Monsterface Industries is the over-arching name of the inter-disciplinary art
collective we discovered and inherited in the back room of an abandoned shoe factory around 2004 or so.
This is our story so far...
For All The People, All The Time
Monsterface Industries creates music, live events, artwork, soap operas, cartoons, camps, hand sanitizers, friendship, and more. We are, have been, and ever shall be dedicated to fostering creativity and transformation, and do so via collaborating upon and then completing a cornucopia of Crazy Ideas. Our home base is Dino-skeleton Island, a mysterious fort that cuts through several of the known Layers of Space. Obviously.
The flagship organization for Monsterface Industries is Uncle Monsterface. While the boundaries between Uncle Monsterface and Monsterface Industries are sometimes fuzzy, for our purposes, let's say Uncle Monsterface is the rock band, and Monsterface Industries is the over-arching production company. If you want to keep it fuzzy, you can rub my chin. Of note, Uncle Monsterface is also the name of a sock puppet and a giant monster (both of whom often appear with said band).
In whichever form you reckon it, Monsterface was founded by me, (Paradise) Dan Brennan, and (Perfect) Jimmy Bernardinelli around 2004 in Boston. Perfect Jimmy retired from full-time service around 2011, and over the years we have been joined by a prismatic pantheon of colorful collaborators (see bottom of page for staff list).
What follows is an inevitably incomplete history of the organization to date.
From Weird Beginnings...
It started with a big bag of socks and a boatload of dreams...
Monsterface Industries began to coalesce through a variety of early collaborations in or around my time as an under-grad at Mass Art. Much of what we have done and continue to do was built in the spirit of our major there, The Studio for Inter-related Media (SIM), which is also where I met Perfect Jimmy and Jesse Farrell, another frequent collaborator/shadow founder.
In SIM, we were encouraged to collaborate our minds and mediums and build Big Shows surrounding said collaborations. We made weird art happenings, pretty much all the time. Video and performance and music were always in the mix. Many of the players of the early Monsterface days would emerge from our college band, The Cthulhu Ragtime Band, and our early post-college cable access show, The Top Shelf Variety Show.
I'd been making a bunch of songs and building a bunch of sock puppets. Perfect Jimmy had been experimenting with animation and music composition. And Dan had been rocking out and learning to become an awesome audio engineer. The pot got stirred, and the next thing we knew we were on stage with a puppet theater and a video screen behind us, bringing the weird to Boston.
Another early friendship would yield a long-time relationship as well. In college we'd often rock with or to some like-minded genius pre-teens called Ed in the Refridgerators. This band would go on to lay the foundations for Harry and the Potters, two amazing wizards who we would (and still do) tour and collaborate with frequently, and who gave us a lot of awesome and bizarre exposure to the impressionable youth of the time. We love the wizards.
To The Big City: UMF vs BK
After releasing Uncle Monsterface's first full-length album, "Letter Green (I Love You)" and a fruitful collaborative multimedia tour with Harry and the Potters called "Potterface," Monsterface pulled up our stakes and moved to a cavernous loft in Brooklyn, known affectionately as Taaffe Hall.
At Taaffe, we got down to Bizness. While my own related work with the Sock Puppet Portraits expanded exponentially, so did the work of Monsterface Industries. Monsterface worked through a pile of new music, most notably our second full-length album, "This Is an Adventure." We built an elaborate stage show supporting "Adventure" featuring a sock puppet stage, full body puppets, and interactive videos. We took this big show to the road in a still-more-elaborate multimedia collaboration and showcase called "The Unlimited Enthusiasm Exposition," a national tour that was a rock show and a day camp featuring us, Math the Band, Harry and the Potters, and several other wonderful guests, cartwheeling up and down the nation's rambling roads.
Tee Vee Time
But we weren't content to just make up songs and perform them across this great nation. Nay! Back at Taaffe, we also began expanding...onto the internet! We produced a bevy AND a boatload of online content, what was often an off-shoot of the live show, premiering three long-form episodes of our own web-based variety-show, called Monsterface Tee Vee.
Monsterface Tee Vee would go on to evolve into the brand surrounding other shorter music and comedy videos, as well as the amazing animation work of Perfect Jimmy, which often featured much of Monsterface as the cast and crew. It still exists as our so-called sub-brand for video content and such.
All That and A Barrel of Pickles
The Taaffe years proved fruitful, featuring many other videos and music releases, all of which culminated with the creation of our 3-part Sock Puppet Soap Opera, Sock Puppet Manor, telling at least part of the tale of The Lollybottom and Durtlinger pickle-canning empires. It was ambitious, to say the least. See the series on Youtube here.
During this time, Uncle Monsterface (the band) had begun to experiment with an increasingly live sound, and to that end added a new core member to the fold in the form of the lanky and wondrous Spooky Olde Epic Swanson, who would go on to become our full-time drummer and frequent visual collaborator for years to come.
After the release of Sock Puppet Manor and a short EP of covers, "Jokey Jingles," our dear friend and co-founder Perfect Jimmy left the big city for greener pastures, setting the stage for a leaner and arguably meaner Monsterface. Jimmy's voice in Monsetrface would be missed dearly, though the impact he had on the band and Monsterface Industries is tremendous and immeasurable, and, like a farting pony who farts in a field, will always be lodged in our collective heart.
With Perfect Jimmy gone and Sock Puppet Manor finished up, Monsterface decided to turn the ship south a bit and take some time to focus on performing as a real live rock and roll band while exploring our own mythology.
The new trio of me, Dan, and Eric began working on new material that would flesh out some of the story and history surrounding our aforementioned home-base, Dino-skeleton Island. While writing and performing as a much more pared-down live trio, we were joined by the inestimable submarine pilot, Hidden Harlan Muir, who would go on to contribute extensively to the writing process for the third full-length Uncle Monsterface album, "Rise of the Lava Men," which details the history of the previous protectors of Dino-Skeleton Island, The Lava Men.
"Rise of the Lava Men" became a project deeply rooted in visual imagery, featuring the visual lead of Epic Swanson along with collaborative illustrations by infEhnite Designs. Production of "Rise" was successfully funded on Kickstarter in July of 2013, and the full album was released in August of 2014.
An interactive live show was designed in collaboration with Syn-Styling and performed exclusively at select venues in Brooklyn.
Meanwhile Back at the Base...
While Uncle Monsterface the band was embarking on a more musical focus from 2013-2015, other opportunities began to emerge for Monsterface Industries.
In 2013 I was contracted by Nickelodeon to develop a pitch for some original content, which eventually emerged as a fully-scripted animatic and pitch entitled "Team Monsterface and The Seven Layers of Space." The pitch utilized all of the current members of Monsterface and incorporated more of the illustrations of infeHnite Designs, also bringing a new collaborator on board, the artist Georg Pederson, who would assist with much of the design and animation. The process also began integrating my world of stories even more into our world of weird.
While this pitch has yet to yield concrete results on Tee Vee, in addition to cementing important connections it in its turn inspired Monsterface to return to its roots of making weird cartoons.
Inspired by the idea of cartoon-making, our most recent public project, "Vampire Boy" premiered in October of 2016. See Vampire Boy here.
What Next, Monsters?
Who knows what the future holds for Monsterface Industries? More music, more cartoons, still more hand sanitizers?
We know, actually, but we're not telling yet.
As we've grown up with the organization, so, too, has our process, and whatever projects we're up to at any given juncture take many mighty globs of hours of pre-production time to get us there. So in general we're working on ideas one to two years in advance, and some stuff never sees the light of day, or at least common release .
In short, we remain dedicated to exploration and creativity. To weirdly go where no creature has weirded weirdly before. It's pretty likely that we miss rocking out in front of people a little bit, and wouldn't mind doing it some more before we have to use walkers to get onto the stage.
Stay tuned, kids and cadets. If nothing else, whatever happens next will be fun.
If you're curious to learn more, collaborate, hire us, or just get in touch, feel free to reach out and drop us a note.