Paging Tracy Jordan — South Park duo Trey Parker and Matt Stone just got one step closer to EGOTing.
When the Grammy nominations were announced last night, it was no surprise that Broadway darling The Book of Mormon, which swept the Tonys over the summer, picked up a nomination for Best Musical Theater Album (check out the full list of nominations). After the nominations were announced, EW chatted with Parker and Robert Lopez, who, along with Stone, are responsible for the killer book, music and lyrics, to find out more about their incredible, whirlwind year.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congratulations, first of all. You guys must be so excited. I love this show, and I can’t stop humming the songs.
TREY PARKER: Yeah! That’s the cool part, we actually started writing the show as an album first. We sat down and came up with the songs first. Because we wanted the songs to dictate the show and not just have it be a show and break for a song once in a while. We wanted the show to be motivated by the songs. Really what we did is we got together and made a demo of an album, so the songs are really what we are most proud of, so that’s why this is cool.
ROBERT LOPEZ: We put so much work into this album, mixing it, and editing it, and recording, it was almost a more painful birth than the show itself. This is really, really meaningful to us and everyone that worked on the album.
You guys have both done musicals before. Would you say songs are the hardest part?
TP: Not really the hardest part, it was just the focus. So I think we both knew musicals enough to know that’s what makes a good musical. You can almost sit there and listen to the album and get an idea of what the show is. And we realized after doing a couple musicals that the music moments really become the big moments, and then the stuff around it, you cut it down and cut it down just trying to get to the next musical moment. And so it’s really all about can you keep the plot moving through the song? Instead of “Okay, we’re doing a show. Let’s stop and do a song real quick and then get back to the show.” I think in Act 2 we do it way better than in Act 1, but in Act 2, every song is plot-driven and the characters are in a different place than they were at the beginning. And I think that is what we’re the proudest of.
Did you have a favorite song from the show?
RL: “I Believe,” which was added really late in the game. We knew we needed a song there. We knew we needed that character to go through some kind of metamorphosis at that point. We were showing the show to people at a little 50-seat theater at the Vineyard and we ran out to a studio and said, “Okay, we’ve got to come up with a song right now. We’ve got to come up with something that just lifts this whole act into something.” And in like three or four hours we wrote that song. For that reason, and just the fact that I think it’s a good song, that’s my favorite.
TP: Me too. We were bristling under the idea of having to write a new song. And then as soon as we got started out of spite, it was like, “Alright fine. If we were going to write something, what would it be?” It really was [Scott] Rudin [one of the producers] who told us there should be a song right here. And then Bobby still has on his iPhone him playing and me starting to sing and we figured it out. There was just like 10 minutes where we figured out what the moment should be, and that was really cool.
Were there any songs you were nervous about going into the show in terms of audience response?
RL: I think we were all a little bit nervous about the African number [NSFW “Hasa Diga Eboiwai“]? Taken out of context it could be — there’s so much in the country that is so reactive about religion. There’s lots of people who like to protest anything that’s remotely anti-religion, so we thought, “Gosh, that’ll get some controversy there.” But the first night, the first preview, people actually clapped in the middle of the song, they were so happy. So that proved us wrong.
Trey, do you know what you’re going to wear yet to the Grammys?
TP: I know! That’s a tricky one, I’m going to have to think about it. You can’t do drag again, because you did it. The Tonys I went kind of classy, but a little rocked out, but Grammys, I don’t know. It might be like a chicken outfit or something? A chicken costume?
I think you have to do something to top Lady Gaga right?
TP: Something. I have no idea right now (laughs) — but something furry for sure.