Primus are a band who need no introduction. For the past 27 years the group have followed in the footsteps of boundary-pushing artists like Frank Zappa and Pink Floyd to create some of the most original and inventive music in existence„and theyÍve collaborated with everyone from Tom Waits to Tom Morello over the years in the process. However nothing could properly prepare listeners for Green Naugahyde, which is the bandÍs first album in eleven years featuring the line-up of bassist/singer Les Claypool, guitarist Larry LaLonde and drummer Jay Lane.
Like PrimusÍ early output before they were international superstars, there was no earth-shattering catalyst behind Green Naugahyde other than the fact that all three of these musicians„and life-long collaborators who have worked together in various contexts„were getting the itch to experiment again. ñThere wasn’t a lot of pre-thought to this as much as, ïOh here we are, we should make a record,Íî explains Claypool. ñIÍve been playing with Jay quite a lot over the past ten years and we have an intuitive bond so for me he was a natural choice to be back in the mix,î Claypool continues when asked how Lane came about rejoining the band after nearly two decades apart. Claypool and LaLonde also concur that Lane injected the band with a new energy thatÍs evident in every note of Green Naugahyde. ñWe recorded this album in the same way we always do but having Jay there made this a whole different experience,ñ explains LaLonde. ñIt definitely made it more collaborative and it made us excited about the album as we went along because we had so much fun in the process.î
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Sonically Green Naugahyde expands on the PrimusÍ incomparable sound and also sees them bringing it into the next millennium. ñIf I were to look at all of our records it seems like this is reminiscent of the early stuff. Obviously with Jay thereÍs a newness to it, but because he left the band right before we recorded our first record, his approach has an eerie harkening to the old Frizzle Fry days.î Correspondingly from the futuristic groove of ñTragedyÍs AÍCominÍî to the atmospheric experimentation of ñJillyÍs On Smackî and demented swing of ñLast Salmon Man,î Green Naugahyde is a cerebral and complex album that, like all of the bandÍs output, is teeming with the bandÍs signature blend of whimsy and underlying darkness.
ñItÍs funny because when you look at Primus lyrics throughout our entire career there are extremely dark stories in there but itÍs told from the viewpoint of a race car driver or a fisherman„and then you throw in a song like ñWynona’s Big Brown Beaver,î which is just a silly song that just happened to become huge; the perception from the outside has been lighter than it actually is, especially if you donÍt scratch the surface,î Claypool explains, citing the Coen brothers of an example of how his film counterparts deal with destructive issues through similarly colorful characters. Admittedly itÍs hard to worry about the apocalypse or cancer when youÍre grooving along to ñTragedyÍs AÍCominÍî but ultimately that duality is what has kept Primus relevant. Simply put, Primus confronts the issues we donÍt want to think about in a creative way that makes the unbearable bearable.
Green Naugahyde also sees Claypool„who has spent the last decade working with the supergroup Oysterhead (alongside the PoliceÍs Stewart Copeland and PhishÍs Trey Anastasio) as well as Colonel Les ClaypoolÍs Fearless Flying Frog Brigade and various other experimental musical projects„stretching out in the lyrical department. ñOver the past ten years of working on my own stuff and working with other musicians„especially non traditional rock musicians like sitar players, vibraphonists, cellists and saxophonists„IÍve really expanded my notion of what is appropriate for Primus,î Claypool explains. ñOn this album I decided I wasnÍt going to hold back and I was going to do everything I wanted to try vocally instead of having one vocal line narrating the story.î This is evident in songs like ñEternal Consumption Engineî and ñExtinction Burstî which feature layered vocal tracks that showcase ClaypoolÍs range and see his voice acting as an additional instrument. Above all Green Naugahyde is a Primus record with all of the magic and mystery that phrase entails„and while no one can say for sure what the future will hold in store for the band, the most important thing is that the album exists and will inevitably hold its own in the bandÍs impressive cannon of music. ñEven back in the old days people would always ask me, ïHow long is Primus going to go onÍ and I would always say ïItÍs going to go until itÍs not fun anymoreÍ and at the end of the day it just wasnÍt fun anymore so we stopped,î Claypool explains. ñI think giving it this much time to sit and ferment or whatever the hell you want to call it has made it fun again,î he summarizes with a laugh. ñWe’re still doing our own thing and weÍve got to own it.î