It only made sense for director Mike Judge to contact composer John Frizzell to work on the score for “Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe” (now streaming on Paramount+). The emotional and physical journey the two characters would take had to be reflected through the music, according to Judge. To do so, Frizzell assembled a 69-piece orchestra and recorded an expansive score in Vienna.
Through “creative punishment” from a juvenile court judge in 1998, Beavis and Butt-Head end up at a space camp in the new movie. assuming a docking simulator is something different. Due to their success, Beavis and Butt-Head are invited to join the space shuttle voyage as a public relations ploy. A highly intelligent version of themselves from a parallel universe, the Texas governor, and the NSA all consider them to be Buttholes of Interest after they sabotage the mission and are left for dead in space before passing through a black hole and returning to Earth in 2022 to find a very different world.
“I think there’s a mutual respect there that works,” Mike Judge said. We appreciate each other’s work, but John possesses a set of skills that are incredibly hard to come by: he is a truly great composer with in-depth knowledge of the field, as well as funny and aware of the origins of all humor. In addition, John creates music that is both incredibly memorable and beautiful. I can’t help but constantly hum his cues.
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Frizzell worked hard to offer cues that covered the gamut from comic to poignant. He ultimately came up with 60 minutes of music for the movie, using strong low trombones and brass to accompany the animated team on their new journey.
Compared to scoring the previous Beavis and Butthead film, how was this one? Are there any recurring themes from your previous Beavis and Butthead score that helped to make this score special? Although there is a massive orchestra in both movies, the current one includes a lot more music. The score for the 1996 movie lasts for roughly 30 minutes, whereas the score for the 2017 movie lasts for almost 60.
The science-fiction element of the new movie allowed me to really ramp up the intensity of the score, as dealing with time travel and parallel universes allowed for the music to be even more dynamic and expressive than the spy/action subject of the 1996 movie. In particular, I composed a lot of brass and was able to incorporate a lot of powerful bass trombones in addition to a lot of trumpet passages.
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I borrowed the “Butt-kong” tune in one, quick opening credits quote from the 1996 movie. A love theme and numerous theremin solos are also included in the new score. I wanted the new score to have almost no comedic elements. When the unicorn appears, I only deviated from that guideline once. Mike Judge and you have collaborated on a number of projects over the years. What are the two of you’s working methods?
Working together is something Mike and I have a clear shorthand for. We continued with the customary spotting session. In general, I just have to go in and start writing and see where it goes. If Mike genuinely chuckles when I throw him a couple of thoughts about the vibe I’m thinking of, I know it’s on the correct track. I spent around three months writing this score.
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The majority of the time was spent honing concepts, perfecting the details, and orchestrating the piece; very little of it was spent going back and rewriting. I had plenty of time to perfect the score, which greatly contributes to its feeling of coherence and consistency.