Scowl’s Kat Moss: “We are totally trying new things!” (9/28 at Underground Arts)

The last time the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection saw Scowl was on opening night of the World War Tour, which kicked off this February at Union...

The last time the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection saw Scowl was on opening night of the World War Tour, which kicked off this February at Union Transfer and had the band paired with Show Me The Body, Jesus Piece, Zulu, and TRiPPJONES, which was captured by our very own Morgan Wladkowski.  Although currently touring their 2021 debut LP, How Flowers Grow, the Santa Cruz hardcore outfit also premiered a few tracks from their forthcoming Psychic Dance Routine EP, which dropped this April and saw the band exploring some new, alternative-inspired sounds (Earlier this month they even had synth-pop trio Nuovo Testamento – who just headlined Johnny Brenda’s last night – remix the title track.)

Scowl are in about the middle of a headlining tour alongside Militarie Gun and MSPAINT, who are handling support duties.  And this Thursday, September 28th, they will be returning to Underground Arts (which they first headlined last October), where they will be joined by local hardcore punks Vulture Raid.  I recently got a chance to catch up with Scowl vocalist Kat Moss, from the road, where we discussed the plethora of shows that Scowl’s played since February, the band’s latest sounds (and images), and just what you can expect this Thursday night.

Izzy Cihak: The last time we spoke was in February, right before you kicked off your tour with Show Me The Body, Jesus Piece, Zulu, and TRiPP JONES.  What have been some of the highlights of the band since then?  In addition to that tour, you also played a bunch of festivals, toured overseas, and released the Psychic Dance Routine EP.

Kat Moss: I would be lying to myself if I said I thought that we’ve had a quiet year!  There’s been tons of highlights and, with our schedule, it has all blended together seamlessly.  Specifically, our first tour in Australia with Speed and Sunami stands out, that was a dream come true for all of us.  Other special moments include playing Reading and Leeds festival in UK, having the opportunity to play shows farther away from home than ever before, and meeting many amazing people along the way.

Izzy: Have you had any favorite reactions to the EP?

Kat: The reaction from our live audience is my favorite thing.  When we played the song “Psychic Dance Routine” in Manchester for Outbreak Fest the crowd started a football chant.  I was smiling ear to ear!  There’s no better feeling than hearing a crowd sing in unison.

Izzy: The EP definitely seems to have you embracing a new sound, exploring things outside the world of hardcore.  What would you consider to be the biggest influences behind this batch of songs?

Kat: We are totally trying new things!  We were heavily inspired by Sonic Youth, Nirvana, The Breeders, The Hives, and many more classic 90’s/early 2000’s bands.  Vocally my biggest influences land between Danzig, Billie Eilish, and Kim Deal.

Izzy: You released a really cool music video for the title track earlier this year.  What were the inspirations behind the video?

Kat: Thank you!  When I began to visually conceptualize the EP my biggest inspiration was the Suspiria movies and high school proms everywhere, perhaps Carrie is a good example…  I wanted to portray a new sense of darkness from what Scowl had previously done while still incorporating our own colorful stamp.

Izzy: You also just dropped a really cool remix by Nuovo Testamento.  How did that come about?  I’m also definitely a fan of theirs.

Kat: I’m also a huge fan!  They put out one of my favorite records this year.  We were lucky enough to have some mutual connection through the music scene and that kicked off the idea of remixing “PDR”— thankfully they were equally as excited about the idea, and they crushed it!

Izzy: You’re just kicking off a massive headlining tour, and you’ll be returning to Underground Arts, where you played about a year ago.  What can be expected of the live show on this run?

Kat: I’m excited to mix up our setlist a bit more than we’d usually do, as well as taking our time on stage that allows for more organic moments.  It’s exciting to feel a sense of ownership of the show and connect with the crowd more.

Izzy: This will actually be the third time you’re playing in a neighborhood that we call Eraserhood (Union Transfer is there, too.), because it’s where David Lynch lived when he was here, and the neighborhood that inspired Eraserhead.  So, I’m curious if you’re a fan of David Lynch, or have any favorite works of his?

Kat: I’m a huge fan of David Lynch!  The classics, such as Blue Velvet, Eraserhead, and Twin Peaks, will forever have a place in my heart.

Izzy: Most of your headlining dates seem to have you in nightclubs, but you also play a lot of really major outdoor festivals.  Do you approach the performances differently, depending on the setting and general circumstances of each show?

Kat: We don’t have a complicated performance, we just get up and go!  If I know that a crowd isn’t particularly acquainted with Scowl, I approach the stage with a different mindset but besides that we just go up and have a good time!

Izzy: Have you gotten to see any acts you especially loved on your recent festival dates, whether longtime favorites or new discoveries?  There were some really amazing artists on Coachella and Sick New World.

Kat: Absolutely!  I’ve been lucky enough to catch 100 Gecs and Machinegirl a handful of times this year as well as boygenius at both Coachella weekends.  Gorillaz was another important one, Earl Sweatshirt, and High Vis finally.

Izzy: Finally, what’s next for you?  How are you planning to close out 2023 and start 2024?  Or, are you just focused on these dates for the time being?

Kat: Currently focused on keeping my mental and physical health taken care of while having the time of my life on this tour.  Once we wrap this tour up, we plan to start working on LP 2, which everyone in the band is biting the bit to begin.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.