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The Lonely Island Talk "The Wack Album," Life After "SNL," and Comedy Influences

 

Do you guys miss the pace of "SNL"? Does being on that rapid-fire schedule help you or make it more difficult?

 

Jorma: We’re honestly still on that pace right now, because of our Wack Wednesdays things that we put together, and because we’re honestly a little control freaky about how all of the product we release comes out, like, start to finish, we’re involved in the editing and the producing and directing and all that sort of stuff. So the pace hasn’t let up at all, I would say.

 

What’s the timeframe, from beginning to end, for a song or video?

 

Jorma: I mean, on SNL, many of them would happen in about 48 hours.

 

Andy: Once we started making albums, things like, “Jizz My Pants,” or “Just Had Sex,” or “On a Boat,” or “Jack Sparrow”—those were all written in the summertime for the record, and then the long process of doing SNL while mixing and mastering the album, then we would shoot videos on off weeks sometimes. With “I’m On a Boat,” we had an off week from SNL and we flew down to Miami and shot it, and then came back and then aired it, so it changed a lot. But then you'd still have things like Justin [Timberlake] shows up, and it’s time to do the follow-up to “Dick In a Box” and we write “Motherlover” on Wednesday and shoot it Thursday/Friday and air it Saturday.
 

Have you guys ever seen people dressed up in “Dick in a Box” costumes?

 

Andy: [Laughing] Yeah. I’ve been out on Halloween and had people come up to me dressed that way.

 

Jorma: We’ve had a bunch of different looks, like The Creep. It’s very easy if you’re a lazy dude to make that costume.

 

Andy: Yeah, guys like doing the “Dick in a Box” costume because they all have that outfit in their closet from the ‘90s anyway, and then they’re trying to make girls think about their dicks, so they’re just like, “This is perfect!”

 

 

Jorma: And there’s the dudes who will be like, “I really did it! My dick’s in the box!” I’m like, “Didn’t you see the end of the video? They got arrested, like, that’s not a good idea.”

 

Andy: Yeah, a guy came up to me in a bar dressed like it and he and was like, “Dude, check it out!” And he lifted the lid up and it was a huge dildo, and I was like, “Don’t show that to anyone else. You can’t do that, like, just because it’s a sketch doesn’t mean that, that’s not illegal.”

 

What is your writing process like, and how has it evolved over the years?

 

Andy: It varies a lot.

 

Akiva: I don’t think it’s evolved; it’s exactly the same.

 

Andy: It’s basically the same. We have two main ways that we’ll make a song: the first one is, we’ll have an idea and then we sift through a bunch of beats until we find one that we think matches. The other one is, we’ll sit in the studio and just listen to beats until the sound or genre of one inspires an idea, then start writing it.

 

Jorma: We’ll have a library of beats that have been given to us by real professional producers that are making real songs for real artists. Like, Frank E. did “I Just Had Sex,” and also did Enrique Iglesias’ “I’m Fucking You Tonight”? I don’t know what it’s called…

 

Andy: “Tonight I’m Loving You.”

 

Jorma: ‘I’m Loving You,” yeah.

 

Andy: It’s the radio version.

 

Jorma: I knew it had a more tame name…. But, you know, they’re real producers, like DJ Nu-mark, who is from Jurassic 5, has done some beats on all of our albums. He’s a good friend of ours.

 

Andy: The [process of] writing the lyrics is that generally once we have that idea, we sit in a room with yellow notepads and listen to the beat over and over and over, and write things that we try to make each other laugh with, and then compile them all and start recording and sort of build it as we go.

 

Akiva: But over the two years between records, we would come up with ideas and basically had an email chain going with, like, kernels, so that we weren’t just going in like, “What are we going to do?” We went in and we were like, “Alright! Here’s a bunch of ideas,” and I’d say half the songs on the record are from that, and the other half are things that came up organically while we were actually doing the work.

 

How do you guys feel about performing live? Would you ever go on tour with a hip-hop act or a comedy act or even perform at a comedy festival?

 

Andy: We’d love to do it. We’ve been about to do it like five times and then all three of us have had some scheduling conflict because we do so many other things.

 

And if you could pick your dream tour?

 

Jorma: It’d be a comedy tour for sure. It feels inappropriate for us to be billed with a real hip-hop act.

 

Akiva: I think you’d also be like, “Ohhh, these guys aren’t good at hip-hop!” if we were right next to them.

 

Andy: ‘Their breath control is atrocious!

 

How do you know the difference between funny and rude, and toe the line between what’s going to work and what’s really offensive?

 

Andy: Generally we just play it, and if it’s making us laugh, we go with it. And occasionally, we’ll start down a road with something and then realize that when we show it to other people, they’re like, “You can’t do that,” and we’re like, “Yup, totally right, can’t do that.”

 

Jorma: It usually doesn’t even come to that though, because one of the advantages of there being three of us is that there is this checks and balances; we sort of check each other and say, “No, I don’t think we have the right to say that.”

 

Andy: If it even remotely bums out one of us, it means there are a lot of people in the world that won’t like it.

 

So, for the record, none of you has fucked your aunt?

 

Jorma: We’ll never tell.

 

Akiva: But for the record, on that song specifically, I think people stop at the title, but that song is a joke about storytelling and a joke about joke structure. It’s not actually a joke about fucking your aunt at all, it’s a joke about saying something as bombastic as that, but then [Jorma’s] whole verse is about going to a baseball game with his friend and has literally nothing to do with that. [Andy’s] is all about an ant farm. Mine is all about my aunt, but not having sex with her in any way, it’s just about having a very tame evening where she stops by the house.

 

Jorma: It would be one of the advantages of doing like a music video because I think for people who couldn’t quite picture it, then they would be able to pick up on that. They’d be seeing these old nostalgic images of like, me growing up in the country, swimming at the swimming hole and catching a ball.

 

Andy: ‘Pitch me more of this video!

 

Doing comedic hip-hop probably lends itself to a lot of tomfoolery in the studio. Any good stories about funny things that happened with any of the guest stars? Did Justin Timberlake pee his pants?

 

Andy: I assume he does that constantly. He can do whatever he wants… Not that many stories about guests, per se, but I will say a funny development was that Akiva has two young children now. So when he would come to the studio, it was like, not work for him, it was like free time, because he’s working so hard raising kids. So he’d show up at 11 am and be like, “Tequila shots?” and we’d be like, “No! We’re trying to work!” and by the end of the day inevitably he would get us to drink. So he was kind of our…

 

Jorma: Fun-maker?

 

Akiva:  Yeah, your wild card?

 

Andy: Yeah, he was a real wildcard on this one.

 

 

What comedies inspired each of you growing up?

 

Andy: Oh man, a lot. All of them.

 

Jorma: Mel Brooks, Monty Python.

 

Andy: Steve Martin…

 

Akiva: Zucker, Zucker, and Abrahams, they’re like Airplane! and Top Secret!

 

Jorma: Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, UHF.

 

Andy: SNL, all SNL.

 

Jorma: Weird Al in general,

 

Andy: Strangers with Candy was huge, Stella and The State, Mr. Show

 

Jorma: And then later South Park, too.

 

Akiva: Later, like the early Jim Carrey/Sandler movies.

 

Andy: We like comedy a lot. Oh, all those Eddie Murphy stand-up specials, those were huge.

 

Jorma: Half Baked.... All good comedy, hopefully. I like British comedy too though, it’s like besides Python, Look Around You, I mean, these are later things now. Should we just name every comedy? It starts to become unhelpful pretty quickly, ‘They like comedy!

 

Are there any songs or shorts that you particularly love that never caught on the way you thought they would, or the reverse – that you didn’t expect to be as big as they were, like “Lazy Sunday?”

 

 

Andy: Certainly “Lazy Sunday” we didn’t expect because that was the first one.

 

Akiva: We barely knew it was going to make it on air, so…
 

 

Andy: I will say one that I was convinced wasn’t going to work was “Shy Ronnie.” Because we had this whole plan to shoot more for it, and time was just really tight so it ended up turning into more of like a singular location sketch. And I remember me and Kiv working really hard on it, and we were also crazy from sleep deprivation, but we were like, “Man, we blew it, we had Rihanna here, and we choked, and it’s gonna to suck,” and then it went up at dress and played really good.

 

Jorma: Oh, it was amazing, because I was off editing MacGruber, and I came in the next morning and you guys were so mad, it was like, “It’s just so bad, why are we even bothering doing this, why should it even air?” And I’m like, “Um, this is pretty good...” But it is very hard to know.

 

Akiva: When you haven’t slept for a whole week, you lose perspective sometimes.

 

Andy: It is a really pleasant surprise. It’s always nice when people like something more than you’re expecting.

 

Do you have any favorites that didn’t really take off?

 

Akiva: We had one, “Iran So Far” with Adam Levine, that people saw and liked when it came out, but because of various reasons it didn’t get put on to one of our albums, so it gets kind of forgotten sometimes because it’s in the past, but we’re really proud of it.

 

Jorma: I was particularly proud of that one too, just beat-wise, because that was a beat I made and sampled this Aphex Twins song that people hadn’t sampled up until that point. So musically, I was proud. Everything about the video was great.

 

Andy: There’s a short that wasn’t music that I did after these guys left, with Jonah Hill, that I just love. It’s like this science show where he keeps getting hit in the balls with tennis balls really hard. And that is one that people do not talk about. It makes me laugh so hard. I just like too-many-times jokes, when something happens way too many times and in way too many different incarnations. And that’s one that I’ll always hold near and dear even though it’s not a huge-ee.

 

The Wack Album is out Tuesday, June 11.

 

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