Fresh off the heels of an iconic Sound and Fury set, we caught up with Scowl‘s rhythm section, drummer Cole Gilbert and bassist Bailey Lupo, on the night of their show opening for Destroy Boys at the Teragram Ballroom. Apart from an incredible set that night, they shared amazing insights on hardcore, touring with Limp Bizkit, and Kevin Smith movies.
Interview by: Danny Ryan
So I saw your guys’ set at Sound and Fury Fest this last weekend…
Cole and Bailey: Oh, hell yeah (at the same time)
It was one of my favorite sets of the entire weekend.
Cole: Dude, thank you! I knew it was going to be a lot of fun, but I just didn’t know it was going to be that wild. It was really fun, really cool. Especially being from California. It was like, damn, you all really like us huh?
Bailey: It was an honor, growing up and going to Sound and Fury thinking “Man, it’d be crazy to play this someday”. I think the last Sound and Fury right before Covid, I don’t know if Scowl was quite a band yet or we just started, but I just didn’t think it would be possible. Let alone, to have a reaction like that. It almost wasn’t on my mind, like I thought it’d be cool one day maybe, but I don’t know. I just didn’t really think about it.
Cole: I felt like playing Sound and Fury was one of the end goals of this band. And now that that’s done, it’s kind of like “What’s next?”.
Did you have a favorite set that weekend?
Cole: I have a Top 3. My top 3 were: Big Laugh from Milwuakee, Wisconsin, the best hardcore band in the game. Superheaven because they’re the best. And Pity Sex because they’re also the best. Those were my personal top 3, the 3 I was most excited for.
Bailey: I was stoked on Pity Sex. I saw them playing at an emo festival called “Growing Up is Dumb” like 10 years ago in Pomona or some shit. A bunch of my friends’ bands played that and I was so hyped to see them then. I remember when that first album came out, I was really hyped on them. Then they kind of stopped being a band for a while, so when I saw them on the lineup I kind of chuckled. Like I couldn’t believe this soft-ass shoegaze band is playing Sound and Fury.
That is so sick! So I would say them, and obviously all of the Bay Area bands. Gulch, of course. Drain. Sunami. It goes without saying. But tons, I really liked that Gridiron set a lot. That was fucking nuts.
Cole: Big shout out to Zulu, to Speed.
Bailey: Oh my god, Speed was actually probably my favorite. Speed’s set was the best.
Cole: Broken Vow, Raw Brigade, Militarie Gun, Regional Justice Center. I’m just naming off all my friends now at this point.
Bailey: Good. That’s how it should be.
Cole: Every band. Every band had the sickest set of the weekend.
Bailey: Cola Boyy. That shit was so good.
Cole: Every band had the greatest set.
I noticed you guys didn’t play Seeds to Sow during that set. Was there a reason? Are you planning on making more songs like that in the future?
Bailey: We are definitely trying to make more music like that. More music even different from that, shit that no one’s going to expect. Some real left-field shit. That’s all I can say, really.
Cole: When we play Seeds to Sow, it’s kind of a time-and-place thing you know? We always have it practiced, but it always depends on if it works with the room. Just a lot of technical stuff, sometimes the room is built where it doesn’t really work. I would love to play that song every single night. I love that song. It’s really a time-and-place kind of thing. But yes, like Bailey said, we’re working on more shit like that. We’re not just doing straight-forward hardcore stuff. We’re doing other fun things.
Bailey: We’ll see. I don’t want to say too much.
I couldn’t find this Tweet today, but I remember your band Tweeting that you were working on a Less Than Jake influenced song. Is that accurate and was it Seeds to Sow?
Cole: Well neither of us control the Twitter, that’s the thing.
Bailey: I think he’s referring to something really specific that’s kind of just an inside joke, I think. We were working on a song that kind of had a Lookout! Records 90’s Gilman punk sound. We were just jamming and I was writing this crazy Matt Freeman or Mike Dirnst kind of bassline for something. And I was like, dude, if my bass tone on the next recording doesn’t sound like Less than Jake then I don’t know what I’m going to do. It was something like that.
Cole: Yeah, yeah that sounds about right. That sounds right.
Bailey: As much as I would love to play a ska song so much for this band, it was more talking about having a bass tone like the one on Hello Rockview.
Cole: I think that’s more so what it was.
Bailey: Honestly even the fact that you brought this up and we’re struggling to answer it, you’re on like Nardwuar levels.
Cole: *Laughs* Yeah, yeah.
Bailey: To be honest, that’s like a Nardwuar type of question. *Laughs*
Cole: Not to disappoint anyone, but at the moment, Scowl is not working on any ska songs.
Bailey: Not at the moment.
Cole: Not at the moment, but I’m not putting it outside the realm of possibility.
Bailey: The other night, we got to see The Interrupters play. They were fantastic.
Cole: They were great. They were awesome.
Bailey: Oh yeah, I love that band.
Cole: Given this band’s love for ska, I’m not putting it outside the realm of possibilities but it’s not there yet. Yet.
Bailey: Who knows? Left-field, remember?
Who did the animation for that video? Do they do other sorts of animated work?
Cole: Chris Wilson. He did all of our album art as well, and he did the animations for that video. I’m a big fan of his work, and just him as a person. He’s in Ekulu, and he’s done a bunch of other music stuff. But I’m not totally familiar if he does more animation if I’m being entirely honest.
Bailey: Yeah, I’ve never seen it but maybe.
Cole: Yeah I try to keep up with his page, but I love all of the art he does. He does a bunch of album art, a bunch of tee shirt designs and whatnot. I don’t know if I’ve seen other animations, but obviously he can do it so I hope he does more if he doesn’t already. And if you see or hear this Chris, sorry I don’t know about your other animation *Laughs*.
I love his stuff. I didn’t realize he did that video.
Cole: Yeah, he’s a jack of all trades.
So you just got off of a tour with Limp Bizkit recently, how did they approach you? What’s the story behind that?
Cole: Fred Durst legitimately just DM’d us on Instagram. His own personal Instagram DM’d the Scowl Instagram. He just said “Yo, I really like your band”. And we thought it was a fake account, like there was no way, somebody’s fucking with us. Before we even replied, he commented on our Youtube music video for Bloodhound from the Limp Bizkit account saying “We love this band” with a bunch of emojis. And we were like “Okay, this is serious”. And then even before we could reply to that, he messaged us from his personal Twitter and said “Hey I’m sorry to spam you, I really love your band. I’m not trying to be annoying, but you guys are fucking awesome”. And we were like “Dude we love YOUR band, like what the fuck are you talking about. Like thank you. What the fuck”. And we just opened a correspondence, he was like “Yeah we have got to play shows together”. Then we toured together, and here we are. Very nice people.
Favorite Limp Bizkit song?
Bailey: Mine’s probably Break Stuff.
Cole: Yeah, it’s a classic. That’s a really good question. I’m terrible with song names. But the one with the Mission Impossible riff, I love that one. Rollin’ is amazing. Some of the newer stuff honestly, the opening track off of the new album is *sings riff* that riff is fucking nuts. The new album is fantastic. But I’m going to go with Rollin’. Rollin’s probably my favorite one.
How has it been returning to smaller venues after that tour and Sound and Fury?
Cole: It’s beautiful, I almost want to say it’s a breath of fresh air. Playing really big stages is really fun and really cool. I don’t get to really experience it because I’m behind the drums, but it almost feels like the show is not really interacting with itself you know? Being in such a smaller venue and being able to see everyone in the room, knowing for sure whether or not they’re enjoying my set is great. As opposed to being like “I can’t see a single person in this room and I don’t know if they like it. I don’t even know if they’re there”. That’s how I feel about it. As cool as the big stages are, I am always going to love a smaller stage. That’s always going to be my love.
Do you guys find it annoying or irritating when people refer to bands as “female-fronted”…
…or do you feel that it can sometimes bring a new audience in?
Bailey: It’s definitely stupid.
Cole: It’s stupid, but it just comes from a place of naivety.
Bailey: I think 90% of the time, way more often than not, the intention is good. I think that peoples’ hearts are in the right place. Especially maybe with younger people, especially maybe with younger females. Or people like myself, that are genderqueer or gender non-conforming, see things like that and see representation in a place that has been male-dominated and a place that’s still male-dominated. Especially playing very hypermasculine music with its own culture and its own hypermasculine history, but at the same time it becomes tokenizing very quickly and that line is very, very thin. Would you ever say “male-fronted hardcore”? No, why is the default just that? So we’re just who we are. We’re queer, we’re female, we’re women, we’re men, we’re everything you know? And we’re just playing hardcore punk because it’s what we like to do. Sometimes the nuance is too much and people really are looking for this, like I don’t know, identity politics sort of approach to looking at it. That can be distracting and can take away from it even. But the intention is good and I don’t want to discredit that. Especially when I was younger, me and a lot of people also kind of thought that way and had that frame of thinking approaching things that way. But after a while you talk to enough people and ask things like “What’s it like being a female in hardcore?”, “What’s it like being a black person in hardcore?”, and they’re like “I’m just me playing hardcore”. You know what I mean?
Cole: Like, why is that even a question? It doesn’t fucking matter.
Bailey: It’s perpetuating a tokenization, often times. Even if your intentions are good, it’s just something to be wary of. Just the language that you’re using when you’re describing things. It’s just “badass” or “hardcore punk”.
Cole: It’s just educating yourself, you know? If someone comes up to me and is like “You’re my favorite female-fronted hardcore band”, I’m not going to tell them “Fuck you”, you know? Just say “You’re my favorite hardcore band” and I’d be like “Thanks! I appreciate it”. Maybe I’d tell somebody to please not refer to us as that, but that’s a different conversation. Like Bailey said, people are coming at us with the right intentions for the most part. It’s just a matter of educating yourself.
I feel like you guys have a lot of earlier punk roots compared to most modern hardcore. Do you have a favorite early punk band?
Bailey: Oh, how long do we got?
Cole: We could go personal, or like band-wide. For Scowl in general, I think the top 3 hardcore influences are Negative Approach, Sheer Terror, and Rival Mob. Those are the 3. But for me personally, classic punk bands or classic hardcore bands, I always loved Gorilla Biscuits. I always loved Turning Point. I always loved Fugazi, Embrace. I’m a big fan of that Rev Summer stuff. I also love old emo-hardcore and stuff like that. I’m big on youth-crew, but also some of the melodic shit. Personally, that’s me.
Bailey: For me the biggest influences, the reason I’m even playing this show right now and the reason I’m even talking to you, are bands like The Adolescents and The Germs. The original Decline of Western Civilization, LA ‘77 type of punk. That shit changed my life. I would definitely say all of that, early Black Flag, X is probably one of my favorites. But my favorite band of all time is The Ramones. That’s the reason I play bass. It was solely just because of The Ramones, The Adolescents, Dead Kennedys, and probably my favorite older punk band is Operation Ivy. That shit is just different. I’ve loved that shit since I was a kid, and I still love it just as much. Where maybe a lot of other stuff I’ve grown out of or I don’t listen to as often as I did in 7th grade, that one’s been on my rotation for 20 years almost. Energy is the greatest album of all time.
It’s up there for me, one of my favorites too. So I loved the Mallrats merch you had at Sound and Fury…
Bailey: *Starts laughing*
Do you guys have a favorite Kevin Smith movie?
Cole: You’re asking the best person right here.
Bailey: Okay, so my favorite movie of all time is Mallrats. But the first Clerks is my favorite Kevin Smith movie. But Mallrats is my favorite movie of all time. I know that sounds really convoluted and really stupid, but that’s like asking Cole what his favorite Weezer album is.
Cole: No, no, no that’s more like asking me what my favorite Fall Out Boy album is. But I’m not going to talk about Fall Out Boy right now. So Kevin Smith…
Bailey: I liked Tusk, actually. I liked it.
Cole: I’ve actually never seen Tusk, personally.
Bailey: It’s like the worst fucking movie. No one likes Tusk.
Cole: That’s what you were just saying the other night.
I just heard Tusk brought up the other day, actually.
Cole: Not to go with what Bailey just said, but Clerks or Mallrats have to be my favorites. They’re undeniable, you know?
Bailey: They’re just so relatable
Cole: Yeah exactly. They’re just too relatable. Also, I love Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back *laughs*. I’ve seen that movie more times than I can count. It was a movie I watched growing up as a kid, so I was always familiar with Jay and Silent Bob because of that movie. And then when I finally watched Clerks when I was like 13, I was like “Oh okay! They’re from this movie originally. Got it” and made all the connections. But fuck it, I’ll say Jay and Silent Bob Strike back. I don’t give a fuck, that’s my favorite. I love that movie, it’s a great movie.
Cole: Ohh fuck! Dogma, I might have to put Dogma at #1. I’ll have to change that. I think Dogma has to be my favorite. Very underrated movie. Incredibly underrated.
Bailey: No one’s going to say Chasing Amy and we’ll leave that there.
Bailey: I do like that movie. That’s a problematic favorite or whatever, but I don’t give a fuck. I love Chasing Amy.
Cole: It’s funny!
Are you working on a new album right now?
Bailey: We’re writing, but we’re still in the process. We have about 3 songs that are solid. A couple of things we have to smooth the edges off of, and we’re just going to see where that takes us really. The future for us is very open, but we are working on tons of new music. When we’re not doing these crazy tours and we’re at home practicing, most of it is working on new stuff.
Cole: Yeah, we’ll start working on like 6 or 7 different songs at a time and just slowly work through all of them. Like Bailey said, we have around 3 ones that are really solid but we have 4 or 5 more skeletons of songs that we just haven’t even really touched. But we’re just writing and whatever we release next is what comes next. I don’t know if it’s going to be an album, or a single, or an EP, or whatever. But something’s going to come. We’re working on it.
Last question. You guys just finished touring with Limp Bizkit. What is the #1 band you would want to go on tour with?
Bailey: Like ever?
Cole: I’m trying to think of my favorite bands vs. bands that would make sense for us to tour with. Realistically, we’d tour with any band. It doesn’t fuckin matter.
Bailey: I feel like we play a style that meshes well with so many different things. In a dream world, if I could and if it was possible, it would be The Clash. But for obvious reasons…
Cole: I don’t want to say Weezer, just because honestly…
Bailey: Oh my god
Cole: *Laughs* I don’t know. As cool as that would be to say we toured with Weezer, I feel like the people would be like “What the fuck is going on?”. So I’m going to go with Fall Out Boy. I feel like some of those people could at least be like “Okay! Yeah, I like some heavier stuff”. So I’ll say Fall Out Boy. That would be a dream. I love them. That is one of my favorite bands of all time.