♦ 11 a.m.-9 p.m. through July 12; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. July 13-14 at Grant Park, Jackson Boulevard and Columbus Drive, Chicago
♦ Free admission; Taste tickets, $8 for strips of 12
♦ (312) 744-3316;
Updated: August 13, 2013 6:07AM
For indie folk-rock band the Mowgli’s, making the world a better place through song is totally doable.
“We’re trying to create a movement based on love, to make art for the purpose of love to better this planet and our species,” front man Colin Dieden, 24, says. “I see it play out every single day, like I’ll talk to a fan who will tell me how our music affected them. That’s proof that it’s working on smaller scale.”
With a tour that includes stops at Taste of Chicago (4 p.m. July 14, Petrillo Music Shell) and Lollapalooza, the eight-member band is succeeding at spreading the word about its debut album, “Waiting for the Dawn” (Island Def Jam).
“Everything up until now has been a financial struggle, a lot of work and a lot of wondering when it will pay off,” he says. “But when I see people singing along to our songs, leaving the venue happier than when they came, I have a moment of clarity. It’s already paid off.”
Not that the Los Angeles-based group’s faith in itself hasn’t been tested. “Once we had a gig in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and it was like 300 degrees below zero. I lived in the Utah wilderness in a tent for three months, so I know what cold is, but this kind of cold was something else,” Dieden says. “Carrying our instruments from the van to the venue was almost impossible and then it turned out that there were only three tickets sold.”
Nowadays, there are plenty of bodies to keep the band warm as venues fill up with fans. “During our shows, we go into the audience. There’s an invisible barrier between artist and audience, and we try to dissipate that,” he says. “I love the connection we have with these people — our fans aren’t aggressive weirdos, they want to feel good and happy.”
Of all the members, whose ages range from 24 to 30 — Dieden, Michael Vincze (guitar), David Applebaum (keyboards), Spencer Trent (drums), Josh Hogan (guitar), Andy Warren (drums), Katie Jayne Earl (vocals) and Matt Di Panni (bass) — only Dieden, from Kansas, and Hogan, from Oklahoma, are transplants. The rest of the group met in high school.
In 2009, Di Panni and Dieden, who met through mutual friends, decided to take a road trip to San Francisco. “We were at this convention for sustainability and just started playing in an alley,” Dieden says. “We were just feeling the love for the city, and for each other and so we wrote [the single] ‘San Francisco’ about universal love.”
Although Dieden and Di Panni are the founders, all the members help write the songs. “We’re into different stuff from folk to metal, but that’s what makes the band what it is,” Dieden says. “We never argue about writing a song, we can just tell when it works.”
Cramming eight people into a van can be trying, but on the upside, when one person gets annoyed with another, they simply change seats. “It’s easy to distance yourself when you need to, there are six other people to hang out with,” Dieden says. “Even in our off-time, we hang out together. Me, Katie and Andy just bought a house together.”
Who’s Mowgli? “We were at this guy’s house writing demos, and his dog, who was half wolf, was running around. His name is Mowgli, like from ‘The Jungle Book’,” Dieden says. “The name seemed to fit.”
That apostrophe in the name is a grammatical error. “We didn’t even know how to use an apostrophe,” he says. “Once I said in an interview that it represented the marginalization of society, but truth is, we were stoned.”
Gannett News Service