One of the most popular children’s shows of all time might not have existed were it not for an album by a rock group from Bucks County.
Ween, a widely popular rock band from New Hope, released their sixth studio album, “The Mollusk”, in 1997. With underlying themes of maritime adventures and nautical mystique, the album became one of the group’s most beloved works, with the two main members calling it their favorite album.
Around this same time, a California marine biologist-turned-cartoonist named Stephen Hillenburg was planning on making a show that would combine his love of the sea and its vast wildlife with the entertainment of shows like Bugs Bunny.
Upon listing to the Bucks County group’s album, something clicked.
Along with the album’s songs, the cover, created by artist Storm Thorgerson of “The Dark Side of the Moon” fame, depicted a large monster under the sea, made up of a fish, a shrimp, and an octopus. The whole package that the album brought to the table was just the thing that Hillenburg needed for inspiration, and not soon after, the first pictures of SpongeBob SquarePants came to be.
The show’s creator reached out to the band to tell them how the album influenced the yet-to-be-released kids’ show. He asked if they could create a song for an episode where the titular character needs to learn how to tie his shoes. They recorded the song “Loop de Loop” in one night and it eventually ended up on the episode “Your Shoe’s Untied” in the show’s second season in 2001.
“It remains one of our proudest legacies and we went on to do a lot of work together with SpongeBob, and the show went on to be the best cartoon of 2 generations,” the band wrote on Facebook after Hillenburg’s death in 2018. The band is currently gearing up for a tour of the country this summer.
In 2004, the band gained a boost in popularity after their song “Ocean Man”, featured on their 1997 release, closed out “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie”.
In a way, this was their album’s influence coming full circle, and fans of the show and movie remember the band for their catchy song, as well as the impact they had on the character’s creation.
Learn more about the band’s impact on the show at Ween.