The Story of Monsters

On Saturday, November 19, 2022: Berkeley-based band Courtney’s Other Neighbors will release their newest song and video: Monsters, a collaboration with cartoonist Doug Williamson. The song will be revealed on their YouTube channel and at a concert the band is playing alongside the band The BBs on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 7 pm at the Back Room in Berkeley.

The band’s guitarist and bassist Guy Brenner tells the backstory: “I wrote the song Monsters five years ago. I taught it to the band, and they liked it. Then I thought it needed a little something, and I changed it. The band approved. Soon it became a joke to the band, that I kept changing the song. During the covid scare, we kept musically active by recording songs — each person recording their parts at home, and emailing the files to me to assemble. We made simple videos for each so we could put them on our Youtube channel. Finally, in January of 2022, I declared (again) that Monsters was finished and we could record it. By then, we could do it all together at my house. The band is relieved that I’m done changing Monsters.”

The lyrics of Monsters borrow from Frederick Nietzsche’s “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”; as well as from Rodney King: “Why can’t we all just get along?”

Brenner continues “I showed Beeb and Buckbuck a book of my old friend Doug Williamson’s cartoons called Fluffy Mammoths. They loved it and agreed we should recruit Doug to make the Monsters video. Amazingly, Doug agreed. I had suggested a montage of images since he already had hundreds of monsters and goofy creatures he had drawn. Doug, however, wanted to make it an animation —  a much larger project. I gave Doug carte blanche to do whatever inspired him and take his time. Doug makes cartoons in like half a day. The animated Monsters video took six months of work! Eeek! But we are so thrilled by the result!”

Doug Williamson made the animation on an iPad using Procreate. He then assembled and edited the video with LumaFusion, also on the iPad. This is Doug’s first animation outside of a few 2 second looping GIFs. Oh, and a school project in the fifth grade. It was a stop motion animation using construction paper and a Super8 movie camera called “The Realm of the Gods,” depicting life on ancient Olympus. He filmed it twice as a matter of fact, as the first reel was somehow fully exposed and came out totally white. 

Courtney’s Other Neighbors are: Olivia “Beeb” Dempster, who plays piano and stand-up bass; Becky “Buckbuck” Rogot, who plays cello, and Guy “Guy” Brenner, who plays guitar and stand-up bass. They also have an official band dog and mascot, Summit. They all sing, as does Beeb’s sister Celeste Monette, much of the time. To clarify, there is no Courtney in the band! She was Buckbuck’s neighbor in an Oakland apartment house and had another neighboring band. Says Buckbuck: “Courtney declared that we were the preferred band of course!”