Where'd Your Weekend Go?
The Mowgli's were fighting the good fight, one catchy tune and dance move at a time
by Drew Rowsome
Katie Jayne Earl claims to be exhausted from rehearsals and preparations for The Mowgli's upcoming tour for their new album Where'd Your Weekend Go? but she is as bouncy and cheerful as one of the band's catchy hits. "We're excited to get back onstage and do what we love to do," she says, "We've worked hard to compile a set that's high energy, driving, that makes people move."
The earworm upbeat quality of the songwriting and energetic presentation, earnest but entertaining, is intentional. "We originally started this band and making music with the intention of putting a little bit of positivity and brightness into the kind of darker artsy world we came out of," says Earl. "We grew up listening to a lot of emo, thematically darker music. We thought of it as a challenge to make meaningful art that was positive. That seemed more difficult than making art that draws from pain, but that was the intention."
And it afforded another opportunity, "As the snowball grew we realized that our platform was growing and we thought this is a great place to talk about social issues that we care about. But we do want people to mindlessly bop about. They are coming to a show to sing along, to have a good time, and at some point realize that it's actually speaking to them. I think that deep down inside all of us want to do a little something to make the world better."
Presenting social issues in pop music can be dangerous with many artists coming across as either posturing, pandering or lecturing. The Mowgli's 2012 song and video "It's About Love," which celebrates the US's same-sex marriage victories manages to be politically astute and quite moving. And the live action (as opposed to the hetero-normative cartoon version) video for "San Francisco" has a delicate but delicious thread of homoeroticism that is charming and cute. Alas, Earl confesses that The Mowgli's are only staunch allies.
"In some ways it's a personal investment," she says. "None of us are personally gay, but we've all grown up with gay friends and family members. I'm not sure if that's a product of growing up in an environment like Los Angeles where even in the '80s, the '90s, when we were kids, there was an open community for our gay brothers and sisters. We just grew up amongst the gay community and it just never made sense that gay rights weren't a universal thing. For me personally it took until a late teen or young adult and I started paying attention to worldly issues. that I realized that not everyone was cool with people being gay. It was kind of a culture shock for me. I think growing up and realizing that this is still a struggle, that people were still fighting, we said, 'That's ridiculous that people are still fighting for those rights and we're onboard and it matters to us.'"
The band is eager to get to Toronto where they have a fervent fan base. And because, like a lot of Americans, they're a little envious of our oasis (at least post-Ford and post-Harper) of sanity. And, on a more practical level, Toronto's show is in the, relatively intimate for The Mowgli's, Velvet Underground. "Club shows are some of our favourites," says Earl. "It gets really hot and everyone is pressed up against each other. The energy that goes through is like electricity. We sing the same lyrics over and over on tour, but sometimes I get on stage and realize that this is just what I wanted to hear. It's energizing. And I hope it's the same perspective for the audience."