- Interview with Primus guitarist Larry LaLonde
- by Jonathan Cohen
JC : Tell me what it's been like touring with the Meat Puppets?
LL : It hasn't even started yet, actually. I think Indiana is the second show.
JC : How did it come about that you guys were paired together?
LL : Um, who knows. It was one of those things where we were just trying to see who wanted to tour with us and I guess they wanted to do it, so we said "cool." Simple as that.
JC : I thought it was interesting that you guys are doing a second tour from "Tales From the Punchbowl." Was it a conscious decision to kind of do a tour right when the album came out and then start up again a couple of months after the fact?
LL : Well, it was kind of like we wanted to get out and tour, and we did. Then we went to Europe, and so then we kind of decided to come back and play the places that we didn't already play.
JC : So there aren't too many repeat cities this time through?
LL : No, I think New York is really the only one. It is mostly like, you know, lots of places were there is, like, colleges and stuff.
JC : Tell me what it was like touring with Mike Watt.
LL : It was pretty cool. He's unphaseable; he drives the van from city to city. He's always happy, at least he seems like it. He's just the coolest guy to tour with. His band was pretty amazing too.
JC : Did you guys all participate on "ball-hog or tugboat?"
LL : Was Les on there?
JC : I think so...
LL : The rest of us weren't on there.
JC : So I guess Watt was an influence to Les?
LL : I don't know if he was so much of an influence rather than someone Les became friends with over the years. He definitely thinks he's a great bass player.
JC : Word is you are a net-head.
LL : Close to it. I'm more into graphics, but you know, you gotta have the modem going these days too, I guess out of sheer boredom.
JC : How do you like your new Power Mac?
LL : Mine actually needs to be thrown off the Golden Gate Bridge. It has been really beat up from being on the road, and it will probably be beat up again on this tour.
JC : Any progress on a "Tales From The Punchbowl" CD-ROM?
LL : Actually, it's just about done. As we speak now, I'm trying to get my computer to actually work so I can ship off all my art work.
JC : What is it going to entail?
LL : It's going to be like you are in the album cover. It kind of comes to life, to some extent. It will be like a exploring sort of deal.
JC : So will it be music clips as well as general sillyness?
LL : Yes, the video will be in there, and wacky stuff like that.
JC : Tell me about the "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver" video. I know you guys have probably had that question a million times, but who came up with the concept for dressing up like that?
LL : Actually the president of Interscope - it was his idea for us to dress like the mannequin-type deal. And it was Les' idea to be cowboys. It kind of took off from there.
JC : How long of a shoot was it?
LL : It was like 18 hours. I think it started at like 4 in the morning when we started to put it on, and we finished at 2 AM, maybe even later.
JC : Where was it filmed?
LL : At Les' house.
JC : Were you happy with the way it came out?
LL : Yeah, as long as it's funny at the end. It was pretty fun to shoot.
JC : Do you have an email account where fans can contact you?
LL : I do, but it is kind of being switched into something right now, so I don't know what it is going to be called. There is an America Online way to get in touch with our office, which is just PRIMUSSF@aol.com.
JC : What exercises do you do when you practice by yourself?
LL : Practice? There's no practicing! All I do if I'm not playing guitar is sitting in front of my computer. Lots of typing exercises.
JC : What's going on with Beanpole?
LL : It should be out soon. It has kind of been done forever but it is just waiting to be actually mastered into a record. It will be released on Prawnsong [Les' label].
JC : Who else is on that label?
LL : Basically a bunch of obscure bands that nobody else in their right mind would actually sign!
JC : Are you guys working on any other side projects?
LL : Not right now... there is no time for anything else except touring and working on the CD-ROM.
JC : What's the schedule like for after the tour finishes up?
LL : We go to Australia, Japan, all that kind of stuff. It's one of those "world tours." Just like on the back of the Van Halen shirt.
JC : Have you been starting all of the shows with "To Defy?"
LL : Nope, but usually if that one is in the set it is at the beginning.
JC : What other tunes sometimes pop up as the first song?
LL : "Here Come The Bastards," but you know, every night we sit down with the intention of writing different set lists, but there are certain songs that end up in there all the time.
JC : What on earth are the lyrics to "Is It Luck?"
LL : That's a good question. I think some of them are actually in the album. The rest, just make up your own.
JC : Is it still fun for you to play "Those Damn Blue Collar Tweekers" and "Tommy the Cat" in live performance?
LL : Wow. I think "Tweekers" is pretty much the song we've played more than any other song ever. It just always ends up in there. "Tommy the Cat" is always fun to play because the first two minutes are "Tommy the Cat" and then who knows what it turns into! Anything from "Smoke on the Water" to some Frank Zappa thing.
JC : When you guys did the summer tour it was in 2,000-3,000 seat places. Same looks true for this tour. Is that the ideal audience size you'd like to play in front of?
LL : Yeah, that's pretty good. Theaters are pretty fun but sometimes theaters have seats which sometimes aren't too fun. But these last two tours have been based on production. In some places we just can't fit it all in there so we end up playing wherever can fit it.
- JC : Do you think the band has changed since 1993's Lollapalooza?
LL : I don't know, I think it is still the same old stuff. Just going out there and having a good time. Maybe if we ever make any money success will change us [laughs].
JC : Any new songs being performed that didn't make it onto "Tales From The Punchbowl?"
LL : Nope. Same old junk.
JC : I read that you were instructed by Joe Satriani. What was that like?
LL : It was like you know, sitting there watching some guy who was totally amazing.
JC : He's taught so many amazing people like Steve Vai and Kirk Hammet.
LL : Totally. He was always known as the baddest guy around town.
JC : He's not much older than you?
LL : Naw.. only about 8 years, I think.
JC : Alot of people describe your guitar style as dissonant, although I suppose that depends on who is listening. How much of an influence is Les on that style? Do you think that if you were playing without him that your style would be more harmonious?
LL : It would probably be a lot more circus music [laughs]. Playing with him and Herb kind of forces you to fit in.
JC : Have you guys worked on another video from the album?
LL : No.. we talked about it but we've been in Europe for the whole time.
JC : When did you guys move to Interscope?
LL : Maybe 1990 or 1991. When we signed with Caroline it was just a one-record deal. They kind of just put the record out hoping someone bigger would get the records to places where people could actually find them. Interscope was pretty new then - I think the only person they had besides us was Gerardo!
JC : There's a name from the past.
LL : Yeah. It's funny. When we first signed with them, there was a thing in Rolling Stone saying how in a year the label would be gone and dead. Now they need a Nine Inch Nails wing!
JC : Weren't you guys interested in doing an MTV Unplugged?
LL : We've tried a bunch of times to get on there, but they will have no part of it. I don't know what they're thinking - I guess its only for guys like Eric Clapton.
JC : How do you guys feel about people taping the shows?
LL : We usually don't let people do it just because, like in Europe, every guy there with a tape recorder all of the sudden has their own label. Personally I don't mind people taping shows because usually it is just for themselves. But it kind of sucks when all of the sudden there is someone actually selling thousands of bootlegs. That's a different story.
JC : Wouldn't you agree that someone who goes out and buys a tape recorder already has all of the authorized releases anyway?
LL : Yeah, see, that's the whole thing. It's not like they are buying bootlegs instead of your records.
JC : Well, I look forward to meeting you guys after your set Saturday.
LL : Me too man. Take it easy.