Primus are a band who need no introduction. For the past 27 years the group have followed in the footsteps of boundary-pushing artists like Frank Zappa and Pink Floyd to create some of the most original and inventive music in existenceand theyve collaborated with everyone from Tom Waits to Tom Morello over the years in the process. However nothing could properly prepare listeners for Green Naugahyde, which is the bands first album in eleven years featuring the line-up of bassist/singer Les Claypool, guitarist Larry LaLonde and drummer Jay Lane.
Like Primus early output before they were international superstars, there was no earth-shattering catalyst behind Green Naugahyde other than the fact that all three of these musiciansand life-long collaborators who have worked together in various contextswere getting the itch to experiment again. There wasn't a lot of pre-thought to this as much as, Oh here we are, we should make a record, explains Claypool. Ive been playing with Jay quite a lot over the past ten years and we have an intuitive bond so for me he was a natural choice to be back in the mix, Claypool continues when asked how Lane came about rejoining the band after nearly two decades apart.
Claypool and LaLonde also concur that Lane injected the band with a new energy thats evident in every note of Green Naugahyde. We recorded this album in the same way we always do but having Jay there made this a whole different experience, explains LaLonde. It definitely made it more collaborative and it made us excited about the album as we went along because we had so much fun in the process. Produced and engineered by Claypool in his personal studio, Rancho Relaxo, in Northern California thats crammed full of vintage gear, the albums warm sound and unique tones are pure Primus and could never be obtained via a set of Internet plug-ins. I come from a long line of auto mechanics so Im always buying these old jalopies and trying to fix them up and I approach my recording gear the same way, Claypool adds with a laugh.
Sonically Green Naugahyde expands on the Primus incomparable sound and also sees them bringing it into the next millennium. If I were to look at all of our records it seems like this is reminiscent of the early stuff. Obviously with Jay theres a newness to it, but because he left the band right before we recorded our first record, his approach has an eerie harkening to the old Frizzle Fry days. Correspondingly from the futuristic groove of Tragedys AComin to the atmospheric experimentation of Jillys On Smack and demented swing of Last Salmon Man, Green Naugahyde is a cerebral and complex album that, like all of the bands output, is teeming with the bands signature blend of whimsy and underlying darkness.
Its funny because when you look at Primus lyrics throughout our entire career there are extremely dark stories in there but its told from the viewpoint of a race car driver or a fishermanand then you throw in a song like Wynona's Big Brown Beaver, which is just a silly song that just happened to become huge; the perception from the outside has been lighter than it actually is, especially if you dont scratch the surface, Claypool explains, citing the Coen brothers of an example of how his film counterparts deal with destructive issues through similarly colorful characters. Admittedly its hard to worry about the apocalypse or cancer when youre grooving along to Tragedys AComin but ultimately that duality is what has kept Primus relevant. Simply put, Primus confronts the issues we dont want to think about in a creative way that makes the unbearable bearable.
Green Naugahyde also sees Claypoolwho has spent the last decade working with the supergroup Oysterhead (alongside the Polices Stewart Copeland and Phishs Trey Anastasio) as well as Colonel Les Claypools Fearless Flying Frog Brigade and various other experimental musical projectsstretching out in the lyrical department. Over the past ten years of working on my own stuff and working with other musiciansespecially non traditional rock musicians like sitar players, vibraphonists, cellists and saxophonistsIve really expanded my notion of what is appropriate for Primus, Claypool explains. On this album I decided I wasnt going to hold back and I was going to do everything I wanted to try vocally instead of having one vocal line narrating the story. This is evident in songs like Eternal Consumption Engine and Extinction Burst which feature layered vocal tracks that showcase Claypools range and see his voice acting as an additional instrument.
Above all Green Naugahyde is a Primus record with all of the magic and mystery that phrase entailsand while no one can say for sure what the future will hold in store for the band, the most important thing is that the album exists and will inevitably hold its own in the bands impressive cannon of music. Even back in the old days people would always ask me, How long is Primus going to go on and I would always say Its going to go until its not fun anymore and at the end of the day it just wasnt fun anymore so we stopped, Claypool explains. I think giving it this much time to sit and ferment or whatever the hell you want to call it has made it fun again, he summarizes with a laugh.
We're still doing our own thing and weve got to own it.
982 Market Street
San Francisco, CA
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