Mark Rivers is the composer for the Netflix original series Big Mouth. Both Mark and the Big Mouth series were recently nominated for an Emmy for the song “Totally Gay” Earlier this week, CineVino met up with Mark Rivers, Big Mouth music supervisor Andy Gowan and Big Mouth writer Joe Wengert at Vinoteca Farfalla Wine Bar in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles for an afternoon conversation regarding the creation of “Totally Gay” and the Queen inspiration from the song.
Joe Wengert: Did you draw on specific Queen songs as inspiration?
Mark Rivers: Well, I guess I sort of defaulted to the Somebody To Love, that 6/8 for no other reason then that is just sort of in my Queen fandom wheelhouse. That mid 70’s Day At The Races, Night At The Opera is when I was Queen is when I was a huge Queen fan and still I think that’s a lot of people’s favorite era, Mid-70’s.
And, you know, obviously I wanted it to be a Freddy song and not a Roger Taylor song. That would have been a weird choice And I wanted that would have been weird they all wrote songs but ya I think Freddy was the right instinct and I don’t know, I wanted a little bit of Bohemian Rhapsody in there towards the end. it ends with a gong and the very end of the song is sort of a nod to Bohemian Rhapsody. It was kind of a daunting prospect at first.
Joe Wengert: Oh, sure.
Mark Rivers: I am often asked to write in a certain genre. You know, give us an 80’s metal song or give us a big band thing or whatever but to do a specific band or a sound-alike of a band is pretty unusual. And Queen being Queen with all their production and big vocals, it was a pretty iconic sound. I was pretty nervous when they were talking about it and when they first introduced the idea.
Joe Wengert: They are all such virtuoso musicians too, that’s got a be a bit of a challenge.
Mark Rivers: Yeah, luckily, I took a breath and realized, “okay, it’s a minute and a half comedy song. I don’t have to do side-two of Day of the Races or whatever. I don’t have to do Bohemian Rhapsody.” I also don’t have to invent the song like they did. I can just replicate what they took years to perfect. I can just mimic that. So, in some ways I guess it’s easier. There is a template to go with. There’s no like “Maybe this song needs horns.” there is none of that.
Andy Gowan: Right. You were given the subject matter. Were you given lyrics or some sketches on that front?
Mark Rivers: No, they gave me the title “Totally Gay” and they were pretty clear with that it starts with Freddy and then Andrew makes the turn, he’s persuaded and then he takes over. But the lyrics, once I get a clearer idea, I am able to run with the idea. That’s a point of pride for me that I don’t think many show composers get to do. They usually are handed the lyrics by the writer’s room.
Special thank you to Vinoteca for inviting the Big Mouth team and Cinevino into their restaurant for this episode of CineVino.
Vinoteca Wine Bar
1968 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
A CineVino Production
Produced by: Eric Ethan
Co-Produced by: Dawn Church
Camera Operator: Anthony G. Picado