Musicians Montana Marks and Justin Barad break down the claymation series’ score!

Trick or treat!

In celebration of Halloween, enjoy a special VENOMVERSE treat today with two full tracks from the claymation shorts! Get into the spirit with “Edge of Venomverse” and “Venomverse” now!

Created by musicians Justin Barad and Montana Marks, these songs provide the ideal tonal backdrop for VENOMVERSE—and for your Halloween.

How did these compositions come to life? We caught up with Justin and Montana to find out.

Marvel.com: How did you two get into writing music?

Montana Marks: I grew up in a musical family. Growing up into middle and high school, we never had a TV in our living room, instead my parents set up a whole band studio practice room—so it was always kind of around.

It slowly worked its way into my life. I slowly started to do music on the computer and it went from there.

Justin Barad: I was classically trained with violin, piano, and guitar—and my father was always a musician. I think I took violin the most but I definitely wanted to know more about piano. I didn’t have a lot of time both of those lessons but I tried my best.

I didn’t take it much further beyond high school, but I did start playing in fourth or fifth grade, so I got all those years of great exposure to the classic training.

Also, in the house, I got inundated with lots of music. My older sister would always make me dance to ‘80s music and Michael Jackson, things like that, so I guess I had some rhythm. My dad loved The Beatles, so he would always play that and more of the classic rock, so I got a good amount of exposure to all that growing up.

Then we moved to a city in New Jersey—Closter, New Jersey—and I explored my new town. There was this computer shop down there—you know the old dusty computer shops in the ‘90s? I found this program, Mix Man Studio Pro, for Windows. I was sort of a nerd so I thought, “Okay, I’ll give it a shot.” I brought it home and it was this loop-based audio program where you press a button on your keyboard and it starts to play a drum loop or a vocal sample. I went off to the races after that. I knew I had a knack for it and I just started to look for all the different ways I could make music with computers after that.

I starting making my own hip hop beats. In between eighth grade and the end of high school I think I made over 200 rudimentary hip hop beats. I actually ended up making an album with an MC buddy of mine.

Once college came around, I turned to DJing because it felt like a way to be social. I kind of missed making music myself, but I just loved the social element of spinning other people’s music. I did it in college and grad school and I actually ended up doing it more professionally. But I always knew something seemed missing because I wasn’t making my own tunes.

Then about four years ago I bit the bullet and said, “You know what, I want to go back to it.” So I just spent hours and hours reading and watching tutorials. I think one of the hardest things—especially when you are no longer a kid and are in your late 20s—can be admitting you need to go back to the basics. I watched YouTube videos by 15 year-olds, teaching me how to use this software. You have to be humble.

Marvel.com: What drew you to scoring in particular?

Justin Barad: I think it can be easy to make a derivative cookie-cutter EDM track that energizes people. I think that making music that scares people feels a lot more fun.

When I said I was classically trained, I took lessons in violin and piano, but I never really learned how to compose music. I never really took it that far. Something about the atypical structure of score appeals to me. You don’t really have to sit in that box of intro, verse, pre-chorus, chorus, verse—that kind of thing.

I think scoring evokes more emotions in people than typical dance music does. And that has been what I like about this project too; it’s spooky.

Montana Marks: It felt different. Over the years, I did a lot of electronic music. Then I thought doing something different would be kind of cool. That opportunity produced itself in score and I took it.

Marvel.com: How did you two first come to work together?

Justin Barad: Montana is one of my best friends—and we actually met in college. I studied chemistry and he studied music business. I took an elective, because I couldn’t stand all the math and chemistry, called “Computer Music Synthesis,” which was actually a required course for his line of studies. I thought it would be us making cool beats, but it did not end up that way. It became more like, “How does a piece of silicon in your computer make a ‘boop’ sound?”

Anyway, I met him in that class, we ended up linking up, and I learned more about music through him and our friendship.

Montana Marks: We have been collaborating and sending stuff back and forth for a couple of years now. I’m not really sure how long exactly but we’ve been playing around with music together for a while.

Marvel.com: How did you end up hooking up with Marvel for this project?

Justin Barad: Merit gets you some places but—for better or worse—it can be all about who you know. I happen to be friends with Dan Fink [Director of Development] since I was 11 or 12. He always knew I did music, so when this project came along for him, he called me. He said, “Look, we can buy some stock music, but I know you like making tunes and I think this would be really fun for you so go ahead and make a demo.”

At this point, I hadn’t done any scoring. I had only made, like, R&B and electronic and more hip-hop stuff. So he asked, “Can you do it?” and I said, “I don’t know, let’s see if I can.”

I called up Montana and said, “Dude I think we should give this a shot.”

Montana Marks: We had to submit this little demo to Marvel and show them that we could produce what they wanted. We made a little short demonstration score and sent it over. They liked it, so we just went ahead from there.

Marvel.com: Going into VENOMVERSE, what did you know about the project? Did you know the characters? Did you watch the shorts beforehand?

Montana Marks: We didn’t really know a whole lot. A lot of it kind of came once the contracts got signed.

We didn’t know if we would have sound effects or would have to add them. All we really knew was that it would be claymation with a dark theme.

I remember seeing Venom in the movies and stuff like that. I didn’t have as much familiarity with him as I did other Marvel characters, but I knew about him a little bit.

Marvel.com: While certain motifs exist throughout the Venomverse shorts, each has been tailored for the characters or action contained within. When composing music for each individual episode, how do you find the right tone for each theme? How do you get it just “right”?

Justin Barad: When we started—with those first five stories about the transformation of the character—I think that went to a very obvious beating, driving mutation; something scary. It felt really fun to do that first half. Like, when Gwenpool gets mutated, we hear this really interesting atmospheric drone of being in alone in a dirty apartment and then that transitions into music. Those first five were all really scary.

Then it became a little more subtle when we started on the second five, with Eddie Brock in the alleyway. The way the claymation artist focused on the character before he went to this alternate universe…it felt despondent, desperate, and yet heroic. He fought someone who needed to be fought. So it needed something a little less spooky.

Montana Marks: From the get-go, we tried to create a sonic palette. So from the first of each series, we would go in and be very loose—bringing in whatever instruments we felt we needed and really playing with it. And then the first one kind of dictated the sonic palette of the rest of the series. As the series went on, we might add or take away a couple of instruments, but we’d keep the same sonic palette in there and just play with their composition or their melodic tones.

And we got a lot of guidance from the Marvel crew. We would send them stuff and they would send us notes back and we’d tweak it. I know that one of the first ones I sent in, I think I hit it too hard with the horror movie sound and then I changed that a little bit.

But yes, we went for a kind of subtle, dark, creepy theme that doesn’t really intrude too much on the claymation.

Marvel.com: Has everything you’ve done for Marvel been released at this point?

Justin Barad: Well the project was 10 shorts and they’ve all been released, but the culmination of it all is actually two full two-and-a-half minute tracks. One song that encapsulates the universe of Part 1 and one song for Part 2.

Listen to Justin Barad and Montana Marks’ VENOMVERSE score on the Marvel SoundCloud now!

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Take a sneak peek at Venom-ized Marvel heroes and more courtesy of artist Iban Coello!

The Poisons threaten the entire multiverse and only one force can stand in their way: Venom and the symbiotes! Not a fully altruistic endeavor, the Lethal Protector understands that this new threat intends to consume anyone carrying a symbiote and turn them into a force for no good in VENOMVERSE by Cullen Bunn and Iban Coello.

Led into by the EDGE OF VENOMVERSE series of character spotlight issues, the September-launching, five issue limited series pits Eddie Brock and his symbiote partner against the Poisons, who seem to be more than a match for him and a group of Venom-ized heroes.

We talked with Coello about working on some of his all-time favorite characters, symbiote trickiness, and more

Marvel.com: EDGE OF VENOMVERSE leads right into VENOMVERSE. How was it working with some of these Venom-ized heroes first presented by other creators?

Iban Coello: It was really fun. The other creators did a great job with the Venom-ized characters and I tried to do the same. I hope to have achieved it!

Marvel.com: Did any of the Venom-ized characters take more getting used to than others? Did any offer you surprises you weren’t expecting?

Iban Coello: I have some troubles with Rocket Raccoon, but I really enjoyed drawing Venom Spider-Man webslinging everywhere!

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about the Poisons and the design process that went into bringing them to life on the page?

Iban Coello: It was really challenging because they are the opposite of the symbiotes. They have some kind of crystalline armor and spikes.

Marvel.com: How was the collaboration with Cullen Bunn? 

Iban Coello: Working with Cullen was great as always. He gave me a lot of pages with great action scenes and I love to draw them. And he knows it!

Book your trip to VENOMVERSE #1 with Cullen Bunn and Iban Coello for September 6!

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Symbiote and Spirit of Vengeance mix as Ghost Rider goes Venom!

Simon Spurrier and Tigh Walker just might tip the scales in favor of the symbiotes in the pages of EDGE OF VENOMVERSE #3. The July 26-dropping issue brings a new Venomized character into the fold: Ghost Rider! With the Spirit of Vengeance, otherwise known as Robbie Reyes, on the side of the symbiotes, it may seem impossible for the good guys to pull out a win—but we’ve got faith in them.

While we wait on the big event, we talk with Walker about bringing these two deadly designs together, working towards a monumental story, and working with Spurrier!

Marvel.com: When creating the look of this symbiote-possessed Ghost Rider, what were the key elements of each individual icon that had to come through in the finished product?

Tigh Walker: One thing that I really hoped to carry over from both characters was that slick black oiliness against those clean, crisp white designs. From Venom, the spider, and from Ghost Rider, those bold blocky lines. So I tried to combine those two iconic shapes into something new but familiar for the Host Rider.

More specifically, I really wanted to include Venom’s tangle of teeth, tentacle-y tongue and scraggy eye shape.

Then, I was also looking to borrow Ghost Rider’s skeletal schnoz, cheek bar thing—I don’t know what it is but I dig it!—and that fountain of forehead flames.

I really wanted to make him something you might actually be scared of if you met him in real life. I mean, I’m sure if you met him in real life he’d be totally disarming. His name would be Stu or something, and he’d be a dentist or an accountant and he’d have two corgis, a favorite movie, and a song that made him cry every time he heard it; he’d be a lovely guy. But because it’s not real life and both Venom and Ghost Rider are a tad horrifying on their own, it was important that that quality be mirrored in the Host Rider.

Marvel.com: How was the actual design process for this combined character? Was there a lot of back and forth about getting him to look just right?

Tigh Walker: My first impulse was to go out, grab a Ghost Rider and a Venom costume, put them on at the same time, stand in front of the mirror, take some pics and send them to [editors] Devin [Lewis and] Allison [Stock] for feedback. But the sales clerk thought I was saying denim, not Venom, and basically I got some sweet jean shorts that I didn’t want instead.

I’m just kidding. I totally wanted the jean shorts. They’re amazing and do wonders for my calves.

For the design, Devin/Allison initially sent me a few really nice covers that had been done previously, so I had those as a reference to begin with. Then after reading the script, I had a fairly solid idea of what I thought this [fiery]/goopy/toothy guy should look like.

For the Host Rider himself there wasn’t too much back and forth, but there was a bit for his mount/vehicle, just to get that sweet puppy looking right.

There were a lot of designs for this issue and every one of them was insanely fun to work on. So much so that I’ve started Venomizing random things at home. Toothbrush? Venomized. Grape soda? Venomized. My fish, Fin Diesel? Venomized. It’s pretty fun, you should totally try it. Or don’t, I’m not the boss of you, do what you like.

Marvel.com: With a Venomized Ghost Rider you’ve got two very different kinetic elements at play between the symbiote and the latter’s fire. How was it playing with those two from panel to panel?

Tigh Walker: It was interesting to find a balance for sure. Both of those elements can get pretty busy visually just on their own, so it was fun to marry them and find ways to have them co-exist.

I found that the fire really helped show large sweeping movement because you can have it trailing off of the Host Rider in fun ways. There were also cues from Simon about which element should be favored and when, which really helped.

For his weapons, the Host Rider uses a sort of fiery flail type thingy sometimes, but he can also shoot chains—like webbing—that are covered in that slick, black symbiote goopy stuff. So there are opportunities to showcase it all.

Marvel.com: Both Venom and Ghost Rider are pretty powerful on their own, but combined they sound almost unstoppable. Is it fun playing with that level of ability on the page?

Tigh Walker: Look TJ, by now I feel like we’re friends, so I’m not going to sit here and lie to you: it really is. It’s super fun. It was a challenge to try and convey that amount of energy on the pages, but I tried to fit as much in as possible. Oddly, as I was drawing this issue, every now and again I caught myself smiling giddily for no other reason than the page was just crazy fun to be drawing. And I don’t normally smile, like, ever. Not even for pictures.

Marvel.com: How has it been working with Simon and editorial on this important lead up to a big event?

Tigh Walker: Working with Simon/Devin/Allison has been sincerely fantastic.

I can’t really say enough about Simon’s script for this issue. Immediately after reading it for the first time I stood up, screamed “Are you kidding me right now?!?” at some random cat that just happened to be in my living room, ran down three flights of stairs and whipped an egg salad sandwich at a parked car. So basically, Simon owes me an egg salad sandwich. That’s how good his script is. It’s egg salad all over a car good.

Devin and Allison are super great to work with and I’m very honored and excited to be a part of the lead up and to see where the story takes us. I’ll tell you what though, if I ever get a chance to meet them—they’re both getting hugs. And I’m not even a hugger, like at all, so it’s sure to be extra awkward for all of us.

EDGE OF VENOMVERSE #3 by Simon Spurrier and Tigh Walker roars into stores on July 26.

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The Lethal Protector defends the multiverse in an all-new series this September!

The tendrils of the symbiote are about to ensnare the entire multiverse to combat an all-new foe that has Venom terrified for his very existence. This September, Cullen Bunn and Iban Coello craft the epic VENOMVERSE!

On a routine battle Venom finds himself transported to a far-off world and learns a terrible truth — a deadly new species has emerged from the vastness of space, and to make matters worse, they’re hunting Venoms! Trapped on the planet’s surface with a ragtag band of Venomized heroes, Eddie has no choice but to mount a counteroffensive and hope to find a way home!

What is the new apex predator species called the Poisons and what is their terrifying connection with the Venom symbiote?

The Poisons have now enacted a plan to consume and feed across universes and Venom is first on the menu. “When a Poison attacks a symbiote, they form an unstoppable one-sided union that the Venom wants no part of,” said series writer Bunn. “And in order to find as many suitable symbiotes as possible, they are making their way across the multiverse in a quest for insatiable power.”

Beginning this September, VENOMVERSE ensnares the entire Marvel Universe! And be sure to pick up the essential EDGE OF VENOMVERSE, a bombastic new six-issue series featuring your favorite characters and creators as they prepare for VENOMVERSE this September available wherever Marvel Comics are sold!

VENOMVERSE #1 (of 5)
Written by CULLEN BUNN
Penciled by IBAN COELLO
Cover by NICK BRADSHAW
Interlocking Variant Covers by CLAYTON CRAIN

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Yellowcard lead singer Ryan Key dives into the venomous event action!

A Venom comic written by Yellowcard frontman Ryan Key with art from Andrew Lima Araujo? Sounds like Marvel music to our ears! As we inch closer and closer to the major symbiote event of the summer, be sure to check out EDGE OF VENOMVERSE #4, an exciting story of fathers and sons—and T-Rexes—set after the events of the original “Old Man Logan” saga.

Before the sticky tendrils of the alien goo complete their takeover of the Marvel Universe, however, we had a chat with Key about his first-ever comic—childhood classroom doodles notwithstanding—writing an epilogue of sorts to a beloved story, and how this issue will directly set the stage for the summer’s Venomverse.

Marvel.com: We’ll be seeing some iconic X-Men characters in EDGE OF VENOMVERSE #4, which is set after the events of “Old Man Logan.” Can you talk a little bit about your approach to writing a follow-up to this classic story?

Ryan Key: At the start I was given basic instructions: “We need Old Man Logan to encounter the Venom T-Rex from the original story and end up in the symbiote suit somehow.” I was pretty much free to build the story around that. Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s original story left me with a lot of really cool toys to play with and I decided to pick up the thread not long after that. In the last scene of “Old Man Logan,” Logan is riding off into the sunset with the Hulk’s infant son, Banner Jr. strapped to his back. Even though he’d lost his whole family, Logan has so much hope in that moment. He’s going to raise this kid he’s adopted to be a hero—they’re gonna save the world together. I don’t want to spoil too much, but I can say, Logan’s past eventually catches up to him and it has huge consequences for him and Banner Jr.

Marvel.com: In a way, the Venomverse is the flip side of the popular Spider-Verse. What’s it like to explore this “dark side” of the Spider-Man universe that is now bleeding into the Marvel Universe at large?

Ryan Key: I was beyond excited when I found out I was going to get to work with Venom for my first ever attempt at writing a comic. I don’t know if you can count the comics I wrote and drew during class as a kid. Spider-Man was a huge part of my childhood and Venom has always been, without a doubt, one of my all-time favorite villains in the Marvel Universe. I feel like Logan has always had a “dark side” himself and this version of him in his older age where he slips into this apathy we saw in the first [“Old Man Logan”], provided an opportunity to fuse him with the symbiote and awaken that rage we’ve always seen from him. Just the thought of Wolverine in a Venom suit was more than enough to get me on board for this!

Marvel.com: How does it feel to help set up this major summer event?

Ryan Key: I am so honored to have been asked to write this book. If you had told me 30 years ago when I was starting to get into comics that I would be writing my own for Marvel someday I don’t know that I could have even comprehended that! This has been such an amazing process. I have learned so much about how creating a book is done. I was definitely nervous at first, but as it all started to come together I was just too excited for words. It has been incredible.

Edge of Venomverse by Francesco Mattina

Marvel.com: How will your story specifically help set up the Venomverse?

Ryan Key: At a certain point a symbiote suited Logan gets pulled away from the adventure he’s on at the start of my story by some unknown force.  I can’t say where he goes, or why this happens, but readers will immediately see that there’s something much bigger going on—and it’s all connected to the symbiote!

Marvel.com: What are you most looking forward to with this issue?

Ryan Key: I am like a kid on Christmas Eve waiting to see the artwork for the first time. I am still sort of pinching myself to make sure this is all really happening! I am just so excited to see the words come to life through the art.

Marvel.com: As a musician, do you find anything similar between writing music and writings comics?

Ryan Key: I have always told stories in a lot of my lyrics so I think there is a loose connection there. However writing a script for a comic is definitely a new adventure. I really hope that people enjoy this story so that I might get the opportunity to write more in the future.

Marvel.com: What would you say is Venom’s and/or the Venom symbiote’s theme song?

Ryan Key: Without a doubt, “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com and our social channels this week for more information about Venomverse!

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