Les Claypool: The Legend of the Pawn Shop Weasel
Photo by Rex Thomson
RR: Obviously, you are also well-known as someone who also gathers various artists together for events throughout your career, you have the Oddity Faire coming up on October 29 at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre. Is it true that is your favorite venue?
LC: That has always been my favorite venue for many reasons. I’ve seen some incredible shows there, I’ve played some incredible shows there, and I’ve been a part of incredible events there. I used to live a block away from it, and I remember when we used to play the Greek Theatre, I could walk there from my house. There’s just a lot of history there for me. There’s some sound restrictions on it that you have to dance around, but it’s an amazing place. We wanted to do the Oddity Faire this year. We didn’t want to tour it. We just wanted to do one big event, so that we could really concentrate on the extracurricular eye candy, and we’re doing it at the Greek this year. It’s going to be a freak show. (laughter)
RR: You’ve got Omar Rodriguez Lopez from the Mars Volta. What other acts are on the bill for the Oddity Faire?
LC: Well, there’s a bunch of surprise stuff. I don’t want to tip the hat a little bit. We’re going to be doing two sets. There are not bands, per se, but there’s a lot of audio and visual candy that’s going to be going on throughout the whole place.
RR: Let’s return to our talk about Primus. You’ve got some new material for the band with this 13-track album. How do you assimilate that into the sets, stay focused on all the songs, making it fresh, and not something that is stale?
LC: For me, mixing it up every night when we’re doing two sets, the first thought was that we weren’t sure…the original thought was “Maybe we should play this record in its entirety.” And then I thought, “Naw, that could be too much work,” and our manager said, “Well, you know, you guys are already playing every song but three,” and this was prior to the record even being out when we were touring Europe. So, I thought, “Well, you’re right.” It amazed me because I’ve never had a record like that. Ever. Except for maybe the first couple records because a lot of those tunes were worked out in clubs for years. But, usually, you make a record and you play three or five songs and there are some songs that you just don’t play and they kind of rotate through the set. [Green Naugahyde] right out the gate we’re already playing the majority of it, so we decided, “Well, let’s play the whole thing, and we’ll test it out on the Boston crowd, and see if they get bored and leave.” (laughter) So we did our first set, showed ‘em some cartoons, and played the second set with the new record in its entirety, and came back out and closed with two or three old songs, and it’s gone incredibly well. It really flows. It’s like a film. We have quite a bit of eye candy. It’s a very psychedelic show.
We sort of found some kindred spirits recently when we did some shows with the Flaming Lips. I’ve been wanting to play with the Lips for a long time. I’ve done some shows with my bands with the Lips, and it just hadn’t come around [with Primus], so when we did it, both parties realized, “Whoa, this is actually really cool.” The audiences complement each other. The bands complement each other. It was really a good thing, so we’re hoping to do some more of that in the future. Needless to say, our show is pretty psychedelic from many aspects.
RR: Every show on your recent European tour was sold out. How were the crowds?
LC: It seemed like everybody loved it. Nobody threw anything at me. (laughter)
RR: I’ve seen a YouTube video where some dude threw a shoe at you, and you responded with a sharp quip, which turned the ‘large shoe concept’ on its head.
LC: Yeah, I don’t know. It always blows my mind. Jayski got hit in the neck with a beer the other night. Fortunately, it was a cup, but it was a full cup of beer and it hit him in the neck, and I didn’t even realize what was going on. Jay is like the biggest, happiest, nicest guy in the world. He’s a big, happy, bundle of fun, and he was pissed, man. In between sets, he was heading out into the bear cage and looking for this guy. He’s a big Sasquatch of a guy, and I wouldn’t want him pissed off at me, and he was pissed. But, you know, every now and again, you get one of these jackasses whose parents didn’t hug them enough and they have to do something like this to get attention and it’s pretty pathetic. I would just rather they would save their money and see somebody else.
RR: Right. As much as you have an innovative attitude, I don’t think you need such bizarre, eccentric behavior at your shows.
LC: Well, I don’t mind bizarre, eccentric behavior. (laughs) But I’m all about constructive, not destructive.
RR: We both have children and I was wondering how they impact your art. Do they have an influence, or does the art change based on the normal process of aging?
LC: I think there’s quite a few factors with what happens with your perspective, but children are definitely a complete game changer. It’s a whole new chapter in life once kids arrive. For some people, it’s not. For some people, they continue to be selfish and do their thing, but for me, no matter how you slice it, as you move through life, and you’re young, the world revolves around you. And I think your parents reinforce that—if you are lucky enough to have parents who do that; it is reinforced. For the most part, the world revolves around you—either consciously, or subconsciously. Once you have kids, it doesn’t revolve around you anymore. It revolves around them, so it changes many things.