500,000 Primus Can't be Wrong!

by Stefan Chirazi.

Taken from Kerrang! #448, June 19, 1993.

San Francisco eccentrics PRIMUS have sold over 500,000 copies of their new album 'Pork Soda' in the US alone, and are set to close the show on this year's third, eclectic Lollapalooza bill. After touring with Rush and U2 last year, The Quirkiest Band On the Planet look set for world domination. STEFAN CHIRAZI gets down with the Funky Bay Area beasts and offers up a history of the Lollapalooza!

They were always odd and a bit funky. Now, Primus are simply odd. Meat-heads and funkadelics beware, the smooth groove you all latched onto like leeches has taken a back seat to real Primus weirdness. Twisted nursery rhymes, ugly intentions and the sweet gloss of innocence ruptured by the total, evil perversion that is 'Pork Soda's foundation.

This strange brew has already proved itself a hit in the US, where Primus have sold over 500,000 albums without the help of radio or MTV, and are currently kicking off their Lollapalooza '93 headline slot.

'Pork Soda' is also the most ambient Primus album to date, success giving them the space to....

"Really put out some SHIT!" laughs wacked out frontman and bassist Les Claypool. "I think a lot of hte looseness came from the fact that by the time it came to recording, we only had half the album written because we'd been touring so much. So we ended up bringing a bunch of gear into our rehearsal space, and most of the album was written there.

"Some of the tunes are just full-out recorded jamming sessions, things like Hamburger Train. I think it all worked very well. There wasn't really a deadline as such, but because we weren't at some studio spending zillions of dollars an hour, it was pretty loose."

Thankfully this album isn't the sound of Funk Metal, it's far too wacky out to be -anything- in particular.

"That's the way we've always been," explains Claypool. "We've always been ourselves and avoided getting into situations when we could have become controlled. (Record label) Interscope leave us alone it's like being on indie except they have money and we're very careful how we do things. If you owe them a huge amount of money, there's always going to be more pressure to make hit singles, but we don't allow things to get to that position. We've always played for -our- sake."

'The Air is Getting Slippery' is the song which sounds like 'Teddy Bears' Picnic' and ends up in trashy drug hell.

"To me, the whole album kinda sounds like a Disney movie soundtrack," sighs the extremely quiet drummer Tim 'Herb' Alexander.

"I'd like to see that movie though Disney wouldn't -make- the movie," laughs Claypool in all sincerity. "Which is a shame, because we're big Disney fans. (Guitarist) Larry Lalonde and I got to Disneyland a lot. We went to Euro Disney...it was okay, but it's gonna go to crap.

"They're already trashing the hell out of it -- graffiti, carvings, an assortment of ugly stuff in the Haunted House, kids just tear around places you're not meant to go. It's better than the one in Orlando in Florida, though. We still have to get to the one in Japan..."

Primus seem like men happy to take a simple innocent theme and twist it into something outlandishly ugly and sinister.

"I don't know if it's THAT conscious an effort," says Claypool. "The Air... just popped into my head one morning and so I went downstairs in my house and recorded it."

You have to admit it's sinister.

"Well, yeah. Basically, there is that crystal meth thing. And yes, it does bear resemblence to the `If go down to the Woods today...' song which was the groundbreaking heavy music of its era. Punk for the 1890's. I love stuff like that, little ditties of that nature -- and I don't poke fun at them, I pay homage. I genuinely enjoy them."

What was the first merry little jingle to stick in Claypool's mind?

"There were so many...I mean, my favorite album as a kid was 'The Jungle Book' soundtrack. I had all that stuff, the 'Mother Goose' record."

How many of these new songs have been twisted by the experience of spending a year touring 80,000 seat venues, yet knowing that arenas and sheds once again beckon?

"The main thing is you become very aware of the fact you'll be playing these songs for the next two years," laughs Larry, "so you'd better be sure you like 'em!"

And leave room in them for further spontaneous improvement?

"With these songs, definitely. There were a few songs on 'Sailing The Seas Of Cheese' (the album prior to 'Pork Soda') where we'd just take off on songs live to give ourselves the break we wanted."

Touring with their heroes Rush last year has been well documented for Primus, but what about the six weeks....

[I don't have the rest of the article, sorry! --Ram]

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