Primus' Claypool recalls making South Park theme

A picture of Primus' Larry LaLonde and Les Claypool with South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker
Primus' Larry LaLonde and Les Claypool with South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker (Image credit: Getty)

Primus mainman Les Claypool says he was amazed South Park ever made it to air as the hit animated show launches its 20th season.

Primus recorded South Park’s theme song and singer and bassist Claypool recalls being asked in 1997 to get involved in the fledgling Comedy Central show that would go on to become one of the most popular and longest-running TV series’ ever.

And he reveals that the less frantic South Park outro tune is what the band actually had in mind for the main theme.

Claypool tells the Hollywood Reporter: “If you listen to the outro, that’s actually the original song. And they came back to us and said, ‘Comedy Central thinks the theme song is too slow and not peppy enough.’

“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.’

“So they just sped it up and I redid my vocals. I believe I was playing Red Rocks in 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.”

But Claypool would never have believed the boundary-pushing comedy of South Park would ever be approved for TV, let alone go on to be such a smash hit.

He adds: “We got a call years ago that these guys were working on this little animated pilot for Comedy Central. They were a couple of college kids who were fans of the band, and I guess they approached me to do the theme song.

“At the time, Primus had just gotten a new drummer, so I said, ‘Let’s have Primus do it. We had watched their Christmas thing that was going around, and we realised these guys were pretty clever, but there was no way in hell that they were going to be able to get something like that on television.

“More than anything, it was just an excuse for us to go into the studio and start experimenting.”

On having to ask Claypool to re-record the theme after Comedy Central said the original was too slow, South Park creator Matt Stone says: “We wanted Primus to do the theme song, and then we needed a change. And we were like, ‘fuck.’

“We couldn’t get their management to talk to us. They were like, ‘Fuck you, dude, take the song.’ Not from Les, but from the management.

“So I actually went down to Irvine and went backstage and found Les at this concert, and I was like, ‘You have to record it.’ It was really awesome he did it.”

Primus released their eighth album Primus & the Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble in 2014 and Claypool’s side-project with Sean Lennon – Claypool Lennon Delirium – launched their debut Monolith Of Phobos this year.

South Park season 20 launched this week with opening episode Member Berries.

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Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.