Success. What is success? It's a relative term varying from person to person, day to day, vocation to vocation. For a musician, it could mean loads and loads of cash, a Grammy, or possibility the ability to get liad more than anyone you went to high school with. Me, I've got a moderate amount of cash, was nominated for a Grammy, and went to high school with Kirk "The Hamster" Hammet (who I'm sure gets laid more than me). It's all relative.
In the early days all I hoped for was the ability to make a living doing what I did best. But, since there's no real market for masturbation I fell back on my bass playing abilities. So far so good.
For several years now, I've been able to maintain some sort of recording environment in whatever household I've occupied, and in doing so have accumulated quite a collection of tapes with impromptu jams and what not. since the advent of Prawn Song (a record label founded by myself and David Lefkowitz) there has always been talk of an LP incorporating some of these recordings.
Originally called "From the Corn" (after the Corn Studio) these recordings were thesubject of debate between Mammoth (distributor of Prawnsong) and Interscope Records who have first right of refusal to anything I release. Being the ever busy beaver, these recordings fell to a low position on the priority list until, with the coaxing of Mr. Lefkotwitz, I began supplementing the "Corn" tapes with new material in late 1995. Because of the emergence of the band Korn (now friends of mine), a new title for this project was needed. "Holy Mackerel" seemed to sune things up nicely and was the working title until expanded to "Les Claypool and the Holy Mackerel present: Highbally with the Devil."
From the original "Corn" tapes only three tunes have made it to "Highball". The other twelve songs were recording between November of '95 and March of '96/. All recorded a Rancho Relaxo (my home), these songs incorporate the talents of some of my favourite musicians. Much of the material is pure self-indulgence with me covering all instrumentation. But scattered throughout the record are appearances by the likes of Jay Lane (drums - Sausage, Weir-Wasserman), Joe Gore (guitar - Tom Waits, PJ Harvey), Mark Haggard (guitar - M.I.R.V., Limbomaniacs), Charliet Hunter ( guitar - Charlie Hunter Quartet, Disposable Heroes of Hip-Hoprisy), and a tid-bit bit of Henry Rollins.
What's "Highball with the Devil" like? Well, all I can say is it's not Primus. Sure there are some parallels, but this is a direct reflection of my influences and mine alone. On this record, I am the true dicator, bringin the players to fill a specific [sic] roll. You'll find this project much more rhythm-oriented than any past efforts, reflecting my early years in various R&B and jazz bands. With Jay Lane slammin' out fat-ass beats on "Holy Mackerel", "Cohibas Esplenditos" and (the little known bass and drum masterpiece by Otis Redding's son Dexter) "The Awakening". Along with the abstract guitar work of Joe Gore on "George E. Porge" and Mark "Mirv" Haggard's bent perspective on the world (Mirv plays a bowed electrified hand saw on "Cohibas Esplenditos"), the "Highball" record shows distant reflections of old Talking Heads.
The idea of a "solo" project has always given me the chills. In fact, originally I wasn't even going to put my name on this thing. But, what the hell, it would be nice to sell a couple of thes e bastard. With the recent birth of my beautiful son Cage Oliver Claypool and my co-direction of a film with Mark Kohr, this year has been and looks to continue to be busy. So, will there be a tour of the "Holy Mackerel"? I hope so. Any excuse to go on-stage with Mirv and Jay Lane is good enough for me. I'm scheduled to speak at CMJ in September and we plan to perform during the convention.
So what is success? Beats the hell out of me, but if this is it, I like it.