Last year, Les Claypool went through a huge Django Reinhardt phase and “a lot of really, really old hillbilly stuff from the Thirties and Forties,” all of which served as the impetus for his latest project, Duo de Twang. The project is a rhythmic conglomeration of raw, old-country moonshine music and the group’s first album, Four Foot Shack, is set for release on February 4th. The 15 songs mix everything from traditionals and Primus classics to songs by the Bee Gees and Alice in Chains — all through Claypool’s unique twang filter.
Though the Duo was originally conceived as a one-off performance for San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, it’s more the product of Claypool’s early influences and a camping trip he took with his teenage son. Along with their typical fishing gear — rods, a bow and arrow, the dog — Claypool grabbed his twang bass and his son brought along his banjo. Sitting around the campfire playing Vernon Dalhart’s “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” Claypool had an epiphany, and decided to bring that intimate, campsite atmosphere to this project, fire included.
“I’ve called this my fuck-off vacation band,” Claypool told Rolling Stone. “I’m getting a chance to bullshit with the audience. You’ve got two guys that have to hold down the rhythm and you can’t get too terribly melodic except with the vocals or whatnot.”
Four Foot Shack itself is all guitar and bass, save for a brief appearance by Claypool’s son on banjo and the “mini-tamobrine-doohicky” Claypool uses to supply a constant beat. Claypool’s partner in twang is guitarist Bryan Kehoe, a friend since high school, who fans may recognize from Claypool’s jamband mockumentary Electric Apricot: Quest for Festeroo.
Though there is one outtake from the road, the album was cut in a studio with very little altering done to the recording. “It’s as dry and as close to just sitting in front of a microphone as you can get,” Claypool said of the recording. “Every now and again I have to remind myself, when all is said and done, the thing I do best — besides being a dad — the thing that people want to see me do, is stand up there and wiggle my fingers on that four string piece of furniture.”
Here is the tracklist for Four Foot Shack. Stream “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver” below:
“Four Foot Shack” (Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang)
“Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” (Primus)
“Amos Moses” (Jerry Reed)
“Red State Girl” (Les Claypool)
“The Bridge Came Tumblin’ Down” (Stompin’ Tom Connors)
“Boonville Stomp” (Les Claypool)
“Stayin’ Alive” (Bee Gees)
“Rumble of the Diesel” (Les Claypool)
“Pipe Line” (The Chantays)
“Buzzards of Greenhill” (Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade)
“Hendershot” (Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade)
“Man in the Box” (Alice in Chains)
“D’s Diner” (Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade)
“Battle of New Orleans” (Johnny Horton)
“Jerry Was a Race Car Driver” (Primus)