Bassist extraordinaire and Primus frontman Les Claypool has always been an artist of many styles, with the ability to play metal with Ozzy Osbourne one minute and jam with Phish’s Trey Anastasio the next. With his new band Frog Brigade, Claypool seems to be exploring his broad array of musical stylings even more so.
So you have a new band, Frog Brigade. What kind of sound can we expect?
Ah, that’s a very good question [laughs]. Well, there are six of us, which means there are a shitload of guys making a shitload of sound. It’s kinda a King Crimson meets Pink Floyd meets Frank Zappa type thing.
Are you excited to play with Todd Huth [who played with Claypool in Primus and Sausage] again?
Yeah, Todd’s an old friend. I’ve known him since junior high school, and he’s a monster guitar player. He wrote a lot of material on those first couple Primus albums. His playing is so warped. Nobody plays like Todd. He’s a freak of nature. I mean, he freaks out people who already are freaks of nature, like Buckethead will watch and go, “What the hell?” [laughs].
This is your third side project since Primus. Is Primus over or on hiatus?
We’re taking a little snooze. A siesta. I’ve been doing Primus since 1984, so I’m about due for a siesta [laughs].
In addition to Oysterhead, you’ve played with Phish several times. Do you think the Jam band trend is a thing you’d like to follow?
I’ve kinda been thrust into this world. The Oysterhead thing was set up because the guys down at Superfly in New Orleans had asked me to put together a project for a thing called “Superjam,” where I’d get musicians together to play at a one night jazzfest. So I called Trey and he said, “I’ve always wanted to play with Stuart Copeland,” and I said, “I know Stuart.” And we kinda threw this thing together. And it turned out to be this monster thing.
Do you detect a difference in crowds? The more recent ensembles seem to bring out the twirlers?
Ah yes, the twirlers. Well, they are a much more polite audience, and very receptive. I remember one time I was on stage boppin’ around and out of the corner of my eye I saw this light stick go flying up in the air, and my natural reaction at a Primus show was to kinda duck, ’cause usually that shit’s coming towards me. And as I was getting to react that way, I literally thought, “Wait a minute! You don’t have to duck!” And I kept on cruisin’.
And now since the Oysterhead thing, I’d been asked to put together a bunch of different projects for various events, like Gathering of the Vibes and Mountain Air Festival, which is where the Frog Brigade thing sorta began. Myself, Jack Irons and Tim Alexander on drums and Skerik on saxophone, and we did this Mountain Air Fest, and I’ve sorta just fallen into this jam scene. It’s sorta a natural progression, I think, because to a extent, that’s where I came from, not necessarily the Grateful Dead scene, but I’ve always jammed with people. Even Primus, as a rock band, is one of the more jammy bands.
With Primus, you’ve played the SnoCore Tour before. Did the people at SnoCore approach you, or did you approach them about this year?
Well, it was through Artist Direct, who are friends of ours, and basically this year they wanted to put together a few SnoCore Tours, a rock version and a jam version [the SnoCore Icicle Ball], which actually I came up with.
One last thing . . . SnoCore seems to be a favorite tour of yours. Do you get any snowboarding in?
Well last time we did SnoCore, the very first day of snowboarding, I broke my foot. But I’m sure I’ll bring my board with me and go flying down the hill. What the hell? Hopefully I won’t break anything this time.