Why are Mastodon writing music for the new Monsters Inc. prequel, Monsters University? As this blog's self-appointed Mastodon Correspondent (the position pays as well as you'd imagine), I have been ordered to conduct an immediate investigation into this somewhat unexpected turn of events, lest we allow any Mastodon-related news to slip through the net. So here is the definitive explanation, people.
They have kind-of-history in this respect, having soundtracked (and in the case of guitarist Brent Hinds, had a minor role in) mega-flop Jonah Hex. Jonah Hex was an action movie with guns though. People died, there were dark skies, drama occurred. It wasn't the story of two loveable monsters voiced by Billy Crystal and John Goodman becoming roomies at college. Jonah Hex might in fact be the opposite of Monsters University.
Let's examine the thought process that leads one from the soundtrack appointment one may have expected, Pixar stalwart Randy Newman, to signing up Mastodon. Say you want to get across the "college rock" nature of university music, and Randy's just not up to the job. He won't even play that new-fangled distorted guitar you bought him. All he'll do is burble about "friends" while gently caressing a piano and smiling. That's not the image you want. You need something harder. A soundtrack worthy of the complex visual imagery that is Billy Crystal being a one-eyed monster and running the gamut of college movie clichés.
You might think at this point to settle on a college staple like Matchbox Twenty or whatever, but that would be too easy. You've got a film literally about monsters. They're not going to listen to Rob Thomas for even a brief moment, because they could crush him with a thought, and how do you respect someone like that? You need something with more cartoonish horror to it, done by someone that might be able to give Sulley a fight. It is at this point, as a Pixar executive, you spot in your teenage son's record collection that some band called Mastodon recently put out a song called "The Octopus Has No Friends". Upon further enquiry, you hear that not only do they peddle distorted rock, they once wrote an album about Moby Dick, and they all look simultaneously intimidating and kind of cuddly. Even the one with face tattoos.
Thus, you shovel money in their general direction, and as the band find themselves between albums and tours, and have a pretty good sense of humor, you've got yourself a brand new blockbuster kids movie soundtracked by Mastodon. Given this string of logic, it's not too long until we get a famous-Disney characters-go-to-college movie soundtracked by Lamb of God. Holy shit, I would pay good money to see that. My other dream is that Randy Newman becomes Mastodon's full-time keyboard player, and that they cover "You Got A Friend In Me." Hollywood execs, if you want in on this train of brilliant ideas, you know where to find me.