On Monday, Primus celebrated the upcoming release of a deluxe edition of their 1991 classic, Sailing the Seas of Cheese, by throwing an afternoon event at TRI Studios in San Rafael, California, where they sometimes rehearse. A moderated Q&A segment with Primus’ Les Claypool and Larry LaLonde was webcast live, followed by a reception where wine from Claypool’s own label, Claypool Cellars, was generously poured. The event was sponsored by Universal Music and Dolby Laboratories, whose lossless TrueHD format is a centerpiece of the new edition.
Speaking to Rolling Stone beforehand, Claypool and LaLonde seemed genuinely excited by the new attention to an album that represented a major breakthrough for the band back in 1991. “I thought we were just going to go to a bar and sit around and drink beers and listen to the damn thing,” said Claypool. “But the record company wanted a fancy place, so here we are at TRI.”
Remembering the initial recording sessions, Claypool recalled that the band went into Fantasy Records, “where Aerosmith and who knows who else had just done records,” and they were suitably psyched to start work on what they knew would be a critical moment for their career. “And the very first day we started recording was the first day of the first Gulf War,” said Claypool. “We were watching it on CNN going ‘Holy shit!,’ freaking out because our friends were all of drafting age, should they have gone that way. And the very last day of mixing this record was the day the war ended.”
During the Q&A, Claypool said that the album’s initial release in 1991 was a game-changer that “introduced us to the world beyond the underground.” In fact, it was titled Sailing the Seas of Cheese because suddenly the band – which represented a true alternative to what was being offered on radio and MTV – was “about to be marketed to all of these things that we were rebelling against.”
Claypool also said that Primus had been talking about releasing a 5.1 surround sound mix for many years, but it wasn’t feasible until now. Whereas most 5.1 albums try to create the effect of sounding just like you’re onstage with the band, Primus took a different approach, basing the mix on the idea that the listener is most likely using the same entertainment system that their main television set is hooked up to at home.
“We wanted people to be able to sit there in whatever frame of mind – be it natural or otherwise,” to experience the album in a way that they’ve never been able to before, said Claypool. “There are a lot more fireworks with this thing than with a lot of 5.1 mixes.” Also: the 5.1 mix features a visual component that has different variations every time you watch it.
The deluxe edition of Primus’ Sailing the Seas of Cheese will be available on Blu-Ray on May 21st. A CD featuring the new 2.0 remix will be available as well. Fun fact: Primus’ major-label debut, Seas of Cheese was just the second release ever for Interscope Records. The first? Gerardo’s Mo’ Ritmo, which featured the hit “Rico Suave.”
Primus will perform next at the inaugural BottleRock festival in Napa, California, this Thursday.