Primus is a cult favourite Alternative Rock/Funk Metal band from El Sobrante, California.Primus were formed in 1984 by bassist and vocalist Les Claypool, who has always remained the driving force behind the band. The first incarnation of the band included Todd Huth on guitar and Jay Lane on drums, and recorded absolutely bugger all. The second incarnation was more successful, containing guitarist Larry "Ler" LaLonde and drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander. Alexander left in 1996, dissatisfied with the direction the band was taking, and was replaced with Bryan "Brain" Mantia. Primus went on hiatus in 2000, but have reunited in 2003 with the classic Claypool/LaLonde/Alexander lineup. In 2010, Alexander left the band once more and was replaced by the band's original drummer, Jay Lane.Primus' music is incredibly hard to describe, to the point that it is the only band to have its own ID3 tag in Winamp. The closest general description would be "alternative rock/funk metal" or the band's own suggestion of "psychedelic polka", with main influences including Parliament-Funkadelic, The Residents, Frank Zappa, Metallica and Rush. Additionally, their initial fans came from the Bay Area thrash scene due to opening gigs for Testament and Exodus, among others, and Larry LaLonde was previously in seminal thrash metal bands Possessed and Blind Illusion, the latter of which also included Claypool.The dominant songwriter and Most Valuable Player is Les Claypool, he of the incredible bass talent and silly voice. For this reason, Primus subvert the general alignment of heavy metal and rock bands, having the bass as the lead instrument and the guitar on the backseat. Larry himself generally complements Les' riffs with distorted noise and going on atonal tangents, but can bash out a heavy metal riff in lockstep if it's required. Alexander and Mantia generally both play incredibly complicated drum patterns that anchor the songs, acting as the Mitch Mitchell or Keith Moon of the band.The result is a weird and compelling fusion of Heavy Metal, Funk Rock, Progressive Rock and Rule of Funny.You probably know them as the band who made theSouth ParkTheme Song, while lead singer Les Claypool is known for doing the theme (And "IT'S ALIIIIVE" scream) from Robot Chicken.Les Claypool holds the distinction of being the only bassist to ever audition for Metallica and be turned down because he was too good, according to James Hetfield. His Funk Metal style also didn't match the band, as he jokingly asked the others after his audition to "jam on some Isley Brothers tunes".Primus landed in a bizarre, one-sided feud with Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum in 1995, due to their absurdist country-funk-metal single "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver". Les went to great lengths to point out that the song is not, emphasis not, about Winona Ryder - the spelling and pronunciation are different, not to mention the fact that the lyrics make no sense. Ryder didn't mind, but her boyfriend Pirner did, and even renamed one of his songs "Les Claypool's a Big Fucking Asshole" in concert. The correct title should have been "Dave Pirner's a Big Fucking Asshole Who Doesn't Know What the Hell He's Talking About".Band members:
Les Claypool - bass, vocals (1984-2000, 2003-present)
Larry "Ler" LaLonde - guitar, backing vocals, synthesizer (1989-2000, 2003-present)
Tim "Herb" Alexander - drums (1989-1996, 2003-2010)
Bryan "Brain" Mantia - drums (1996-2000)
Todd Huth - guitar (1984-1989)
Jay Lane - drums, backing vocals (1984-1989, 2010-present)
1989 - Suck on This (live album)
1990 - Frizzle Fry
1991 - Sailing the Seas of Cheese (first album released on a major label, breakout success)
1992 - Miscellaneous Debris EP (cover album)
1993 - Pork Soda (their highest charting album, thanks to the single "My Name is Mud")
1995 - Tales from the Punchbowl
1997 - Brown Album
1998 - Rhinoplasty EP (another cover album)
1999 - Antipop
2003 - Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People EP
We had our words, a common spat; So I kissed him upside the cranium with an aluminum baseball bat..
Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: Sailing the Seas of Cheese. The packaging of their Greatest Hits Album, They Can't All Be Zingers, also resembles a package of processed cheese slices. Note, more generally, how many how their album titles involve a reference to food.
The Cameo: Tom Waits plays the titular character in "Tommy the Cat", and Claypool's grandfather plays the live-action Tommy in the music video.
Catch Phrase: The sentence "Primus Sucks", a reference to Les Claypool introducing the band saying "We are Primus and we suck" in early concerts, and meaning something along the lines of "Primus rocks" seems to have become this for the fans, even though its use is kind of controversial.
"Hello Skinny", "Constantinople" and "Sinister Exaggerator" by The Residents, "The Thing That Should Not Be" by Metallica, "Behind My Camel" by The Police, "Making Plans for Nigel" and "Scissor Man" by XTC, "Intruder" and "The Family and the Fishing Net" by Peter Gabriel, "Tippi-Toes" by The Meters, "Have a Cigar" by Pink Floyd, "Silly Putty" by Stanley Clarke, "Amos Moses" by Jerry Reed.
The band played the intro of "Master of Puppets" live, and the intro from "YYZ" by Rush at the beginning of "John the Fisherman" on Suck on This and "To Defy the Laws of Tradition" on Frizzle Fry.
Their cover of "N.I.B." by Black Sabbath has Ozzy Osbourne himself on lead vocals. Perhaps because of this, its their biggest rock radio hit, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart.
Curse Cut Short: "The Air Is Getting Slippery" has the word "fuck" replaced by "Forgive me if I hesitate", until the very last line. And even then, in the studio version, "fuck" is snuffed out by a Sound Effect Bleep of a smashed bottle.
Darker and Edgier: Pork Soda - the music is somewhat heavier than on Frizzle Fry and Sailing the Seas of Cheese, and it also features "Bob", one of the band's few entirely serious songs.
Double Entendre: Subverted for "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver" - the title explicitly sounds like a double entendre, but when put in context, the lyrics make so little sense that it might as well not be.
Ensemble Darkhorse: An in-universe example serves as the title subject of "Lee Van Cleef". One part of Claypool reminiscing about his youth is how he and his friends watched a lot of Western movies. Everyone "really loved watching Clint", but he preferred the less well-known contributions from the song's title character.
Epic Rocking: "To Defy the Laws of Tradition", "Frizzle Fry", "Harold of the Rocks", "Fish On (Fisherman Chronicles, Chapter II)", "Hamburger Train", "Professor Nutbutter's House of Treats", "Southbound Pachyderm", "Over the Electric Grapevine", "Eclectic Electric".
Fake-Out Opening: "To Defy The Laws Of Tradition" functions as this for both Frizzle Fry and the They Can't All Be Zingers compilation. It starts with the same cymbal riff of "YYZ" that opens Primus' debut album, Suck On This, before suddenly Letting the Air out of the Band and beginning the real track.
Hidden Depths: In the sea of supposedly wacky, off-kilter novelty songs you'll find topics like war ("Too Many Puppies"), suicide ("Bob"), student abuse / mental illness ("Mrs. Blaileen"), and immigrants trying to make it in America only to end up destitute ("American Life").
Hidden Track: Antipop is their only album to have one - A new studio version of "The Heckler", which previously could only be heard live on Suck On This, was hidden after "Coattails Of A Dead Man".
Let's Meet the Meat: One possible interpretation of "Shake Hands With Beef", the other being A Date with Rosie Palms. Les says it was the catchphrase of a vegetarian friend of theirs who'd occasionally eat meat.
Letting the Air out of the Band: Happens at the start of Frizzle Fry with "To Defy The Laws Of Tradition", which opens with the same cymbal opening of the "YYZ" quotation that opens Suck On This, before suddenly dropping out and starting the real track.
Loudness War: Brown Album was one of the first albums to prominently feature clipping drums.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver" is NOT about Winona Ryder, as Winona's then-boyfriend Dave Pirner mistakenly believed. It led Dave to announce at a Soul Asylum concert, "This next song's called 'Les Claypool's A Big Fucking Asshole'."
Noodle Implements: In "Here Come The Bastards", we're never sure as to why Les Claypool is so fearful of their arrival. His only basis is some second-hand rumours that may or may not involve, "something about a hammerhead shark, nosehairs and flatus".
Protest Song: "Too Many Puppies" is a humorous attack on the military. A verse mentioning "too many puppies in foreign lands" and another about "maintaining our oil fields" making it seem like it's against the Gulf War, but the album appeared in February 1990 and the war only started in August.
"Where you goin', city boy?!" from Deliverance is used in "My Name Is Mud".
Self-Deprecation: Their motto/slogan is "Primus sucks." When fans first began to recognize the band on the street, Les' stock response to "you guys rule!" was "no, we really suck", and it mutated on from there. Occasionally fans who aren't in on the joke get offended when someone else says this.
"Coattails of a Dead Man" has never been really explained by the band, but it's frequently interpreted as being anti-Courtney Love.
"Year Of The Parrot" is allegedly a veiled swipe at Tori Amos and Adam Duritz, as the lyrics mention 1994 and unnamed artists ripping off Kate Bush and Van Morrison (which the previous two respectfully sounded like).
Thrash Metal: Have always had elements of this in their heavier songs, particularly on Frizzle Fry. This could probably be owed to Larry LaLonde's time in Possessed and the time that he and Claypool both spent in Blind Illusion.