Primus In Dregs Magazine
Huge in America, the madcap metal merchants from San Francisco released their off the-the-wall bass driven cartoon characters on the final day at Reading and the mayhem that ensued was extraordinary and amazing thing. They'll be back in Britain to reveal more sometime in early '94. Meanwhile back at Reading we met them later on in the afternoon where Larry LaLonde (guitar) tried to get a word in edgeways as jovial comic meister Les Claypool (bass & vox) talked first of all about their summer with Rage Against The Machine on the Lollapalooza tour...
Claypool: Yeah we had old Tom [RATM] come out and jam with us quite a bit actually, it was pretty ripping! A lot of Fishbone guys came out to jam with us too, Jerry Cantrell, but Tom man he was the maddest dude, and Maynard [Tool]. Maynard he sounds like Mickey Dolenz on acid and he looks like HR Geiger's version of Roger Daltrey, that's my interpretation of Maynard. He's got good words of wisdom.
Dregs (Duncan): How long have you been her, just today?
Claypool: Just today, we've been hitting all the festivals that we can. Tomorrow we're hanging out then we go to Italy to play at this festival in Bologna.
D: So you have watched all the bands today?
Claypool: I've been doing a shit load of press, I haven't really got to watch anybody, i've heard a lot, I heard Alice Donut and thought it sounded really good. I saw The Goats the other day and they were good, the drummer rips. Fishbone, I gotta watch Fishbone, the worlds greatest live band.
D: I've never seen them.
Claypool: You've never seen Fishbone? You're in for a treat. (I wasn't they were crap.)
D: A lot of people seem to be saying now that Lollapalooza is an idea that's come to it's conclusion, that there's nowhere for it to go...
Claypool: I think they should eat a big bag of shit.
D: You reckon.
Claypool: Yeah it's kind of a trendy thing to say, "Oh Lollapalooza's not good, it's corporate". But still you know every night there's 30,000 people having a great time. Lollapalooza is something the United States needed for a long time, it's something that should be encouraged, that should be nurtured, if there are problems with it, it should be corrected. It's a great thing. You folks over here in Europe have had diversified music festivals for how many years, decades right, at least. And there's never been anything like that in the States. Now there is finally, and it's doing well and... y'know when I was a kid in high school, music is obviously a huge part of your existence as a teenager, and your social status was decided almost by what kind of music you listened to, and I would hope that with the success of Lollapalooza a lot of these barriers and subgroups are being chipped away and that young people are a little more open minded than when I was in school.
D: So do you think it's going to carry on, is there a future for it?
Claypool: Yeah the people who are throwing stones at it are generally... pop journalists. It's like the daily newspappers, it's like some of the bigger more trendy publications, but the bottom line is the Chicago Lollapalooza sold out before any of the bands were even announced. Y'Know it's becoming an event that people want to go to. Ther's been talk that things are too expensive. All the little boothes & stuff that are around Lollapalooza, I don't think it's any more expensive than going to a country fare. It's a good environment, there's a lot of art, there's a lot of different organizations there, thoughts, I think it's a healthy environment and I wish that there were more things like that when I was young.
D: In America you don't get things like the Reading Festivals and odd festivals here & there with a diverse range of bands...
Claypool: No not at all, just Lollapalooza. They tried to do "Gathering of the Tribes" with Ian Astbury, that was his trip. It did ok, we were on the second one and it just kinda failed, Lollapalloza just really took off. Y'know I hope Perry won't get frustrated by whatever negative press. The press that was negative was "Oh it's getting corporate, oh it's a big money machine" and it makes a lot of money because ther's a shiload of people coming to see the bands. They're paying the bands well, the ticket price is relatively cheap for what you're getting.
D: So why the backlash?
Claypool: It's the third year around and it's time to start throwing stones. Last year a lot of bands that played were huge; Pearl Jam, Chili Peppers, huge bands. This year it was more like what it was set up to be, more of an alternaive festival, and I would like to see it becoming more diversified, lets see some jazz acts play, lets see some country acts play, lets get a shitload of people in places that you wouldn't normally get together at one event.
D: In America you're really big.
Claypool: Bigger than we are here! ha ha! Yeah about twentyfold ha ha! ha ha! [Imagine Woody Woodpecker laughing]
D: Why have you got such a low profile in this country?
Claypool: Y'know I don't know.
D: You don't know?
Claypool: I mean we do very well in the States, we do well in Holland, Italy, we do ok in Germany, we don't do well here and we don't do well in France.
D: Why do you think?
Claypool: I don't know. People just don't get it. I mean we're not like Rage, whatever political or social statements we make are pretty subliminal and there are definitely undertones in just about every song but it's more satirical, it's like a political cartoon to an extent in some songs. Maybe that's more of what the Brittish people want, a direct... I really don't know...
D: Could be to do with the difference in the British and American sense of humour...
Claypool: I'M a huge fan of old Rik Mayall & Adrian Edmonson, Rowan Atkins, Peter Richardson, all those people, I love that stuff. I grew up on the old Python stuff. I've always been into comedy. When I was a kid I always wanted to be a ventriloquist, I always said if I hadn't gotten into music I would have gotten into film, not necessarily as an actor but.. I love making films, i'm going to work on a film in September but I come from a humour orientated family to an extent and I appreciate humour. Humour is a very powerful tool.
D: What is the biggest risk you've ever taken?
Claypool: Hiring Larry LaLonde into Primus! ha ha! ha ha! That was a scary thing. Driving across Berkeley with Larry LaLonde both of us with long bleached blonde hair with a pound of green buds in the back seat. Ha Ha! Stinking up the car we had to roll down the window, that was pretty risky.
D: How are we doing for time?
Claypool: Ok, as long as you don't ask me "if I had to be any vegetable what would I be?"
D: If you had to be any vegetable what would you be?