SAN FRANCISCO — As if movie director, Interscope Records executive
and Limp Bizkit frontman weren't enough for his resume, Fred Durst now can call
himself the man who told Primus to go back and make records the way they used
"We were sort of heading down that psychedelic path for a while there," Primus
singer/bassist Les Claypool said last week, discussing Antipop, the San
Francisco Bay Area band's first album of new material in two years. The disc
comes out Tuesday (Oct. 19).
"And then Fred came in, and, as a long-running Primus fan, he very much wanted
to hear us play the aggressive start-and-stop, high-and-low-dynamic stuff that
was prevalent in our early days," Claypool explained. "So the whole album kind
of shifted into that zone. I think that old Primus fans who are into that sort
of thing are going to be excited by that element."
Durst is one of several prominent musicians who helped out on Antipop, a
blend of extra-heavy groove and rapid-fire rhythms awash in metallic guitar
psychedelia and punctuated by Claypool's trademark slap-and-pop bass attack.
Primus will celebrate Antipop's release Tuesday with a free show in a
Tower Records parking lot in downtown San Francisco.
Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello produced and played on three
songs, including "Power Mad," an apparent jab at President Clinton ("Power mad/
I didn't drop my pants down, Dad/ I know my left hand from my right").
Metallica singer/guitarist James Hetfield, singer/songwriter Tom Waits,
ex-Police drummer Stewart Copeland and "South Park" co-creator Matt Stone also
collaborated on Antipop, Primus' first CD of original songs since The
Brown Album (1997).
Claypool said on that record, the band was experimenting with a murky,
"Creedence [Clearwater Revival], [Led] Zeppelin" sound. In between, Primus
released Rhinoplasty (1998), an EP of cover songs.
Durst, who is a senior vice president of Interscope, Primus' label, produced
"Laquer Head" (
excerpt), which is about sniffing glue, gasoline and other substances.
Copeland produced "Dirty Drowning Man," which uses layered bass tracks,
dissonant guitar-plucking and Police-like reggae rhythms.
"Musically, there's some stuff for the trippers," Claypool said of the full
album. "But there's also this aggressive element, so there's — I just keep
going back to this acid-rock thing — it's like acid-metal or somethin'.
The band, which also includes drummer Brian "Brain" Mantia and guitarist Larry
LaLonde, has been releasing albums since 1989. Primus are best known for their
radio hit "My Name Is Mud" (
excerpt), from their 1993 album, Pork Soda.
Waits, who has worked with Primus regularly since Sailing the Seas of
Cheese (1991), added a wailing, horror-movie Mellotron to "Coattails of a
Dead Man," which Claypool said was "the only song on the record that we did in
one take, and it was just awesome." On the song, Waits and Claypool repeat the
phrase "on the coattails of a dead man she'll ride," turning the tune —
which also features high-pitched howling by Tricky collaborator Martina
Topley-Bird — into a brooding sea chanty.
"How often do you have Tom Waits sittin' in your house, bangin' away on a
Mellotron, hootin' and hollerin' like an old pirate or somethin'?" Claypool said
from his Northern California home. "It was pretty incredible."
While the album was in production, Waits said the trio are "good guys and
fearless adventurers. ... They will play anything; they will do anything. They
like the unusual and the bizarre. They're game. They got zeal."
Hetfield and exFaith No More guitarist Jim Martin lend their blazing chops
to the guitar assault on the nine-minute psychedelic opus "Eclectic Electric"
excerpt). The song opens with a heraldic, ringing, bent guitar note,
with delicate bass and guitar plucks and harmonics. Mantia's kick drum and snare
drum appear, then Claypool picks a hammering bass riff, creating a dark yet
trippy feel, reminiscent of Pink Floyd.
Harpooning pop culture, politics, yuppiedom and hypocrisy, the album is as much
a piece of social commentary as it is a heavily hallucinogenic shredfest.
The title track (
excerpt) keys on the band's nonconformist leanings: "I am Antipop/ I'll
run against the grain till the day I drop/ I am the Antipop/ The man you cannot
The album opener, "Electric Uncle Sam," which Morello co-produced and played on,
recalls Rage Against the Machine's deep metal groove and anti-authoritarian
angst. Claypool sings, "Don't get caught with your fingers in my pie/ Mess with
me and, boy, you're surely gonna die ... I'm here, I'm there, I'm everywhere/ I
am your Uncle Sam."
Primus, who spent the summer touring with Black Sabbath on Ozzfest, are now on
the West Coast leg of the Family Values tour, which Limp Bizkit are headlining.
The trio will drop off the outing when it leaves the West Coast and later
headline their own U.S. trek, with a likely New Year's Eve show in Oakland,
Calif., according to Claypool.