Liam, can you describe your hometown of Agoura Hills, California. How has it shaped your music?
Agoura is a cool spot. It’s a mix of old cowboys from before my time to the skaters and surfers of my generation. From my house it doesn’t take more than five minutes to get onto Mulholland and get lost in the Santa Monica Mountains. They’ve done a good job protecting the open spaces in Agoura, which allowed my sister and I to grow up with miles and miles of open land behind our house to ride the horses, hike and explore outside. All of this has led to a big imagination!
Mogan is known as, and refers to himself as, “The Surfing Cowboy” since his lifestyle embraces both livestock, horseback riding, and surfing Malibu’s biggest swells.
Mogan’s maternal grandmother was a coal miner’s daughter in Pennsylvania (She actually wrote Loretta Lynn, told Lynn how her song “Coal Miner’s Daughter” spoke to her, and Lynn wrote back!), and her family used to make the town’s moonshine in their bathtub while she was growing up.
What was the first country song you remember listening to?
How did you get involved working with livestock when you were young?
My dad has a couple of friends with ranches big enough for steers in the area. That’s where I learned to rope and ride, and eventually train horses.
Can you tell us about the Mini Therapy Horses Charity you volunteer at?
Mini Therapy Horses is a charity run out of the Malibu area. It is managed and operated by one of the sweetest of ladies I know. Victoria has worked incredibly hard to get the charity where it is now. Her horses are breaking new ground by visiting patients in the VA Hospital, locked down psychiatric ward, Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House and more. The horses are potty trained, can play piano and spread love to those who need it most. I strongly suggest checking out Victoria’s work and either donating or volunteering tome to their efforts.
Favorite place to surf in California? Bucket list place to surf?
Any place in North Malibu feels like home to me. I do love Zuma when there’s a good SW swell and off shore wind — it turns into an awesome break that you’d see in a magazine. I’d love to one day surf near the Mentawai Islands.
The windows are rolled down and the stereo’s turned up! What song is playing?
You’re a member of the Local 12 Operating Engineers Union — what’s your position in it?
I’m a journeyman. I operate machines from small skid steers to some of the biggest machines Caterpillar makes! I love my job, wouldn’t want to do anything else at the moment (other than music of course).
“Workin’ Man’s Banjo” Mogan’s autobiographical song
Can you share the backstories to the songs on your album Headlights?
All the songs have personal stories behind them, but the one I get asked about the most is “Where There’s Smoke”. I was very close to my mom’s sister Carol Anne growing up. She never had kids, so she was like a second mother to me and my sister. Unfortunately, she passed away from cancer the summer after my high school graduation. Until her last day, she’d have her smokes. I used to light them for her and we’d talk a lot during my visits. Its funny how conversations change when someone is terminally ill. We talked about things we never talked about before, including her past boyfriends and husbands (She dated a Hells Angel). She was the ultimate 1960’s wild child, and “Where There’s Smoke” is a tribute to her.
Is there anything in particular you’d like people to take away from listening to your music?
I’d like people to relate. To me, nothing is more rewarding than hearing someone reach out to me on Instagram or at a show and tell me they “felt” my music. That’s what its all about!
If you were starting a label what one artist (besides yourself) would you build it around?
If I could build it around an established artist, I’d pick Kip Moore for sure. I think his brand of country is the direction the industry should go.
Any pre-performance rituals?
I listen to a voicemail I saved from my grandpa and say a couple of prayers. Not so that I don’t mess up, but so I center myself on why I’m doing it.
Craziest thing to happen on tour?
Eating bad chicken the morning of a show and ending up over night in the hospital for food poisoning was pretty gnarly. Lets just say every verse and chorus was a nauseating ticking time bomb!
Your best takeaway tour memory to date?
Playing down in Del Mar was one of my fondest memories. We had a great turnout and spent the weekend with friends and family.
We all have songs that connect us to memories. What are some of yours?
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t make excuses.
Your message for fans?
Thanks for the support! Let’s do this!
Something you wish people would ask you in an interview?
I appreciate that you asked about my role in the Local 12, and I wish people asked me more questions about my day job. It is a major part of my life and music! Also, it’s a great alternative to college for my generation.
Mogan is an alum of Pepperdine University where he studied economics.
Mogan rescued and helped break a beautiful mare that was abandoned in the California desert, whom he named “Tulsa” after her red-dirt color, and has been training and riding her ever since. She graces all of his social media.