The Lonely Island will never be accused of taking their success too seriously. "The fact that we got a record deal was hilarious and the fact that our album was decently successful was also hilarious," Jorma Taccone told GQ. "And then we decided to make a second one." So, just like that, Turtleneck & Chain (Universal Republic) arrives this week, a fully-committed parody album of the highest order. In flipping through the album artwork, we couldn't help but notice some of the group's, erm, curious style choices. So we grabbed a few minutes with Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer to talk turtlenecks, chains, cults, puns, Pierce Brosnan, and more.
"Turtleneck & Chain"
Schaffer: The title is an easy one for us to talk about, because it was our look in junior high in like seventh grade—because we've known each other since seventh grade—that was actually in the Bay Area and maybe elsewhere, I don't know...it was kind of a popular look, like a cotton turtleneck and a really thin gold or silver chain.
Taccone: It certainly wasn't a look in New York, I've asked people and they did not do that, but it was definitely popular in the Bay Area.
Schaffer: And I mean maybe someone who was 25 was wearing it well, but in seventh grade we were 11 or 12-years-old wearing the stuff. It was a pretty handsome and great-looking look.
Taccone: And it was not a Run-D.M.C. style. It wasn't turtlenecks and giant dookie chains; it was the thinnest chains possible. And I couldn't even afford gold, so it was always silver for me. It's become gold for this look, but it was always silver when I did it.
"Grown 'n' Sexy"
Schaffer: We're conceptualizing everything, giving very detailed directions. But this guy Brian Hemesath, who works at "SNL" and is also the costume designer for "Sesame Street," he's our guy we call on. We tell him it once and he comes back with great stuff for us.
Taccone: So just to clarify, the Emmy-nominated designer of clothes for "Sesame Street" is also our designer.
Schaffer: And so that white one is vaguely modeled off—even though he's not wearing a turtleneck—the Al Green cover.
Taccone: Those are more like linen shirts from a cult.
Schaffer: They certainly take on a cult-quality with those wigs. It could also be a nice day at the beach, like on a yacht or something.
Taccone: We're wearing almost like hemp necklaces.
Schaffer: Yeah, it could just be a nice Pierce Brosnan Mamma Mia kind of look.
Taccone: It's the symmetry of the hair that makes it cultish.
Taccone: The hair came from Akiva's brain.
Schaffer: Yeah, just from my mind.
Taccone: It's kind of like a Blue Lagoon slash Top Secret, really, because I don't know if I've ever seen Blue Lagoon, I'll be honest.
Schaffer: Oh, but I have.
Taccone: Okay, and Blue Lagoon.
Schaffer: That's kind of a Weekend at Bernie's look.
Taccone: Oh for sure, Weekend at Bernie's, yeah, big influence. I mean, really, there's a lot of looks we're trying to bring back it seems like.
Schaffer: That one we put it on, because there's this album art thing in our album if you open our booklet or if you go onto our website you can buy the poster, we did a series of fake movie posters. And one of the incredibly intelligent, smart posters was for a movie called Ghost Buttsters, in which there's three guys whose butts are ghosts. That's like an outtake from that photo shoot.
Taccone: Just to reiterate, their butts are actually ghosts. They're not busting, like... Schaffer: There's "butting" happening.
Taccone: We were trying to make Ghost Buttsters look like it was the front of a copy of a VHS tape at a movie store that you would've walked by and been bummed out. It looks like our three butts are a version of Slimer, but butt-shaped.
Schaffer: It's Oscar fodder, you know?
Taccone: And that was Andy's idea.
Schaffer: The song had already come up, and then we were like, "What's the look of a classic creeper?" And then we were like, "Oh, it's the John Waters look." And it's actually kind of an awesome look, but it's a tight suit with a little bit shorter pants, flooding pants, really tight suit, plaid undershirt-y kind of thing, bow tie, pencil mustache, slicked down hair. We describe it in the video, but it was kind of a John Waters look, and then we were like, "What if we could get John Waters to introduce the actual song and video?" And we psyched that he did.
Taccone: But look-wise, too, that does crossover into being a very cool look. Like that too-tight-for-your-body, awesome, heroin-chic look is kinda dope.
Schaffer: I think you could [get away with it in Williamsburg] easily.
Taccone: It's hilarious, because John Waters was in San Francisco and we had a remote crew go to him because he was on a book tour. And we talked to him on the phone a bunch of times and we trying to clarify what this was going to be. His quote was, "There's a thin line between perv and asshole, and if you could please keep me on the perv side of things." And we were like, "Absolutely, that's not a problem."
Schaffer: We were talking about it like, "You know, we're describing the teenage son on the HBO show Hung." So we started pulling that stuff up. We didn't go with exactly him, because it has nothing to do with him, but we were already tip-toeing around it without even realizing it, and then one of us brought it up and were like, "Yeah, that's kind of him."
Taccone: By the way, that's the first time we've actually revealed that in the press, so you if you print that, then that kid's going to be extremely bummed.
"The Perfect Magentlemen"
Taccone: From that first album [Incredibad], all those album covers ended up becoming very bizarre, tangential wordplay titles.
Schaffer: Wordplay is being really generous—terrible puns.
Taccone: This one's from another fake album cover from our first album called The Perfect Magentlemen. And the title of the album was Magentlemen Prefer Bond. And then it was a picture of a blond woman looking on disappointed as we huddled around a U.S. savings bond looking super excited.
Taccone: Yeah, that's when it really went off the rails, I think I was responsible for that one.
Schaffer: Yes, we were coming up with the worst possible things we could think of, exactly the right way to put it.
"Male Pattern Tallness"
Schaffer: There's also Male Pattern Tallness cooking magnets.
Taccone: That one's probably the best title for an album.
Schaffer: And we also have male pattern baldness.
Taccone: That's when it becomes confusing, we're also bald.
Schaffer: And with all that, we also happen to be pussy magnets.
Taccone: I'm probably the most exited about Turtleneck & Chain.
Schaffer: I like the one where you have that different color turtleneck and I'm lounging on the couch and they're kind of hugging. Most of the turtlenecks we're wearing are women's turtlenecks, because men's turtlenecks are out of fashion and are very hard to find.