June 21, 1995

Frenetic Pace Comfortable For Primus

Carrie Borzillo Billboard
 

Primus’ trademark twisted lyrical style and strange sonic undertakings prove even more frenetic than usual on the trio’s new self-produced album, “Tales From The Punchbowl.”

The music on the band’s fifth full-length album - and third for Interscope - ranges from funky, bass-driven ditties to the country-influenced.

“This is the most comfortable Primus album we’ve ever done,” says singer/bassist Les Claypool. “All three of us wrote together.” Although guitarist Larry “Ler” Lalonde and drummer Tim “Herb” Alexander joined the band in 1989, this is the first album that features their songwriting contributions.

Unlike previous albums in which old material was often revamped for inclusion, “On this one, there’s none of that,” says Claypool. “We had no songs when we started this record. That’s why it took us five months to do, which is more than twice as long as the last.”

Claypool says he hasn’t given much thought to whether “Tales From The Punchbowl” will top the band’s last album, 1993’s “Pork Soda.”

Powered by the modern rock success of the track “My Name Is Mud,” “Pork Soda” went on to sell 763,000 units, according to SoundScan. It debuted at a surprisingly high No. 7 on The Billboard 200 in May 1993.

“Sailing The Seas Of Cheese,” released in 1991, has been certified gold.

“When doing a record, we really don’t think so much about what’s hip and happening at the time or about our past material,” says Claypool. “We were just concerned about coming up with material we’d enjoy playing five nights a week.”

Interscope talent executive Tom Whalley has similar feelings. “It’s not an issue of how we go from 700,000 (units sold) to 2 million,” says Whalley. “I’d like to continue to increase their audience and possibly do a million or more. But, it’s more about Primus being Primus and what it is that sustains a long career.”

Whalley says the music on “Tales From The Punchbowl” will appeal primarily to hardcore Primus fans but has the potential to gather new converts as well.

On the touring front, Primus recently played a week of festivals in Australia and is touring Europe for three weeks this month before coming to the United States in early July.

With modern rock radio playing more melodic and pop-oriented songs these days, garnering airplay for Primus may not be an easy task.

“Primus is at the forefront of whatever you want to call this music, but they’ve still been left-of-center,” adds Whalley. “In certain places, it will take some convincing for (radio) to play it, but in other markets, people are ready and willing.”

In addition to Primus’ trademark sound, the band throws in a few more curveballs on tracks like the instrumental “Space Farm,” which features farm-animal noises.


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