Scowl: Kat Moss on "How Flowers Grow," Punk Rock, and Finding Self-Expression Through Style

(Photo credit: Christian Castillo)

Santa Cruz’s Scowl are undoubtedly one of the most exciting bands in the genre right now.

A little over a week ago, on November 19th, the band released their debut full-length record, How Flowers Grow, on the legendary Flatspot Records. Serving up ferocious, 80’s-inspired hardcore punk, the band unleashes their fury with a 15-minute ripper that says all it needs to say without overstaying its welcome.

I’m always on the hunt for faster hardcore bands, and when I found Scowl earlier this year, I was instantly hooked on the band’s fast-paced riffs, as well as their literal, rage-filled lyrics. The live performance I saw being posted all over social media was full of unbeatable energy that I couldn’t get enough of, with the band and crowd feeding off of each other.

Additionally, I was definitely drawn in by the floral aesthetic that contrasts the biting anger that the band channels through their music. As a whole, hardcore and punk are meant to celebrate individuality and expression - and the band shows exactly that by going outside the norm of how a hardcore band typically presents in the current era. With nothing to prove, the band carves out their own spot in the genre by doing exactly what they want to do.

Read on to see Kat and I discuss How Flowers Grow, her eclectic music taste, not doing things for “punk points,” how she blends her expressive personal style into the band’s aesthetic, hidden gems in the Bay Area, and more.

AA: Introduce yourself with your name, what you do in Scowl, and a fact about yourself.

KM: I’m Kat Moss, I play in a band called Scowl, I do vocals, and I was born and raised in California.

AA: Who played your first hardcore show? What impact did that have on keeping you involved?

KM: Oh man. This is hard to remember for me. … I feel like the first hardcore show that I saw where I really was part of the scene in the Bay Area was in Sacramento, at The Colony and it was Drain, Earth Down and Field of Flames. I can't remember most of the lineup. I just remember it being a huge impact on me, just because I’d wanted to see those bands for so long, but I didn't really think anyone knew about them. And that was really cool.

AA: What made you want to start a band like Scowl?

KM: I like all different types of hardcore - heavy metallic hardcore, as well as really fast, punky hardcore. That’s kind of my favorite style, so I wanted to start a band that took inspiration from the kind of stuff that was going on in hardcore punk [in the] early 80’s. 

(Photo credit: Elias Jay)

AA: What are some things that influence you when writing for Scowl?

KM: I’d say, musically, a lot of late 70’s, early 80’s punk, and then some 90’s alternative rock that really broke through at the time. More recently, I got really interested in a lot of 90’s rock bands. There's a lot of aspects to the way they play music that really broke through what musicians at the time knew and what was normal for them when it came to writing. And then, lyrically, I take a lot of inspiration from firsthand experience, like most people. I try to write a little bit more literally, if that makes sense. I don't wanna spell it out too much or use too much metaphorical writing. I'm sort of inspired lyrically by… Gosh, I'm trying to think of certain artists… but I can't really think of any! But, I have to say, just firsthand experience, as well as the poetry that I come up with when I'm writing out my feelings. 

AA: I saw the playlist you did for No Echo and noticed you have a pretty eclectic music taste - what are some artists that have inspired you that others might not expect?

KM: Absolutely. I love Billie Eilish, I think there’s a lot of aspects to pop music that’s just incredibly inspiring. There’s a lot of artists who’ve really broke through the normal way that pop music is set up for success, and artists like Billie Eilish are really important to me. I love her music, and I love her stage presence, so I'll never shut up about her. I also feel like I love a lot of, like i said, 90’s alternative rock and indie… I love listening to music that feels a little bit nostalgic - a lot of stuff from the early 2000’s and 2010’s charts for indie music. That stuff is, like… It's so good. There's a reason it played on the radio so much. It’s really catchy, and I love it. I really like that band MGMT as well. [I just] pull from a lot of different types of music. I also love country music, and grew up on country ,and love outlaw country, as well. And then... I'm a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen. [laughs]

AA: I mean, I do know a good amount of musicians - and people in general - from New Jersey, so that’s definitely not my first time hearing that. [laughs]

KM: I believe it, I believe it, you know? The Boss. [laughs]

AA: Again, like you said - these things are popular for a reason!

KM: Absolutely! I try not to limit my taste just for punk points, you know? If I like something, I like something. 

[we go further into the concept of “punk points” and the pressure to hide listening to things that aren’t “cool” as a member of the community]

KM: There’s some kind of expectation to be... “worthy enough,” you know? I feel that pressure a little bit, and honestly I think it’s fucking stupid. [laughs] So, I embrace my different tastes. Everyone has different tastes and stuff, and just because you’re involved in one thing, [that] doesn’t mean you can’t also enjoy other aspects of music. If you’re a live music enjoyer, and you enjoy the energy that is hardcore, no doubt, you’re probably going to enjoy a lot of other artists and styles of music, because we’re creative individuals. It shouldn’t feel like a “punk points” kind of test.

Album art

AA: What’s your favorite song off How Flowers Grow and why?

KM: Oh, man. It’s hard for me to pick, I'm really indecisive. But… I love the song “Dead to Me,”  just because it's really really aggressive. I mean, lyrically, it's pretty dark. I was kind of in the headspace that I was writing in a fantasy world with this song. I was writing the perspective of having a fantasy of killing someone who really hurt me, and that's kind of where the writing came from, as well as all the energy in that song. It just felt really cathartic, and such a huge release. I like that song, too, because... [With] the particular situation that I'm talking about in the song, I kind of made an agreement with myself that it'd be the last time that I would write about it. So it felt very climatic, you know? 

And then, I really enjoy “Seeds to Sow,” because I like listening to it, and I like that a lot of my friends enjoy it, whether or not they are involved or listen to heavy music. I have some friends that don’t have any interest in heavy music, and they love that song. It makes me happy that people like it, you know, and that I like it too, because I can be pretty hard on myself.

AA: I really liked the song “Seeds to Sow” in the middle of the record - you’re singing clean on it… God, I’m sorry, any time I say “singing clean” it makes me think of, like, Tumblr metalcore bands. [laughs]

KM: Oh my god, no, literally. Like the bands I’d see at Warped Tour with two vocalists with one guy just standing there awkwardly, like, “Okay, when’s my part coming?” and he sings harmonies or something. [laughs]

[briefly sidetracked into talking about our pasts listening to metalcore bands]

AA: Okay, anyway. On “Seeds to Sow,” you’re singing clean, but the instrumentation is still in-line with Scowl’s sound, which is really cool. What inspired you to do a song like that?

KM: Thank you! Well, we all kind of wanted to do an instrumental, softer song, and I think we were all kind of ready as musicians to enter that. It was kind of, like, “Let's just put it in the middle of the record and give people a palate cleanser,” you know? I know we all in Scowl like to do something a little bit different at times, really push the envelope. So, that was kind of that in action. When we went into recording, Charles Toshio, who recorded the record for us - he’s great, he works at Panda Studios in Fremont, California, so in the Bay - we recorded that song, and it was the very end of the week of recording, and he asked if I wanted to put down vocals on it. And we were all kind of thinking it, but nobody really said it, and I was like, “You know what? Sure, why not try it?” I had some lyrics that I just came up with on the spot, and it was not easy, necessarily, because I was really awkward and anxious about it - I’d never really sang in front of all of them, let alone [on] recording, so it was kind of all eyes on me - but it happened, and it was kind of like, “Oh my god, well - we’re doing this now!” But it was an incredibly happy accident, you know?

AA: A very happy accident! I know your first album is just about to come out, so you’re obviously not thinking about what lies ahead just yet, but… maybe it’d be cool to let that happy accident happen again in the future. [laughs]

KM: [laughs] Yeah, I would like to do some more songs like that! So, you know, we’re writing a little bit right now, just making plans, talking about stuff, shooting ideas, and it's definitely in the mix.

AA: So next up… I’m just going to warn you ahead of time in case I say something dumb, I am wildly unfamiliar with California. Anyway, here’s a few questions about California. [laughs]

KM: Oh, how exciting! [laughs]

(Photo credit: Gabe Becerra)

AA: Scowl comes from Santa Cruz, which is a scene that we’ve definitely heard a good amount about lately - how do you feel about the scene there?

KM: I love it. I love it so much. I feel like we’re a pretty tight family, us and San Jose - basically, we’re all grouped together, and I love it so much. We worked really hard for all the attention and success that we've kind of started to see, and really worked hard to put Santa Cruz on the map. I showed up a little later, so when Santa Cruz hardcore really started, I wasn’t around - I actually grew up in Sacramento, so I’m not from the Bay, but I live in Santa Cruz. I love it to death, it's a tight family, and we don’t really have as many people living here anymore. It was kind of a bummer that, before Covid, we really had a lot going on… And right now, we have one venue that's pretty active, but it’s usually for bigger shows, at least for hardcore. So, it's still getting built back up a little bit, but we're really lucky. We’ve really worked hard to put ourselves on the map. Santa Cruz and San Jose, the Bay Area as a whole - it’s really incredible right now, and the energy is so booming. It’s so cool.

AA: What are some of your favorite bands from your area, past or present?

KM: I can’t speak for Santa Cruz 100% - I mean, I love Drain, Drain’s like one of my favorite bands, and they’re from Santa Cruz, they’re awesome. I love this band called All Bets Off that happened in the 90’s to early 2000’s, and they were from the East Bay. They were just so cool. I didn’t get into them until a couple of years ago, they’re not a band anymore, but they had this really interesting sound and did a lot of different stuff when it came to their writing. I try to look for anything I can find about them, because there’s not a lot of information on the internet, but I think they’re incredible, and I recommend anyone check them out. I think another band kind of from around here that I love that a lot of people know is Jawbreaker, they’re incredible… Samiam… and then, currently active, we’ve got Sepsis, Outta Pocket, Jawstruck, The Can’t Hardlys, and Blazer!

Needle to the Groove - photo from their Facebook page

AA: If someone was coming to your area for the first time, what are some places you’d tell them to check out?

KM: So, I would tell them, in San Jose, to come to Tofoo Com Chay, it’s this tiny little spot, and it’s really cheap, and a lot of it is vegan. They’ve got banh mi, vegan pork bites, things like that. It’s really cheap, it’s like a hole in the wall, kind of a little bit of a secret in San Jose. It’s awesome. I'd also tell them to go to - there’s a vegan donut place in San Jose that’s incredible, it’s literally just called “vegan donut and gelato.” It’s so good though. On the same street as both of these places, there’s a record store - Needle to the Groove - in San Jose, and it’s so cool. The people who work there are awesome.

And then, in Santa Cruz, I would say go to Streetlight Records, because it was the first record store I went to where I could actually find hardcore records in a physical store. Where I’m from, there really wasn’t a lot of people that were into punk rock and hardcore [at the time], so it was a huge deal to me. Obviously, I'm right on the beach, it’s a beach town, in Santa Cruz. I would just tell them to go to Rio Del Mar Beach because it’s one of the better ones in my opinion, or Sunny Cove.

AA: That sounds like a super fun little street. I love going places when someone out of town is with me, and they’re like, “How far is the next place we’re going to?” and they’re literally right next to each other. [laughs]

KM: I love it. That's one thing I loved about Colorado, everything was in the same area and you could walk or get a Lime scooter, and it was really easy to access.

AA: That's so cool! I’ve never been there, but one of my best friends just moved there, so maybe I’ll have to pay it a visit next time.

KM: You definitely should, it’s so cool.

(Photo credit: Elias Jay)

AA: You guys have done a fair bit of touring in the last year - what are some of your favorite places you've been to so far?

KM: Ooh. So, I’d have to say Denver, Colarado’s really cool, I really like it. There’s so much stuff to do there, and a lot of young people. The cool part about being in Denver downtown is, if there’s a hardcore show, you’re just seeing so many people who you know are gonna be at the show, all over the street, and I love it. 

I also really loved playing in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It's such a random place and, to be honest, I’d never been there and didn't know what to expect - but the scene is really cool. They’re really violent and they love to mosh, and it’s just such cool energy. I always get excited when I'm leaving a previously-new place after the scene just blew me away, you know what I mean? And, of course, I always get really excited about playing Portland, just because there’s such good food in Portland. [laughs] 

[don’t worry, guys, I immediately pitched touring the Midwest to her - she was very much on board]

AA: I think you have some really cool personal style, and I love how you incorporate it into the band’s aesthetic so seamlessly. What kind of stuff inspires you stylistically for the band?

KM: Thank you so much, that means a lot to me. I really grew up on the internet, kind of around the time that Tumblr was really popular. There was so much stuff, looking back, that is so funny - and kind of cringy - but a lot of my personal style does get kind of based off of that era. To fit my cliche, I definitely use Pinterest, so I find lots of stuff on Pinterest. I’m super inspired by vintage outfits and clothing. Right now, I’m really into the 70’s kind of stuff - it’s trendy, for sure, but I don’t really care, I like it. Debbie Harry is a big one, Poison Ivy from The Cramps. I’ve said this before, but I love them. They’re incredible, their style is just so cool. The Go-Go’s ABBA… I just love how out-there they are, the way they dress when they play shows. I just think it’s so cool, and I try to emphasize my identity and who I am through my style. 

AA: Yeah! I think the reason it kind of stands out is because - not that there’s anything wrong with this - a lot of people in hardcore dress very similar to each other. And, I mean, it goes beyond how you dress, because the floral motifs are in everything you do as a band … But, yeah, in my opinion, the individuality is cool, and I would love it if more people would express themselves more with the way they dress at shows. [laughs]

(Photo credit: Gabe Becerra)

KM: I agree! It’s something that will draw me to a band, if I notice someone’s style, or the imagery, or the style of music is just a little different, or they add their own personal touch… that’s kind of why Scowl is the way it is, and that’s why I do that. It may not be traditional, and maybe it doesn’t always fly, because there’s outfits I’ve looked back on and gone “god, why did I wear that” - but…

AA: I mean, I think that’s something everyone thinks sometimes. [laughs]

KM: [laughing] Yeah, yeah! But, you know, I just love a personal touch. I love a little bit of extra creativity. And maybe it’s not everyone’s thing, and that’s okay. But it’s just what initially draws me to a lot of bands, so that’s why I choose to do it.

[we trail off talking about some style staples the other members of Scowl have, including drummer Cole Gilbert’s Weezer shirt + sneaker collections]

KM: … So he’ll always be wearing some stuff like that, and he likes shoes. I used to be more into sneakers, but less now just because I can’t afford it, and it’s an expensive hobby. But he loves them. And my friend Bailey [Lupo], who plays bass, and Malachi [Greene], who plays guitar, they like t-shirts and stuff too, but Malachi pulls some of his inspiration from different subcultures within punk, you know? Same for Bailey. 

And, for me, I love a good Dickies and t-shirt outfit, but… I don’t feel like I’m doing enough when I dress like that. You know, I’ll do it when I want to be comfortable.

AA: Yeah! Because, at the same time, it’s just as important not to feel the pressure to dress up or look a certain way every time you play or go to a show, too. … Personally, my hack for that is just throwing a crazy earring on it and calling it a day, though. [laughs]

KM: God, right? There you go. Earrings will do everything. Earrings and some fun makeup will do a lot. Or, like, a hat.

AA: Exactly, exactly. I do wear the same shit a lot - but the eye makeup we pair with it… That can change it all. [laughs]

KM: [laughs] Exactly, exactly. You get it!

(Photo credit: Gabe Becerra)

AA: What’s something you want to see more of in hardcore?

KM: I wanna see people enjoying themselves more! I know that’s such a broad statement, but at the end of the day, I feel like people can get so caught up with the internet and what everyone else is saying. I understand getting a kick out of some of the drama. Part of being a involved in a subculture and being interested in something is having an opinion, and sometimes, those are really strong opinions, and I respect that… But I am just trying to enjoy myself. 99% of the time, I’m just trying to have fun and do what I want. I think I see a lot of pain in people who want to do that, but they just get caught up with some of the bullshit, and I just wanna see people enjoying themselves, dancing, enjoying the bands they wanna enjoy, not just because of one reason or another. But who am I to say? I still get caught up with what other people think as well.

AA: I mean, nobody’s perfect with that.

KM: Exactly! And we’re all young people for the most part. It’s young people who are learning to find themselves, and that's just part of the territory. It’s to be expected. But, yeah, my main answer to that is just people enjoying themselves, having fun, and unapologetically being themselves.

AA: Yeah, exactly. That internet thing raises a good point because - I don’t know if you’ve ever felt this way, but I definitely have gone through the thing of feeling like you have to have an opinion on whatever the Twitter flavor of the day is.

KM: Ugh, gosh. Yeah.

AA: I used to feel like, “Okay, gotta be on the frontlines, gotta be retweeting everything” every time something happened online - and this obviously isn’t regarding anything serious, more like, pit beef or fest drama or something [laughs] … But the more I see it come up on my feed now, I’m just like… You’re spending moments of your precious life doing this? [laughs] 

KM: Right? [laughs] I relate! I feel, like, the “ick” if I’m on Twitter or the internet or social media too long. I get nauseous looking at my screen, let alone if I'm seeing stuff like that. I just get a little bit... I care too much, so if I’m lucky enough to go hang out with my friends and they’re like, “Oh, did you see this?” and I don’t know, I feel like it’s a win in my book. I try to spend as much time away as I can from it all. And it feels like some weird subconscious obligation to get involved and pay attention, but nobody really has to. You’d be surprised by how much your life improves when you choose to kind of disassociate yourself from it even a little bit.

AA: Yeah! Or even, like… It helps to make sure you follow people that are outside of hardcore, even if you can’t tear yourself away from social media. It does wonders. After scrolling through internet beef, I love hearing about my normie friends’ engagements and kids and new jobs. There’s no drama there! [laughs] I’m sure they have some kind of bullshit in their lives, but at least it’s offline.

KM: [laughs] right? Absolutely! It’s so much happier. It’s peaceful.

Flyer for Scowl’s upcoming tour

AA: Any upcoming plans you’d like to talk about?

KM: We’re gonna be going on tour - it is announced already, but I’m excited and want to talk about it! We’re going on tour in December with Comeback Kid, No Warning, and Zulu. We’ve toured with Zulu before. They’re so fun, I love them so much, I love seeing them live. They’re great people, and we get along with them great. I’m also really, really excited to get the opportunity to play with these bands, to support them on this tour. To be touring off our record is such a cool thing to say out loud. [laughs] I can’t wait to do that. 

And then, at the end of that tour, we’re gonna be coming over to the East Coast for three days and playing a couple shows over there. That’s our first time over that way, so I'm very, very excited. In January, we’re going to Europe for the first time, so it feels like we’re getting really busy right now, and I am more than excited because I would rather not be at home working. [laughs] That's really cool, we’ve got some other announcements in the works, and we’re making plans for getting over to some new places, because I don’t want anyone to feel forgotten. I want to hit some new towns, hit the Midwest, for sure. That’s been on my radar since before Covid, actually - it’s just been getting everyone to be on the same page and [getting] the timing right.

AA: True. I kind of figured when you wrote the song about your retail job that you might have some issues up and leaving on a whim. [laughs]

KM: Yeah! [laughs] No, I’m like, “Get me out of here, I want to go tour, I want to go be broke and eat peanut butter sandwiches in the van.”

AA: As you should! As in, like, the having fun part! Not the “being broke and peanut butter sandwiches” part. [laughs]

(Photo credit: Gabe Becerra)

KM: Yeah! [laughing] I’m gonna do what I wanna do, eat vegan food in new places, it’s just so fun. I love making new friends, meeting new people - I’m very, very excited about it. And something that I can say that’s exciting - we did very well with our record release our initial preorders, so that means there will probably be some more records coming out, some new variants. I don’t know if I’m supposed to say that, but I don’t really care. [laughs] So that’s exciting. I’m excited to see different colors of vinyl. That’s all I’ve got for announcements!

AA: Any last words or shoutouts?

KM: Just wanted to shoutout - I know that you’re based out of Chicago - so shoutout to MH Chaos, ‘cause they just put out a record, and it’s awesome, and I know they’re from Chicago. Shoutout to everyone who puts in so much work in that scene - I can’t wait to get over there, I’m sorry it’s taking a while! And I just want to say a great big thank you to you for talking to me, for taking the time.

AA: Of course, thank you!!

I want to thank Kat again for doing this interview with me! I had a ton of fun talking and relating about our (honestly pretty similar) musical backgrounds, and I hope Scowl can make it out here soon!

If you’d like to keep up with Scowl’s future endeavors, you can do so via the links below:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Bandcamp

Last but not least, check out How Flowers Grow via Spotify below!



  1. Hello: I am a punk fan from Taiwan. I doing my punk zine online
    I Like scowl very much and I like this interview. I want to translate it into Chinese. Can I use the photo in this article? For nonprofit. Just put it in my zine. Thanks you very much.

    1. Hello! Yes, you can, just make sure you credit Resonating :)

      Also, the photos are not from me, but the people who took them are listed underneath each one!

    2. Thanks you very much. I will credit your website.And I will ask the photographer about the photo.Wish You can do another interview about women in punk rock.

    3. I would love to do more interviews with women in punk rock!! I do also have these:

      Madi Watkins (Year of the Knife) -

      Lexi Reyngoudt (Spaced) -