Primus oral history book, “Primus: Over the Electric Grapevine,” due out tomorrow

Primus

Good news for Primus fans who like reading and stuff: Tomorrow marks the arrival of the awkwardly titled but sure to be awesome Primus: Over the Electric Grapevine: Insight Into Primus and the World of Les Claypool, the first oral history of the influential, bass-slappin’, beaver-ticklin’ alt-rock legends. We’re supposedly getting our mitts on a review copy soon, so we’ll provide more details then. All we can tell you right now is that it was compiled by journalist Greg Prato and features interviews with all the major players in Primus—Les Claypool, Larry LaLonde, Tim “Herb” Alexander, Jay Lane, Bryan Mantia and Todd Huth—as well as friends, fans and occasional collaborators like Trey Anastasio, Stewart Copeland, Tom Morello, Geddy Lee, Kirk Hammett, Tom Waits, Chuck D and Hank3. You can pre-order a hardcover or Kindle version here.

In other Primus news: On Friday, they released another track from their forthcoming Primus & the Chocolate Factory, their tribute to the music of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, due out Oct. 21st on ATO Records. “Golden Ticket” turns the light-hearted original into a primal space-blues stomp—but in a light-hearted way. Les even whistles at one point. Yep, even by Primus standards, this one’s clearly gonna get pretty weird.

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Primus are doing their take on “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”

Primus and the Chocolate Factory

Primus’ next album might be, at least conceptually, their weirdest yet: They’re doing their own spin on the music from the immortal 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The album, called Primus & the Chocolate Factory (with the Fungi Ensemble), is set for release Oct. 21st on ATO Records and features the “definitive” Primus lineup: Les Claypool, guitarist Larry LaLonde and returning drummer Tim Alexander, with help from members of the Les Claypool Frog Brigade (operating, we presume, under the name Fungi Ensemble). It’s the first time the Claypool/LaLonde/Alexander lineup has recorded a full-length album together since 1995’s Tales From the Punchbowl.

In discussing his motivation for doing a Willy Wonka-inspired album, Claypool doesn’t mince words: According to the press release, he was largely inspired by his hatred of the 2005 Tim Burton film version of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book. “I think like a good portion of the planet, we were all pretty put off by the remake of the Willy Wonka movie — the Tim Burton version,” says Claypool. “Look, I love me some Tim Burton, when he writes his own stuff, and I respect what Johnny Depp has done over the years.  Hell, Ed Wood is one of my favorite films, but that (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) is just unwatchable and believe me I’ve tried…twice as a matter of fact. Even my kids hated it.”

I’m not exactly sure how Primus’ Zappa-esque take on songs like “Pure Imagination,” which you can hear below, is any truer to the spirit of the original Gene Wilder film version of Chocolate Factory…but I gotta admit, it’s unlike anything Primus has ever done before. Have a listen.

In other Primus news: The band shared an update via Facebook yesterday on the condition of Tim Alexander, who underwent heart surgery a couple weeks back. Sounds like the surgery was a success and he’s doing well. Here’s the full text of the post (which also includes mention of some cancelled September dates):

Tim has been home from the hospital for about 5 days and is making great progress. Thanks to all Tim’s friends in the music community and the fans for having Tim in their thoughts over the past two weeks. He is up walking around, starting some physical therapy and his wits about him as well. Unfortunately, we had to cancel the 2 set shows in Maplewood, Fargo and Clive as Tim wont be ready to play 2 sets in September. Tim is resting up at home and getting ready for his return to the stage on Oct 22nd at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia. We’ll be making a special announcement about both Riot Fest shows sometime in the near future.

That Oct. 22nd date marks the start of the Primus & the Chocolate Factory tour, which runs through November, with more dates to be announced. As Claypool says, “it gives me an excuse to wear a purple velvet waistcoat and brown top hat for the next 18 months.”

Primus & the Chocolate Factory tour dates:

10/22 – Tower Theatre – Upper Darby, PA
10/24 – Palace Theatre – Albany, NY
10/25 – Orpheum Theatre – Boston, MA
10/26 – Flynn Center for Performing Arts – Burlington, VT
10/28 – Palace Theater – Waterbury, CT
10/29 – Hippodrome – Baltimore, MD
10/31 – Beacon Theatre – New York, NY
11/01 – State Theatre – New Brunswick, NJ
11/02 – Main Street Armory – Rochester, NY
11/03 – The Fillmore Detroit – Detroit, MI
11/05 – Peabody Opera House – St. Louis, MO
11/07 – Taft Theatre – Cincinnati, OH
11/08 – Tabernacle – Atlanta, GA
11/09 – Hard Rock Live – Orlando, FL
11/11 – The Fillmore Miami Beach at The Jackie Gleason Theater – Miami Beach, FL
11/12 – Ruth Eckerd Hall – Clearwater, FL
11/14 – Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – Biloxi, MS
11/15 – ACL live at the Moody Theater – Austin, TX
11/16 – The Majestic Theatre – Dallas, TX
11/17 – Majestic Theatre – San Antonio, TX
11/19 – Orpheum Theatre Phoenix – Phoenix, AZ
11/21 – Orpheum Theatre LA – Los Angeles, CA

Tim Alexander, drummer for Primus and Puscifer, to undergo open heart surgery

Tim Alexander of Primus
Photo via Jambase

We’ll be putting our usual snark-fest on hold this weekend and sending lots of positive vibes towards Tim “Herb” Alexander, the amazingly ambidextrous drummer for Primus and Maynard James Keenan’s bizarro side project, Puscifer. Some time in the past few days, Alexander suffered a heart attack, and he’s scheduled for open heart surgery early next week. The news first broke via a post on Puscifer’s Facebook page. Today, a post by Les Claypool on Primus’s Facebook page confirmed the bad news:

Hello all,

As some of you my already know, our friend and über drummer Tim “Herb” Alexander is having a bypass procedure to remove blockage from arteries near his heart. He is a strong Herculean fellow and we all expect him to be up and around in no time but with all surgical endeavors we want to make sure he has the best energy working for him so let’s all throw our coins in the nearest fountain, wish on the first star of the night, blow out the birthday cake candles with him in mind, pray to whichever deity seems appropriate and generally send good thoughts his way so we can soon, once again, experience the glory that is the magnificent percussive rhythm of the mighty Tim Alexander.

Alexander joined Primus in 1988 and played on all those “classic” albums you probably had in your dorm room: Sailing the Seas of Cheese, Pork Soda, Tales From the Punchbowl. He’s been in and out of the band since, but had started performing with them again just last year, replacing Jay Lane. He joined Puscifer in 2010. He’s also played drums with Blue Man Group, Laundry and Attention Deficit.

Here’s hoping Tim’s surgery is a success and he’s back behind the kit doing stuff like this soon:

Duo de Twang’s “Four Foot Shack” now streaming on RollingStone.com, more tour dates added

Four Foot Shack

Four Foot Shack, the debut album from Les Claypool’s back porch pickin’ project Duo de Twang, hits stores this Tuesday, but you can hear the whole thing now over at RollingStone.com. And yes, the bluegrassified, Dixie disco version of the Bee Gee’s “Stayin’ Alive” is every bit as bonkers as we’d hoped it would be.

Why the sudden interest in stripped-down, acoustic guitar/bass/foot stompin’ arrangements? “This record represents what I personally listen to these days,” Claypool told Rolling Stone. “Guys like Johnny Horton, Jerry Reed and Vernon Dalhart are the soundscape of my world as I’m boiling up crab in the backyard or working on my old Chryslers, so the notion of ‘twangifying’ my tunes seemed like a damn good idea.”

You can pre-order (or just order, if you’re reading this on or after Feb. 4th) Four Foot Shack via Amazon.com or Claypool’s own Club Bastardo online store. And you can still catch Les and his Duo de Twang partner-in-crime Bryan Kehoe on tour, with the following dates announced so far:

2/26 – New York, NY – The Heath at McKittrick Hotel
2/27 – New York, NY – The Heath at McKittrick Hotel (SOLD OUT)
2/28 – Woodstock, NY – Bearsville Theater
3/1 – Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair
3/3 – Charlottesville, VA – Jefferson Theater
3/4 – Millvale, PA – Mr. Smalls Theatre
3/6 – Kent, OH – The Kent Stage
3/7 – Detroit, MI – Majestic Theatre
3/8 – Indianapolis, IN – The Vogue
3/9 – St. Louis, MO – Plush
3/11 – Fayetteville, AR – George’s Majestic Lounge
3/15 – New Orleans, LA – Howlin Wolf
6/15 – Snowmass, CO – Snowmass Mammoth Fest

Get tickets here.

Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang is taking their twang on tour

Duo de Twang

Good news for people who love funky pickin’: Duo de Twang, the hillbilly hootenanny duo of Les Claypool and Bryan Kehoe, have announced a handful of winter/spring tour dates supporting their debut album Four Foot Shack, due out Feb. 4th. Check the dates below and see if they’ll be twangin’ it up in a theater (pronounced “thee-YAY-tur”) near you:

Duo de Twang 2014 tour:

1/7 – Orlando, FL – House of Blues
1/8 – St. Petersburg, FL – State Theater
1/9 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – FL Revolution
2/27 – New York, NY – The Heath at McKittrick Hotel
2/28 – Woodstock, NY – Bearsville Theater
3/1 – Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair
3/3 – Charlottesville, VA – Jefferson Theater
3/4 – Millvale, PA – Mr. Smalls Theatre
3/6 – Kent, OH – The Kent Stage
3/7 – Detroit, MI – Majestic Theatre
3/8 – Indianapolis, IN – The Vogue

You can order tickets to any of the shows from Les Claypool’s website. If you go to the Feb. 27th show in New York and you like experimental theatre (pronounced “THEE-uh-tah,” in a snooty British accent), be sure to get the Sleep No More package, which gets you into this crazy multi-room Eyes Wide Shut-style adaptation of Macbeth that has nothing to do with twangy acoustic hillbilly music but is pretty mind-blowing nonetheless.

You can pre-order yourself a copy of Four Foot Shack here and also here.

Listen to Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang shred the shit out of “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver”

Duo de Twang

Even if you’re not a fan of the mumble-mouthed funk-rock Les Claypool turns out with Primus, you gotta admit the man has chops. Few humans have ever slapped a bass guitar with more frenetic precision. So what happens when you take away Claypool’s electric bass guitar and replace it with an acoustic resonator bass guitar? Well, basically you get an acoustic version of Primus—but hey, if you are a fan, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Claypool’s latest project is the self-explanatorily named Duo de Twang—there’s two of them, and they are indeed twangy. The other half of the Duo is Bryan Kehoe, whom Primus fans may recognize as the guitarist from Claypool’s 2008 mockumentary Electric Apricot: Quest for Festeroo. Armed only with an acoustic guitar, bass and some stomped percussion, Kehoe and Claypool manage to whip up a pretty good racket, as evidenced by this stripped-down version of “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver.” (If you can’t see the SoundCloud player below, click here.)

Duo de Twang’s debut album, Four Foot Shack, is due out Feb. 4th, 2014 on ATO Records. It’ll be a mix of traditional bluegrass tunes, some Primus and Claypool covers and…wait, “Stayin’ Alive”? Seriously? Looks like the ball’s in your court, Tragedy. Peep the full tracklist after this little video trailer.

“Four Foot Shack” (Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang)
“Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” (Primus)
“Amos Moses” (Jerry Reed)
“Red State Girl” (Les Claypool)
“The Bridge Came Tumblin’ Down” (Stompin’ Tom Connors)
“Boonville Stomp” (Les Claypool)
“Stayin’ Alive” (Bee Gees)
“Rumble of the Diesel” (Les Claypool)
“Pipe Line” (The Chantays)
“Buzzards of Greenhill” (Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade)
“Hendershot” (Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade)
“Man in the Box” (Alice in Chains)
“D’s Diner” (Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade)
“Battle of New Orleans” (Johnny Horton)
“Jerry Was a Race Car Driver” (Primus)

Primus: Back on the road. Still in 3D.

Primus

Quick, what do Primus and The Hobbit have in common? If you answered, “they can both test audiences’ patience”…well, technically, you’re right, but that’s not the answer we were going for. No, they’re both in 3D, dude! Apparently last fall’s “Primus in 3D” tour was so successful, they’re bringing it back. Turns out Primus fans really love watching hallucinatory visuals that seem to distort space and time itself. Who’da thunk?

Anyway, here’s where Primus will be laying down the 3D jams this year. Except in places marked by an asterisk. You’ll have to settle for the low-tech, 2D version.

5/9 – Bottle Rock Festival – Napa, CA *
5/10 – Eureka Municipal Auditorium – Eureka, CA
5/12 – Revolution Center – Boise, ID
5/13 – Wilma Theater – Missoula, MT
5/14 – Shrine Auditorium – Billings, MT
5/16 – City Auditorium – Colorado Springs, CO
5/17 – Santa Fe Community Convention – Santa Fe, NM
5/18 – Rialto Theatre – Tucson, AZ
5/19 – Fox Theater – Pomona, CA
5/21 – Majestic Ventura Theater – Ventura, CA
5/22 – Fox Theater – Bakersfield, CA
5/24 – Cuthbert Amphitheater – Eugene, OR
5/25 – Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall – Portland, OR
5/26 – Sasquatch Music Festival – Quincy, WA
5/28 – Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium – Edmonton, AB
5/29 – McEwan Hall – Calgary, AB
5/31 – Burton Cummings Theatre – Winnipeg, MB
6/1 – Myth – Maplewood, MN
6/2 – Riviera Theater – Chicago, IL
6/6 – Mountain Jam Festival – Hunter, NY *
6/7-8 – Danforth Music Hall – Toronto, ON
6/9 – Niagara River Rocks – North Tonawanda, NY *

* – Not 3D show

In other Primus news: Remember that $5,000 video contest we told you about? Well, either you all suck and no one won, or the band is really taking their sweet time picking a winner. The contest supposedly ended Dec. 15 but as far as we can tell, there have been zero updates since. Could no one contain the awesomeness of “HOINFODAMAN” in a single, low-budget video? Where are Your Fuzzy Friends when you need them?