|Origin||El Sobrante, California, United States|
|Genres||Alternative rock, funk metal, funk rock, experimental rock, alternative metal, progressive rock, comedy rock|
|Years active||1984–2000, 2003–present|
|Labels||Caroline, Interscope, Prawn Song, ATO, MapleMusic|
|Associated acts||Sausage, Holy Mackerel, Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains, Les Claypool's Frog Brigade, Oysterhead, Blind Illusion, Possessed, Buckethead, Phish, Tom Morello|
Primus is an American rock band based in San Francisco, California, currently composed of bassist/vocalist Les Claypool, guitarist Larry "Ler" LaLonde and drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander. Primus originally formed in 1984 with Claypool and guitarist Todd Huth, later joined by Jay Lane, though the latter two departed the band at the end of 1988. Featuring LaLonde and drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander, Primus recorded their debut Suck on This in 1989, followed by four studio albums: Frizzle Fry, Sailing the Seas of Cheese, Pork Soda, and Tales from the Punchbowl. Alexander left the band in 1996, replaced by Bryan "Brain" Mantia, and Primus went on to record the original theme song for the TV show South Park and two more albums, Brown Album and Antipop, before declaring a hiatus in 2000.
In 2003, Claypool and LaLonde reunited with Alexander and released a DVD/EP, Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People, before touring sporadically through 2009. In 2010, it was announced that Lane had rejoined Primus, replacing Alexander, and the band released their eighth album, Green Naugahyde, in 2011. In 2013, Lane left the band to focus on other projects, and Tim Alexander rejoined once again.
- 1 Band history
- 2 Musical style and influences
- 3 Band members
- 4 Discography
- 5 Tours
- 6 Awards
- 7 Trivia
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The early years and Frizzle Fry (1984–1990)
Primus began as Primate in El Sobrante, California in 1984 with singer and bassist Les Claypool, guitarist Todd Huth, and a LinnDrum drum machine. The duo initially had trouble finding a drummer, until Claypool's friend Vince "Perm" Parker returned home from a stint in the army, and together the three of them recorded their first demo, financed by Claypool selling his car. Primate changed their name to Primus after "about a month" when they were approached by a group called The Primates threatening legal action over the similarity of their names. Parker was soon replaced by the band's second drummer, Peter Libby, who was himself replaced by Robbie Bean, before the band eventually settled on Tim "Curveball" Wright in 1986. After rising to local music scene stardom with their brand of funk metal fusion, reaching the point where they were "selling out Berkeley Square", Wright left Primus in the summer of 1988 to be replaced by Jay Lane, drummer with the Freaky Executives, who were "getting dicked around by their record company", as Claypool later described it.
After recording another demo, titled Sausage, Lane left Primus at the end of 1988 when "something good happened" with the Freaky Executives' record deal. Huth soon left the band, wishing to dedicate more time to his family. In 1989, Primus was put on hold briefly and Claypool rejoined his former band, Blind Illusion, who at the time also featured one-time Joe Satriani student and ex-Possessed guitarist Larry "Ler" LaLonde. Claypool recruited LaLonde to reform Primus together with Tim "Herb" Alexander, drummer with the Arizona-based group Major Lingo, and a month later, the trio recorded their first album: Suck On This, a live recording culled from two of their Berkeley concerts, funded by a loan from Claypool's father.
In 1990, the band released their first studio album, Frizzle Fry, and released singles for "John the Fisherman" and "Too Many Puppies". With a music video featuring Kirk Hammett, a studio album and a tour with Jane's Addiction, Primus' popularity grew to the point where they attracted attention from Interscope Records, who signed them in 1990.
Seas of Cheese, Pork Soda and Punchbowl (1991–1996)
Primus's major label debut was the album Sailing the Seas of Cheese. The album was supported by the singles "Jerry Was a Race Car Driver" and "Tommy the Cat", both of which appeared on MTV. A third single, "Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers", was also released but did not feature a video. The band appeared as contestants for the Battle of the Bands in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey and made music for a Beavis & Butthead tribute album with a song entitled "Poetry and Prose". With a major label behind them, Sailing the Seas of Cheese went gold. The band then toured in support of Rush, U2, Anthrax, Public Enemy, and Fishbone.
After the release of Sailing the Seas of Cheese, in 1992 Primus released a cover song EP Miscellaneous Debris, with their version of XTC's "Making Plans for Nigel" receiving enough airplay to reach No. 30 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart.
In 1993, Primus released Pork Soda, which managed to debut at No. 7 on the Billboard Top 10. The album was darker than previous Primus efforts, dealing with murder, suicide, and alienation. The band has commented that prior to recording, they had been touring for nearly two solid years and were thus in a sombre mood. "My Name Is Mud", "DMV", and "Mr. Krinkle" were singles, the latter made into a video featuring Claypool in a pig suit and tuxedo playing upright bass in an abandoned warehouse as a carnival of oddities parades behind him, including Claypool's wife and her twin sister. Claypool said he put his "heart and soul" into the video, but it received next to no airtime on MTV. In an interview with Guitar World magazine, Claypool disparaged the channel's unwillingness to air the video, saying "it got played like six times."
Pork Soda was recorded at the band's rehearsal space in San Rafael. The band would subsequently record all of their albums at Les Claypool's home studio called Rancho Relaxo.
In 1993 Primus headlined the alternative rock festival Lollapalooza. They also made an appearance at the Woodstock '94 Music Festival. They were pelted with mud while they performed "My Name is Mud" (Claypool claims to still have mud in his speakers). About a minute into the song the band stopped playing, and Claypool said, "Well I opened a big-ass can of worms with that one, didn't I? The song is called 'My Name is Mud', but keep the mud to yourselves you son-of-a-bitch."
The band produced material frequently. In the previous four years they had released three albums, an EP, six music videos, and a home video. To top that all off, they toured with Rush, whom they consider to be one of their biggest influences.
During a lull in 1994, the early Primus lineup consisting of Claypool, Huth, and Lane reunited to record Riddles Are Abound Tonight under the band name Sausage, named after the demo they had recorded together in 1988. Among the songs they recorded is an early version of "The Toys Go Winding Down", retitled "Toyz 1988". The video for the title track "Riddles Are Abound Tonight" featured the band in blue leotards performing on stationary bicycles.
In 1995 Primus released their fourth album, Tales from the Punchbowl. It contained Primus's most successful single to date, the Grammy-nominated "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver". The song was accompanied by a video with the band members dressed up in cartoonish plastic cowboy costumes (similar to the suits worn in the then current Duracell battery commercials). The band was invited to perform on the Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with Conan O'Brien. On the David Letterman show Primus appeared dressed in penguin tuxedos. Two other less successful singles, "Mrs. Blaileen" and "Southbound Pachyderm" (the latter of which featured a claymation video that received only minimal airplay on MTV) were also released.
In 1996 Claypool self-produced his first solo album entitled Les Claypool and the Holy Mackerel Presents Highball with the Devil. On this album many of the songs are done solely by Claypool himself. Claypool also employs the help of a number of other musicians. Experimental Bay Area guitarist M.I.R.V. joined Claypool and others. Performances include a spoken word piece from Henry Rollins on the song "Delicate Tendrils". This album was recorded at Rancho Relaxo.
Brown Album, Antipop and hiatus (1997–2002)
Alexander left the band and was replaced by Bryan "Brain" Mantia of Limbomaniacs and Praxis. With Mantia aboard, Primus were asked in 1996 to compose the theme song to South Park. Primus also later contributed to the Chef Aid album with the song "Mephisto and Kevin".
Brown Album was released in 1997 and supported by the singles "Shake Hands with Beef" and "Over the Falls". In 1998, the band headlined the inaugural Sno-Core tour with The Aquabats, Long Beach Dub Allstars and Blink 182.
In late 1998, Primus released the Rhinoplasty EP, which features covers of acts like XTC, The Police and Peter Gabriel. The EP also includes two live recordings of Primus, as well as bonus content accessed through a CD-ROM portion of the CD. It was shortly followed by the video release Videoplasty.
Antipop was released in 1999, and featured production and guest appearances from James Hetfield from Metallica, Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine and Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit. While producing the song "Lacquer Head", Durst encouraged Primus to return to the more aggressive sound of their earlier albums for Antipop. Some critics compared the album's murky downtuned guitars to nu metal, which was popular during the time. The band toured in support of Antipop with Ozzfest and Family Values Tour. The band released a music video for the album's only single, "Lacquer Head", which was banned from MTV because of references to and depictions of drug use, despite the song's anti-drug message.
In 2000 Primus performed a cover of Black Sabbath's song "N.I.B." featuring vocals by Ozzy Osbourne. The track originally appeared on the album Nativity in Black II: A Tribute to Black Sabbath. The track was also released as part of Ozzy's 2005 Prince of Darkness box set.
The band went on hiatus, with Claypool later stating:
"The end of the Nineties was an unhappy Primus camp. I hit a creative stagnation that wasn't helping us forward, and the personal elements, it just was time to stop. And I had been asked for many years, "How long can Primus go on?" And I always said, "I'll do it until it's not fun anymore." And it just wasn't fun anymore on many different levels."
During this hiatus, Alexander released two albums with the band Laundry and performed with Blue Man Group, A Perfect Circle, and Born Naked, among others. Claypool explored the jam band scene with Oysterhead (featuring friend Trey Anastasio of Phish and Stewart Copeland of The Police) and his own Colonel Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade (featuring both Huth and Lane). He also collaborated with Brain, Buckethead and Bernie Worrell in the group Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains.
In late 2003, Primus reunited with Tim Alexander on drums to record a five track EP. Released alongside a DVD containing the band's music videos and clips from live performances, the resulting package was titled Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People. The band staged a two-month tour performing two sets per show, the second consisting of their 1991 release Sailing the Seas of Cheese in its entirety. 2004 saw them continue touring, this time performing their 1990 release Frizzle Fry in its entirety. For these two tours, the band sold recordings directly recorded from the sound-board online. The performance in Chicago was videotaped and released as a DVD titled Hallucino-Genetics: Live 2004. They also performed a set at Bonnarroo in 2004, a late night set featuring a cover of " YYZ" by Rush and a guest appearance by Adrian Belew on "Thela Hun Ginjeet" a King Crimson cover.
In 2005 the band performed at Lollapalooza and Vegoose. Between Primus shows, Claypool created a new solo project called Les Claypool's Fancy Band which, like other projects, occasionally used Primus songs.
A May 10, 2006 article in IGN revealed that Primus had signed on with RedOctane to allow the master recording of John the Fisherman to be used in Guitar Hero 2, a game for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360.
Primus performed on July 29, 2006, at the first annual Hedgpeth Festival in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin.
On October 17, 2006, Primus released both their first greatest hits CD They Can't All Be Zingers, as well as their third DVD Blame It on the Fish: an Abstract Look at the 2003 Primus Tour de Fromage. Containing live footage from the band's 2003 Tour de Fromage, interview segments and behind the scenes footage, the DVD includes a seventy-minute feature film and ninety minutes of bonus material, including a thirty-minute mockumentary about the band in the year 2065. Blame it on the Fish was directed by Matthew J. Powers. They Can't All Be Zingers: The Best of Primus includes 16 digitally remastered songs that span the band's career.
In November 2006, Primus commenced another tour which concluded the following month. They played at a few festivals in 2008, including the Rothbury Festival (in Michigan), the Ottawa Blues Fest, the Quebec City Summer Festival, and the Outside Lands Festival (in San Francisco), followed by their first annual Oddity Faire tour in March, 2009. On November 24, 2009, Prawn Song re-released the band's first studio album, Frizzle Fry, on vinyl record, along with some of Claypool's solo albums.
It was revealed in 2011 that Alexander lacked interest in continuing Primus, despite enthusiasm from LaLonde and Claypool. Claypool hinted that the band could have recorded with Alexander, but that "when we did readdress Primus in '03 and '06, it was more of a nostalgic thing. It was great at the time, but it just didn't have that creative spark as far as moving forward", and thus the reformation instead focused on touring.
Green Naugahyde (2010–2013)
On March 18, 2010, it was announced by Phil Lesh on his official message board that former Primus drummer Jay Lane would be leaving his previous band Furthur to rejoin Primus. On May 3, 2010, Primus announced a new tour with Gogol Bordello, Wolfmother, and The Dead Kenny G's. The press release for the tour revealed that the band were looking to "refine their chops before heading into the studio to record their first album of brand new music since 1999's Antipop." Correlating with this announcement, the Primus website was updated with an animation of an elevator with its twelfth floor featuring a stylized question mark, and a sign reading "Primus will be with you shortly", alluding to future plans. In 2011, Claypool elaborated on the band's decision to record an album, stating that "(Lane) coming back has just breathed life back into the project. We did some touring, and we decided, "Let's go make a record," because we were creating things on the road."
On August 5, 2010, Primus released June 2010 Rehearsal, a free four-track rehearsal EP available for download on their official website. The EP consists of new recordings of previously released Primus songs featuring Jay Lane on drums.
Primus began their second annual Oddity Faire tour on September 14, 2010, with opening acts Portugal. The Man, Split Lip Rayfield, Mariachi El Bronx, The New Orleans Bingo! Show, Mucca Pazza and Gogol Bordello. The Squidling Brothers Circus Sideshow performers also entertained the crowd between bands on select dates. To promote this tour, Primus appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in September. The Oddity Faire tour did not include dates in Primus's hometown, the San Francisco Bay Area, because for promotional purposes it was too near to the planned New Year's dates December 30 and 31 in Oakland.
In interviews conducted backstage at the Soundwave Festival in March 2011, Claypool said of the new Primus album "we've recorded it, we just need to polish it", and that the release date "should be around May or so". He also described the new material as being "very reminiscent of Frizzle Fry". In May, it was revealed that the album was complete and had been named Green Naugahyde, though the release date was pushed back to July to avoid the holidays. On June 6, a press release was issued announcing that the album would be released by ATO Records and Prawn Song on September 13, 2011. A second press release was later issued announcing that the album would be released in Europe on September 12. On August 17, the track "Tragedy's a' Comin'" was made available to stream via the Spin magazine website, followed by "HOINFODAMAN" on September 1 via the Rolling Stone site. On September 8, the TV show South Park made the entire album available for streaming to anybody who "likes" their Facebook page, including "Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers" as a bonus track.
Primus continued to tour throughout 2011, playing a number of dates in North America in May and June, including the Bonnaroo Music Festival, followed by a tour of Europe from late June to mid July. They then returned to America to play a few more music festivals leading into early August, including a show at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver, Colorado with The Flaming Lips, before embarking on a "major fall tour" in support of the new album.
During March 2013, the band played for the very first time in Mexico City with three different setlists every night (March 11, 12, 13).
Return of Tim Alexander and a possible new album (2013-present)
In September 2013, Les revealed that Jay Lane has departed Primus to focus on RatDog with Bob Weir. Previous drummer Tim Alexander has rejoined the band in his place. The band plans on going into the studio in November to possibly record their eighth studio album, the name will be announced in 2014.
Musical style and influences
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Primus's musical style is difficult to define. Primus has been called everything from "thrash-funk meets Don Knotts, Jr." to "the Freak Brothers set to music", and has been variously termed alternative rock, alternative metal, experimental rock, funk metal, and progressive metal. Regarding the band's genre, Claypool has stated "We've been lumped in with the funk metal thing just about everywhere. I guess people just have to categorise you". MTV suggests that Primus is "a post-punk Rush spiked with the sensibility and humor of Frank Zappa". Les Claypool himself once described their music as "psychedelic polka." Spin magazine have labeled Primus as "pranksters".
Primus is the only band with its own ID3 genre tag, 'Primus', as extended by Winamp. Primus' influences include The Residents, Rush and Pink Floyd. The band have been credited as an influence to the nu metal genre, with nu metal bands such as Deftones, Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Pleymo citing Primus as an influence. Other bands that Primus have influenced include Muse and Incubus.
- Frizzle Fry (1990)
- Sailing the Seas of Cheese (1991)
- Pork Soda (1993)
- Tales from the Punchbowl (1995)
- Brown Album (1997)
- Antipop (1999)
- Green Naugahyde (2011)
- Bring the Noise Tour (1991)
- Roll the Bones Tour (1992)
- Zoo TV Tour (1992)
- Lollapalooza (1993)
- Liquid Pig Tour (1993)
- Counterparts Tour (1994)
- Punchbowl Tour (1995)
- Southbound Pachyderm Tour (1996)
- Brown Tour (1997)
- H.O.R.D.E. Tour (1997)
- SnoCore Tour (1998)
- Ozzfest (1999)
- Family Values Tour (1999)
- Antipop Tour (1999–2000)
- Tour de Fromage (2003–2004)
- Hallucino-Genetics Tour (2004)
- The Beat a Dead Horse Tour (2006)
- Summer Tour (2010)
- The Oddity Faire Tour (2010)
- Primus World Tour (2011)
- Guinea Pig Tour (2011)
- Green Naugahyde Tour (2011)
- Spring Tour (2012)
- 3D Tour (2012)
|Sailing the Seas of Cheese||1991||Platinum Album|
|Pork Soda||1993||Platinum Album|
|Tales from the Punchbowl||1995||Gold Album|
|Wynona's Big Brown Beaver||1996||Grammy Nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance|
- Danny Elfman's soundtrack to Pee-Wee's Big Adventure was used by the band as an introduction during their 'Tour De Fromage'. On this tour, Les and the band wore 'headlight glasses', that were also featured in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. The outfits from Primus's "Wynona's big brown beaver" music video closely resemble those in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.
- Primus has a catchphrase, being "Primus sucks!". When fans say this, it often confuses new listeners. In 2011 Les said that he got tired of fans saying it.
- Greg Prato. "Q&A: Les Claypool on Primus' Future and His TV Show With Dean Ween". Rolling Stone Magazine. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
- Karl Coryat. "Les Claypool gets a Taste of the Big Time". Bass Player Magazine via ram.org. Retrieved September 23, 2006.
- Michael Goldberg. "Primus Through the Years: Les Claypool Reflects on His Past". Retrieved May 1, 2011.
- "Primus family tree". Retrieved April 29, 2011.
- Randy Reiss (September, 1997). "You Say It's Your Birthday: Les Claypool of Primus". Addicted to Noise, via ram.org. Retrieved May 1, 2011.
- Greg Prato (June 10, 2011). "Return of Drummer Jay Lane has 'Breathed Life' Back Into Primus". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 12, 2011.
- Illustrated Discography, Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People DVD, 2003.
- "Primus Chart History, Singles". Billboard. Retrieved April 1, 2007.
- Devenish, Colin (2000). Limp Bizkit. St. Martin's. pp. 159–60. ISBN 0-312-26349-X.
- Schultz, Christopher. "Primus, 'Green Naugahyde'". Spin. Retrieved 2012-11-24.
- Uley, Jeremy. "CD Review: PRIMUS Green Naugahyde". Metal Injection. Retrieved 2012-11-24.
- Kathleen Sanders. "E3 2006: Rock Out with Primus on Guitar Hero II".
- "Les Claypool 'The Oddity Fair' Tour Dates, Bands". SMN News. February 11, 2009. Retrieved May 27, 2011.
- "Phil Lesh, Furthur, Grateful Dead Phan Forum". Philzone.org. Retrieved 2011-10-22.
- Tuyet Nguyen. "Primus announces headlining tour, new album".
- "Critters Buggin official website". Crittersbuggin.com. Retrieved 2011-10-22.
- "Primus Returns to the Road, Plans New Album".
- Aidin Vaziri Pop Quiz: Les Claypool of Primus sfgate.com July 18, 2010
- Johnson, Stephen (August 20, 2010). "Harmonix Responds To Rock Band 3 Set List "Leaks" By Revealing Entire Set List". G4 Media, Inc. Retrieved October 29, 2010.
- Primus Interview: Soundwave TV 2011. March 10, 2011. Retrieved May 1, 2011.
- Primus Interview - The Knave interviews for BEAT TV at The Melbourne Soundwave 2011. March 7, 2011. Retrieved May 1, 2011.
- Steve Centanni (May 17, 2011). "Primus brings ‘saccharine nightmare’ to Gulf Shores". LagniappeMobile.com. Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved May 18, 2011.
- Press release (June 6, 2011). "Primus to Release New Album in September". theprp.com. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
- European press release (June 17, 2011). "Indie Distrobution Nyheter 17.06.2011". indiedist.no. Retrieved June 22, 2011.
- Kevin O'Donnell (August 17, 2011). "Exclusive: Primus Return with First New Song". Spin. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- Matthew Perpetua (September 1, 2011). "Exclusive Stream: Primus' Twitchy 'Hoinfodaman'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
- "Exclusive Free Preview of Primus' New Album Green Naugahyde". South Park via Facebook. September 8, 2011. Retrieved September 10, 2011.
- "Bonnaroo 2011 Lineup: Eminem, Arcade Fire, WSP, MMJ".
- Coplan, Chris. "Primus announces first-ever 3D-enhanced tour". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
- Gore, Joe (August 1991). "New Rage: The Funky". Guitar Player via ram.org. Retrieved September 23, 2006.
- "High Fryers". Metal Forces No. 54 via ram.org. Retrieved September 23, 2006.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Primus Biography at AllMusic. Retrieved November 27, 2009.
- Friedlander, Paul (2006). Rock and Roll: A Social History. Westview Press. p. 296. ISBN 0-8133-4306-2.
- "Alternative Metal". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-10-19.
- Brunner, Rob. "Young and the Listeless". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-10-18.
- Primus: Nice and Cheesy Hot Metal via ram.org. Retrieved November 21, 2012
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas; Prato, Rovi. "Primus". MTV.com. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
- "Say "Cheese"!". Kerrang! No. 343 via ram.org. June 1, 1991. Retrieved September 23, 2006.
- O'Donnell, Kevin (2011-08-17). "EXCLUSIVE: Primus Return With First New Song | SPIN | SPIN Mix | Songs". SPIN. Retrieved 2013-03-08.
- "ID3 tag version 2". ID3. March 26, 1998. Retrieved March 14, 2009.
- Elfman, Doug (October 15, 2003). "Primus plays Hard Rock". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved March 14, 2009.
- Alternative Press (7/02, p. 98) - "... These reissues benefit from keen remastering, making it even more obvious that Primus' crunch has influenced legions of nu-metal soldiers... "
- "Primus announce first UK gigs in 14 years - ticket details | News". Nme.Com. 2011-02-07. Retrieved 2013-03-08.
- "Les Claypool Leads Moshers Through A Pummeling, Fun Show". Orlando Sentinel. November 26, 1999.
- Mesenov, Sergey. "Pleymo - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-03-08.
- "38th Grammy Awards – 1996". Rockonthenet.com. Archived from the original on December 30, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
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