Philadelphia’s Mo Lowda & the Humble are no strangers to Charleston, or most other cities in the U.S., for that matter. Back in April of 2018, the band had a mini residency at The Royal American, playing two shows at the venue exactly one week apart. Then, in November, they returned to play another show at Royal with Charleston’s Human Resources and Drew Beskin from Atlanta.
Before their Royal American show in November, I linked up with the Mo Lowda boys on the venue’s back porch. We sat down with a few beers and a few plates of food and spent some time hanging out and talking about life on the road as well as some of their plans for the future of the band. Our conversation flew off the rails rather quickly, but everybody knows the best interviews are the ones that don’t go according to plan.
To kick things off, I asked Mo Lowda about how they were first introduced to the Charleston music scene.
“The first time we ever played in Charleston was the worst show of all time,” began vocalist and guitarist Jordan Caiola. “There were no people there. It was our first time playing here, and nobody knew us. It was our first tour, I think.”
The show that Jordan was referring to was a February 2016 show at Tin Roof, where Mo Lowda & the Humble opened for Nashville’s SIMO. At the time, Mo Lowda had only released one album, their debut Curse the Weather, and they were gearing up for the release of their 2016 EP, Act Accordingly. If the crowds at their past three Royal American shows are any indicator, it’s clear that they’ve climbed a few rungs on the ladder of success since then.
“Now we’ve kind of entrenched in the scene. We’re great friends with Little Bird, we know Little Stranger, The High Divers, The Artisanals. Bunch of bands out of here that we’ve become good friends with,” Jordan points out. “Every time we come down here we see the homies.”
At their Royal American show with Human Resources there were several people in the crowd who knew the words to Mo Lowda’s hits and were singing and dancing along to them. That’s a pretty big jump from that first show at Tin Roof just a few years back, and it is a testament to the value of networking on the road. If they hadn’t gotten familiar with Charleston’s music scene, it might have taken them much longer to pull a large crowd at Royal, if it ever happened at all. The same can be applied to any band touring in any city: it’s crucial to meet people while you’re there.
When I spoke with Mo Lowda, they were wrapping up the first leg of their winter tour and were gearing up to go home for the Holidays. In February of 2019, the band will embark on their first-ever European tour, which is something they were all very excited about. They have toured almost constantly for the past three years, and it doesn’t look like they plan to slow down at all going into 2019. Especially since they were just announced on the Firefly Festival Lineup a few weeks ago, which likely means they’ll be touring through the summer as well.
Our conversation on touring naturally spun off into a conversation about food, both on the road and in their hometown of Philadelphia.
“I want to say something for the record,” bassist Jeff Lucci began. “French onion soup is one of the most underrated, delicious meals you can have pre-meal. Which means it’s a great appetizer. It’s not labeled under appetizer sometimes. Sometimes it’s under Soups & Salads, but you know, it can double as an app.”
Jeff was eating The Royal American’s take on French Onion soup, which happens to be listed under Soups & Salads on their menu. Then, of course, the conversation turned to Philly Cheesesteaks.
“I have a very unpopular opinion, as far as Philly, and Philly Cheesesteaks,” Jordan said. “I think a fuckin’ cheesesteak is a cheesesteak, in some regards. It’s like, who has the best hot dog? It’s a fuckin’ hot dog. It’s a greasy weiner, on a bun. You dress it up however you want.”
“There’s a little bodega near the studio that we record at that does $4 cheesesteaks, and it’s just a little corner store. And they’re still great,” drummer Shane Woods added.
The band said they mostly save their cheesesteak cravings for when they’re home in Philadelphia, but they did give a shout out to the cheesesteak at Yous Guys out on James Island, where they had eaten earlier that day.
We also talked a bit about some of their favorite places to play, as well as the kinds of crowds they’ve been pulling around the country. This started with Jordan praising Mile of Music Festival in Appleton, WI, referring to it as “summer camp for bands”. They’ve played the festival for the past three years, and Jordan couldn’t say enough positive things about the event.
“There used to be like, no expectations,” Jordan said of crowd sizes at their shows. “If there were 25 people up in your grill, you were so stoked. Now, at least personally, I know a number that I think we can realistically hit in a lot of markets, based on what we’ve done previously. So I let that creep into my mindset, at least a little bit. But you can still have a great time with 25 people.”
To continue on with what I mentioned earlier about the importance of networking on the road, Mo Lowda & the Humble spoke to this directly while on the topic of touring.
“If you play for 25 people, you can realistically talk to all of them after the show. And then next time, they might bring their friends. We try to do that anyway. It’s pretty rare that we don’t talk to people after the show. It’s really about the vibe,” Jordan said. “Tuesdays through Thursdays can be really tough. Cause I don’t ever go to a show on a Tuesday or Thursday, unless it’s like my favorite band. You’ve gotta do it, though.”
Between all this touring, Mo Lowda & the Humble has found some time to work on new music. I asked the band about what they’ve got in the works, and they were happy to share some details.
“We’ve been writing when we’re home, and then trying to flesh things out on the road,” Jordan said. “We recorded a single in Louisville. I think when we go home we’re really going to start putting the foot on the gas as far as working on the new record. We have ten to fifteen songs written, and it’s just a matter of bringing them all together. We always like to live with them for a little bit, too. It’s rare that we work on something in the studio that we’ve never really fleshed out.”
According to the band, the new album is a good mix of heavier songs and not-so-heavy songs. “Might even have our first acoustic song on there,” hinted Jordan.
“I still like albums, personally. If I can piece together an album with these guys, that’s the goal,” Jeff chimed in. “Something that has a flow, I’m always about it. I like singles, I love playlists, but still. You put something on that’s good from top to bottom, that’s always the coolest thing.”
“There’s still an art to sequencing an album, you know?” Jordan said.
Mo Lowda & the Humble will return to Charleston one last time before flying overseas for that European tour. They’ll be at The Royal American on Saturday, January 26th with Dead Swells. They’ll also be at The White Mule in Columbia on Thursday, January 24th with Rare Creatures.
Check out their recent music video for “Card Shark” off their 2018 album Creatures below.