Five childhood friends from the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, augmented by three mid-western transplants, The Mowgli’s are a quintessential California band. Inspired by the magnetism of San Francisco, the grind of Los Angeles and the serenity of the Big Sur Coast, their songs are a joyous revival of rock n’ roll, a twisting indie-folk dance and a heartfelt protest ballad.
Uplifting, collaborative, joyous and communal, their songs are a walk through their life thus far: Meeting each other (“Hi Hey There Hello”), experiencing together (“San Francisco”, “The Great Divide”, “I’ve Been Around”), fighting and making up (“Colin’s Song”), emerging stronger (“Carry Your Will”, “We Are Free”) – their message is finding a foothold with fans from every walk of life, bringing people together under one roof to celebrate each other.
We caught up with Michael Vincze (guitar/vocals), Josh Hogan (guitar/vocals), Spencer Trent (percussion/guitar/melodica/vocals) and Andy Warren ( drums/percussion/vocals) who make up one half of the Mowgli’s before their set at the Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, AL May 18. Check out what the group had to say!
What artist(s) has had the biggest impact on you as a band?
Michael: There’s so many. I think it is different for everybody and being as we all contribute so much to the band, the scale is very vast. A group called The Books has had incredible influence on me.
Joshua: For me personally, I grew up listening to The Beatles thanks to my father, and from the whole song-writing and vibe standpoint, that’s a huge one for me.
Andrew: I was a ska kid, jazz kid, so that kind of comes into play in a weird way. Even though you might not hear it, it has definitely has some weird imprint in our music that you might not even recognize.
Spencer: Fleetwood Mac, just going back to family clean days on the weekend and my parents playing classic rock.
Is there an artist that you are really excited about sharing Hangout Fest with?
Stevie Wonder and Tom Petty for sure. Passion Pit, Twenty One Pilots, we love Kings of Leon. The Shins.
How do you connect with a crowd?
Michael: We really like to encourage everyone to sing with us, so on some songs we teach [the first chorus] to them and hopefully the next time it comes around they’ll be fully participating. We like to ask them questions in between songs. Sometimes we do this one thing where we have everyone put their hands up and we take a deep breath together and we scream out all of our non-sense.
Joshua: Also, simply making eye contact with people really helps. It’s a special moment between you and that person in that moment.
Are you fans of the Jungle Book?
Michael: We are huge Jungle Book fans! Spencer and Joshua were both given the nickname “Mowgli” when they were kids by coincidence. It goes back to my childhood really strong, just fantasizing about being a kid in the jungle. There’s such a beautiful purity to the character Mowgli because he is kind of unphased by the normal flaws that we find in man. He is not swayed by negativity, the same way we are.
Is that what inspired the name of the band?
Michael: The name was actually inspired by my brother’s dog. He has a wolf named Mowgli. It’s half wolf, half shepherd. I used to sleep next to this dog every night and he is kind of the reason our band is called this.
What song are you the most proud of and why?
Michael: “San Francisco” is one of the core fundamentals of the band, the sound, the lyrics, just so many things about that song are really important to what we are and what we stand for. That is something that I think is one of the more monumental achievements of our lives thus far. The intention of that song is to kind of kick this band into motion. But really, every single song is so beautiful and so important and so special. They are all of our children. How do you pick a favorite?
What has been your most memorable gig?
Michael: This one! We haven’t even played it yet and this one is by far, oh my gosh we are on the beach right now! The stages are in the sand!
What is the craziest thing a fan has done for you?
Michael: We’ve had a couple fans do lyric tattoos. Seeing that is a great honor because to have someone feel that passionately about something that we did, I love that.
Andy: We had a fan paint a really gorgeous, realistic-looking picture of a couple of us and it’s spot on. It’s really cool.
Michael: In Portland we got a dozen voodoo donuts. They’re super famous!
AMG: Do they have needles in them?
Michael: (laughing so hard he can’t speak)
Joshua: No they have Captain Crunch and Cocoa Puffs and maple and bacon! It’s a crazy donut!
The Mowgli’s are releasing their new album, Waiting for the Dawn, on June 18th! Make sure to check it out!