Claypool Crafts A 'Whale' Of An Album
Primus bassist/vocalist Les Claypool has put the finishing touches on a new solo album, "Of Whales and Woe," due May 30 via his own Prawn Song label.Primus bassist/vocalist Les Claypool has put the finishing touches on a new solo album, "Of Whales and Woe," due May 30 via his own Prawn Song label. The follow-up to 2002's "Purple Onion" was recorded in Claypool's home studio and features contributions from percussionist Mike Dillon, saxophonist Skerik and Gabby La La on sitar.
Album opener "Back Off Turkey" finds Claypool's two pre-teen children "banging on a bunch of crap," he tells Billboard.com. "They were all excited about being recorded." The usually experimental Claypool even offers a straight-up tribute to his wife on "Iowan Gal," which is played on a custom-made bass in the shape of a banjo.
"There's no finger-tapping," Claypool says of his bass approach on the album. "It's me slapping away with some drums. It's pretty heavily groove oriented. There's a sort of dark creepiness to it, but lyrically there are a lot of folky elements. It's almost like Morphine meets old Isley Brothers with some bastardized version of Woody Guthrie."
The artist will hit the road in June in support of "Whale," backed by Dillon, Skerik and drummer Paulo Baldi.
Also on tap for a June 16 appearance at Tennessee's Bonnaroo Festival is a one-off reunion of Oysterhead, Claypool's side project with former Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio and Police drummer Stewart Copeland. Claypool will host Anastasio, Copeland and their families during the Memorial Day holiday weekend at his California home where the band will prepare for the gig.
Claypool admits he hadn't listened to the trio's 2001 debut, "The Grand Pecking Order," in at least two years. "[When I] popped it in to re-learn the songs, I got really excited," he says. "My whole enthusiasm for Oysterhead is just hanging out with Stewart and Trey. For me, it's all about the hang. But then listening to the record, I went, 'Holy s***, I forgot about the music!'"
Here is the "Of Whales and Woe" track list:
"Back Off Turkey"
"Of Whales and Woe"
"Vernon the Company Man"
"Rumble of the Diesel"