Primus frontman Les Claypool seems an odd fit for a jam-band adventure on the high seas. One of the more innovative bass players of recent years, Claypool boasts a warped genius that doesn't blend with the patchouli-scented Birkenstock crowd. Or so it would appear.
"There's certain elements of the music climate now [similar] to what they were back when Primus started," says Claypool, calling from the San Francisco office of his label, Prawn Song. "The jam-band scene very much reminds me of the early Lollapalooza days. It's an ever-evolving scene; it's based more upon the way you approach music, as opposed to the style of music you're playing. There's this huge group of people that want to see musicians play without any preconceived notion and dance on the edge of disaster. In a world of cookie-cutter, cut-and-paste, ProTools pop music, it's a great counterbalance to that."
Primus had been on hiatus between its last studio album (1999's Anti-Pop) and the release of the Animals Should Not Act Like People DVD/CD combo (which includes five new Primus tracks) late last year. Claypool, meanwhile, has spent the past several years indulging in jam music, hairy armpits and all. The most noted project was Oysterhead, which includes Phish guitarist-vocalist Trey Anastasio and Police skinsman Stewart Copeland. His most recent sideshow is the Les Claypool Frog Brigade, a rotating lineup that's based on who's available at any given time. Claypool, working as the Brigade, released a two-set series in 2001 titled Live Frogs, with original Primus guitarist Todd Huth and drummer Jay Lane (the three also constitute the side act Sausage), playing everything from Pink Floyd's entire Animals album to a cover of King Crimson's "Thela Hun Ginjeet."
Now Primus is back on the road, doing shows that include the band's second album, Frizzle Fry, played in its entirety. "When you're an up-and-coming band, you're constantly working it, working it, working it," says Claypool. "We're at all different points in our lives, where we have families and other interests. We don't want [Primus] to dominate our world, because when it does, it becomes less fun, and that's no good for anybody."
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