The Austin Chronicle

Listen to MondoCon

By Richard Whittaker, October 21, 2016, 9:00am, Picture in Picture

Remember when local print empire Mondo was just dedicated to filling up your wall space? With MondoCon, its annual gathering of film poster and paraphernalia fans, coming up this weekend, the team is taking over your record player, too.

Originally conceived as a spin-off from Fantastic Fest, the scheduling meant an insane schedule for fans and team alike. Mondo Music production manager Mo Shafeek said, "Someone asked, 'When was Mondo Con last year?' and a couple of people were trying to remember exactly the placement. I went, 'Oh, I remember. The first year, it was the first weekend of Fantastic Fest, last year it was second weekend of Fantastic Fest, and this year we are far away from it, so we can all be recovered human beings and do our own thing.'"

The scheduling for those first two years, Shafeek said, was Mondo being "compassionate. People come to Austin twice a year for Fantastic Fest and SXSW, so let's make ourselves an option for people who were around."

But this year, the event has spread its wings to become its own entity, a major draw for poster and movie art fans from around the world. "We're counter-programming to Formula One," said Shafeek, "and Taylor Swift is playing."

Not that there's nothing for music fans, with Mondo's own soundtrack division on the ground throughout the weekend.

On one side there's Death Waltz, which puts out classic horror soundtracks like Cannibal Apocalypse and Ms. 45 alongside more modern ear-rippers and spine-chillers like Big Bad Wolves, The Midnight Swim, and Darling. On the other, Mondo Records itself handles the more mainstream soundtracks, like Back to the Future and Luke Cage. The two started as separate firms, initially just collaborating but finally merging last year. Death Waltz founder and Mondo record label manager Spencer Hickman said, "When we decided to do this, we didn't really have an idea of how to do this. It was just, yeah, let's do it. … Now all three imprints that we have – Mondo, Death Waltz, and the Originals – all have a separate identity."

Getting the rights to release this kind of short-run, remastered vinyl releases with new artwork can be a lot of work. Shafeek said, "We're not selling Tower Records volumes of units. We're selling very specific, direct-to-consumer, to a very small contingent of collectors. Whenever you knock on that door, sometimes you get someone who says, 'Oh, I know exactly who you are, come in.' And sometimes you get someone who says, 'Yeah, this isn't worth our time, or it isn't worth our lawyers' time.'"

But some big names said yes this year, and here's the rundown of the con exclusives and first looks:

Mo Shafeek: The Fountain score is a really powerful piece of music that has so incredibly affected my life that I'm really, really proud that we're releasing this thing. … When we started doing the soundtrack thing, there was always a shortlist of titles that would always be enormous gets."

Spencer Hickman: I've known [composer Clint Mansell, in attendance for a special screening] for 23 years. I first met him when I was working in a record shop in Birmingham, Vinyl Dreams, and his band [Pop Will Eat Itself] used to bring their first single in, hand stamped in paper bags. It's amazing, because he's so good. The soundtrack to The Fountain is just devastating, so it's funny to think where he came from to where he is now.

MS: This title, we knocked on a specific door, our friends at Nonesuch Records who released the CD soundtrack for Requiem for a Dream and this, and Noah, which we will be releasing next year. We were able to say, hey, we did this thing with Black Swan last year, because we really wanted to do something with Darren Aronofsky's films, which feel right in our wheelhouse, but are still small, intimate movies.

MS: If you look at a lot of soundtracks from the Eighties, there are a very specific number of tracks you will find, usually 12 to 14, and that's because there's a magic number where it goes from financially reasonable to financially ludicrous to get that number of people on board, getting them on an album, and then selling it. But because Deathgasm is an indie film and it came from an indie studio, we were able to do our own thing with it, and go to every individual artist and work with them. It's comprehensive. It's everything from that movie, 20 incredible metal songs from all over the world.

MS: We're paying tribute a little bit early. Next year is the big 3-0 for The Monster Squad, but we've been working on this for a while, so we're really excited to get a head start. We did a single earlier in the year of the two songs in it, "Rock Until You Drop" and "The Monster Squad Rap," performed by the Monster Squad, which is such a great artifact of the Eighties. But now we're highlighting Bruce Broughton's score. It's a weird juggling act. It's a horror score for a kids' movie, but I guess this was a tween movie from before the term existed. This is for the Goonies crowd, PG going on PG-13, but it's still very serious, and the score plays it that way.

MondoCon, Oct. 22-23 at the AFS Cinema (6226 Middle Fiskville) and Holiday Inn Midtown Conference Center (6000 Middle Fiskville). Two-day tickets, $90; one-day tickets, $45.

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