Keeping It 100: Scowl balances skyrocketing success with personal integrity
Words by Kevin Diers
Just under a year ago, 25-year-old Sacramento native Kat Moss found herself presented with a mountain of opportunities stacking up. It was obvious she had to go all in. With one day notice, she left the security of her job at a coffee roaster and committed to life on the road.
“And it was kind of like a daydream,” Moss says. “Nothing's like quitting a job.”
Moss is the charismatic and fierce vocalist of Bay Area hardcore band Scowl, who is currently on the road about to enter their home state of California on a tour alongside a diverse lineup of heavy hitting up and coming artists Jesus Piece, Show Me The Body, Zulu and TRiPP JONES..
The recent announcement of Scowl’s highly anticipated five-song EP Psychic Dance Routine, which will be released April 7th on Flatspot Records, has only magnified the band following a whirlwind 2022 that cemented their rank as one of the hardest working in the game.
Clocking in at just a bit over ten minutes, this new batch of tracks find the band dosing their potent, pissed off hardcore punk sound with big hooks, catchy melodies and a whole lot of swagger. The stylistic shift to be hardcore adjacent is no coincidence.
“I was heavily influenced from 90’s alt rock like Sonic Youth and early 2000’s radio indie like The Strokes, specifically,” Moss explains. “I never want to limit myself to one thing and if I can, I'm definitely going to experiment.”
But let’s be clear here, this isn’t department store background music. As commercially viable or radio friendly as the chorus on the first single “Opening Night” might be, it’s still paired with their familiar brand of West Coast hardcore fury.
Psychic Dance Routine is the result of five days in the studio with Grammy nominated producer Will Yip, who has worked with everyone from The Bouncing Souls to Title Fight. It was also the first time Scowl had done any sort of pre-production.
“It really changed the way I viewed writing music,” Moss says. “Now I can't wait to get back into that creative mode and write a lot more music.”
Just four years ago, as Scowl was forming amongst a rich crop of contemporaries, Moss’ vision for the band was pretty simple.
“My biggest goals when we started the band were to just play Sound and Fury and play shows with Drain and Gulch and Sunami,” Moss says modestly. “You know, our friends' bands.”
The popularity of their 2021 release How Flowers Grow along with their increasingly intense touring schedule brought a ton of new eyes and ears to the band. With that came the added pressure on this subsequent follow up.
“We're definitely nervous,” Moss says. “It's intimidating. When we put out How Flowers Grow, we did not have nearly as wide of an audience as we do now. It's really exciting and it's very cool. But it's awfully intimidating.”
With all the added attention, big tours and momentum, Moss believes there is a bit of a misconception of where they are as a band.
“I think a lot of people misinterpret that,” Moss explains. “You know, we're this big band that's doing all this really cool stuff. And we're rock stars. That's absolutely not the case by any means. We're still getting our
As they gear up for their upcoming slot on Coachella, Scowl has also been receiving a lot more press than usual. With the 2022 breakout ascent of Turnstile, it would be foolish not to believe that mainstream outlets, radio programmers, A&R’s and ad executives are scouring Tik Tok for the next big thing the way they gobbled up everything that smelled like Seattle in the early 90’s.
Will Scowl be that band? If so, Moss assures it will certainly be on their own terms.
“If something doesn’t align with my views and my values, I'm not doing it,” Moss says. “I think that's something that's integral to what I consider to be punk. If I don't fuck with something and there's a big check, I'm still not taking the big check.”
Moss seems to be handling all the attention well, though, as she describes while sitting in her van alongside bandmates Malachi Greene (guitar), Bailey Lupo (bass), Cole Gilbert (drums), and Mikey Bifolco (guitar). Admittedly, Moss used to overthink her answers and get in her own head with planning everything out for interviews. Lately, though, she’s become a little more comfortable with talking to folks like me.
“I just get excited,” Moss assures me. “Not only for myself or my band, but I get excited for everyone in hardcore and in the scene and the community. It's cool that we're all elevated right now. It's undeniable. And I think it's really exciting.”
Like Trash Talk, Code Orange and Knocked Loose before them, Scowl has taken every opportunity to get in front of a new crowd, embracing the challenge of playing in front of any audience, regardless of genre or sound.
“Anytime we've been offered a rap show or a mixed genre kind of show or opportunity I jumped for joy because I just think that's so much fun,” Moss states excitedly. “I'm entirely for it.”
That willingness to play in front of new crowds may have been what found them onstage at the legendary Madison Square Garden in May of last year as they opened for nu-metal chart toppers Limp Bizkit. As it turns out, it wasn’t due to a management suggestion or a unique marketing opportunity. In fact, it was likely the backwards-red-hatted front man Fred Durst’s pandemic boredom and curiosity that found him stumbling across Scowl on Tik Tok.
“It just worked out like that he just really liked us,” Moss explains. “And he rode for us. He hit us up on social media. I remember the day it happened. I was like, ‘This is fake. This is totally fake.’ We were all kind of freaking out. Like, what? What is going on? And it was real. It was so real.”
Though it may be a played-out trope to focus on her aesthetic, there’s no denying that onstage, Moss’ bright green hair and fashionable skirts or dresses stand out amongst a sea of camo shorts and four-sided death metal long sleeves. Moss sites the legendary Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry as a direct influence.
“I just think it's fun,” Moss says. “It's all about fun and feeling good and feeling happy and comfortable. I just I wear what makes me feel good. You know? Sometimes it can be intimidating, I'm not gonna lie. Sometimes I'll set out an outfit and I'll be like, ‘Do I really want to do this? Are they going to judge me?’ But that will never stop me. I might have the fear, but it'll never stop me.
Scowl is currently trekking across the North America with Show Me The Body, Jesus Piece, Zulu, and TRiPP JONES. Scowl will also make their Coachella debut this April in addition to a myriad of festival plays including their label showcase in Flatspot World in New York, Bamboozle, and Sick New World in Las Vegas this May. A full list of dates can be found below.
The Psychic Dance Routine EP from Scowl drops April 7th via Flatspot Records. Pre-order the release along with themed merch – HERE
w/ Show Me The Body + Jesus Piece + Zulu + TRiPP JONES
3/1 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Regent
3/3 – Santa Cruz, CA Santa Cruz @ Vets Hall
3/4 – Berkeley, CA @ UC Theatre
3/5 – Sacramento, CA @ Harlow’s
3/7 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos
3/8 – Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw Theatre
3/9 – Portland, OR @ Revolution Hall
3/10 – Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory
3/11 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Soundwell
3/12 – Denver, CO @ Gothic Theatre
3/14 – Omaha, NE @ Slowdown
3/15 – Minneapolis, MN @ Underground Music Venue
3/16 – Chicago, IL @ Metro
3/17 – Detroit, MI @ Tangent Gallery
3/18 – Toronto, ON @ The Opera House
3/19 – Montreal, QC @ Corona
3/21 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
3/22 – Albany, NY @ Fuze Box
3/23 – Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar
3/24 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
4/8 – Brooklyn, NY – Flatspot World @ The Monarch
4/15 – Indio, CA @ Coachella
4/22 – Indio, CA @ Coachella
5/6 – Atlantic City, NJ @ Bamboozle
5/13 – Las Vegas, NV @ Sick New World
6/23-25 – Manchester, UK @ Outbreak Fest
9/22-24 – Birmingham, AL @ Furnace Fest