Tool drummer Danny Carey will sit in on a handful of Primus dates in September while the band's original drummer, Tim "Herb" Alexander, continues to recover from open heart surgery following a heart attack last month.
"The mighty Tim 'Herb' Alexander is a polyrhythmic Viking of extreme and unique talent so the one person that we thought could step into his shoes and do it justice is the one and only Mr. Danny Carey," Primus frontman Les Claypool tells Rolling Stone. "Whereas Herb is the stocky, Easter Island-faced, boulder of a drumming human, at nearer to seven feet, Danny Carey is the mighty redwood tree of percussion; towering over his kit like a golden-haired noble sequoia.
"I can't wait to see that menacing grin of Danny's shine out as we pound our way through 'Here Come the Bastards' and 'Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers.' He's a dear old friend and we are extremely excited to have him aboard, and I would wager we are equally if not more intrigued than most by what kind of sounds are going to come out of the three of us once we actually get in a room together and do more than just consume fancy booze."
The drummer will be joining the bass-rumbling alt-rockers for their Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver, as well as an after party at the Windy City's Concord Music Hall on September 13th. Claypool reports that they decided to go through with the shows as a way to give Alexander some financial relief and that Carey was their top choice, since "we figured it would be hard to get [the Police's] Stewart 'Stew-daddy' Copeland out of his ivory tower," as Claypool joked.
While Carey's involvement might seem surprising, Tool and Primus are connected in a roundabout way, since Alexander has played with Tool singer Maynard Keenan in the bands A Perfect Circle and Puscifer. He will be back on the drum stool for the Primus and the Chocolate Factory tour, beginning in October.
"When Tim 'Herb the Ginseng Drummer' Alexander had a minor heart attack a few weeks back we were all startled," Claypool says. "When he went in for an angioplasty the next morning and they said he needed a triple bypass we were all shocked. Tim is the 'Ginseng drummer' for a reason: He was always the non-meat eating, teetotaling, mastodon of a man who could throw a football over a mountain, chuck a curve ball at 89 miles per hour and could play his drums for hours on end without breaking a sweat, but unfortunately genetics and a taste for dessert have a way of catching up and kicking one's balls. The great Herbinator has undergone his surgery and has come out with flying colors, but alas, it will be weeks before he can man the Primus percussion helm."
Primus will be issuing their first record with Alexander on drums in nearly two decades, when they put out Primus & the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble on October 21st. Claypool told Rolling Stone in July that Alexander's percussion setup, which he described as "a giant circle, or a pile of things to bang on," was a Chocolate Factory feature he was particularly excited about. "He's so musical at what he does, and he can be very orchestral when he wants to be, and taking him off a traditional kit just brought forth these sounds that we've just never gotten from him before," he said. "If you saw this kit, you'd laugh your ass off. He couldn't get in and out of it. We'd open up a portion of it and shove him in there and then lock him in with other pieces of things."
As for Carey, he and his fellow Tool bandmates are currently working on the follow-up to their 2006 album, 10,000 Days. Although the group recently detailed for Rolling Stone the reasons why it has taken so long to make a new record – chiefly a lawsuit with an insurance company that keeps presenting new, time-sucking obstacles – Carey and guitarist Adam Jones reported they have written enough music for a new album but are editing it down to songs. "It's all a little more 'metal' sounding, if I may," Carey said at the time of the group's direction. "I'm having fun drumming on it."