Primus’ original cast returns to the road, gets set to release new album

:: Primus ::
:: w/ Gogol Bordello & The Dead Kenny G’s ::
:: Red Rocks Amphitheatre :: August 12 ::

By Joe Kovack

To be considered a power trio in rock and roll, the requirements are quite simple: guitar, bass, drums and an uncanny ability to rock out. Primus meets and exceeds these requirements with psychedelic ease — like their 1960’s predecessors such as The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream.

Starting in the Bay Area of Northern California in the late ’80s, Primus hit the scene during the height of the metal and grunge eras of the early ’90s, when Metallica and Nirvana were dominating music. Despite, or maybe because of the fact that they weren’t doing what everyone else was, the eclectic three-piece established themselves as one of the most innovative bands of our time and laid the groundwork for  their cult-like following.

The maestro behind the Primus entity is Les Claypool. Leading the ensemble with his masterful bass skills, he’s a conductor whose drive and creativity is almost beyond comparison in the modern era of rock and roll. Since the start of the new millennium, Claypool has focused much of his efforts on his solo endeavors, and this ‘creative A.D.D.’ has left Primus fans waiting for a new album since the release of Anti-Pop in 1999. Teasing fans with short tours throughout the past decade, many have yearned for new material, but, according to Claypool himself, by next year fans will yearn no more.

“We haven’t been getting together and I think that’s the issue. I finished up my last album cycle and I talked to Larry LaLonde quite a bit — sort of rekindling our friendship — and I know he just really wanted to do this thing. So we decided to fire up the ol’ jalopy again and here we go,” said Claypool in a recent interview with The Marquee.

“For me, I have all these different projects and for every project that I accomplish and bring to fruition, there are 10 to 20 more waiting. It’s like I have this giant stove and it keeps getting bigger and bigger and I have all these pots on it, all in various stages; simmering and percolating. Every now and then I pull a pot forward, and right now it’s the Primus pot. And we’re actually gonna do it this time. It seems that for the past decade we get together for a few weeks and do a tour and then put it to bed for two years. Now we’re planning for the next 16 to 18 months being full-blown Primus, as well as talking about recording a new album,” he said.

The summer tour, which began in San Francisco, will hit Red Rocks mid-month. Fans should remember their last reunion when they played Red Rocks for their brief Hallucinogenic Tour in 2004, in which they recreated their pivotal first album Frizzle Fry, followed with a set of favorites and rarities. It was an evening of Primus — unadulterated and with no distractions. They filled the amphitheatre with their signature psychedelic-laden rock and rhythms, and this time should prove no different in spirit, but may be in terms of material. “It’s gonna be different every night. We are going to be dipping into material that we haven’t played in many, many years, if not ever. Primus fans are going to be very surprised at what songs we pull out of the hat bag,” Claypool said.

Joining Claypool in his return to the band is original guitar player and quintessential Primus element Larry LaLonde. LaLonde’s guitar style is as original as it comes, permeating the band’s music yet never overpowering it. His subtle approach compliments Claypool’s leading bass like a demonic siren calling to wayward sea travelers. Marking his return to the band is former drummer Jay Lane. Though many consider Tim Alexander the band’s primary drummer, Lane actually drummed for the group in the early years when they were still called Sausage. Departing the band just before the success of Frizzle Fry, Lane stayed in touch throughout the years and is now fulfilling the drumming duties, much to Claypool’s delight. “He basically quit before we recorded our first album. Jay’s an old friend of mine and he played on all of, if not most of, my solo records. Me as a drummer (I do play drums), he is sort of my hero. He’s the guy that I steal all his licks. Aside from Stewart Copeland, he’s my favorite drummer to play with. It’s amazingly fun and he’s one of the few drummers that I’ve played with who I think is a musical genius,” Claypool said.

For anyone that has followed Les Claypool’s career, one may wonder how he is able to create on such a seemingly unstoppable basis. Releasing almost an album a year for his solo efforts, Claypool has yet to exhaust his creative turbine, this time focused on Primus. “There’s a lot of pasta being thrown at the walls. But I’m not a big fan of pre-calculating all these things. Whenever I do map something out in my head, I end up changing it. There have been some ideas that I’ve been kicking around. As far as what direction and what to do lyrically and musically, it keeps altering, and I think that’s been the best approach for me — to just let it come as natural as possible. So right now it’s like a chalkboard with a bunch of doodles on it and we still have lots of room for more doodling and at some point the doodles will become some form of cohesive, comprehensive work,” Claypool said.

:: Primus ::

:: w/ Gogol Bordello & The Dead Kenny G’s ::

:: Red Rocks Amphitheatre :: August 12 ::

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