July 27, 2017
Les Claypool is refreshingly unusual. The Primus vocalist-bassist is an oddball, who doesn't care about fame, fortune or friends in the music industry.
"It's about the music," Claypool said.
"It's about making the best music. Maybe what I do will have an impact on some kid. Hopefully, it'll be a positive impact."
“Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” made a huge impression on Claypool when he was 7 in 1971.
“I was a young shaver back then,” Claypool recalled.
“There wasn’t a kids movie that came out every five-minutes back then. I was locked in from the opening credits when I saw chocolate coming down a conveyer belt. I was too young for an actual erection but I was having a mental erection watching the opening credits.
I was locked in from the opening credits when I saw chocolate coming down a conveyer belt. I was too young for an actual erection but I was having a mental erection watching the opening credits."
"As a young fellow, a huge portion of my existence was impacted by pop culture. 'Wonka' was a huge part of my existence, like when kids got into 'Star Wars.' Until 'Jaws' came along, I was into all things 'Wonka.'"
So, all of those Wonka images flooded Claypool's brain and Primus made its latest album, "Primus and the Chocolate Factory With the Fungi Ensemble." The quirky group covered 14 songs which appear on the “Wonka” soundtrack and that were co-written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. Such left of center cuts as “Oompa Veruca,” “Hello Wonkites” and “Pure Imagination,” as well as the hit “Candy Man” – were all reconfigured by Primus.
That's just one of 10 Primus albums.
“Pork Soda,” “Frizzle Fry” and “Green Naugahyde” are some of Primus’ album titles and the content is stranger than the monikers.
"We just do our own thing," Claypool said. "We don't care about what anyone else is doing. We create and we don't worry about anything else."
There are few bands these days like Primus, who are wonderfully weird and exceptional musicians.
Primus, which also includes guitarists Larry "Ler" Lalonde and drummer Tim Alexander, possesses the chops of Rush but with an infusion of offbeat humor mimicking Frank Zappa. It's surprising that a band as loopy and avant achieved success in the pop music world. During the '90s, Primus albums routinely sold more than 500,000 copies.
"I never saw it coming," Claypool said. "It just happened and I was always grateful. I've made a nice living making music and it's given me the opportunity to do what I want to do."
Claypool looks back and laughs at how different the world was when Primus, which will perform Saturday at Festival Pier, formed a generation ago.
"It's so weird to think back to that period," he said. "When we started touring, there really was no Internet and there were hardly any cell phones.
"You were really gone when you drove off in the van. If you were in Europe, you were completely out of touch. Kids in bands today will never experience that gypsy lifestyle. We experienced so much in this band and the cool thing is that it continues."
Primus appears Saturday at Festival Pier, Spring Garden Street and North Christopher Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia. Clutch will open. Tickets are $39.50. Show time is 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 215-922-1011 or click here.