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Les Claypool

Les Claypool CD: Of Fungi And Foe
Record Label: Prawn Song
by Andrew Frey
March 2009

Conjuring questions for Les Claypool brought forth memories of the past to mind. I quite vividly recall the first time I saw the astounding grand bass flailer. A friend and I drove from Denver to Boulder to hear Primus play. On the way to the show we anxiously listened to a warbled and horribly warn cassette of “Suck on This.” Maybe 100 or so people were in attendance at the bar called “Tulagi’s on the Hill” for the “Suck on This” tour stop. Nothing could have adequately prepared me for what we witnessed and experienced that night. My life has never been the same since.

However, many roads have been traversed since then. Countless tours, numerous albums and incessant musical creativity have brought us to this point. As the summer looms ahead, Les Claypool has seized the opportunity to bring a new spin on entertainment to the people with something dubbed “The Oddity Faire.” In a recent e-mail interview, I asked Les a few questions about the tour, the new album, and movies.

“The Oddity Faire is a traveling freak show that is by the freaks for the freaks,” Claypool enlightens us. “The notion of irregular and abstract performers sharing the stage over the course on one evening has always been something I personally would have liked to see.  It promises to be an evening of merry and mutated mischief.”

His new release is called “Of Fungi and Foe” and although undeniably a Claypool creation, there are differences from tones of the past. “I think this record is a bit darker and somewhat more tactile than the previous releases,” Les reflects. “The material will make for a moody and somewhat surreal performance.”
The touring troupe for “Of Fungi and Foe” will be Mike Dillon, Paulo Baldi and Sam Bass. I had to wonder how this crew was chosen.

“Everyone but Sam is veteran of my world by a handful of years,” Les elaborates. “Sam is a new champ that I have recorded with but have not toured with before. The notion of a marimba/vibraphone/junkyard percussion player, a warped cello and a drummer who’ll play a kit that I build from ramshackle bits seemed appropriate.”

While prepping for this interview, I realized that I was woefully unaware of some of the artistic strides Les has made over the past couple years. Top of the list is “Electric Apricot,” a mockumentary that Les wrote, directed and starred in. His character is named “Lapdog Miclovik” and he is the bands drummer. After viewing the film, I had to wonder what else Claypool had up his sleeve.

“Making films is a HUGE pain in the ass!” Les emphasizes. “That being said, we are in the process of bringing SOUTH OF THE PUMPHOUSE to the screen.  Hopefully it won’t be nearly as painful.  As far as drumming, I’m not very good but Lapdog Miclovik is probably one of the greatest in the world.”

Noting the cameos by Seth Green and Matt Stone in Electric Apricot brought to mind the fact that Les wrote the theme songs for both South Park and Robot Chicken. I mused as to how this has affected his career. He points out, “These are both amazing bits of creativity that I was very fortunate to be involved with. Being immortalized in crêpe paper is a wonderful thing.”

Another project in the wings is a something called “Pig Hunt.” Information is scarce on this new film so I asked Les to explain more.

“Pig Hunt is a film written and produced by author Robert Mailer Anderson (BOONEVILLE),” Claypool clarifies. “It is about a 3 thousand pound wild boar that terrorizes the pot fields of Northern California. They are still looking for distribution.”

Finally, I had to ask Les about his basses. The grand bass flailer MUST have a bunch of kick ass bass gear, names for his favorite basses, bass tea parties and more, right? However Claypool clarifies. “I have no idea how many basses I own, not as many as you may think. I’m not really a collector as much as a hoarder of random junk and treasure. Tom Waits called me a “pawnshop weasel”.”

As a parting comment, the distinguished and ineffable Mr. Claypool had a few words of wisdom for young and old alike. “Get as much fiber in your diet as possible.”

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