Mondo Cozmo on the 20 years it takes to become an overnight success

When we create our stories each week, one of the most agonizing decisions is what to call people. How do you distill a life—in the case of our storytellers, an otherworldly life—into the three or four words of a title scroll?

Back around Christmas, when I first heard Mondo Cozmo’s song “Shine,” I played it for Shannon.  Her eyes got a little wider than usual, and she said “who IS this?”

I think that was a lot of people’s reaction when they first heard that infectious rising chorus and saw the unfamiliar band’s(?) . . . singer’s(?) name on their car radio screen.

Within a month, “Shine” had hit #1 on Billboard’s Adult Alternative chart, and was a global phenomenon. It was a remarkable debut.

When I found out that LA-based Mondo Cozmo was the new incarnation for Josh Ostrander, a PHILLY boy, I knew we had to find him and talk to him.

What we’ve found over and over at 3MS—and we found again with Mondo Cozmo—is there’s very rarely any such thing as a rags-to-riches story.  Most of the talented artists who are “discovered” are, like MC told me, “in the 19th year of a 20-year plan.” They are people who have refused, time and again, in the face of defeat and rejection, to quit writing, quit practicing, quit believing.

How many incredibly talented artists want to stop and get a day job?
How many do stop?

I was able to talk to Mondo Cozmo when he returned to Philadelphia’s WXPN (a station he’d been sending tapes to for 15 years trying to get played) for a headlining spot of an industry showcase. The moment was not lost on him.  The gratitude for his journey—his long journey—was there in spades. You can hear it in his voice and see it in his eyes here.  A few weeks later, his schedule would include sets at massive festivals like Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo.

And of course, one song does not a career make. I asked MC about the stress of following up the anthemic prayer of “Shine,” an undeniably great pop song. “Nah, man, I’ve been working toward this for a long time.” He told me with a laugh.  “I got a LOT of songs—I just played them for my dog and saw which ones he liked.”

Mondo Cozmo’s debut album, PLASTIC SOUL, comes out on August 4, and having heard it, I’ll only say, he and his dog deliver.

A couple of hours later, I watched him completely entrance a collection of arms-crossed, middle-aged industry professionals, who, by then end of his short set, were swept up in the spirit and the power of his live act. When you see him perform, joyously perform, you realize that now he’s here, he’s not going anywhere.

Go see Mondo Cozmo live this summer and fall. You won’t be disappointed.

And pre-order the new record PLASTIC SOUL so you can sing along with all the anthems.

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