This was written by Fishbone lead singer Angelo Moore, guitarist Kendall Jones, and bass player Norwood Fisher. In our 2013 interview with Angelo Moore, he told us how it came together:
"We started it out in the bedroom, Norwood and Fish's [drummer Phil Fisher] bedroom at their mom's house down in LA, around La Cienega and Cadillac - that's the aquarium. So I don't know who started playing that horn part, but somebody started playing it. Kendall wrote the lyrics, and he wrote the music. Norwood wrote a change, I wrote that change, [singing] 'That Fishbone is here to say,' I wrote that part. Kendall wrote all the other words, that [singing], 'Johnny, go get your gun, I'm going to party at Ground Zero,' he wrote that part, too. I think Norwood wrote a piece in there.
Yeah, so it's just like while we're noodling around, some s--t'll come up and then we keep repeating it, and before you know it, you've got some kind of riff going on. Then somebody'll go, "Hey, let's add this here," and they just sing a little riff or something and then we go into that part. We play it from where we started and we go off into that different riff that somebody else has made up. Before you know it, you got a song."
"Party At Ground Zero" was the group's second single, following "? (Modern Industry)." They made a popular video for the song which was directed by Henry Selick, who would later direct The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline.
So how does an unknown band get a guy like Selick to direct their video? By putting it in a contest. Sony, in a partnership with the American Film Institute, took submissions for the video as part of the promotion for their equipment (Sony video cameras, tapes, etc.). Selick entered with his idea for an homage to the 1964 Vincent Price film The Masque of the Red Death, and was selected. Even with Sony's backing, it was a low budget production and most of the folks in the clip were friends of Selick or the band.