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. In 2013, Lane left the band again to return to RatDog, and Tim Alexander re-joined the band full time.
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.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers announce full tour
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers will be on tour from August through the beginning of October this year. The band will be supporting their upcoming album, Hypnotic Eye, which will be released on July 29.
August 03 San Diego, CA—Viejas Arena
August 05 Boise, ID—Taco Bell Arena
August 07 Eugene, OR—Matthew Knight Center
August 09 San Francisco, CA—Outside Lands
August 12 Portland, OR—Moda Center
August 14 Vancouver, BC—Rogers Arena
August 15 George, WA—The Gorge
August 17 Edmonton, AB—Rexall Place
August 19 Calgary, AB—Scotiabank Saddledome
August 21 Winnipeg, MB—MTS Centre
August 23 Chicago, IL—United Center
August 26 Toronto, ONT—Air Canada Centre
August 28 Montreal, QC—Bell Centre
August 30 Boston, MA—Fenway Park
September 06 Arrington, VA—Lockn' Festival
September 07 Darien Center, NY—Darien Lake PAC
September 10 New York, NY—Madison Square Garden
September 13 Hartford, CT—XL Center
September 15 Philadelphia, PA—Wells Fargo Arena
September 18 Raleigh, NC—PNC Arena
September 20 West Palm Beach, FL—Cruzan Amphitheater
September 21 Tampa, FL—Tampa Bay Times Forum
September 23 Nashville, TN—Bridgestone Arena
September 25 Houston, TX—Toyota Center
September 26 Dallas, TX—American Airlines Center
September 28 Tulsa, OK—BOK Center
September 30 Kansas City, MO—Sprint Center
October 01 Lincoln, NE—Pinnacle Bank Arena
October 07 Anaheim, CA—Honda Center
October 10 Los Angeles, CA—The Forum
Counting Crows announce new album
The Counting Crows will release their new album, Somewhere Under Wonderland, later this year. The band will be touring throughout the summer prior to the release.
une 11 Tampa, FL—Straz Center for the Performing Arts
June 12 Hollywood, FL—Hard Rock Hotel
June 14 St. Augustine, FL—St. Augustine Amphitheatre
June 15 Greenville, SC—The Peace Concert Hall
June 17 Nashville, TN—Ryman Auditorium
June 19 Lake Charles, LA—L'Auberge de Lac Hotel & Casino
June 20 Robinsonville, MS—Horseshoe Tunica
June 22 Atlanta, GA—Chastain Park Amphitheatre
June 24 Charlotte, NC—The Uptown Amphitheatre at The Music Factory
June 25 Raleigh, NC—The Red Hat Amphitheater
June 27 Pittsburgh, PA—Stage AE
June 28 Atlantic City, NJ—Borgata Spas & Resort – Event Center
June 30 New York, NY—Central Park Summer Stage
July 2 Boston, MA—Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
July 5 Vienna, VA—Wolf Trap for the Performing Arts
July 12 Somerset, KY—Master Musicians Fest
July 14 Highland Park, IL—Ravina Festival – Highland Park
July 15 Columbus, OH—The LC Pavillion
July 17 Orillia, ON—Casino Rama Entertainment Centre
July 18 Detroit, MI—Motor City Casino Hotel
July 20 Cincinnati, OH—Horseshoe Cincinnati
July 21 Grand Rapids, MI—Meijer Gardens
July 23 Milwaukee, WI—The Riverside Theater
July 25 St. Paul, MN—The Myth
July 26 Council Bluffs, IA—Harrah's Ballroom
July 29 Houston, TX—Bayou Music Center
Jul 30 Austin, TX—ACL Live
August 1 Tulsa, OK—Hard Rock
August 2 Durant, OK—Choctaw Casino Resort
August 4 Socorro, TX—Socorro Entertainment Center
August 6 Tucson, AZ—AVA Amphitheater
August 7 Phoenix, AZ—Comerica Theatre
August 10 Las Vegas, NV—Mandalay Bay Beach
August 12 Redmond, WA—Marymoor Park
August 13 Portland, OR—Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
August 15 Berkeley, CA—Greek Theatre
August 17 Los Angeles, CA—Greek Theatre
May 22-25, 2014
Performers include: The Del McCoury Band, The String Cheese Incident, Ricky Skags & Bruce hornsby, Yonder Mountain String band, Railroad earth, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Greensky Bluegrass, and many others.
May 22-25, 2014
Three Sisters Park
Performers include: moe., Umphrey's McGee, Trey Anastasio Band, Bassnectar, Primus, Yonder Mountain String Band, Zac Brown Band, Lotus, EOTO, The Devil Makes Three, Greensky Bluegrass, and many others
Dark Star Jubilee
May 23-25, 2014
Performers include: 3 nights of Dark Star Orchestra, Yonder Mountain String Band, Galactic, Keller Williams & More Than A Little, Anders Osborne, The Werks, The Wailers performing Legend, and many others
May 23-25, 2014
Clay's Park Resort
Performers include: 3 nights of ekoostik hookah, Flether's grove, Tropidelic, Blue Moon Soup, and many others.
Sasquatch! Music Festival
May 23-25, 2014
Performers include: OutKast, The National, Queens of the Stone Age, MIA, Foster the People, Kid Cudi, Neko Case, Violent Femmes, and many others.
May 29-June 1, 2014
Performers include: The Avett Brothers
June 5-8, 2014
Performers include: The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, STS9, Umphrey's McGee, John Butler Trio, Flaming Lips, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Lettuce, Dr. Dog, Papadosio, and many others.
June 5-8, 2014
Hunter Mountain, NY
Performers include: Gov't Mule, Bob Weir & RatDog, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Gov't Mule, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Umphrey's McGee, Pretty Lights, and many others
June 6-8, 2014
New York, NY
Performers include: Outkast, jack White, Vampire Weekend, The Strokes, Skrillex, Interpol, and many others.
June 12-15, 2014
Performers include: Elton John, Kanye West, Jack White, The Avett Brothers, The Flaming Lips, Neutral Milk Hotel, Zedd, Umphrey's McGee, John Butler Trio, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Yonder Mountain String Band, and many others
Snowmass Mammoth Festival
June 13-15, 2014
Snowmass Village, CO
Performers include: LEftover Salmon, chris Robinson Brotherhood, Xavier Rudd, Les Claypool's Duo De Twang, The Motet, Bonerama, and many others
Telluride Bluegrass Festival
June 19-22, 2014
Performers include: Sam Bush Band, Bela Fleck & The Colorado Symphony, Brandi Carlile, Yonder Mountain String Band, The Del McCoury Band, Leftover Salmon, Greensky Bluegrass, and many others.
Firefly Music Festival
June 19-22, 2014
Performers include: Foo Fighters, Outkast, Jack Johnson, Imagine Dragons, Pretty Lights, The Lumineers, Weezer, Girl Talk, Tegan and Sara, and many others.
June 26-29, 2014
The Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Performers include: The String Cheese Incident (3 nights), STS9 (2 nights), Ms. Lauryn Hill, Stephen Marley, EOTO, Anders Osborne, The Revivalists, Nahko & Medicine for the People, Rising Apalachia, Zedd, and many others.
July 3-6, 2014
Performers include: Widespread Panic, STS9, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Beats Antique, Trampled by Turtles, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, and many more to be announced
July 17-20, 2014
Sunshine Daydream Memorial Park
Terra Alta, WV
Performers include: Shpongle, Beats Antique, EOTO, Conspirator, Zilla, vibesquad, Janover 7 Resunator, Cosby Sweater, Aliver Hall, Broccoli Samurai, and many others.
Northwest String Summit
July 17-21, 2014
North Plains, OR
Performers include: Yonder Mountain String Band, The Motet, Steep Canyon Rangers, Fruition, Dead Winter Carpenters, The Rumpke Mountain Boys, and many others
July 18-20, 2014
Performers include: Outkast, Jack White, Beck, The Replacements, Ray Lamontagne, Band of Horses, Nickel Creek, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Gary Clark Jr., Trampled by Turtles, JJ Grey & Mofro, and many others
July 23-27, 2014
Performers include: Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, Ms. Lauryn Hill, ray LaMontagne, Thievery Corporation, Ziggy Marley, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Buddy Guy, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, and many others
Performers include: Papadosio, Opilio, Gratifly Symphony, Earphunk, Earthcry, The Human Experience, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, and many others.
Gathering of the Vibes
July 31-August 1, 2014
Performers include: Widespread Panic, John Fogerty, moe., Umphrey's McGee, The Disco Biscuits featuring Mickey Hart & Bill Kreutzmann, Ziggy Marley, Dumpstaphunk, and many others.
August 1-3, 2014
Performers include: Eminem, Outkast, Kings of Leon, Arctic Monkeys, White Denim, Broken Bells, Lorde, The Avett Brothers, Forster the People, The Head & The Heart, Trombone Shorty, Chromeo, and many others.
Werk Out Festival
August 7-9, 2014
Performers include: The Werks (3 nights), Papadosio (2 nights), Emancipator, Future Rock Zoogma, Dopapod, Zach Deputy, and many others.
August 8-10, 2014
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA
Performers include: Kanye West, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The Killers, The Flaming Lips, Spoon, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Chromeo, John butler Trio, Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, and many others
Arise Music Festival
August 8-10, 2014
Performers include: Galactic, Grateful Grass, Nahko & Medicine for the People, and many others
Peach Music Festival
August 14-17, 2014
Performers include: Allman Brothers Band (2 nights), Bob Weir & RatDog, Trey Anastasio Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Lotus, JJ Grey & Mofro, The Revivalists, Dopapod, The Infamous Stringdusters, papadosio, and others.
August 15-17, 2014
Performers include: Greensky Bluegrass, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Steppin' In It, The Ragbirds, and many others.
Summer Set Music & Camping Festival
Performers include: Bassnectar, Umphrey's McGee, Kaskade, Disco Biscuits, Wu-Tang Clan, Big Gigantic, Chromeo, Cherub, and many others
August 21-23, 2014
Performers include: Beats Antique, Papadosio, Lettuce, Kyle Hollingsworth Band performing a tribute to Motown, Dopapod, Kung Fu, The Motet, Zach Deputy, and many others.
August 29-31, 2014
Snow Ridge Ski Resort
Performers include: moe. (3 headlining nights), Lotus, O.A.R. Les Claypool's Duo de Twang, Soulive, Twiddle, Aqueous, and others.
North Coast Music Festival
August 29-31, 2014
Performers include: Bassnectar, Kid cudi, STS9, Snoop Dogg, Dada Life, Zeds Dead, Dr. Dog, The New Deal, and many others.
Lockin' Music Festival
September 4-7, 2014
Performers include: Furthur, The String Cheese Incident, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers,The Allman Brothers Band, Phil Lesh & Friends, Widespread Panic, Umphrey's McGee, Wilco, Bob Weir & Ratdog, and many others.
Phases of the Moon Festival
September 11-14, 2014
Kennekuk County Park, IL
Performers include: Widespread Panic (2 nights), Tedeschi Trucks Band, Gov't Mule, Galactic, Leftover Salmon, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, and many others.
September 5-7, 2014
Performers include: Yonder Mountain String Band with Allie Kral, Lettuce, Shpongle, Karl denson's Tiny Universe, Papadosio, Dopapod, Particle, The Heavy Pets, and many others.
Grand Point North Festival
September 13-14, 2014
Performers include: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals (headlining both nights), Lake Street Dive, Trampled by Turtles, The Devil Makes Three, Dr. John, Caroline Rose, and many others.
Harvest Music Festival
October 16-18, 2014
Bear Creek Music & Art Festival
November 13-16, 2014
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
Performers include: Umphrey's McGee, Lettuce, Dumpstaphunk, The New Mastersounds, Break Science, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, Turkuaz, The Main Squeez, Tauk, and many others
Strings & Sol
December 11-15, 2014
Puerto Morales, Mexico
Performers include: Yonder Mountain String Band, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, The Infamous Stringdusters, and Greensky Bluegrass
January 6-11, 2015
Departs from Miami, FL
January 14-18, 2015
Grand Lido Negril
Gov't Mule will host the event
Thanks again for stopping by. I'll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!