More Mondo Departures as Vinyl Leadership Exits

Austin-based soundtrack label sees more changes under Funko

The Mondo Records catalog began with Maniac and continues with upcoming releases for (clockwise, starting top left) Josie and the Pussycats, Kind Words (lo fi chill beats to write to), Godzilla: Tokyo SOS, and Knight Riders.

Three months ago, there was uproar in the collectible print scene when Funko announced it was firing the poster division leadership of Austin-based Mondo. Now the axe has reached the vinyl records team.

This morning, Creative Director Spencer Hickman, Record Label Manager Mo Shafeek, and Music Label Manager Shannon Smith announced that they were leaving the company they turned into a powerhouse boutique label and a champion of high-quality soundtrack releases. The joint statement was Tweeted on their own private accounts as well as the official Mondo account:

July marks our final run at Mondo & Death Waltz Records.

We've made the difficult decision to say goodbye to this thing we created and try something new.

We are leaving it to a passionate group here who love the label and are excited to carry the torch after we're gone. We wish them the best and are eager to see the label live on beyond our tenure.

Thank you to everyone who has supported our releases over the last decade and more. We hope at some point we made something that sits proudly in your record collection. It has been the honour of a lifetime to make records for you.

Please keep in touch - whether you want to know what the future holds for us all or simply want to know what we are listening to.

We'll see you soon.

Their departure follows the March exit of Creative Directors Rob Jones and Eric Garza, and Senior Creative Director Mitch Putnam, seen by many as the heart and soul of the print division. However, the statement emphasizes that the label will continue, just without the talents of three of its most pivotal figures. Back in March, Funko CEO Brian Mariotti said that the parent company would be investing in a 70,000 square foot pressing factory/record store/events space in San Diego, and this week the company confirmed that Mondo will have a major presence at next month's San Diego Comic Con.

Founded by the Alamo Drafthouse in 2011 – the same year that Hickman founded Death Waltz Records in the UK – Mondo kicked off with the release of a 500 copy limited release of Jay Chattaway's soundtrack to the 1980 slasher Maniac. That release set the standard for their records: heavy vinyl, newly commissioned artwork (often by artists who were part of the Mondo print roster) and extensive liner notes.

Since then, the label has released hundreds of albums, from mega-franchises like Star Wars, The Matrix, and Jurassic Park to indies like The Shed, and a huge number of soundtracks for classic and cult titles including John Carpenter's They Live and The Witch. Over time, the business relationship with Death Waltz strengthened, and the combined catalog expanded to include US distribution for other labels, such as Data Discs and Enjoy the Ride, as well as video game soundtracks – the label's upcoming release slate even includes the score to indie game Kind Words (lo fi chill beats to write to).

However, the company underwent a massive change when toy and collectibles company Funko acquired Mondo from the Alamo Drafthouse in June 2022, as the cinema chain came out of pandemic-induced bankruptcy and refocused on its core mission of showing movies. With the bulk of the old Austin-based leadership now gone, and Funko targeting California for the company's future operational base, it seems less of a question of whether there will be a Mondo, and more about whether this is the end of Mondo as an Austin company.

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Mondo, Mondo Records, Death Waltz Recording Co., Mo Shafeek, Spencer Hickman, Shannon Smith

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