Claypool, Les 1963-
Claypool, Les 1963-
Born September 29, 1963, in Richmond, CA; married; wife's name Chaney; children: Cage Oliver, Lena Tallulah.
Lyricist and bass guitar player for avant-garde rock groups, including Primus, Oysterhead, Les Claypool's Frog Brigade, and Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains, beginning c. 1984. Appeared in film Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, 1991; headline act for Lollapalooza rock festival, 1993. Actor in films, including Kung Fu Rascals, 1992, Pink as the Day She Was Born, 1997, Primus: Videoplasty, 1998, and The Hot Show, 2002. Actor and director, Electric Apricot: Quest for Festeroo, 2006.
Gold albums for Sailing the Seas of Cheese and Pork Soda, both 1993; prize for best comedy, Tiburon film festival, 2006, for Electric Apricot: Quest for Festeroo.
South of the Pumphouse (novel), Akashic Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Electric Apricot: Quest for Festeroo (screenplay), 2006.
SOUND RECORDINGS; LYRICIST
Primus, Suck on This, Prawn Song Records (San Francisco, CA), 1989.
Primus, Frizzle Fry, Caroline Records (New York, NY), 1990.
Primus, Sailing the Seas of Cheese, Interscope, 1991.
Primus, Miscellaneous Debris, Interscope, 1992.
Primus, Pork Soda, Interscope, 1993.
Primus, Tales from the Punchbowl, Interscope (New York, NY), 1995.
Les Claypool and the Holy Mackerel, Highball with the Devil, Interscope (New York, NY), 1996.
Primus, Brown Album, Interscope (New York, NY), 1997.
Primus, Rhinoplasty, Interscope (New York, NY), 1998.
Primus, Antipop, Interscope (New York, NY), 1999.
Les Claypool's Frog Brigade, Live Frogs (Sets 1 and 2), Prawn Song Records (San Francisco, CA), 2001.
Oysterhead, The Grand Pecking Order, 2001.
Les Claypool's Frog Brigade, Purple Onion, Prawn Song Records (San Francisco, CA), 2002.
Primus, Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People, 2003.
Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains, The Big Eyeball in the Sky, Prawn Song Records (San Francisco, CA), 2004.
Of Whales and Woe, Prawn Song Records (San Francisco, CA), 2006.
Primus, They Can't All Be Zingers: The Best of Primus, 2006.
Contributor to soundtrack for film Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, Warner Brothers, 1991.
Les Claypool is best known as the lyricist, lead singer, and bass guitar player for the avant-garde rock group Primus. Claypool has distinguished himself in several other groups as well, and has also shown his versatility by writing a screenplay and a novel. Claypool, a native of Northern California, got his first bass at the age of thirteen. His early musical heroes included hard-rock guitarist Ted Nugent, jazz-rock bassist Stanley Clarke, Larry Graham of the funk band Sly and the Family Stone, and Geddy Lee, lead and bass player of the Canadian hard-rock band Rush. He got his professional start playing bar gigs with the Tommy Crank Band, and in 1984, he organized the first version of Primus. The group went through some personnel changes in the next few years, and at one point, Claypool almost left for a spot with the heavy-metal band Metallica. (He was told he had too much musical proficiency for that position.) Eventually, Primus gelled with a lineup that originally Claypool, guitarist Todd Huth, and drummer Jay Lane; Lane and Huth later left the group and were replaced by drummer Tim Alexander and guitarist Larry LaLonde.
The group's unique, experimental sound won them a cult following with their first album, Suck on This, and they followed up with another unconventional, energetic album, Frizzle Fry. Their next album, Sailing the Seas of Cheese, contained the single "Tommy the Cat," which brought them widespread exposure when it was featured in the film Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. In 1993, Primus was named the lead act of the Lollapalooza rock festival. Primus and Claypool were a mainstay of the independent, avant-garde music scene, but Primus disbanded when Claypool eventually went to work on numerous other projects, including the bands Oysterhead and Les Claypool's Frog Brigade. In time, however, Primus reunited, to enthusiastic response.
Claypool used his knowledge of the music scene to write his tongue-in-cheek screenplay Electric Apricot: Quest for Festeroo, a "mockumentary" about an improvisational or "jam" band called Electric Apricot. In addition to writing the film, Claypool also directed it and played the character of the band's drummer, Lapland Miclovich, or "Lapdog."
Claypool's novel South of the Pumphouse also had its start as a screenplay that was never produced. The story describes two brothers and the drug-laced fishing trip they take with a very bigoted companion. Claypool's "foreboding, economic" writing drew praise from Clark Collis in Entertainment Weekly, though Collis felt the story itself was rather slight. A Publishers Weekly reviewer also found the plot of South of the Pumphouse "thin," but praised Claypool's skill in building up to the "satisfyingly unsettling conclusion." Johnny Temple, a bass player who founded Akashic Books, the company that published South of the Pumphouse, was quoted by Rob Watson in the Philadelphia Inquirer as saying: "We publish fiction that's provocative and edgy. Les, who I have shared the stage with a couple of times, is definitely in that mode. Some publishers would try to smooth out some of his rough edges, but that's just Les, and we would never try to change that. His style is very descriptive, like his music."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Musicians, Volume 11, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1994.
Arizona Daily Star, June 22, 2006, "Claypool: Variety the Spice of Life."
Bass Player, November 1, 2003, Isola Gregory, "More Cheese, Please—Les Claypool and Primus Set Sail Again," p. 38; August 1, 2004, Gregory Isola, interview with Les Claypool, p. 36; September 1, 2004, profile of Les Claypool, p. 26; August 1, 2006, Brian Fox, "Les Does More—with a New Album, Tour, Novel and Film, Les Claypool Casts the Widest Net of His Creative Career," p. 40.
Billboard, June 3, 2006, Christa L. Titus, review of Of Whales and Woe, p. 59.
Entertainment Weekly, July 21, 2006, Clark Collis, review of South of the Pumphouse, p. 74.
Guitar Player, December, 2004, Michael Molenda, "Techniques: Les Claypool on the Making of The Big Eyeball in the Sky," p. 122.
Philadelphia Inquirer, July 13, 2006, Rob Watson, review of "Primus Star's Bold and Busy Universe."
Publishers Weekly, July 24, 2006, review of South of the Pumphouse, p. 37.
Thrasher, July, 2005, Michael Coyle, interview with Les Claypool, p. 188.
Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (February 24, 2007).
RocknWorld,http://www.rocknworld.com/ (February 26, 2007), Morley Seaver, interview with Les Claypool.