time, but then that’s a year of lost potential touring income.
Yeah, totally! Yeah I would say if anybody wants to support musicians go to a show and buy a t-shirt, it’s the best way to make sure the musicians you like keep making music.
Do you think there will be some sort of paradigm shift with streaming services that will put record sales back on it’s axis of paying for music or no?
Um, maybe, I think that’s really possible. I think the music industry is changing a lot, I think we’re in the middle of a change, a major change. I know that vinyl is seeing a huge resurgence, people are buying vinyl, but vinyl costs a lot to print so, you know, the profits on vinyl are just not as high. We actually, I think we actually lose money pressing CDs nowadays because everything is digital, so you know, it’s a really interesting time to be in the music industry. I have no idea how it’s going to go and I don’t know what’s going to happen but we’re definitely all witnessing it happen right now and I’m excited to see what’s on the other side.
Yeah and congratulations for, you know, I’ve seen your music in a lot of commercials, and it was cool what you did with Andy from Bravo, and you guys just feel like a very consistent, solid band who makes really great music that people really love, and is really well received.
Thank you! Well we’ve worked really, really hard for any amount of success we’ve had. You know, like I was saying, I think it’s getting so much harder to be a musician or to be a band, and it’s so much harder to see profits, you know it costs a lot of money to keep a band on the road. You’ve got to rent a bus, you’ve got to rent, you know if gears break, you’ve got to pay for it, you have to pay everyone who’s working to get you there, you’ve got to get all the gas in your car to go from city to city and put thousands and thousands of miles on whatever vehicle you’re renting. And so that’s why I think a lot of people nowadays are button pressers, you’ve got a lot of DJs, and you’ve got a lot of, kind of like, solo musicians that kind of press play. And not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I do hope there’s a shift eventually where there’s a demand for real live music to be created in front of you. And I hope that that happens so that people like us can keep working.
Well, in Boston it feels like there’s a resurgence of bands, you know? It felt like electronic music in the indie space is what was dominating, but now it really feels like people want to hear bands now, people miss bands.
Yeah I hope so. I think that traditionally it’s kind of gone that way, in the ’60s and ’70s, music started changing. In the ’60s there was a lot of pop music, that was all written by the same three people and then people went like, ‘oh, let’s go see a band that writes their own music’ so hopefully we could get back to that place, where instead of wanting to see just somebody stand and sing a song that somebody else wrote for them, some people actually wanna go see the band play the song that they wrote.
Do you ever see yourself having to make creative sacrifices because there’s so much pressure with touring, and you really want to reach so many people, like financially you depend on it, so do you ever feel like you have to change your sound for that or have you stayed pretty true to the Mowgli’s?
I think we definitely try to stay very true to ourselves. We also try to evolve as much as we can, and I also think that if we do have to make any sacrifices, it’s to do with the fact that there’s so many people involved in our career. We’re signed to a major label, we have booking agents, we have managers, we have all these people, and there’s six of us so we all have opinions. So sometimes you have to sacrifice your creative input but it’s also just trusting that the people in your team all want the best for the music and the band. You kind of just have to trust people you work with and know that we all share the same goal.
So WRBB 104.9 is Northeastern’s campus radio, so do you think college radio is dead and if so, who killed it?
Well, I don’t think college radio is dead because the way I see it college radio is, they’re some of my favorite stations in the country because you know, the students are picking the playlists. Whoever is working the radio station kind of gets to play whatever they want…but if it’s dying, it’s because those corporate radio powers that see major labels are controlling the radio industry and kind of you know, muffling college radio out of business probably.
Well thank you so much for your time. It’s been great talking with you Katie, I have one last question, which is, if you could watch one youtube video for the rest of your life, what would that video be?
Um, probably the Chinese monkey smoking cigarettes (laughs)…also it’s not on youtube but Pam Loves Ferrari Boys, it’s on Instagram, yeah it’s good times.