Many South Park aficionados know the band PRIMUS composed and performed the theme song for the raunchy comedy series, but have you heard the equally absurd tale of how they pulled the whole thing off? Marking the show’s 20th anniversary, South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, as well as PRIMUS lead singer Les Claypool, discussed the origins of the song with THR.
As Claypool recalled, he was called about these guys who “were working on this little animated pilot for Comedy Central.” The band, which had enlisted a new drummer at the time, were fans of their “Spirit of Christmas” animated short that had been making the rounds. Plus, the band was looking to “go into the studio and start experimenting.”
“We wanted Primus to do the theme song, and then we needed a change. And we were like, ‘F—!,’” Stone said. The problem, as some fans know, was that the theme song and the network wanted something faster. “If you listen to the outro, that’s actually the original song,” Claypool pointed out. He added, “At that point, we were like, ‘You know, we did this for you guys, we’re out on the road, we’re too busy to do this right now. We can’t just go into a studio and rerecord this.’”
At that point, Stone attempted to get a hold of PRIMUS’ management, who said “f—k you,” so he then went to where the band was performing in Irvine, California, and confronted Claypool backstage. “I was like, ‘You have to record it,’” Stone said. “I got in his face. And he was like, “I’m on tour. I can’t.’”
The quick fix was to speed up the original melody and Claypool would re-record his vocals. “I believe I was playing Red Rocks [in Morrison, Colorado] and they sent one of their old high school chums up with a handheld tape recorder, and I just did my vocals into that.”
And the rest is history.
If you’re a South Park fan and have some time to read THR’s full look-back, check it out here. Among the tales include Stone and Parker’s “negotiations” with the MPAA for South Park, the movie. “You end up doing only one rim-job reference [because] some housewife in the Valley is like, ‘Okay, one rim-job is okay,’” Stone said. “And that was Saddam Hussein‘s real penis, but then we made it a dildo, but it’s all the same joke.”