With last year’s I Was Starting to Wonder and the upcoming American Feelings — whose “Norman Rockwell” is premiering exclusively below — the Mowgli’s have found better living through EPs.
“It’s cool because everything is focused on a smaller scale,” the group’s Colin Dieden tells Billboard. “We can put a lot into four songs instead of having to worry about 11 songs or whatever you do for a full-length. It’s become such a singles world. I think people want stuff and they want it fast, and I get it. When I hear a Migos record that has 24 songs on it or whatever, I can’t get through that — and I love Migos. I just don’t understand the point of releasing a full-length record right now, and I think for us the EP is just a good model for how to get music out.”
American Feelings, which comes out March 1, will let Mowgli’s fans hear a different kind of music from the Los Angeles troupe — especially on “Norman Rockwell.” The richly textured and rhythmic track was inspired by Rockwell’s painting I Am a Child and thoughts Dieden had about its subject, a young boy painting a model house while his dog looks on.
“I was like, ‘I feel like this kid,'” Dieden recalls. “I thought this kid was trying to paint himself a new life; He was stuck in this thing, and I imagined he was trying to create a new world for himself. So I put ‘Norman Rockwell’ in this list of titles in my phone and started to think, how am I gonna write a song called Norman Rockwell?”
The song is also a foray into melancholy territory for a band that’s known for its upbeat, anthemic anthems. “When I write songs for the Mowgli’s I tend to have this dichotomy — the song is really happy but the lyrics are sad, or vice versa. This one is just sad on sad,” Dieden says. “That’s not something I usually do for this project. All the time I get from kids, ‘You’re the happiest band in the world.’ I’m glad the music comes across that way and appears happy, but that’s not always the case for me by any means. And with (‘Norman Rockwell’) I definitely wanted to write a song that explored a little more and showed that (sadder) side of myself.”
As to how he expects fans to take to that, Dieden adds that, “I think if anything it’s going to be received almost as a breath of fresh air. We’ve done so many songs that are so happy I would imagine kids want to see another dimension of us and who I am as a writer and who other members of the band are as writers and people. The ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it kind of thing’ is boring as hell to me. I think if it ain’t broke then f***in’ break it and built it again and make it even cooler.”
The Mowgli’s will be touring starting at the end of February with Jukebox the Ghost, after which Dieden expects the group to “come back and get right to work” on another recording project. Also on the horizon: A 10-year anniversary of the Mowgli’s formation set for 2020. “I think a 10-year tour could be cool and go back and hit ’em with all the old stuff,” Dieden says. “That’s definitely been talked about. It could be interesting.”