A KANSAS CITY KID: Born in L.A., Dieden grew up in Kansas City where he played in punk bands. He moved back to L.A. when he was 18, and that's when he met the other members of the Mowgli's. "I just got out there, and we met at a backyard party one night in Calabasas, California," says Dieden. "We started drinking and playing music, and we quickly had a little band going." Dieden grew up on acts such as James Taylor, the Beatles and Crosby, Nash and Young. He says he's become obsessed with pop songwriting. "I think it's fascinating that you can write a song that will appeal to 40 million people," he says.
UP ALL NIGHT: In the early days, the band would play mini-festivals in Southern California. "We would play two or three shows in Venice Beach a night," Dieden says. "There's all these crazy hippie Burning Man-like warehouse parties. It's the most insane thing you ever experienced. We'd do our early shows at the bars, and then we'd go back to our Venice Beach house and play a 4 a.m. party at some warehouse. I'm glad it happened, but I'm also glad it's in the past because it was so exhausting."
BUILDING ON A FOUNDATION: The band made a good impression with its 2012 debut, Love's Not Dead. "We just wrote a couple of songs and threw them on a record," says Dieden. "The next one was Waiting for the Dawn and that came out through Island/Def Jam. I got a taste of what it was like to work with high-caliber people, and I realized we needed to take it seriously. Once I discovered that I need to know more about songwriting, the records got better and more interesting."
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: The band's latest effort, a four-song EP called American Feelings, shows just how refined the band's sound has become. The breezy "Norman Rockwell" features cooing backing vocals, spirited horns and a great Sublime-inspired groove. "It was just a title, but I didn't know what it meant," says Dieden. "We ended up capturing this weird, melancholy, middle-of-America, sepia-toned story. The fan reaction has been really phenomenal." Singer Katie Jayne Earl brings some real gusto to "Talk About It," a poppy tune that deserves commercial radio airplay. Dieden says the band has never sounded better. "Even our sound guy turned to us the other night and said it's insane how tight the band sounds," he says. "This is definitely the right time to come out and see the band."
WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: themowglis.net.
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: The Mowgli's perform with Jukebox the Ghost and Twin XL at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 22, at the Beachland Ballroom.