Jamband Spotlight: Primus

Words By Greg Molitor (ReMIND Photography)

There’s no band like Primus. Undefinable and eclectic to the extreme, the power trio has been a touring force for over twenty plus years and continues to spiritualize fans with its one-of-a kind performances that shake the soul in ways unimaginable. Truly a wonder of nature, band leader Les Claypool has proven himself to be one hell of an artist though his years of crafting sharp, memorable tunes while showing off world-class bass skills during his always-impressive live explorations. Claypool’s originality and unique world perspective are served thick and heavy in the standard slice of Primus...mental stretching is recommended before trying to lift this load. I’ve compiled a few videos with commentary below in order to spotlight some elements that make Primus music what it is...raw, uncut rock and roll! Let’s start this Monday journey with Primus!

This performance of “American Life” from Hallucinogentics (DVD) illustrates the new direction Primus took after its hiatus ended in 2003. Claypool’s improvisational focus with The Fearless Flying Frog Brigade and Oysterhead carried over into Primus music as certain songs began to stretch in the live setting, allowing the band more room for spacious interplay. This particular version of “American Life” features a jam that has the band diggin’ into a deep percussive trance while Claypool unabashedly displays an incredible amount of virtuosity and innovation in his playing.

Since its creation, Primus has shown a knack for quirky comedy through its through its witty lyrics and subsequent music videos. Check out their sense of humor in the original music video for “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” off the album Tales from the Punchbowl. Released in 1995, Tales from the Punchbowl was drummer Tim Alexander’s last album with Primus until his prodigal return in 2003, and although his departure was marked an end to the era of Primus’ original creative intent, this video remains a classic and shows the band at its playful best.

Bryan “Brain” Mantia (1996-1999) and Jay Lane (1988, 2010-2011) have both served Primus music well throughout their years of involvement, but any die-hard fan will profess Tim “Herb” Alexander (1989-1996, 2003-2009) to be the quintessential Primus drummer. Always rockin’ a drum kit that would make Rush’s Neil Peart proud, Alexander drumming has a balance of bass-driven ferocity and ghost-like subtlety. Here is Herb’s effects-laden drum solo from Hallucinogenetics. When watching, notice Les Claypool join the stage to add his self-created ‘Whamola’ instrument into the mix. Near the end of the jam, Les loops his Whamola signal backwards creating a psychedelic rhythm for which Herb uses to finish his solo in dominant fashion.

This clip of “Spegetti Western” immediately follows Herb’s solo in Hallucinogenetics and is a wild display of Lalonde’s guitar prowess. Both his tone and technique are among the most recognizable in modern rock and roll, yet he remains highly unappreciated by most of the general population. “Spegetti Western” shows that, while dark and visceral in nature, Primus never loses sight of its signature funky grooves that move the masses to its beat. If you listen carefully, the looped Whamola signal can still be heard during the songs verse!

The final video of Primus’ Jamband Spotlight features the band performing “Frizzle Fry” at Gathering of the Vibes Music Festival 2010. In 2010, former drummer Jay Lane (Ratdog, Frog Brigade, Sausage) left the band Further to rejoin Primus after twenty plus years of absence. Primus music hasn’t skipped a beat since his return as they embarked on a national tour in late 2010 and played their first New Year’s Eve show since 1999. The band is still crazy after all these years...until next week, take care!



Popular posts from this blog

Livetronica Sampler 3.22.11

Buckethead: Gimmick or Guitar God?

The Origin of MusicMarauders

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong & Cycles 10.19.18

Phish 7.16.14 (Parents Night)