More than three questions with Les Claypool

Photo: Jay Blakesberg

Do you ever find yourself thinking, “How can I top Primus?”

Well, it’s just a very different thing. With Primus, it’s the three guys; I work within the confines of each individual’s style. Whereas, when I do my stuff … there are definitely fewer parameters. A drunken Eugene Hütz can end up on [new album Of Fungi and Foe]. My son is in there playing slide whistle. There’s no real drum kit on this record. There’s a lot of percussion, hand drumming, who knows what’s hitting the drums … there’s junkyard percussion. It’s more about getting the sound than trying to arrange musicians and their instrumentation.

The Details

From the Calendar
Les Claypool's Oddity Faire with Yard Dogs Road Show
March 6, 7 p.m.
House of Blues, 632-7600.
Beyond the Weekly
Les Claypool
Les Claypool MySpace

What was it like bringing Hütz into the studio?

We had an incredibly drunken evening with some Polish friends of mine, and the next morning we were supposed to go in the studio and futz around, and we were so hung over that the notion of picking up an instrument was making my face hurt. So, of course, we had to start drinking again to kill the pain. And next thing you know, we were recording all of this material. [Later], I siphoned through it and found this golden nugget [“Bite Out of Life”] and put it on the record. Knowing Eugene, he’ll show up at one or two or seven of these stops on the tour. He’s a party man—you never know, he might hop on the bus with us.

Like the Gogol Bordello shows, Primus shows were very high energy. What was it hard to keep that up?

Back when I was a young fellow, I ran around quite a bit onstage a bit like a part rooster, part Labrador Retriever. Nowadays, I concentrate a little more on my instrument but there is a lot of energy and eye candy in my performances. The visual element is pretty strong and my musicians are all complete, total lunatic freaks of nature.

Did you try to model this Oddity Faire on any of these previous festivals you did?

I am a festival whore. With this one, I am sort of anti-modeling. I’m putting together something that I have wanted to put together for a long time. It’s a collection of musicians and performers who have an obscure and irregular approach to what they do.

How ever did you come to record the South Park theme song?

Those guys were actually big fans. I had a record out, Highball With the Devil, [and] they listened to it quite a bit while they were working on the pilot. So they contacted me to see if I would do the theme song. At the time, we had just gotten a new drummer in Primus, so I said, “Hey, let’s just have Primus do it.” We just thought it was cool; we never thought it would ever get on television, let alone be a worldwide phenomenon. It wasn’t like we thought it was a great business or career move, [but] it became monstrous. Matt and Trey are really good friends of mine, and it’s great to see that they’re still the same two goofy guys they’ve always been.

Is there going to be a new Primus album in the near future?

I don’t know about near future but at some point in time I’m sure we’ll dust off the old jalopy and see what comes out. Since we did stop playing, which was in 2000, I think, I have made more albums than Primus ever did. Whenever I talk to people they ask me what side projects I’m working on now. Well, Primus is actually a side project.


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