Les Claypool is probably best known as the bassist and vocalist of the innovative alternative rock band Primus. His distinctive, idiosyncratic approach to his instrument has garnered a lot of praise, and he’s generally considered one of those best rock ’n’ roll bassists alive. He has collaborated with a wide range of musicians, including Tom Waits, Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio and Police drummer Stewart Copeland. He has worked on a number of multimedia projects, including a novel, South of the Pumphouse. TV fans might also recognize him as the man behind the theme song for the show South Park. His current tour comes through Lake Tahoe at the Montbleu Resort, 55 Highway 50,
Lake Tahoe, on March 8 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $28 and available through www.ticketmaster.com
So tell me a little bit about the new album, Of Fungi and Foe.
I think it’s kind of dark and creepy.
I’d agree with that.
A lot of it—not all of it, but a good portion of it is based on some soundtrack work that I did for a couple different pieces—one being a dark and creepy interactive game called Mushroom Men, and the other being a yet-to-be-released thriller about a 2,000 pound—I don’t know if it’s 2,000 pound or 3,000 pound—wild boar that terrorizes the pot fields of Northern California.
What’s that called?
It’s called Pig Hunt.
And the game’s called Mushroom Men? So there are drug references in the movie and in the game?
Well, the Mushroom Men is about actual mushrooms that come to life because a meteor hits the planet … and anything within that proximity that is fungi comes alive, becomes intelligent life. They have little societies, and they battle each other, and it’s a pretty cool story actually.
How much does the album tie into the game and the movie, and how much does it stand alone?
For the most part lyrically, it stands alone. There’s the “Mushroom Men” song, and there’s a song called “Amanitas,” which I use the amanitas metaphor—which is this dangerous, poisonous mushroom. But for the most part lyrically it stands on its own. Musically, a lot of it is very much inspired by the visual elements of those pieces.
The album is very rhythmic, and it has kind of a carnival sideshow, freak show atmosphere to it.
Well, hence the Oddity Fair [Tour]. The Oddity Fair is going to be this carnival sideshow, freak show of bent musicians, such as myself, touring around in shiny boxes …
Who else is going to be on the Oddity Fair?
Well, it’s varying from city to city … Yard Dogs Road Show, the Mutaytor, who’s down in L.A. with the Yard Dogs, Saul Williams, Devotchka is on some of the shows. Secret Chief 3 is on some of the shows. O’Death is on some of the shows … In New York, we’re having the Coney Island sideshow performers come out.
Cool, actual sideshows to go with the sideshow music.
Yeah, it’s a freak show, for sure. It’s almost like this collection of vaudevillian—you know, nuevo vaudevillians traveling around the country, doing their thing.