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Sailing the Seas... Again

Right when the world needs it most, Primus is back. With an 11-year gap since its last album, and four years since its last tour, the band is ripe for a second coming. Les Claypool, Larry LaLonde, and original drummer Jay Lane return to the stage July 18th at the undersized Great American Music Hall to warm up for a national tour that will keep them busy for the remainder of the summer. Next on the agenda, a new album planned for 2011. Claypool spoke with SF Station in a phone interview before a recent rehearsal in Sausalito. Tickets for the July 18th show go on sale July 9th.

SF Station (SFS): You donít live too far away. How often do you make it into San Francisco when you are not performing?

Les Claypool (LC): It depends on if Iím in town or not. Iíve been on the road quite a bit lately. I have some good friends in the city so I like to go in and kick up my heels every once in awhile.

SFS: Any favorite spots you care to share?

LC: I went to Izzyís steak house the other night. That was pretty sweet. It was a beef extravaganza.

SFS: And now youíre greasing up the Primus machine and getting back on the road.

LC: Weíre firing up the jalopy.

SFS: Why did you pick Great American Music Hall for the first gig?

LC: We were kicking around a number of different places and all of us agreed that we like the Great American. I have some history there because I recorded a couple of live albums there.

Weíre not bringing in a bunch of production ó crazy lights or inflatables. Weíre just going to do a rock show. Itís supposed to be a secret thing; in fact, Iím kind of surprised they have me doing interviews for it.

SFS: You could have easily sold out a much larger venue.

LC: Itís just a warm up for our tour. Weíre going to run through a shit load of songs. Itís going be an overload of Primus, I can tell you that. We are going to play a lot.

SFS: A lot of other bands from the 90s ó your most successful decade ó are touring again. Was that a factor in your decision to go back on tour with Primus?

LC: Not really. It was sort of an alignment of planets. My band and album cycle is kind of winding down and thereís no talk of bringing back Oysterhead or anything like that.

Me and Larry LaLonde have been hanging out a lot lately, and we wanted to do something a little more exciting than go out for three or four weeks and then stop for three or four years. We are actually talking about making a record.

SFS: A press release said we should expect a new album in 2011.

LC:Yeah, weíve been playing quite a lot lately, more so than we have in many, many years with each other. Thereís a lot of new material being gathered for potential song fodder.

SFS: You said in a previous interview that there would have to be a big step forward for you to make another album with Primus. Did you have a conversation about that before you started back up?

LC: Primus became sort of a nostalgic thing where we would get together and play old tunes. For me, it was fine to do that once ever four years, but for Larry LaLonde, I donít think that was very exciting. He wanted to do more, do it more often, and take it more seriously.

He really kind of pushed this thing, and basically what it came down to is we parted ways with Tim Alexander and we have Jay Lane back in the band. He was the original drummer when we first started touring in the clubs around the Bay Area, and he wrote a lot of the parts on the first couple of records. Itís really blown a breath of fresh air into the band on a creative level and on a social level. Everybodyís all fired up.

SFS: Do any of the older songs get you particularly excited when you perform them now?

LC: Itís continuously changing. Some of these old tunes that Lane helped write ó Tommy the Cat, Pudding Time and Harold of the Rocks ó are really spectacular and fiery right now. Itís very enjoyable to play those, but we also like playing a lot material that we havenít played in many, many years. Itís exciting to play some of the tunes off of records that havenít been performed in a long time, if ever.

SFS: Are you fishing much these days?

LC: I go when I can. Iíve been on the road a lot, and I have teenagers. I havenít had a ton of time. We have our salmon season back and Iíve been out a couple of times, but Iíve yet to catch a damn fish.

SFS: You are also involved in the wine business with Claypool Cellars. How is that going?

LC: Howís that going? Itís costing me a fortune, but itís got my closet full of really fancy booze with my name on it. Itís fun; all I need is another hobby, or another venture. It can be a little taxing sometimes, but itís been good.

SFS: You seem to have your fingers in everything. Do you plan on ever slowing down?

LC: Woody Allen had a great quote about relationships and how they need to keep moving forward like a shark or they will die. Iím always looking over the horizon for something new and exciting that will keep me interested and around. Otherwise, Iíll be a dead shark.

SFS: We wouldnít want that.

LC: Nobody wants a dead shark on their hands.

Primus performs at Great American Music Hall on July 18th. Tickets go on sale July 9th. The show show starts at 9pm