The Mowgli's: More Than a Rock Band
Find the joy in life. Use love to change the world. From their song lyrics to their tweets, The Mowgli’s live out their mantras every day.
When the seven members of the Los Angeles-based alt-rock band aren’t posting pictures of fans from concerts or leaving heart-emoji messages sprinkled across social media, they’re usually hanging out and chatting with each other in the tour van, where they increasingly spend most of their time performing across the country and around the world. As they sing in the opening lines of the breakout 2012 hit, “San Francisco,” they’re “in love with love.”
“We’re trying to promote positivity and equal rights for everyone,” says the band’s bass guitarist (and vocalist) Matthew Di Panni. That’s an unusual stance for many rock bands, which are more likely to cover topics such as unrequited romantic love, teenage angst and society’s ills than sing about supporting one another equally or finding joy and happiness in doing things for other people. But just as many of today’s youthful start-ups from Toms to Warby Parker donate a part of their proceeds to providing shoes and glasses, respectively, to those in need, so do The Mowgli’s give back via their music and concerts.
Founded in 2009 by four high school friends from Calabasas, California, as well as three additions from the Midwest, the band’s name was inspired by a childhood friend’s pet, Mowgli, a wolfdog named after the main character in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. As they told the Positive Exposure blog in 2012: “The wolf seemed to embody this incredible sense of freedom.”
That sense of freedom bleeds into the Mowgli’s’ music. Not tied to any one particular genre, the band’s tunes evoke everyone from classic artists like Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac to more contemporary groups like Fun and Grouplove. The Mowgli’s’ songs are infused with indie, folk, pop, rock, soul and even country. To be frank, the only unifying elements are the lyrics championing peace and love.
Freedom also finds its way into the band’s tendencies on tour: While the Mowgli’s often travel the country to perform in established music halls and festivals such as Bonnaroo and SxSW, they’re just as likely to put on an impromptu show.
“Sometimes we’re in the middle of nowhere, and we just decide, let’s do a pop-up show at the food bank,” says band member Katie Earl. This can literally happen anywhere, since the band always travels with a Verizon Jetpack®, which gives them online access wherever there’s a mobile broadband network so they can instantly announce last-minute performances. “We’ll get on the prepaid wireless Jetpack and we’ll tweet it out.” Given the Mowgli’s’ active social media following (they have more than 27,000 followers on Twitter and over 70,000 likes on Facebook®), a tweet about a pop-up show can generate a turnout of up to 300 people.
Wherever they end up, the Mowgli’s find ways to do more than just sing about doing social good. Those same 300 people that show up to an impromptu concert will also donate hundreds of canned goods, which the band often helps pack at food banks for the homeless. They also regularly donate their proceeds from pop-up shows to charities: Recently, the band live-streamed a concert via their Jetpack in support of Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society’s fundraising initiative to fight against cancer.
“It’s awesome to write songs about kindness and about giving back and goodness,” says band member Colin Dieden. “But it’s really cool to be able to execute those ideas and follow through and tangibly work to make the world a better place.”
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