FESTIVAL SEASON 2017: Mondo Cozmo @ Lollapalooza
Story by: Erica Hawkins
Photos / Kris Fuentes Cortes
David Bowie referred to his music as “Plastic Soul” a term coined by black musicians in the 1960s to describe artists like Bowie, Mick Jagger, and even The Beatles singing soul music. The same weekend the late and great Starman made his way back to space, Josh Ostrander, known to us by the moniker Mondo Cozmo, recorded a song by that very name. After releasing that song for free in an attempt to avoid the red tape that comes with sampling music from another artist, the song was embraced heavily by fans, and the title, Plastic Soul was embraced as the name of Mondo Cozmo’s debut album.
Just one day before his very much anticipated debut was set to hit shelves and digital music platforms, we caught up with the “punk-rock troubadour” to gauge his pre-release excitement and anxiety during Chicago’s Lollapalooza. We asked him what fans could expect from the album, what his dog Cozmo thinks about the debut (spoiler: it’s not what you expect), and how solitude in the studio gave him the space he needed to become an artist.
How do you feel about the new album dropping tomorrow? Are you nervous excited?
I’m off sleep. I stopped eating. No, I’m really excited, I really am. There are a couple of songs on this record that people are going to hear tomorrow. I’m just happy.
Will tomorrow be the first time playing those songs live?
Last night was the first time we played the full record and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever played. I love Chicago, it’s just such a great rock and roll town, and they show up. No matter what day of the week it is.
Which do you prefer? Playing sets like last night’s or huge festival shows like tomorrows?
Playing these festivals, playing Bonnaroo, playing Governors Ball, playing Sasquatch, playing Lollapalooza, playing Quebec- it’s amazing. But honestly, my favorite shows are ones [like the one] we played last night, those club shows. You get to meet people after the show and have a beer with them and talk about rock and roll and talk about life. Those connections are amazing. Sometimes with these festivals you don’t get to have that interaction with the crowd, because they’re so far away. At the same time, playing in front of those people, like playing Quebec in front of 100,000 people, I’ll remember that for the rest of my life. That’s insane.
I know you had a few other projects and other bands you were involved in before Mondo Cozmo. What is the most marked difference in being in the studio with collaborators and being in the studio by yourself?
There was a learning curve for me because I very much come from that world- that brotherhood of working with people, interacting and getting and asking for feedback. So, when I found myself by myself it was a totally different thing. I mean, I was asking my dog what he thought (laughter). Cause he’s always in the room, and he just stares at me.
What did he think?
He seems to hate it (laughter). No, but it was therapeutic because I had to learn how to make decisions by myself really quick, and I became an artist, I feel like I really did. I had to go down that route by myself to create the songs that I did.
Was there a moment when you knew this project was going to be different than previous projects, an “aha” moment where you could see it was going to take off?
When I was standing on [Jimmy] Kimmel’s stage and the guy is counting down and I’m like ‘how the hell did I get here? I don’t even have an album out.’ There have been a couple of moments like that this past year, this past eight months where I’m like, ‘I don’t know how this happened.’ But I’m so thankful, I really am. I’m beside myself. Because I’ve been doing it for a long time. I’m super blessed.
I know ‘Plastic Soul’ refers to how Bowie would describe his music. If you could choose a word to convey what people can expect from the album, what would that word be?
It’s eclectic, it’s all over the place. I think if I were to describe it in one word, just listening to it, it’s just like a wave man. It just fucking moves really nice and to be able to sit there and listen to the album from front to back, it just – it was really special. A wave.