les claypool

Les Claypool and the Primus band

Primus music just like a blue mould cheese. There are some things in this world that simply aren’t right for everyone. Not because they are bad or good, no – they are just different. So Primus, which is a hell of a cocktail of thrash, funk and who knows what else, some people love it, while others cringe and switch tracks in bewilderment.

So, when I bring home a coveted triangle of Dorblue or Gorgonzola, I tear off the foil with trembling hands in pursuit of the coveted treat. Meanwhile, my family goes out for a walk so they don’t have to see the nightmare and smell the aroma.

Les Claypool. A brief biography

primus bassist

The most original rock bassist to emerge in the 90s can definitely be called Les Claypool of Primus. Along with a rather strange take on life and a love of funk, Claypool fell under the influence of a wide variety of genres from the late eighties and early nineties and invented his own unique style of playing.

In my youth I dreamed of doing what I loved and getting paid for it. But nobody wanted to pay me to masturbate and I focused on the bass guitar…

Les Claypool was born on September 29, 1963, in Richmond, California. As a teenager, Claypool hung out closely with classmate Kirk Hammett (yes, that same old Kirk from Metallica). It was Kirk who got Claypool hooked on Jimi Hendrix, Cream and Led Zeppelin. Kirk, by the way, asked Claypool to join his band, but he preferred to play in local band Blind Illusions, they played heavy metal, but Les Claypool steadily expanded his musical horizons taking part in various jazz and blues local projects.

I like to open new doors and cut paths through the impenetrable jungle and stuff like that. All that keeps me going is the desire to make a difference.

During this period of his life he falls under the influence of such great fusion and funk musicians as Stanley Clarke and Larry Graham. Claypool starts playing slap. After graduating from high school Claypool became a bass player in a local cover band, the Tommy Crank Music group. The band specialised in blues, R&B, funk and cover versions of popular songs. Playing several sets a night almost every week, he honed his improvisational skills, and soon Les Claypool becomes a virtuoso and can pull off some of the most technically mind-blowing fantasies.

In the late eighties Claypool bought his first Carl Thompson piccolo bass guitar (clearly influenced by Stanley Clarke). It was during this period (from the early to mid-eighties) that Claypool started composing his first compositions, which eventually became the foundation of Primus.

les claypool bassist and singer of primus
☆ Book by Les Claypool
Les Claypool and the Primus band

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  • Nice gift for a Primus fan
  • Easy to read story unusual as a band music
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  • “Primus frontman/bassist Claypool’s first novel reads like an ace Quentin Tarantino screenplay . . . It strikes suddenly and bloodily . . .”


The band was originally called Primate. The first Primus line-up included guitarist Todd Huth and drummer Jay Street. And, of course, the inimitable Claypool, who sings (well, it’s a cross between recitation and singing) and plays bass. Apart from all that, Claypool is the mixer that mixes (but doesn’t shake) funk with all kinds of genres.

I believe the best thing an artist can do is to remain themselves and hope fans appreciate that.

Although the trio became instantly popular in the San Francisco underground, Primus soon breaks up. The guitarist leaves and Claypool returns to Blind Illusion and even managed to record The Sane Asylum album with them. Claypool and guitarist Larry Lalonde soon realise that they are brothers in spirit, and soon Primus is reborn with a new line-up: Claypool, Lalonde, and drummer Tim Alexander. From 1989 begins the crazy real Primus that we all (or not all) love so much.

I always say: The bass guitar is just a pencil I took out of the box. Had I picked up a trombone, guitar or violin, the picture would have been the same.

From 1989 up to the pause the guys announced in 2000, Primus remained one of the most unusual bands. At the same time, strangely enough, being present in the musical mainstream. They were on Letterman’s show and at the Woodstock Festival (1994), Lollapolooza, recorded a song for the South Park cartoon, the song “Jerry was a race car driver” is played in the game about skater Tony Hawk.

That is one of those rare cases, when the band is not for everyone, but at the same time it doesn’t live in small clubs, but is quite commercially successful.

From 2000 onwards, the band has been reuniting and playing shows sporadically, and in between Claypool has about a million solo projects, as well as making wine… A good idea for a gift for the bassist!

wine Claypool Cellars

Where does Les Claypool play besides Primus?

Where else has he played… I’ll just mention a few projects, because, really, no one’s going to read this sheet of text.

  • Oysterhead. A joint project with The Police drummer Stuart Copeland. Copeland was Claypool’s idol as a teenager. The project is not a one-off, with the last concerts taking place in 2020.
  • Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade. Les Claypool himself considers this band to be experimental. Apparently, Primus is considered mediocre…
  • It’s my mid-life crisis band. I really wanted a band that contained the most incredible musicians I could find. I didn’t think there would be six of us, it just happened.
  • C2B3. A very interesting project by Claypool, featuring Buckethead as the guitarist. I highly recommend you check it out.
  • Delirium. Another interesting phenomenon. Collaboration with Sean Lennon. Surprisingly very successful, I recommend it.

It’s only a drop in the ocean, believe me. The whole list of solo albums, projects and bands is impressive.

with Carl Thompson bass

Technique and bass

Hmmm… My literary skills are too modest to describe it all properly…

Basically: take a slap, flamenco, tapping, chords, fill it all up with a Fuzz pedal, mix it up properly, and play with sixteenth notes. Something like that.

As for the bass guitar, of course, it’s as weird as the Primus band’s work. Les mostly uses boutique bass guitars from the Carl Thompson workshop.

When I first saw it, I immediately thought, “What kind of monster is this?” But once I’d tried this bass, I realised I hadn’t played anything more comfortable.

He has a total of seven bass guitars of this brand. The most familiar to us is the Carl Thompson Bass Antimatter model. Manufactured in 1999 for the anti-pop music tour.

Some like one thing and some like another. We are all different and that’s fine. Just as beautiful is the example of Primus, a band so strange and in-demand at the same time. Frames get in the way of creativity and that’s a fact.

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