New Faces: Primus

The Bay Area punk-funk trio is ahead of the pack

June 13, 1991
Les Claypool of Primus performs at the Pinkpop Festival in the Netherlands.
Les Claypool of Primus performs at the Pinkpop Festival in the Netherlands.
Paul Bergen/Redferns

Wearing a leather Porkpie and looking like a character from a John Waters film, Les Claypool of Primus is quietly tooling around the San Francisco hills on a lazy Sunday afternoon with guitarist Larry LaLonde.

The two zonked-out musicians are lost en route to a guest-DJ stint at college radio station KUSF. As members of the Bay Area's cartoony punk-funk trio, Claypool and LaLonde are honored guests at the station, whose playlist includes Broiled in Lead, Helen Keller Plaid and Jesus Lizard.

Primus is ahead of that pack, often mentioned in the same reverential breath as fellow California goof rockers Faith No More and Fishbone.

The band, which also includes hulking drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander, earned its loyal following after jamming at teen clubs, where energetic fans turned stage diving into high art. This year, armed with the pull of a new, rich record company and the release of its third album, Sailing the Seas of Cheese, Primus could careen out of its Bay Area stronghold.

After two indie albums, the live Suck on This and the acclaimed Frizzle Fry, Primus signed with fledgling Interscope Records, which is backed by the company responsible for Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. No surprise then that Primus appears in this year's sequel and on the soundtrack album.

Beyond the new album and the movie, Primus is seeking wider exposure through European music festivals and some American concert dates. "We were supposed to play a Greenpeace benefit two nights ago, but when we got there, the place had almost burned down from an electrical fire," says Claypool. "So we went to another club and saw Booker T. and the MG's. It was cool."

This story is from the June 13th, 1991 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Stillness Is the Move”

Dirty Projectors | 2009

A Wim Wenders film and a rapper inspired the Dirty Projectors duo David Longstreth and Amber Coffmanto write "sort of a love song." "We rented the movie Wings of Desire from Dave's brother's recommendation, and he had me go through it and just write down some things that I found interesting, and they made it into the song," Coffman said. As for the hip-hop connection, Longstreth explained, "The beat is based on T-Pain. We commissioned a radio mix of the song by the guy who mixes all of Timbaland's records, but the mix we made sounded way better, so we didn't use it."

More Song Stories entries »