Primus spikes its 'Punchbowl'
Band makes music to please themselves only
Friday June 16, 1995
There's an ad for the new Primus ablum "Tales From The Punchbowl," that sums up the
band's appeal perfectly. "If you didn't like Primus before," it reads, "you probably still won't."
Not the most optimistic of ad campaigns, is it? But as Les Claypool, Primus' bass-playing
frontman, puts it, "the gereral reaction to Primus is usually pretty mixed. We're not an easy pill to
swallow by any means. It's been that way since 1984, when we started."
How so? The band is less interested in catchy tunes than it is in good energy and
interesting instrumnetal interplay. Althoughtthere are pop elements within the band's sound, they
take a backseat to the realtonship between Claypool's thumping, percussive bass, Tim "Herb"
Alexander's swirling , insistent drums and Larry LaLonde's angular, edgy guitar.
As Claypool admits, it's not exactly mainstream rock 'n' roll. But that's part of the appeal.
"You can't really nail it on the head as to what a Primus fan is like," he says, over the
phone from his California home. "I can really only relate it to my tastes. I've always been
attracted to things that other people weren't attracted to, whether it was fashion or films or music
or whatever. I think we appeal to people wh are looking for something that's different from the
Claypool's wide range of taste is reflected in Primus' music, wich moves easily from lithe,
reggae-inflected grooves to semi-industrial, to a funky rock, to a sort of demented bluegrass.
It does't stem from a conscious effort to be diferent, Claypool says. "Primus has always
been Primus, and we just kind of do what comes naturally," he says. "Or we try to do what
comes naturally. We never force things upon each other, or whatever."
That's particularly true of the new album, in which most of the material developed out of
jams between Claypool and Alexander.
"When we went to do this record, we didn't really have andy material written," Claypool
says. "We got together and rehearsed a couple of times and let a DAT tape play. spit out a
bunch of ideas that I had, and Herb hada a couple ideas, and we just jammed on things. There'd
be these tapes of 20-mintue jams on a couple of different ideas, or different moods, or whatever.
"We listened to them for a while and then said, 'ok, we've got enough stuff. Let's go into
the studio.' We just refined the ideas in the studio. Which basically meant me and Herb sitting
there jamming on them, me coming up with a sort of vocal structure, and then laying them down."
Some ofthe resultant tunes, such as "Space Farm" are fairly abstract, but other, such as
"Wynona's Big Brown Beaver," are subversively tuneful. "That's the tune that everybody wants
to push as the single," Claypool says of "Wynona."
"It's the sort of thing that we're doing a video for."
Isn't he worried, though, that some people might take the title the wrong way?
"It's a perfectly innocent song. I'm really surprised at how many people have come to me
and said, 'Well, what's Winona Ryder going to think of this?' And I was really surprised, because
I really didn't think about Winona Ryder. If anything I thought people would draw a parallel with
Well, it is Wynonna with a "y."
"But the tune itself is bout a girl and her pet beaver, and the video is going to emphasize
Any Questions or Comments
Brian Savage /