music / Columns

Jam Central Station 12.1.12: Primus

December 1, 2012 | Posted by mojo4395


Hey all! Thanks for stopping by this week. While you’re reading this I’ll be recovering from last night’s MuckleBuck show. Hopefully it went well! We’ve got 3 more shows this month, so I’m looking forward to that. And of course I’m looking forward to this week’s column, featuring one of my all-time favorite bands, Primus!


When your most hardcore fans are the ones screaming that you suck, you know you’re not dealing with a typical band. Of course when it comes to Primus, nothing is typical. From their beginnings as one of the true “alternative” hard rock bands to their more recent acceptance in the jam band scene, Primus has been nothing but different. They’ve defied labels, genres, and “the laws of tradition,” and somehow have come out in one piece.

The foundation of the band is obviously Les Claypool. As the bassist, primary songwriter, vocalist, and only member that has been with the band for their entire run, many people would say that Claypool is Primus. He’s without a doubt one of the most talented bassists ever. He slaps, strums, and taps his bass in a combination that’s unheard of in rock and roll. While he’d never be considered a great singer, his weird vocals are a great accent to his very weird bass playing. Claypool has proven throughout his career that he’s able to play in a variety of styles and with a variety of members, but in Primus Claypool always seems to do his best work and to be most comfortable.

It obviously would take some solid musicians to be able to support Claypool on stage, and Primus has always had that. Guitarist Larry LaLonde started out as a thrash metal guitarist, but after working with Claypool in another band became a permanent part of Primus. He’s been able to add depth and substance to Primus’s music, even though he’s not playing the lead like most guitarists do. The band hasn’t had the same stability with drummers, going through three drummers since the release of their first album, as well as four others when they were just getting started. Tim Alexander spent the most time with the band, playing drums on several albums and touring with them during the height of their popularity. He left the band in 1995 and was replaced by Brian “Brain” Mantia, who Claypool knew from working with him in the 80’s. After the Primus hiatus, Alexander came back to the band in 2003, but as the band wanted to start doing more it was clear that Alexander wasn’t interested in Primus beyond the occasional tour. Claypool and LaLonde then brought back Jay Lane, who was drumming for the Grateful Dead offshoot Furthur at the time, and who was a member of Primus in the late 80’s, bringing the band almost full circle.

The band got their start in the mid 80’s, while Claypool was experimenting with a variety of musical styles and trying to see what stuck. They developed a unique fusion of metal, funk, and alternative rock that drew comparisons to other band at the time but was also extremely unique. They recorded a live album that they released independently before putting together their first full-length studio effort. Frizzle Fry was released in 1990 and was an unexpected success for the band, with “John the Fisherman” getting limited radio play and the band getting the opportunity to tour with Jane’s Addiction. The band’s talent garnered the attention of seasoned musicians and their true alternative style fit well into the new musical landscape of the 90’s, and Primus was able to ride that wave to early success.

The band quickly released their follow up album, 1991’s Sailing the Seas of Cheese. The album was released on Interscope, giving the band the backing of a major label. This allowed the band to tour the country with artists as diverse as U2, Rush, Public Enemy, and Anthrax. Since the band didn’t fit into any particular genre, they were able to garner the attention of music fans across the board. They also had a part in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey and were featured on MTV’s Beavis and Butthead. The singles were strong enough that the band was able to tour the country as a headliner as well, and it went Gold in 1993.

The band kept up their pace of studio releases with 1993’s Pork Soda. The album debuted at #7 and also went Gold, anchored by the success of the single “My Name Is Mud.” The band headlined 1993’s Lollapalooza Festival, which at this time was a vibrant all-day touring festival featuring the best in the alternative music scene. Success for the band also meant that they kept a blistering schedule of recording and touring, spending nearly 4 years straight either on the road or in the studio. The band was able to take a short break in 1994, giving Claypool the opportunity to pursue some other musical projects, and they reformed for 1995’s Tales From The Punchbowl.

Tales From The Punchbowl was one of Primus’s most progressive albums, and it included their biggest hit single to date. “Wynonna’s Big Brown Beaver.” They were able to get more MTV play for the video and tour the country again as headliners. Unfortunately, Alexander wanted to go in a different direction from the band, and he left Primus after the tour. The band tapped Bryan Mantia to fill the drum duties for the band. Mantia brought an impressive resume to the table, which included time playing with Bootsy Collins and Buckethead.

Primus recorded two albums with Mantia on drums. The Brown Album was released in 1997, and was meant to be an album that made a statement. Unfortunately the band had significantly less commercial success with this release than with their previous efforts. Despite some favorite songs for hardcore fans, the album didn’t catch on with the more casual fans. The band responded with 1999’s Antipop an ambitious album that featured a variety of collaborations and guest producers. Tom Morello, Tom Waits, James Hetfield, Fred Durst, and Matt Stone all had a hand in the album. The result was a relatively inaccessible album that didn’t strike much of a chord with Primus fans while again failing to gain a mainstream following.

The lack of inspiration on Antipop took its toll on the band. Les Claypool had been experimenting with solo projects, but he had always been of the mindset that he would continue with Primus “until it was not fun anymore.” By the end of the 90’s that time had come. The band went on an indefinite hiatus, with no plans to record or tour and each member exploring other projects. Alexander had already been involved in another band since leaving Primus, and LaLonde and Mantia teamed up for a side project. Claypool went in a variety of directions, starting the band Oysterhead with Trey Anastasio and Stewart Copeland, as well as the Frog Brigade. Both of these projects allowed Claypool to gain a strong foothold in the jam band scene, a fan base that Primus had not gone after as a band. This would be a major benefit for the band when they returned.

Primus came back together in 2003 with Alexander back on drums. They released an EP and went out on a tour. The tour was a major success, and the band capitalized on some of their newer fans by playing two-set shows, including a set that featured the band playing the entire Sailing the Seas of Cheese album. They did the same thing in 2004 with the Frizzle Fry album. They played Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Rothbury, Outside Lands, and a variety of other festivals that were more aimed at the jam band crowd.

The band hit a roadblock as far as recording, however. At first the reunion of Primus was more nostalgic, but as the tours continued Claypool and LaLonde were interested in returning to the studio and getting back into Primus 100%. Alexander simply wasn’t interested in Primus as anything more than an occasional touring entity. In 2010 the band announced that Alexander was being replaced by Jay Lane, who was drumming with Furthur at the time but had worked with Primus for a short time in the 80’s. The revamped band toured before heading into the studio to record Green Naugahyde After a 12 year absence, the album was released in September of 2011. With Lane back on drums, the band was able to bring back a sound very reminiscent of their early days. The album was generally well received by fans of all stripes.

Primus has been an incredibly influential band. They were at the forefront of the “nu metal” genre, and many bands from the 90’s borrowed heavily from Primus’s sound. Their influence can also be felt in the more modern indie and alternative rock scenes, as they’ve encouraged bands to push the envelope musically beyond traditional genres. They’ve also had the opportunity to pay respect to their own influences, touring with bands such as Rush and recording covers from favorites like The Police. After more than 20 years, it’s pretty amazing that Primus continues to be a powerful musical force, and with their recent success it’s unlikely that will change anytime soon.



Summer Camp Lineup Leak
Summer Camp has been leaking some acts for their 2013 lineup. Some big names include the Trey Anastasio Band, The Avett Brothers, Yonder Mountain String Band, Thievery Corp., Keller Williams, Gramatik, Cornmeal, Big Gigantic, and Lettuce. This is a great start for this lineup. It’ll be interesting to see how other festivals follow this up.

Solid Sound Festival to return
After taking 2012 off, Wilco will bring back their Solid Sound festival in 2013. The festival will take place at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, MA from June 21-23. It will feature two Wilco shows as well as a variety of other artists.

moe. add dates
moe. will stay on the road through the winter of 2013. They’ve put together another string of dates and are scheduled to be on the road through March as of right now.

February 1 New York, NY—Best Buy Theater
February 2 New York, NY—Best Buy Theater
February 6 Pittsburgh, PA—Stage AE
February 7 Ann Arbor, MI—The Ark
February 8 Madison, WI—Capitol Theater
February 9 Chicago, IL—Riviera Theatre
February 10 Lafayette, IN—Lafayette Theater
February 13 Knoxville, TN—Bijou Theatre
February 14 Raleigh, NC—Lincoln Theatre
February 15 Charlotte, NC—Fillmore Charlotte
February 16 Atlanta, GA—Tabernacle
March 1 Portland, OR—Crystal Ballroom
March 2 Seattle, WA—Showbox at the Market
March 5 Crystal Bay, NV—Crystal Bay Club Crown Room
March 6 Crystal Bay, NV—Crystal Bay Club Crown Room
March 7 Las Vegas, NV—Hard Rock Café on the Strip
March 8 Los Angeles, CA—The Fonda Theatre
March 9 Los Angeles, CA—The Fonda Theatre

Galactic schedule dates
Galactic also extended their 2013 winter tour. They’re currently scheduled to be on the road through early March.

December 3 Tokyo, Japan—Liquid Room
December 4 Nagoya, Japan—Club Quattro
December 5 Osaka, Japan—Club Quattro
December 31 New Orleans, LA—Tipitina’s Uptown
January 7 Fort Lauderdale, FL—Jam Cruise 11
January 15 Pensacola, FL—Vinyl Music Hall (w/Art Official)
January 16 Orlando, FL—The Plaza Live (w/Art Official)
January 17 Jacksonville Beach, FL—Freebird Live (w/Art Official)
January 18 St Petersburg, FL—State Theatre (w/Bobby Lee Rodgers & Art Official)
January 19 Fort Lauderdale, FL—Revolution (w/Bobby Lee Rodgers & Art Official)
February 14 St Louis, MO—The Pageant (w/LATYRX feat. Lyrics Born & Lateef the Truthspeaker)
February 15 Lawrence, KS—Liberty Hall (w/BOOMBOX & LATYRXfeat. Lyircs Born & Lateef the Truthspeaker)
February 16 Denver, CO—The Ogden Theatre (w/Monophonics)
February 17 Denver, CO—The Ogden Theatre (w/LATYRX feat. Lyrics Born & Lateef the Truthspeaker)
February 19 Salt Lake City, UT—The Depot (w/LATYRX feat. Lyrics Born & Lateef the Truthspeaker)
February 20 Victor, ID—Knotty Pine
February 22 Seattle, WA—Showbox (w/LATYRX feat. Lyrics Born & Lateef the Truthspeaker)
February 23 Portland, OR—Crystal Ballroom (w/LATYRX feat. Lyircs Born & Lateef the Truthspeaker)
February 24 Crystal Bay, NV—The Crystal Bay Club/Crown Room
February 26 Sacramento, CA—Harlow’s Night Club
February 27 Solana Beach, CA—Belly Up Tavern (w/LATYRX feat. Lyrics Born & Lateef the Truthspeaker)
February 28 Los Angeles, CA—El Rey Theatre (w/LATYRX feat. Lyrics Born & Lateef the Truthspeaker)
March 1 San Francisco, CA—The Fillmore
March 2 San Francisco, CA—The Fillmore
March 3 Santa Ana, CA—Yost Theater (w/LATYRX feat. Lyrics Born & Lateef the Truthspeaker)

Railroad Earth tour dates
Railroad Earth is also gearing up for a winter tour. This will run from mid January through March. There will likely be more dates added, since there are some gaps in the schedule.

January 18 Denver, CO—Ogden Theatre
January 19 Denver, CO—Ogden Theatre
January 20 Denver, CO—Ogden Theatre
January 24 Minneapolis, MN—First Avenue
January 25 Chicago, IL—House of Blues
January 26 St. Louis, MO—The Pageant
February 7 Charlottesville, VA—Jefferson Theater
February 8 Charlottesville, VA—Jefferson Theater
February 9 Asheville, NC—Orange Peel
February 15 Atlanta, GA—Variety Playhouse
February 16 Atlanta, GA—Variety Playhouse
February 22 Boston, MA—House of Blues
February 23 Washington, DC—9:30 Club
March 9 New York, NY—Best Buy Theater
March 16 Philadelphia, PA—Union Transfer
March 28 San Francisco, CA—The Fillmore
March 29 San Francisco, CA—The Fillmore
March 30 San Francisco, CA—The Fillmore

Big Gigantic tour dates
Big Gigantic is also planning on being on the road this winter. They’re scheduled through March as well.

January 29 Birmingham, AL—WorkPlay
January 30 Charleston, SC—The Music Farm
January 31 Tallahassee, FL—The Coliseum
February 1 Atlanta, GA—The Tabernacle
February 2 Asheville, NC—Orange Peel
February 5 Louisville, KY—Headliners Music Hall
February 6 Columbus, OH—Newport Music Hall
February 7 Madison, WI—The Orpheum Theatre
February 8 Grand Rapids, MI—Orbit Room
February 9 Royal Oak, MI—Royal Oak Music Hall
February 12 Clifton Park, NY—Upstate Concert Hall
February 13 Burlington, VT—Higher Ground (Ballroom)
February 14 Portland, ME—State Theatre
February 15 Boston, MA—House of Blues
February 16 New York, NY—Terminal 5
February 17 Rochester, NY—Sun Water Street Music Hall
February 20 New Haven, CT—Toad’s Place
February 21 Silver Spring, MD—The Fillmore
February 22 Philadelphia, PA—Electric Factory
February 24 Morgantown, WV—Metropolitan Theatre
February 26 Memphis, TN—Minglewood Hall
February 27 Baton Rouge, LA—Varsity Theatre
February 28 Austin, TX—Stubb’s
March 1 Houston, TX—House of Blues
March 2 Dallas, TX—House of Blues
March 3 Oklahoma City, OK—Sun Farmer’s Public Market

Keller on the road
Keller will be on the road both solo and in a couple of different Keller bands early next year as well. As usually, his touring will be extensive.

January 10 Memphis, TN—Newby’s
January 11 Little Rock, AR—Revolution Music Room
January 12 Springfield, MO—Gillioz Theatre
January 17 Tucson, AZ—Club Congress
January 18 Tempe, AZ —Marquee Theatre
January 19 Flagstaff, AZ—Orpheum Theater
January 24 Mobile, AL—Alabama Music Box
January 25 New Orleans, LA—Tipitina’s
January 26 Houston, TX—Fitzgerald’s
January 31 Kalamazoo, MI—Bell’s Eccentric Café
February 1 Indianapolis, IN—Vogue Theatre
February 2 Columbus, OH—Newport Music Hall
February 7 Iowa City, IA—The Englert Theatre
February 8 Columbia, MO—The Blue Note
February 9 Urbana, IL—The Canopy Club
February 15 New York, NY—City Winery (Keller Solo and Keller and the Keels)
February 16 New York, NY—City Winery (Keller solo and More Than a Little)
February 21 Ithaca, NY—The Haunt
February 22 Buffalo, NY—Tralf Music Hall
February 23 Millvale, PA—Mr. Smalls Theatre
March 1-5 Negril, Jamaica—Dark Star’s Jamaican Jam in the Sand
March 15 Boston, MA—Paradise Rock Club
March 16 South Burlington, VT—Higher Ground
March 30 Savannah, GA—Savannah Music Festival (w/ Travelin’ McCourys and Charlie Hunter)
April 6 Lutsen, MN—Papa Charlie’s at Lutsen Mountains (Keller solo & Keller w/ Travelin’ McCourys)


Strings & Sol
December 12-16, 2012
Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa
Tulum, Mexico
Yonder Mountain String Band will perform 3 shows, and Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, and The Infamous Stringdusters will each be performing 2 shows.

Warren Haynes Christmas Jam
December 15, 2012
US Cellular Civic Center
Asheville, NC
Performers include: Warren Haynes Band, String Cheese Incident, Blind Boys of Alabama, Sheryl Crow, Trombone Shorty, and many others.

S.S. Coachella
December 16-19, 2012 (Bahamas)
December 19-23, 2012 (Jamaica)
Departing from Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Performers include: Pulp, Hot Chip, Yeasayer, Girl Talk, James Murphy, Sleigh Bells, and many others.

Mayan Holidaze
December 17-21, 2012
Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa
Tulum, Mexico
Umphrey’s McGee, The Disco Biscuits, and STS9 will each perform two shows. STS9 will also perform a special midnight set commemorating the beginning of the new Great Cycle of the Mayan Calendar.

Jam Cruise
January 7-12, 2013
Performers include: moe., Medeski, Martin, Scofield & Wood, Funky Meters, Galactic, Karl Denson’s Tiny Univers, Big Gigantic, Lettuce, ALO, Tea Leaf Green, Greensky Bluegrass, Hot Buttered Rum, and many others.

Island Exodus IV
January 16-20, 2013
Negril, Jamaica
Gov’t Mule will host the event and perform multiple sets. No word on other performers.

Panic En La Playa Dos
January 27-31, 2013
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
This event will be the return of Widespread Panic to the stage after a year-long hiatus. Tickets go on sale August 24.

Jam in the Sand
March 1-5, 2013
Breezes Grand Resort
Negril, Jamaica
Dark Star Orchestra’s first Jamaican event. This event will feature multiple DSO shows as well as three Keller Williams sets and other activities

Suwannee Springfest
March 21-24, 2012
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oaks, FL
Performers include: Peter Rowan, Keller and the Keels, Leftover Salmon, Donna the Buffalo, The Travelin’ McCoury’s, Elephant Revival, and many others.

March 21-24, 2012
Killington Resort
Killington, VT

April 12-14, 2013
April 19-21, 2013

Hangout Music Festival
May 17-19, 2013
Gulf Shores, AL

Summer Camp Music Festival
May 23-36
Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL
Performers include: moe., Umphrey’s McGee, Trey Anastasio Band, The Avett Brothers, Yonder Mountain String Band, Thievery Corp., Big Gigantic, Lettuce, Cornmeal, Keller Williams, and many others.

May 23-26, 2013
Cumberland, MD

Governors Ball Music Festival
June 8-9, 2013
Randall’s Island
New York City, NY

June 13-16
Manchester, TN

Solid Sound Festival
June 21-23, 2013
Museum of Contemporary Art
North Adams, MA
Hosted by Wilco

High Sierra Music Festival
July 4-7, 2013
Quincy, CA

Floyd Fest
July 25-28, 2013
Floyd, VA
Performers include: The Lumineers, John Butler Trio, Yonder Mountain String Band, Railroad Earth, Trampled by Turtles, Blitzen Trapper, and many others.

Newport Folk Festival
July 27-28, 2013
Newport, RI

Newport Jazz Festival
August 2-4
Newport, RI

Catskill Chill
September 6-8, 2013
Camp Minglewood
Hancock, NY

Austin City Limits
October 4-6, 2013
October 11-13, 2013


Thanks for checking the column out this week. Be sure to find more Jam on Facebook Twitter. Until next week, Jam On!


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