Band gets ‘Warped’

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Mighty Mongo to hit road with national 2012 Vans Warped Tour

By Nancy Kennedy

As cliché as it sounds, it’s a dream come true.

Scotty Chmura, Anthony Isoldi, Alex Card and Lindsay Vitola, collectively known as Mighty Mongo, recently learned their band will play 15 cities — from Boston to Miami and out West to Seattle and Portland — on the 2012 Vans Warped Tour.

The Warped Tour is an annual traveling summer festival that spotlights young up-and-coming bands and extreme sports, sponsored by Vans, the skateboard and shoe company.

“In high school every year, everyone was like, ‘Are you going to the Warped Tour? Are you going to the Warped Tour?’ Everybody wanted to go,” said 24-year-old Chmura. “Now, to be going as a band — being offered the Warped Tour is like getting an A on a test that you never thought you’d ever pass, especially algebra. I’m still shocked.”

Chmura, the band’s drummer, is a student at the College of Central Florida.

“This is a huge turning point in our band’s career,” said Card, 22, a senior at the University of South Florida and one of the band’s lead singers. “This forces us to reinvent ourselves as an original band and not just a cover band.”

For Isoldi, 21, also a student at USF and Mongo guitarist, the tour means getting a shot at being heard by masses of people across the nation.

“The Warped Tour was started specifically for alternative rock bands that aren’t huge yet, yet it gives them a chance to be a part of something larger than one band at one show,” he said.

He added bands such as Green Day, Sublime and No Doubt were launched into super stardom from the Warped Tour.

“Having someone like Kevin Lyman believe in you enough to give you dates on his tour is such an incredible feeling of validation for all the hard work we have put in over the last two years,” said lead singer Vitola, 23. “It makes us want to work even harder in the coming months.”

She said one of the best compliments they ever received was from a recording engineer, who called the foursome “perfectly flawed.”

“We each have our own set of deficiencies and weaknesses, but with each weakness, one of the other four of us fills the gap,” she said. “We each have a special role in the band that could never be fulfilled or replaced by anyone else. We’re mated for life — like, polygamous lobsters, or something.”

The boys in the band unanimously agreed they wouldn’t be who or where they are if it wasn’t for Vitola — for many reasons, including urging them to attend a music conference in Atlanta last year.

That’s where they ran into Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman, who had remembered hearing and being impressed by Mighty Mongo.

He and Chmura sent a few emails back and forth after that.

“Then one day I get an email from him saying, ‘Are you willing to accept these dates for the Warped Tour?’ I went outside my house and screamed, I was so excited,” Chmura said.

“We’re on the Warped Tour website, which is exciting,” Card said. “It’s exciting to see your (band) name up there with bands who have been in the industry for so long and are regarded as famous.”

Although they didn’t disclose how much they’ll be paid, they said it covers their expenses.

“Making money depends on us, how hard we sell merchandise,” Card said.

The band has one CD, “Let’s Make Serious Life Decisions,” which is available on iTunes, and is recording an EP. Fans can listen to some of their songs on their website, www.mightymongoband.us, and download “Myth Head” free.

“We do cover gigs — that’s our ‘day job,’” Isoldi said. They’re regulars at clubs in Orlando, St. Pete, Miami, Siesta Key and venues around Citrus County, where Chmura and Isoldi grew up and Chmura still lives.

“That’s good for networking,” Isoldi said, “but it doesn’t further our original music like the Warped Tour will.”

Chmura said, “We’ve been progressing and we’re playing regularly and the fan base is getting big, but there’s been nothing that gave us that jump until now. Now it’s like we’ve shifted into third gear. Yeah, we’re pretty pumped.”

Vans Warped Tour local dates:
 July 27 — Orlando (Central Florida Fairgrounds).
 July 28 — Miami (Cruzan Amphitheatre).
 July 29 — Tampa (Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg).