Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Les Claypool Interveiw; Part 3 The Grape Vine

Can you talk a little bit about a few of the other songs, like "Over the Electric Grapevine?"

Claypool: That song is about a trip that I took to Los Angeles with Adam Gates who actually is the artist who did the picture that we're going to use for the record. He's just an old friend of mine and he had a band called Monkey Rhythm a while ago and they were going to shoot this video down in L.A. Some college students that they knew were going to do it as a project so he and I drove down to Los Angeles one night in his Datsun and we were fried on acid. So there were many very interesting things that happened to us on the way down. It was a full on Hunter S. Thompson experience. So I couldn't really tell the whole story in the song because there was just so much shit that went on but there's little references to different things. But I remember, we're driving along and it would be completely dark and every now and then I would lean up and grab the little map light thing that folds out and aim it at my face and click it on and go--like some crazy face and he'd start freaking out because it was the most hilarious thing in the world to us. And we pulled into some truck stop to get gas and I bought a pack of cigarettes. I hadn't smoked in years. I bought some cigarettes and I stole a lighter and we bought a bunch of candy and, being idiots, bought a bunch of stuff, got back in the car and I started smoking all these cigarettes just to be a bastard filling the car with smoke. We were just fucking with each other the whole way down. I had this gum that when you bite it, the stuff squirts in your mouth, you know? And I didn't realize it was that kind of gum 'cause I hate that stuff. So I had this gum and I took it and I was squeezing out the juice and I was sitting there just squeezing it onto his shoulder while he was driving, the juice from this gum and I ate it. And he's like, what are you doing? And somehow the whole car seemed like it was full of this sticky stuff. It was everywhere. It was like the most horrible feeling. So we ended up in L.A. and there's references to us flying over the grapevine through the fog and hearing--Faith No More's new song had just come on the radio, from the Introduce Yourself record, which was my favorite Faith No More record. It came on the radio and it was the total perk me up and we go flying over the grapevine. And we get to L.A. and we had been listening to this radio station, I guess Deep Purple was coming to town or something so that whatever heavy metal station down there was playing Deep Purple all the time. And we were going back and forth from that station and this college station where these people were talking on the radio. It was like Howard Stern type stuff. They were bullshitting. So we're driving along and it was too early for us to show up at this video shoot, but it was late and we were tired and we didn't have a hotel or nothing, we didn't have any money. So Adam goes, "Well, we played the Roxie before." 'Cause I didn't know L.A. at all. He says, "Well, we played the Roxie before. Let's pull in behind the Roxie." So we pull into the parking lot behind the Roxie and we park and I'm lying there and he takes off. And I'm flipping through the channels and some Deep Purple song comes on so I'm listening to it on that station. I'm just lying there kind of half asleep kind of still frying andthe song ends and I flip the radio back to the college station and I hear Adam's voice on the radio and he's all, "Yeah, when you think of acid, think of Monkey Rhythm." Click. "That was Adam calling from a phone booth. His friend is asleep in the car right now behind the Roxie. And they've driven down here..." and I was like whoa. It was like total mindbender, you know. Pretty soon Adam comes walking back around the corner. I told him, I just heard you on the radio. He goes, "No way, they played that over the air? " So that's what that song is about. It was just one of those crazy weekends. Hunter S. Thompson would be proud, I think, of that weekend. You headlined Lollapalooza two years ago, two summers ago. Which put you before crowds of like 20,000 or more on many of the days. Was it weird to be playing before that big an audience every night for two months or whatever the length of the tour was? Claypool: We were used to it. Actually, we've done some pretty big tours. We did that U2 thing which was nuts. That was weirder, by far. Because we were playing in these gigantic monster places.

To like 50,000, 60,000 people.

Claypool: Yeah, we played Yankee Stadium. We were one of the only bands besides Billy Joel and somebody else. We were like, woo hoo. But it sounded like shit. Those places are designed for whacking balls around and eating hot dogs in the sun. They're not conducive to good sound at all. People are sitting there looking at us like we're on TV.

LaLonde: The odds of 60,000 people a night caring about what we're doing is pretty slim too.

Claypool: It was good, it was a good positive thing for us but I think the highlight of the whole U2 thing for us, was going around to all the stadiums. Me and Ler would find the football helmet, you know, the football helmet golf cart thing that they...

LaLonde: When you break your leg they come out in it and get you.

Claypool: When you watch a football game, the helmet will come out and cruise around the field. We'd go find the helmet for whatever city we were in this stadium and take our picture sitting in it. We didn't get as many as I would've liked. I think we got the Giants and a couple of others. But that was great. And another thing that was cool about the U2 stadium thing was you know, you've got however many tens of thousands of people there and maybe there were, I'd like to think there were maybe1000 people there that were Primus fans but every now and then, you'd hear a "Primus sucks" come from a different part of the audience, you know and I'm sure we're just like freaking out all these U2 fans, some of them young...

LaLonde: Some of them joining in. You're right, they do suck! Why'd you do Lollapalooza?

Claypool: I like playing outside. It's fun but I don't necessarily think it's the best atmosphere to see a show, but it would depend on the show too. For Primus, that was one reason why we played last at Lollapalooza. We wanted to go do a tour by ourselves and be in a darkened environment so we could do our projections and stuff. So they said, well why don't you guys play last? And we said OK. So we were playing in the dark. And on this next tour, we're planning on some real interesting theatrical things. Lots of pyrotechnics.

LaLonde: Lots of bombs!

Claypool: No bombs. That's the thing that attracts me to the Residents and Laurie Anderson and different performance artists. I love the whole visual thing. So we're trying to get into it And basically, we're getting into it as much as we can afford to get into it. When we did the Lollapalooza thing, that was as much as we could afford. We had to bring the big projector and spray it across the wall. This one we're going to take it a little further and...we can't really afford to do the Floyd thing. But I love that type of stuff. I think it's great.

LaLonde: Let's get Kiss' old stage set.

Claypool: No pyrotechnics. That's pyrotechnics. Herb's afraid of pyrotechnics.

You auditioned for Metallica at one point? When was that?

LaLonde: What year did Cliff die? Do you know? I don't remember. I think it was 1986.

Claypool: That sounds about right. Kirk was an old buddy of mine from high school and when Cliff died, I got a call from him saying, "Hey, you wanna come audition?" I was like, OK. He said, well, learn these songs. And I didn't really know. I didn't listen to metal at all. My experience with metal was old Sabbath and Rainbow and all that shit. I didn't know Venom or Slayer or any of those bands. So I went and did this audition and didn't really know what I was doing. I definitely did not look the part. But I had a blast. It was fun. It was loud as hell. At the time it seemed loud. It probably wouldn't seem that loud now.

But you didn't get the gig.

Claypool: I did not get the gig.

Was that disappointing to you?

Claypool: At the time it was very disappointing because I was a carpenter and I knew they were going to Japan and I was like, wow. Just the idea of not being a carpenter anymore and not have to basically be a 9-to-5 guy was just...that would be like winning the Lotto or something. At the time, it was definitely my shot, what I thought would be my only shot.

Have you thought, what would have happened if you had gotten that gig?

Claypool: It would have been kind of weird. I don't know if they would have wanted me in the band. Obviously they didn't want me in the band. I don't think it would have worked out. I like doing my thing. I'm very forward with my opinions.

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