A Conversation With Indie Rockers Mega Mango


Mega Mango. From left to right: Alex Spagnolia, Sam Poll, Crow Costello, Niko Jones. Photo by Chris Cole

Faith Cooper, Reporter

Meet Mega Mango, the Philadelphia-based band redefining the indie music scene with “phruitcore.”

       Mega Mango is composed of vocalist Crow Costello, guitarist/producer Alex Spagnolia, drummer Sam Poll, and bassist Niko Jones. Since the release of their first single “You Spent All Your Love” in 2018, the band has amassed nearly 100,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and curated a space for their music online. I had the opportunity to sit down with the group over Zoom to discuss their EP “Fun and Games,” developing their distinctive “phruitcore” sound, how Spongebob was a “musical awakening,” and their fanbase.

       Mega Mango developed their sound as they released a number of singles and two EPs. Their most recent release, “Fun and Games,” is the ideal soundtrack to adolescence. “Fun and Games” is bouncy, playful, and ambitious. The EP features everything from the dreamy romantic haze of “Boggle” to the expansive finale “Clue.” “Risk,” the third track on the project, is a particularly impressive work for the group. Lyrics such as “I can’t get better / I’ve tried” and “Maybe it’s all in my head / but it won’t stop until I’m dead” are drenched in howling guitars and thunderous drums. “Risk” is altogether delirious, anxious, and scream-out-the-car-window worthy. If he were to show someone Mega Mango, Alex said he’d start by showing them “Risk.” 

       As distinct as each new release is, the group’s catalog is united by the label they’ve given their sound: “phruitcore.” According to Sam, “phruitcore” is characterized by a warmer tone, “hip-hop-esque drums and bass that are very beefy with a singer-songwriter approach.” The band has often been described as “bedroom” rock due to the nature of their circumstances: “we don’t have the ability to pay for things like mixing and mastering…We have to make it on our own, in our house” said Alex, “but that’s part of the magic. It might not sound perfect or industry standard. But…it’s just honest.” In addition to the instrumentation, much of that honesty is found in Crow Costello’s lyricism. Their songs “all come from something real. A real moment, or a real problem. They don’t come out at the exact time that they are real and present to me, but somehow it always finds a way to loop back into itself…when we released ‘Sorry’ and when we released ‘Blurt,’ it felt very much like I was in my ‘Sorry’ era, I was in my ‘Blurt’ era.” Crow chuckled, “Running my mouth, I guess.” 

       Crow has been drawn to music since they were a child. They often found themselves picking up their mom’s music books to sit down at the piano in the house. However, the moment that “really stuck out” to them was when they played “All I Want” by Kodaline for their high school talent show: “It was just on my old, crappy little Yamaha classical guitar with nylon strings. I could barely play it. It wasn’t mic’d up, so I was just on the stage, like the huge theater stage of my high school… I got to the bridge…and I looked up. The entire room was full of people’s phones with their lights on. It was so pretty, I was so new to it. So surprised by the response. I had ended up winning third place in the talent show…That just kind of solidified… I’m gonna keep doing this, this feels good.”

       When asked how the rest of the band got into music, Sam sat up from his spot on the floor: “Let me paint the picture for you. It’s 2004, fall. The leaves are coming down and changing colors. Gorgeous. The “SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” has been released, to both commercial avail and critical acclaim. In the conclusion of that movie, Spongebob saves the day by playing ‘Goofy Goober Rock’ and basically destroying all of Plankton’s helmets, freeing the citizens of Bikini Bottom. And I remember seeing that as a six or seven-year-old and thinking that was the coolest ever…I begged my parents to get me a guitar and…from there I was able to pick everything else up.” 

       Alex, on the other hand, found inspiration playing “Everlong” by Foo Fighters on “Guitar Hero 3.” He also frequently watched Dave Grohl’s keynote speech when he was younger. Grohl mentioned how he sought to create music to inspire other kids, like artists had done for him before. “That’s kind of why I’ve been really driven to do this” Alex explained, “because I relied heavily on music as a kid growing up. You need to, if you can, you need to replenish that source. You need to put back what you took from the well.” Bassist Niko Jones also grew up playing “Guitar Hero 3.”  However, “when I wanted to learn how to play bass, that was like 2011 or 2010 when dubstep was really insane. I thought dubstep was performed with a bass,” he admitted, smiling, “I started trying to play dubstep on the bass and I had no idea how the instrument actually worked…I gave up trying to learn a Skrillex song.” The room erupted in laughter. “It’s true!” he said, but “I’ve been in bands ever since” so surely, he’s figured it out by now.

       An article about Mega Mango wouldn’t be complete without mentioning their fanbase. “That’s probably been my favorite part of tour” said Sam. The rest of the band nodded emphatically in agreement. “Every night I feel like such an idiot up there. Like we all say thank you like a hundred times while we’re on stage.. and it’s very honest.” Some drove hours to see the band. “We had people who drove out to our Chicago show. They drove seven hours, something crazy, to see us” said Crow. 

       Currently, Mega Mango is on the final dates of their Fun and Games Tour. You can purchase tickets to an upcoming show here. If you can’t make it to a show, you can find Mega Mango on their social media platforms as @megamangoband, where they keep fans updated on tour life (everything from a fake severed finger fan gift to Alex squeegeeing chicken poop off of Sam’s car). Mega Mango will also be releasing their new single “Sheets” on May 2nd, and you can pre save it by clicking here. Their music is available to stream on all platforms.