Published Dec 04, 2009In keeping with the spirit of Christmas, a large group of Vancouver, BC comedians and musicians have teamed up to give away a very special batch of online gifts. They're coming in the form of Mental Beast, a 12-episode web series about a dying radio station, and its soundtrack, the Eggnog Experience Christmas compilation.
Speaking with Exclaim!, executive producer Cameron Reed (who runs Vancouver's Music Waste festival and makes music as Babe Rainbow) explains how he helped create the multi-faceted project, alongside Conor Holler of comedy team Bronx Cheer.
"Conor Holler and I wanted to do a project combining a narrative with music," Reed says. "Before he even approached me with the idea for the project I was thinking of putting together a radio drama. Like a classic audio-only radio play. But as we talked about the project and how it would work we thought it would be great to have some of our favourite local bands making music generally reserved for shopping malls or Bing Crosby albums."
The bands involved span a wide range of Vancouver talent, from punk and hardcore to indie rock, electronica and world music. The full list of contributors includes (take a deep breath) Jody Glenham, Kellarissa, Lightning Dust, Vancougar, Adjective, Nick Krgovich (of P:ano and No Kids), Rose Melberg, Brasstronaut, Secret Mommy, Apollo Ghosts, Fanshaw, Al Boyle of Hard Feelings, Analog Bell Service, B-Lines, Basketball, Blue Violets, Collapsing Opposites, Dandi Wind, Dylan Thomas, Fine Mist, Haunted Beard, Lust, Machu Picchu, Makeout Videotape, Needles & Pins, No Gold, Noobie Noobinson, Paul Anthony, Tight Solid, World Club and Yukon Blonde.
As Reed explains, the loose nature of the project is what attracted many of the contributors. "We wanted music of any kind, as long as it was holiday-themed," he says. "We told the bands they could write a song about how they hated Christmas if they wanted to. It worked out great."
Right now, two fantastic tracks from the compilation can be streamed here, but the whole thing won't be heard until it's released on December 17, when you'll be able to download it for free via the Mental Beast/Eggnog Experience website.
As for the Mental Beast web series, that kicks off on December 7. The project will feature guest spots from some of the bands involved in the compilation, along with Nardwuar the Human Serviette and Hot Hot Heat's Steve Bays.
"Our inspiration for Mental Beast was to create a different kind of story. Trying to innovate a bit," Reed explains. "I think switching between audio and video is a cool and different way to tell a story. Also, Conor and I have worked together a number of times trying to marry the music and comedy communities in Vancouver more. In the past, we've had sketch groups perform at Victory Square Block Party. And last year, the Music Waste promo videos were all produced by almost the same group of people working on Mental Beast. There are just so many creative people in this city and to draw attention on Vancouver, it just makes sense to work together. Power in numbers."
A brief video of Nardwuar interviewing fictional Mental Beast character Kiles McKay can be viewed here.
On top of all this, a Mental Beast party will take place at the Biltmore Cabaret on December 18, with proceeds going to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. Besides performances from many of the bands on the Eggnog compilation, the party will also include a live screening of the web series' final episode. More information on that can be found here.
To get a better understanding of the show, a promotional episode is embedded below.