Vanessa Penn: Lyricist, Vocalist
Thomas Limper: Guitars, Keys, Programming
Robert Conley: Bass, Keys, Programming
The howl of a lone coyote across the midnight plain, the sobbing of the last drunk at the bar, the crack of a pistol echoing through the sky; it is images like these that provide thematic inspiration to the band. Formed in early 2009, MOWZ is a union of long time friends from the California Bay Area who set out to create a blend of eerie, desolate landscapes, pulsing grooves, and vocal lines that are both haunting and meaningful. MOWZ has musically been influenced by artists from Portishead and DJ Premier to film composers such as Enio Morricone and Angelo Badalamenti to form their own brand of beat-driven music that they have come to refer to as “Cowboy Trip-Hop”. Joining tremolo-laden spaghetti western guitars to ambient textures and bass-ridden beats, the music strikes a balance between harmony and dissonance as it supports singer/lyricist Vanessa Penn's melodic vocals and intricate word play.
While working together at a Santa Rosa, CA specialty video store, Rob approached Thomas with the root of an idea, at that point consisting only of a name: MOWZ. From the start, a primary focus of the band was the integration of the electronic music expertise brought by Thomas with the groove-oriented, “in-the-pocket” bass techniques of Rob. The catalyst for the endeavor, however, was the introduction of Vanessa as a vocalist; it was at that point that the band went from being a minor side-project to a full-fledged obsession for all involved.
MOWZ records and masters all of their own songs, keeping full control over their sound. Currently at work writing and recording for their debut album, Lonesome Prairie Songs, MOWZ is also working hard to expand their local fan base. And, in an effort to maintain a unique stage presence and a natural, organic sound, MOWZ does not use any laptops during performances, instead utilizing the AKAI MPC1000 sequencer/sampler in conjunction with a NORD LEAD 2X synthesizer which Thomas and Rob manipulate, creating an on-stage interplay between looped beats and live instrumentation. What sets the band apart from most electronic-based acts is this commitment to maintaining an analog sound, both in the studio and in performance.
Floating over this musical backdrop, Vanessa's voice paints a picture for the audience of lost love and regret while keeping an eerie distance, the lyrics seeking to create a world not quite our own, while remaining uncomfortably close to everyday existence. On the track “I'll Sing the Body Electric”, the narrator asks the question of whether it's worth erasing your identity, and perhaps your soul, for the chance to start over and become the person you might have been: They can take most of my lovers/They can have most of my friends/I've seen too many covers and caused too many ends/And I'll glow. At the end of the day, the band asks just one thing from the audience… that they listen for themselves.
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