Santa Cruz CA’s Scowl are a real bright spot in the hardcore scene right now. They released their debut full length back in November on Flatspot Records and have seemingly been out there in the wild supporting the crap out of it since ever since. Chris Williams who wrote the review of “How Flowers Grow” for In Effect said that they “sit somewhere between Negative Approach, Breakdown and Sheer Terror” which might catch some of you off guard as Scowl likes to go against the grain as much of their imagery contrasts their raw old-school style of hardcore and from our standpoint… it is a real breath of fresh air. When we were presented with the opportunity to interview their singer Kat Moss we jumped at it and are really grateful we had this opportunity. The rest of the band is: Malachi on guitar, Bailey on bass and Cole on drums. The next couple of months sees Scowl crisscrossing the USA first with Limp Bizkit on the Limp Bizkit Still Sucks Tour in May and then right into another run with Sacramento’s Destroy Boys in June. Kat answered these questions in late February 2022. Lead photo by Gray Muncy, graphics by Paul Turano. Special thanks to photographers Danielle Dombrowski, Steven Ruud, and Christian Castillo as well as Alexa Gallo. An edited version of this same interview can be found in print form in the latest issue of Down For Life Magazine.
1. Hi Kat. Where exactly are you right now and what would you usually be doing around this time if you weren't answering these questions?
Kat: Hi! I’m sitting on Malachi’s little red couch. I just got home from work so sitting on the couch isn’t so far off from what I’d usually be doing this time of day!
2. Scowl's latest “How Flowers Grow” is about 3 months old now and comes a little more than 2 years since your “Reality” EP. How did it feel the days and weeks that followed the release date when people could absorb the new music and give you feedback on it?
Kat: The time following “How Flowers Grow” was such a whirlwind and I don’t say that lightly! I was talking with so many new faces every single day for weeks on end. I had never done that many interviews or podcasts and it was such an overwhelming and positive time. We had been sitting on the record for a year and a half, patiently waiting for the rest of the world to hear, so it was really uplifting to finally see how much people liked it. During quarantine we were able to meet up and write the record as a band but even with the tools/ability… we had to sit patiently. When shows finally came back it felt explosive to come out swinging with the LP.
3. Can you talk a little about the song and video for “Seeds To Sow”? Everyone I have shown it too loves it as it is not only a different type of song for Scowl but also one of your best tracks. (CLICK ABOVE TO WATCH!)
Kat: We were nervous with “Seeds To Sow”. I’m incredibly grateful for the love it gets because it did feel somewhat risky! I loved that it came together the way it did especially the music video, which was shot on the outskirts of an agricultural town near Santa Cruz called Watsonville by our good friend Tyler Bray. The way the song builds itself when it only consists of a few notes, the horns, and clearly different vocal style is simply refreshing. I’m very excited to record some more songs that can follow up that sound.
4. Do you remember a specific moment in your life where you knew you wanted to be a singer in a hardcore band?
Kat: I knew I wanted to sing in a band when I was really young. I felt embarrassed to talk about it or try it out so it stayed a secret, but I always wanted to do it! I started to feel like it was a possibility when I started coming to hardcore shows around 18 years old. I saw other girls fronting bands and it didn’t seem so impossible anymore! The most definitive moment was when I memorized all the lyrics to Regulate’s “Years Of Rage” EP and would sing it in my car alone! I just felt like I needed to at least take a stab at fronting a band. i just wanted to know if i could even do it.
<<< CLICK TO THE LEFT TO LISTEN TO REGULATE!
5: What other singers within the hardcore genre influenced your style and was singing for a hardcore band something that came kind of naturally or did you have to put more work into it than you initially thought you would have to?
Kat: I was influenced by friends like Sammy from Drain and Chelsea from Jawstruck, but also took major inspiration from Ross of Ceremony and John Brannon from Negative Approach. Singing for a hardcore band was really hard for me at first! I had very little technique and none of the muscles built that I needed to really sustain my voice! It took me about a year to feel comfortable and understand my vocal capabilities.
6: Can you name 3 non-hardcore/punk/metal bands that you love that might surprise some people?
Kat: I love The Front Bottoms, I don’t know what category they fall into but they’re one of my favorite bands! Pavement is also a huge favorite. I just love how lyrically wacky their songs are. Beach House is also another huge one for me. Their songs are all masterpieces. The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, MGMT, the list goes on and on. I’m a sucker for 2000’s-2010’s alternative rock.
7: Past or present, 3 favorite television shows?
Kat: Lost, Bojack Horseman, and What We Do In The Shadows.
SCOWL (LEFT TO RIGHT) COLE, KAT, BAILEY, MALACHI. PHOTO BY: CHRISTIAN CASTILLO
8: In hardcore the singer is often the focal point of the band… the one who often does interviews and is known more for being the person introducing the next songs at shows so people often identify or recognize the singer the most. Who are the other members of Scowl and can you give us an interesting fact about each of them?
Kat: Hell yes! Malachi plays guitar and doesn’t get enough credit because he truly is my rock and the driving force behind Scowl... and before he found a passion for playing hardcore he was a competitive downhill skateboarder. Bailey plays bass in Scowl and is probably the funniest person I know. He got kicked out of Hebrew school as a kid and has the best music taste out of anyone I know! Cole plays drums in Scowl and he absolutely loves fast food. I’d have to argue that he loves fast food more than anyone else I’ve ever met. He is a junk foodie!
9: How did the name Scowl come to be and were there any other names in the running before you decided to go with Scowl?
Kat: Malachi thought of Scowl and it was the very first name he suggested when the conversation came up! The only other possible iteration was “The Scowl”.
10: Do any of your parents or close relatives show any interest in Scowl's music? If so what do they have to say about it?
Kat: I don’t actually know how much my family likes hardcore besides my mom, but they really do support it! Every time my mom hears us she asks me over and over in disbelief “Is that you?!”… she is so proud of me.
11: Is there a Scowl song that you feel sums up best what this band is all about from a musical as well as lyrical standpoint? Or is that song still to be written?
Kat: This is a tough question! From a musical standpoint “Four Walls” or “Dead To Me”, simply because of how much fun we have as a band playing them. Lyrically I think that song is yet to be written... when I wrote “How Flowers Grow” I believed it to be the antithesis of Scowl but with the passing of time I’m ready to take another stab at it.
12: Something that I find very unique with your band is the fact that you play a very raw style of hardcore yet much of your imagery with album covers as well as merch goes with a more softer tone obviously using flowers and brighter colors that usually would be shunned upon within the genre. Was the use of brighter colors and flowers something that was accepted throughout the band right off the bat or was there some convincing that needed to be done?
Kat: It took a small amount of convincing because the soft imagery and bright colors were absolutely coming from me… but as soon as they hopped on they heavily pushed for it and I’m grateful for that! I always liked the idea of playing in a hardcore band but contrasting with the sound/genre by integrating the soft imagery. It’s just what I like and I wanted my band to feel authentic.
CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO "HOW FLOWERS GROW" BY SCOWL
13: In the current day hardcore/punk scene there are not too many people who stand out from as being fashion conscious but you seem to have carved out your own thing while looking cool doing it. Is the attire that you usually wear on stage the type of clothing that you would usually wear doing everyday types of things? What influences your style?
Kat: Thank you! Yes I absolutely wear those outfits on and off stage. I take heavy influence from pop culture, movies like Scott Pilgrim or Almost Famous. Bands like Blondie and The Runaways. I have always nurtured the urge to step out of my comfort zone and wear whatever I want, even before I got into hardcore... even if it may have been a little odd. I have always been encouraged to express myself and feel comfortable doing so.
14: Back in January the band had a European tour with Comeback Kid get canceled due to Covid issues. That tour would have been the furthest you have toured to date. How many shows would you guess Scowl has played so far and what were some of the more interesting places you have played?
Kat: I think we’ve played at least 75 shows… I’m no good with math. We played a freeway underpass in Chico in March 2019 right before Covid-19 struck. It was nuts! Dust flying everywhere. Albuquerque, NM was a huge surprise... such a cool scene and they mosh HARD.
15: What are some bucket list types of cities or countries that you would love to get to with Scowl not only from being able to play there but for more of a “always wanted to go there” type of standpoint.
Kat: Paris, France. London. New York. All places I haven’t really spent time in and would love to see!
SCOWL @ MEANWHILE BREWING, AUSTIN, TX MARCH 20, 2022. PHOTO BY: STEVEN RUUD
16: When you are packing to go out on a tour or short run of shows what are some things you immediately think of that you know you have to remember to have in your bag before leaving home?
Kat: I have a bulk pack of disposable toilet seat covers that absolutely have to be on me at all times on tour! I also heavily rely on dry shampoo and tons of moisturizer. Showers are few and far between and the van air is just too dry for my skin. I have to stay hydrated like a slug! I’ll also bring sheet masks to wear in the van.
17: Scowl is based out of Santa Cruz, CA which is about 90 mins south of San Francisco. How long have you lived there and what are some of the things you like about living in Santa Cruz?
Kat: I’ve lived in Santa Cruz for almost 4 years! I love that I can get in my car and be at the beach within 5 minutes, I love that I can walk around downtown and will most likely run into a friend, and I love that the weather is almost always perfect.
18: What about negatives in regards to living there?
Kat: The food SUCKS! There’s very little options for vegans/vegetarians and there’s not a lot of solid restaurants unfortunately. Tourism also makes the traffic hell!
SCOWL AT FYA FEST 2022. PHOTO BY: DANIELLE DOMBROWSKI
19: What types of things do the members of Scowl like to do in your free time?
Kat: I like to draw, craft, and sew! I also will skate every now and then! Malachi is very into jiu-jutsu and kickboxing.
20: The band has only been together since 2019 but you seem to have already done a lot in that time. What kind of advice would you pass on to some kid reading this who might want to start their own hardcore band?
Kat: Just do it. Don’t hesitate because whatever you do now will be something you’ll look back on fondly regardless if it’s “good” or not. Don’t try to be good, just do it! There’s no better time then now and there’s a ton of young individuals who want to start a band just as badly as you might, just start talking to people, jam, and write the demo!
21: What's in the works for Scowl heading into the summer and the rest of 2022?
Kat: We are focused heavily on touring as much as possible! We are trying to hit all the places in the US that we haven’t played yet as well as across the pond! We are also writing some new material that should be seeing the light of day before the end of 2022.
FOR MORE INFO ON SCOWL INCLUDING TOUR DATES, VIDEOS, SOCIAL MEDIA & MORE... CLICK HERE