By Caroline Smith
Bedroom rock may be a staple in the music industry, but Mega Mango is taking it a step further— bigger bass, drums, and a warmer tone creating a new sound they’ve lovingly dubbed ‘Phruitcore’, a homage to their name and hometown.
Making their way through the East Coast on their fourteen-stop “No End In Sight” tour, they stopped at WUOG for an on-air interview to talk about their journey as a band and the experiences of their first tour.
The members are Crow Costello (they/them, guitar and vocals), Alex Spagnolia (he/him, guitar and producer), Niko Jones (he/him, bass), and Sam Poll (he/him, drums).
How long have you been a band for?
Alex Spagnolia: Coming up on four years in October.
I know that y’all took a few years off because of the pandemic, how did things change? Member lineup changes?
AS: Our old drummer who we played with for the first year had dropped out, and after the pandemic, we met Sam through mutual friends and it’s been a fantastic addition to the group.
Sam Poll: I was a fan before, and I knew Niko through a class we had together at school. I saw a TikTok of “Boggle” before that came out about a year ago. I was like “this is an amazing song, are you having tryouts for your drummer. I know you don’t have one but I wanna get in,”. I never tried out but I think I’m in.
Are you still in school?
AS: Me and Sam are, we’re actually missing our first week of classes right now.
Crow Costello: It’s how we all met each other, we were the same majors.
Sam, fan-turned-drummer is pretty cool, what was the hardest part of that adjustment?
SP: On the way here I joked like, don’t meet your heroes. I knew Niko but I didn’t know Alex and I didn’t really know Crow. I was super intimidated by both of them, actually, which is funny because they’re friends of mine.
AS: We’re also really tiny too so it’s funny.
SP: That was hard, but these guys are some of the best people I’ve ever met.
Where have you gone, where are you going, is this your first time?
AP: For the most part this is our first time coming this far out. The only places we’ve gone before this tour was I think New York, which was the only place outside of Philly. This is our first time in Atlanta, our first time in Tennessee, first time in DC.
Niko Jones: Boston as well.
SP: This is the most south Alex has been, I think.
AS: Well, I have been to Florida, but the most west I’ve ever been will be when we go to Chicago.
Florida’s fun, my family’s from there. It’s ok.
SP: It’s nice though, very pretty.
Since this is your first real tour, what are y’all most excited about? Anything that’s happened that’s really shocked you?
SP: For tour, I think Crow has said like, putting names to faces.
CC: Yeah. Meeting people I think is my favorite part. Putting usernames to faces. I’m kinda creepy, I watch the notifications come in. I click on people’s usernames and look at their profiles. I do recognize people sometimes, in the crowd. I am too nervous to approach, usually, but it’s been really cool to see who’s been making the effort to come out.
SP: Everyone in the Discord is awesome. We have one fan, Chaz, who came to the DC show and had made stickers, like, custom stickers.
AS: We give these stickers out now.
SP: Now we have stickers for our tour because a fan brought them and made them.
If anyone else has one that they really like?
AS: Sam spilled an entire serving of rice and beans in the parking lot of the Super 8 we were staying at. It was really sad but also very funny. The end of a long day just to spill all his food out.
SP: We’ve spilled a lot. Alex spilled like a whole Celsius. I just handed it to him. And I promise I didn’t do it on purpose but it was shaken up.
AS: Blew up all over me on the way to DC.
SP: I was gonna say, and Niko you should talk more about this, but your family in Nashville.
NJ: My family came out to, I’m from San Diego originally, my mom and pop and my younger brother and one of my older brothers who I haven’t seen in like a year came out to our Nashville show and that was honestly so much fun. I’m really glad that they finally got to see this project and what we’ve been up to. It was a very cathartic, fun show for sure.
SP: I’m from Chicago and my family is coming to the Chicago show we’re playing with fredo disco and ZORILA on the 29th [of September]… That’s kinda cool because we’re all young adults and growing up is a big theme in the music, as I’m sure we’ll talk about later, but that’s pretty crazy to have your parents who I’m sure at some point… they were supportive but, you know, being able to legitimize it.
AS: To see them see it is this amazing feeling.
If you’re from San Diego, then, why are there no West Coast tour dates?
NJ: I would so love to. Hopefully soon, but for this leg of tour, we are just looking at East Coast dates. The furthest west we’re going is Chicago.
SP: We have a few midwest dates, but yeah.
NJ: Eventually. I would love LA. We’re getting a lot of, if anyone is listening and is on our bandsintown, you can request shows. I know we’ve got a lot of people out in San Diego, LA, Oregon.
SP: San Francisco too.
AS: We’re gonna get out there eventually, for sure.
I guess we’ve got two answers here already, San Diego and Chicago, but where are y’all originally from?
AS: I’m originally from Philly, right outside Philly.
CC: I’m from Connecticut.
Are there any other key member roles that have helped you achieve the success you’ve garnered?
AS: Absolutely. Our media team, Blue Eye Digital, does a lot of our live show photography and our tour recaps. They’ve been helping us produce, fantastic group of guys there. They really help a lot with social media.
SP: They’ve come all the way out to DC, which is like a 3-hour drive for us. They came to UDel.
AS: They were in New York City for the Rockwood show. And then, of course, Kenni.
CC: My girlfriend Kenni does all of our album art and a lot of our merch designs. Her social media is @basementgremlinart. That’s been really cool, she’s awesome, super talented.
SP: The merch designs too, I was gonna say. We just dropped a bunch of new merch and there’s like one that’s “we come in peas,” which I love. Our whole thing is fruit in the Mega Mango canon and I guess it’s canonical now that veggies are the enemy. Arrowhead Booking obviously has been making this tour amazing, shoutout to Arrowhead Bookings.
AS: Our management company Elton Audio Records, as well.
The way you’re garnering fans is something that’s new in the industry. I did an interview with Annie DiRusso and we talked about how artists are using TIkTok these days to get a fanbase. You’re very established online, how and why?
AS: It’s consistency. Posting very often on TikTok and not getting discouraged when a couple videos don’t do well in a row, you just need to stick to it. Same with uploading music to Spotify, keeping a consistent release every two or three months, trying to put something new out. It’s really helped not letting that hype die down, continuing to increase our output of content.
CC: A lot of people have reservations about TIkTok, I don’t know, I think that’s silly that people feel apprehensive of it as a platform. If anything, it’s democratizing the music industry and how people are discovered. It’s opening the floor for anyone who’s got something to say, and something worth listening to.
SP: When I was talking about the “Boggle” video I saw about a year ago, it had like 20-something likes. We just kept posting.
AS: There are many months of posting to what felt like not that many people at all, and all of a sudden you get one big rush, and then it falls off again for a little bit, and then you get another one. Keeping consistent is really the key.
Alex, your sound has really changed since Boggle. Why did that happen?
AS: For everything after “You Spent All Your Love”, I’m doing the mixing and mastering for these projects and I think my focus changed dramatically. As a group, we’ve tried to include the inspirations or other sounds we’ve liked from other genres like hip-hop, electronic, and pop music. We were trying to implement some of those sounds into our own music to differentiate ourselves. Heavier bass, louder drums, that’s really been our focus lately. I think it’s worked out pretty well, we’ve been very happy with how things have sounded. That’s gonna be something we continue to do with our sound and hopefully, that’s something that evolves and grows with us and our music tastes over time.
SP: It’s also, I think, inspired other artists around us to pursue— we call it ‘Phruitcore’, the sound with bigger bass and drums. Bedroom rock with a little bit of a twist.
AS: I want my rock song to bump in the car the way a hip-hop track does.
Is there any artist you like that inspires you, or what you’ve been listening to while you’re making music?
CC: Off the top of my head, last night I got the chance to see one of my biggest music idols, Brandi Carlile. Kind of folk-country-rock, but vocally one of my biggest inspirations. Crazy talented, also just beautiful. Huge one for me.
AS: For me, Djo?
I’ve had the new album on repeat.
AS: I found the music without knowing that it was Steve Harrington, and someone told me it was him and it blew my mind. I would love to start making some tracks that sound like his tone. Bright, snappy, disco kind of vibe.
SP: I’ve been really into Dmitri Shostakovich, recently. Jazz Suite No. 4 and everything.
NJ: I’ve been listening to a lot of Diners, again. Tyler Broderick, Blue, has always been an inspiration since freshman year of high school. Just a very wholesome message of soft rock, indie pop sort of music has always been a safe place for me. I just love their music.
YSAYL has a huge number of streams, over 1 million. Boggle and Risk also have a huge amount. What’s the key to achieving that right now?
AS: They both popped off in different ways. YSAYL was picked up by the Spotify algorithm and that sort of is what carried it.
“Risk” was on my Discovery Weekly.
AS: Thank you Spotify, for real. That carried our song through our hiatus, we noticed that there was still a lot of growth. It was one of the reasons we knew we needed to put “Boggle” out. For “Boggle”, it was really TikTok. Sam said he saw those in the beginning and that’s what really did it for that one. Two different ways.
CC: “Boggle” was kind of a sleeper. “Risk” was the one that hit it off for us. I had posted a video just playing it on my guitar in my room and that did pretty well, lots of presaves and streams as soon as it came out. I think people went back and found our older tracks. Some advice we’ve received recently is that the best way to market your current catalog is to release a new song.
SP: I was gonna say, “That Thing You Do”, we just played in DC and it was crazy, speaking of older tracks. It’s not as popular as the newer singles but people were still singing along, which was crazy.
AS: Having a sense of humor with your own music is key too. You made, Sam, a video with the “Boggle” and put Lil’ John adlibs in the pauses. That did a lot for “Boggle”.
SP: I did one, just at the end of the night before a birthday party and I decided to just post it. It’s silly and unfortunate that some artists don’t take advantage of that.
Your singles, “Boggle”, “Sorry”, “Risk”, and “Blurt” all have board game titles. Was this on purpose?
CC: It didn’t start on purpose. About 3 years ago I wrote “Boggle” and it had just been sitting in the pit. “Sorry” came next, I had started writing “Risk”, but it didn’t go anywhere. I was telling my therapist about those two, and she said “Those are both board games,” and I said “Maureen, you are so right,”. I went back to “Risk”, made it “Risk”, and we wrote two more songs starting with the idea of board games. I’m not sure if that’s something that translates into the sound, lyrically they’re a little different. Especially “Blurt”, being the first one that I wrote with the title in mind.
SP: I think it goes to what Alex was saying earlier, not being afraid to be playful. I think we’re all fun people, we like to joke around a lot, but we also take what we do very seriously.
AS: Commit to the bit.
SP: Yeah, committing to the bit.
CC: Sometimes too much.
Crow, specifically. We talked about the meaning of some of them, “Blurt” came out recently on July 13th. There’s some lyrics in there, are those directed at anybody?
CC: It sounds like it is about someone, but I have to be honest, it started out not being about anyone. It did eventually work its way into my life, I called it my “Blurt” era. I’ve also had my “Sorry” era. There isn’t anyone specific it’s about, but there have definitely been some people I would like to direct it towards.
I heard a rumor that you’ll be working with Audiotree for a live session, can you tell me about that?
AS: We’re planning on playing our newer songs, also some old fan favorites. I think 5 or 6 tracks, we’re super excited to do it.
SP: It’ll be good to be in Chicago for that, we’re playing a show that same day.
Niko, your turn. Mega Mango recently released some retro merchandise, what kind of work goes into running a merch store? Is it more than you thought it would be?
NJ: Well, yeah. Well, not really. We use Printful and a Shopify integration so all of our online dealings run through that. Big shoutout to Kenni for making all of the designs, they look amazing. For this Phruitcore collection that she made, all those designs are crazy. We’re very thankful. During this tour we don’t have a physical merch stand, so we’ve been coming around and using QR code scanners at our merch tables. We give out discount codes and stuff, too.
SP: It’s less wasteful, we feel like. It’s all print-to-order and I feel like with a lot of bands we play with, you see them pull up with awesome merch and unfortunately, they just can’t sell it all.
NJ: I don’t think we could have fit any merch in the car.
AS: All of us
NJ: We rotate.
Who’s the worst driver?
AS: That’s me, that’s totally me. Niko and Sam are the smoothest drivers, me and Crow…
But do you get there faster?
AS: No! I drive slow but I have trouble staying in the lines.
Sadly, the tour will have to end. Do you have anything planned for the future?
AS: We do have more music on the way. The final installment in our board game series, and then after that we have a new batch of songs we’ve already started on. Lots of new music coming.
Who are some of the artists you’ve played with on tour? Any pipe dream collaborations?
AS: Hippocampus is a dream of mine.
SP: You said earlier, artists that inspire us. With Alex being the engineer behind all of the Mega Mango songs they definitely have a Hippocampus vibe.
AS: They always do weird stuff with their production and I always respect it.
SP: We’ve played with so many amazing artists. Neighbor Lady was awesome.
NJ: Nashville was also awesome. Weak Daze was super great. Cameron Lane also.
AS: You’ll hear about her.
Going off that, do you have an “If I could open for anyone, if I could play with anyone,”. No realism.
AS: The Wiggles
SP: We would be the fruit salad.
I think I’m getting what you said about committing to a bit too hard.
CC: It’s just too far!
SP: I’ve always been a huge Twenty One Pilots fan and that would just be a good crossover, but still unique.
NJ: I’ve always been a big Vulfpeck fan, and not that we’re in the same genre, but hypothetically I would want to experience one of those shows because I missed the one show I got a ticket for.
SP: What happened?
NJ: I had a high school lacrosse party.
You played lacrosse?
NJ: Eight years. Very, very dedicated. I missed Vulfpeck that day and that’s something I regret.
CC: I would say Remi Wolf. I wanna see her live so bad, she looks like she has a great time.
I appreciate you all coming out to Athens, it’s always fun to get an artist in the station.
MM: Thanks for having us!
If you’re interested in buying tickets for the four remaining shows on the “No End In Sight” tour, they can be purchased through Mega Mango’s bandsintown, and all of their singles can be found on your streaming platform of choice. More information about the band can be found through their website and @megamangoband on most social media platforms.