Scowl’s Kat Moss breaks down every track on hardcore band’s killer debut LP
Pick up Scowl's debut album on limited orange vinyl.
Something must be in the water in the Santa Cruz/San Jose area, because so many great hardcore bands have been coming out of that region lately. There's been Drain, Gulch, Sunami, Hands of God, and more, and the latest band to break out is Santa Cruz's Scowl, who release their debut LP How Flowers Grow on Flatspot Records today. It features Drain vocalist Sammy Ciaramitaro on "Fuck Around," which should help draw some new fans in, but one listen to How Flowers Grow proves that Scowl are a force on their own. The band bust out fuzzy power chord riffs that toe the line between classic hardcore and garage punk, and Kat Moss tops it off with a vicious bark that avoids typical hardcore clichés. She also has a clarity to her delivery that makes Scowl's songs accessible without veering into "melodic hardcore." That said, Scowl do prove they know how to get melodic on one song, "Seeds To Sow," and that one suggests Scowl could really transcend the hardcore scene if they ever wanted to. It kind of sounds like a cross between X-Ray Spex and the first Best Coast album, and it really sets Scowl apart from their peers.
Lyrically, How Flowers Grow is full of purpose, from songs that find Kat getting revenge on her abuser ("Dead To Me") and dealing with a troubled childhood ("Roots") to songs that take on mass injustice in America ("Pay Privilege Due") and songs that just let out some pure, unfiltered anger ("Idle Roaring Room," "Fuck Around"). Kat's words come through loud and clear, and the songs hit that much harder because you can tell she's truly channelling inner rage, not just dishing out empty slogans.
As rage-fueled as How Flowers Grow is, it's also a fun album, overflowing with energy that feels genuinely addictive. And with ten songs that are almost all under two minutes (and some that are under one minute), it leaves you wanting more every single time.
Kat gave us a track-by-track breakdown of the album. Stream the LP and read on for what she had to say. It's available on limited first-pressing orange vinyl in the BV store (but not for long).
TRACK-BY-TRACK BREAKDOWN BY SCOWL VOCALIST KAT MOSS
This song in our opinion was the perfect introduction to the record. With the drums really “driving” the song and setting the tone I like to think the vocals cut in well. I’m writing about people not minding their business, it’s just a really pissed off song.
2. “Dead To Me”
I love this song so much! I didn’t have any lyrical hiccups with this one and I made an attempt to simply tap into my subconscious. My goal was to write a song fantasizing about killing the person who assaulted me and when I was done writing it I felt so elated, like I had hit the nail on the head. This song has a lot of dynamic musically to it that makes it feel big to me.
3. “Pay Privilege Due”
At the time of writing there was a lot of bad stuff happening in America and I wanted to challenge myself to write my feelings about it.
4. “Trophy Hunter”
This is another song full of shit-talking. I had been through some stuff that really opened my eyes about the people around me, who I thought had my back— a sort of freeze frame moment where all the walls broke around me and I stopped trusting everybody. I’m really glad my friend Angel was able to hop in on this song and make it sound even more viscous. I feel like lyrically and musically this one conveys so much aggression.
5. “Seeds To Sow”
I love this song. I had no expectations going into recording it as it was supposed to be strictly instrumental— but at the very end of recording we kinda just went for it. I messed around with some of my lyrics from the title track and basically wrote a prelude. I loved hearing that kinda thing on a record growing up, I always felt like it tied everything together and was almost a sort of musical “fourth wall break”. I love to sing but had zero expectations for recording my singing voice, it was just a lot of fun.
6. “Idle Roaring Room”
This was the last song I wrote on the LP and I wrote it in the studio. I felt sort of lazy about it but the point I wanted to make with the song (lyrically) was to just feel heard. It’s literally just a minute of me yelling for people to actually listen to themselves and those around them. It's edgy and almost boring to me to write about that but it’s how I feel in a lot of social circumstances.
7. “Fuck Around”
This song is so much fun I almost forget what I was trying to say here. But I'm grateful the lyrics are so simple and literal. Sammy (Drain) jumping in just adds the perfect punch and it just makes me wanna jump around. I’m talking about people thinking outside their idea of what “life should be” and kinda just calling for people to question what the hell they’re actually doing + question why it might be what they're told.
8. “Four Walls”
I wrote this song with inspiration from The Stooges and Ceremony. I just wanted to write something where I repeat my lyrics but change the subtleties a bunch. This is a song I wrote about living in a situation that wasn’t gonna get any better— “I gotta leave, just get the fuck away” is so literal to what I was going through. It was chaotic and I couldn’t think, I was turning into a version of myself I hated. I just needed to get out of there.
This is the first Scowl song I ever wrote. I wrote it about my childhood, growing up with narcissistic parents who drank. It’s about the anger I have for my inner child— which I’ve healed so much from since then. Sometimes I hate this song because I’m tired of being vulnerable but I just have to remind myself that everything I’m doing here is vulnerable.
10. “How Flowers Grow”
I wrote this song in a moment of my life where I was extremely disconnected with my truth and my own reality. I wrote about stuff within myself that, at the time, I had no grasp of understanding— so it still surprises me that all of that came out. Looking back a year later it’s shocking that I somehow was able to write those truths while being so in the dark with myself. This song is about my journey accepting “the blood on my hands” and how I needed to really strip myself of all the bullshit, the pain, the problems, and just grow from that raw, humbled place. It’s why I use the metaphor in a question, “is this how flowers grow?”, it’s a song (and record) about growing the hell up.
Pick up How Flowers Grow on limited orange vinyl here.