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Les Claypool: Eccentric Bassist Would Rather Be Fishing

Les Claypool: Eccentric Bassist Would Rather Be Fishing

If Primus bassist Les Claypool had a bumper sticker on his car, it most likely would read: "I'd rather be fishing." As much as Claypool likes to create strange and esoteric music, he also loves heading out on the water and zoning out.

See also:

-Les Claypool's Duo de Twang and Deer Tick Added to McDowell Mountain Music Festival 2013 -The Shins and Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes Added to the Expanding McDowell Mountain Music Festival Lineup -McDowell Mountain Music Festival 2013: The Roots, Dr. Dog, Heartless Bastards; New Location

"Generally, when I'm fishing, I'm not really paying much attention to anything but fishing," he says in a recent interview. "That's sort of the nature of it, to let go of all the other stuff. Everybody has their avenue to zen, be it jogging or yoga or whatever . . . masturbating. One of the most pleasant and relaxing things for me is to hop on my boat and go 40 miles out into the ocean and chase tuna around or stand in some river somewhere and flip a fly around. I enjoy that. It calms me and puts me in that space where I don't think of everything but that."

But Claypool admits songs -- some about his gilled friends -- do creep into his head. Other musical ideas get bandied about as well, like his latest musical incantation aimed at turning down the volume by going acoustic: Duo de Twang. Assisted by guitarist Marc "Mirv" Haggard, the duo plays acoustic versions of songs from Primus and Oysterhead, (possibly Col. Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains, too), freshly penned originals and classic country songs such as Johnny Horton's "Battle of New Orleans."

Dressed in Wild West-style bowler hats and vests, the duo has a throwback look and the inkling of vintage sound simply via instrumentation. But even when playing acoustic, the tall, lanky lyrical (albeit twisted) sage typically overflows with high-energy, funky, progressive bass lines, managing to keep it just weird enough to satiate his determined fan base.  

The just-weird-enough concept is what works for Primus as well. A fixture on the late-'80s on the Bay Area club circuit, the band never cut a demo, instead recording a couple of concerts, pressing them into an album, and sending them to college radio stations. Always a positive receptor for more esoteric forms of music, college radio stations adopted Primus as their mutant baby: weird, high-pitched sing-songy vocals, twisted bass, thrashing guitar lines, thunderous drums, strange time signatures and all. It just ballooned from there. Luck may have played a role in the band's success, but it was also the right music at the right time.

"As a fellow who has gotten a fair amount of airplay in his career, I'm even surprised at that," Claypool says. "Primus was never supposed to be on the radio, never supposed to be on MTV, never supposed to sell platinum records. I'm assuming what draws people -- and has drawn people to my shows through the years -- is that there's a slice of the planet that is not interested in the mainstream and is looking for something different. Guys like us provide that. It is a finite audience to an extent . . . a select group of people that are interested in things that are obscure, unique, and different."

Claypool's second probable bumper sticker? "Different is good!"

Les Claypool's Duo de Twang is scheduled to perform Sunday, March 24, at McDowell Mountain Music Festival at Margret T. Hance Park.

See also:

-Les Claypool's Duo de Twang and Deer Tick Added to McDowell Mountain Music Festival 2013 -The Shins and Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes Added to the Expanding McDowell Mountain Music Festival Lineup -McDowell Mountain Music Festival 2013: The Roots, Dr. Dog, Heartless Bastards; New Location


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Margaret T. Hance Park

1134 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

602-534-2406

www.phoenix.gov


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