Mo Lowda and the Humble’s. Musicians L-R: Shane Woods, Jeff Lucci, Jordan Caiola, Kirby Sybert. Photo Credit: Caleb Wilson
Mo Lowda and the Humble's Ready Coat Take 2 Tour
By Lori Goldstein
Like a thoroughbred ready to break out of the start gate, the Philly-based indie rock band, Mo Lowda and the Humble, unleashed its Ready Coat Take 2 Tour in September 2021 in Charleston, SC—a tour that had to be cancelled in March 2020 due to the advent of Covid. The band had just released its third album, Ready Coat, and was eager to play the songs live. With the Ready Coat Take 2 Tour, they’ll have logged 75-plus concerts all around the country–as far northwest as Seattle, WA, hitting the Midwest in such cities as Des Moines, IA, and Boise, ID, stretching down south to Nashville, TN. I caught up with them in Steamboat Springs, CO, when their front man, Jordan Caiola, who grew up in Yardley, zoom-chatted with me on their day off, just before going tubing.
“There’s this…room right downtown called Schmiggity’s, a great little dive bar music venue that people just pack out on the weekends, no matter who’s playing. It’s such a gem, especially for a band our size.”
When I asked has the covid quarantine now energized you, Jordan responded, “For sure. You can’t live in the past, but you can’t help thinking there was momentum that we had that may have been lost a little bit…It feels like we’re regaining it, and it’s amazing to see people still coming out to shows. I try to mention every night just how grateful i am that we get to do this again. I don’t want that to be taken for granted ever again by anybody, going to shows or playing shows. Just to try to live in the moment.”
The current moment for Mo Lowda can best be described as prolific. They’ve just released their first live album, Even on the Weekend, for which they recorded two sets: seven songs from their Union Transfer concert in Philly last fall and two songs performed at Antone’s Nightclub, owned by Gary Clark, Jr., in Austin, TX.
“People have always loved our live show, so we’ve gotten a lot of good feedback on it. [Recording live means] you have to let go of all perfectionism, it’s like, ‘that’s how I sang that. I might be flat on that note, that’s part of it, with live music.’ Shane has mixed other live [performances by]… other bands. I thought he did a great job with it and I think he enjoyed mixing it. YouTube videos are viewable for each song on Even on the Weekend.
They’ve also released Lily Pads/Snowbird, which is a three-song EP. A fourth, self-titled, album will follow, with a release date of March 3, 2023. Jordan comments that “we’re taking more risks, utilizing different instruments, a lot more acoustic guitar, some different kinds of layers, different kinds of approaches to songs. Not quite as rockin’, a little more introspective, and a little calmer on the back half at least. And I think that’s just part of the growth of the band.” Jordan writes all the lyrics for each song with the direction of its structure in mind. Shane Woods, the drummer and recording engineer, grew up in Levittown and Fallsington. The two met in ninth grade and graduated from Pennsbury High School in 2010, then from Temple’s School of Broadcasting Telecommunications and Mass Media in 2014. After Shane went to see Jeff Lucci’s band, Air Is Human, they became friends; Jeff joined Mo Lowda on bass in 2016. The trio work together to complete the writing and recording of each song.
Their first album, Curse the Weather, was released on Temple’s Bell Tower record label. Mo Lowda has produced subsequent albums on their own imprint, Workaround Records, engineered and mixed by Shane. In that way, they are truly an indie band. However, Jordan’s hesitant to lock Mo Lowda into a genre. “The easiest and vaguest way to put it is indie rock, but I think we try to write pop songs and throw a wrench in ‘em. Kind of straightforward: we love hooks, we love choruses, we love catchy things, but there’s always a little bit of a left turn or maybe an unorthodox way of approaching the production or how the instruments are arranged. We try to be crafty with that. So it’s not like indie rock in its purest sense, and it’s not alternative rock in its purest sense. I like to think, at least with the latest music we’ve been working on, it’s smarter than our previous work. That’s the way we’re trying to go.”
Mo Lowda lives by one rule: never ever make the same album twice. “I’d rather take risks and fail and maybe disappoint some people than just keep doing the same thing,” says Jordan. He understands fans who ask if the band will return to the sound they heard in earlier albums. His response? “Huh? No, we’re not. That was almost 10 years ago. We still have love for those songs, we still play them live. I always say to people, think about when you see a photo of yourself from 10 years ago, [you think,] what was I wearing, what was I even thinking? That’s how you were presenting yourself at the time. It felt right, that felt like your identity. But we move, we adapt, and we grow. That analogy usually makes people understand why we wouldn’t want to play all the old songs all the time, or why…[they] really connected with it at the time, and now life is taking it in a different direction.”
Mo Lowda clearly took a new direction when they morphed from a trio to a quartet. It wasn’t until Kirby Sybert, originally the band’s videographer, came on board as a touring member in 2019 that Jordan felt real artistic freedom. “Kirby plays everything–keys, guitar, bass on some songs, and he sings backup on just about every song, so he’s such a weapon to have up there. Absolutely anything you ask the guy to play, he can play.”
With the addition of Kirby, “I felt like I could absolutely spread my wings as far as writing,” says Jordan. “We basically wrote the entirety of Ready Coat after we knew we were adding him to the band, and it just opened things up tenfold.” There are numerous highlights on the Ready Coat Take 2 Tour, the Wicker Park Festival in Chicago being one of them. Jordan is also excited that the band will be playing in Minneapolis, a new destination for them. “There’s so much music history in this town. Prince came out of there,” he reminds me.
Last fall they played the Boogieman Festival in Charleston, SC. “Just about every band we know was on that bill, so it was a hell of a party last year.” It took place in the parking lot of a venue called The Royal American, “this crazy little club, half indoor, half outdoor. Every time you play it on the weekend it’s absolutely slammed,” recalls Jordan. “It’s hard to find somebody who doesn’t like that place from my experience.” This year the festival will stretch over two days.
During the Ready Coat Take 2 Tour, fans will typically hear six or seven songs from the Ready Coat album, and also selections from Curse the Weather and Creatures, their first two albums. Just about every night Mo Lowda opens with “Before Noon,” the second track on Ready Coat. “It has good energy, it starts off on the right foot. We often love ending with one of our oldest songs, “Lazy Minds.” We…[include an improvisational] section that…[lasts] over 10 to 15 minutes. We just let it breathe and grow. People really seem to enjoy that.”
Jordan and his bandmates are content to be back on the road. “This is my dream. The good nights: you are absolutely on top of the world. And then there are tougher nights when we [ask ourselves] are we just spinning our wheels, are we doing the right thing, are we fading away? All it takes is one good night to boost the morale back up. Being in Colorado, we always take a couple of days off, just to enjoy it. I’m literally playing music with my best friends and traveling around so it’s amazing, it’s great, I still love it.”
Local fans of Mo Lowda and the Humble will be able to hear them perform at the Brooklyn Bowl on 1009 Canal Street in Philadelphia. Tickets for their Saturday, November 19 concert are available at brooklynbowl.com.