Mo Lowda & The Humble have become regulars in the Charleston music scene over the past few years. They started out playing to a handful of people at Tin Roof in 2016, on one of their first tours. They moved up the ranks each time they returned, eventually selling out The Royal American, and most recently selling out The Pour House on January 18th, 2020.
A lot of Mo Lowda’s success in Charleston is thanks to the way they network. It’s similar to how we network here at Extra Chill: hang out and drink beers with people after the show. They’ve made a lot of friends in town this way, and in general, a very good time. Toss in the fact that Rare Creatures were also playing their first hometown show in about six months, and 87 Nights with their energy and recent growth, and you’ve got a recipe for a great night of music.
We first linked up with Mo Lowda & The Humble in November 2018, when they played The Royal American with Human Resources and Drew Beskin. At the time, they were getting ready to go home to Philadelphia and record material for what has become the new album, Ready Coat, due out on March 6th.
This time, we caught up with them the day after their sold out Pour House show with Rare Creatures and 87 Nights. They stayed an extra day in Charleston to film some Record Stop sessions at Truphonic Studios featuring songs from Ready Coat. To continue our series of alcohol-influenced interviews, we sat down for a beer after the recording session and talked about the new album.
The band was originally a three-piece, but for the Ready Coat they’ve added a fourth member, guitarist Kirby Sybert, who had already done lots of video work for the band on the road. Adding a member set the stage for a sonic shift, one that you might have already noticed with lead single “Sleeves”, which has more of a focus on the vocals than any of their previous material.
“With adding a member, we have the capabilities of creating a lot of stuff that we listen to,” guitarist/vocalist Jordan Caiola explains. “Even when we were a power trio, I don’t think any of us listened to power trios. A lot of the stuff we listen to isn’t even rock ‘n’ roll. So I think combining those elements and making it something unique but still in the vein — it’s always gonna sound like us. I think the focus from that definitely stemmed from adding a member.”
Adding Kirby to the band allowed Mo Lowda can spread the load more efficiently, which has created a nice element of space in their music. The new album has more patience, it takes its time to reach a high point or a low point, and it gives the vocals their own space to shine.
“You can bring it up in the mix now, you know? It’s not something that needs to be taking the back seat. It’s now a feature.”
It’s true that when you typically thought about Mo Lowda & The Humble, the lyrics were never something that stood out. The energy and the rock ‘n’ roll has always been the focus. That changed with “Sleeves”, which hits a lyrical depth that is both personal and relatable.
“The lyrics, I’ve been trying to just get — I hate using this word, because so many fucking artists do it: vulnerability,” Jordan says. “And I think this record, as far as the lyrics go, is easily the most vulnerable. Almost to a fault.”
“We’ve been traveling for three and a half, four years, non-stop. I have not been able to hold down a relationship” Jordan continues. “I haven’t been in love in three and a half years. I’m not gonna sit down and write a bunch of love songs if I’m not in love. I just really haven’t been, so I’ve kind of written about that side of things. Traveling this much, and how difficult it is to sustain something like that, and how you have to be honest with yourself about that, and honest with other people, too.”
Jordan goes on to say that the line from “Sleeves”,”All of our friends are getting married but we’re both still living at home”, was a concept that was on his mind while writing most of the lyrics for Ready Coat.
“That’s how I’m feeling at least,” he says. “You open up Instagram and everything is engagement, house, kids. There shouldn’t be a time limit on life, or the path you take, and I think with social media and where we’re at right now, there’s a lot of people who do feel that pressure.”
The lyrics address growing up and trying to be a better person, and that level of increased self-awareness is not limited to the lyrics. With Ready Coat, Mo Lowda & The Humble have consciously put more thought into the whole package, from the arrangements to the production.
“Everything doesn’t have to be rockin’ all the time,” Jordan says. “Which I think when you’re 20 years old and you play in a rock band you’re like, Heavier! Louder!. And now its just like, let’s listen, you know, be listeners first.”
The band explained that a lot of the songs came to life in the studio, and they would sit down with something like a bass part for hours. But since they were on the road so much, though, they didn’t have time to knock the album out at one studio. In trying to meet production deadlines, they popped in to record whenever they had the chance, and ended up doing the album at four different studios.
Bassist Jeff Lucci built his own studio, and drummer Shane Woods works out of Headroom Studios, both in Philadelphia where Mo Lowda is based. Those were the two main studios, but they also cut two songs on the road at The Midwest Sound in Rockford, Illinois, and even did some vocals at Little Bird’s house here in Charleston.
“It was very much this checklist. It was finding the time and just sneaking it in. As last minute as it could possibly be,” Jordan recalls. “I was checking mixes in my car at 3am after the bar, just to get them over here to Mike at Monostereo.”
Overall, Mo Lowda & The Humble are happy with how the new album turned out, and are already having a great time playing the songs on the road. They mention the track “She Used To”, which they only recently put into their live sets, as being the most fun, yet difficult song to play.
“It’s our fastest song, and the groove isn’t straightforward even though it’s really fast,” Shane says. “So I feel like I’m patting my head and rubbing my tummy as fast as I can while reciting a nursery rhyme.”
Ready Coat will see release on Friday, March 6th. Check out lead single “Sleeves” here, and watch out for the next single, “LA Loop (The Lens)”, coming this Friday.
Mo Lowda says they will return to Charleston this summer for a show at the Windjammer. That will probably be a blast, too.
“Maybe too much of a blast,” Kirby closes. “I feel horrible today.”
Check out a gallery from Mo Lowda’s January 18th show at the Pour House below.
All photos by Caleb Wilson. Follow Caleb on Instagram @kuhleeb_.
All photos by Caleb Wilson. Follow Caleb on Instagram @kuhleeb_.