Failure (Ken Andrews, Greg Edwards, and Kellii Scott) formed in Los Angeles in the early '90s, releasing Comfort, their debut album, in 1992 via Slash Records. Magnified followed in the spring of 1994 with the band's final offering, Fantastic Planet, released in 1996. Fantastic Planet earned a perfect 5-star score from Alternative Press with the magazine saying the album was able "to breathe life into the corpse of contemporary, guitar-driven rock," adding that the band was "willing to stretch the definition of both their instruments and their songs." The 17-track album is considered one of the era's most influential and enduring rock records.
The band returned from a 17-year hiatus in early 2014 with a single Los Angeles date planned. The show sold out in seconds, which led to a North American tour, including a run of dates with Tool, and eventually back to the studio. In a recent interview with Noisey, Andrews admits by the time the band announced their first live outing, he, Edwards and Kellii Scott were already working on new music, saying "One thing that Greg and I agreed on very early on, is that we did not want to reform for just one or two nostalgia tours. We wanted to come back as a full functioning musical force and creatively pick up where we left off with Fantastic Planet. That meant we needed to start experimenting in the studio first, which we did in late 2013. After a few months, we came to the conclusion that we were having a good time and that we liked the results, and that we thought the results were definitely Failure. We've been chipping away at a new album this whole time."
In that same article, Andrews and Edwards explain that their approach to writing and recording Fantastic Planet and The Heart Is A Monster have been similar, saying "The songs on Fantastic Planet appear more or less in the order that we wrote them... when, we do a song now, we write it and record it soup-to-nuts without moving to another song... It takes longer, but it makes more sense for us artistically to explore a song completely before you move on."