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#1
LESLIE EDWARD CLAYPOOL (This guy’s pretty bizarre Gus!!)


Ok, well first off, I’m gonna have to admit to a pretty dangerous level of obsession with Mr Claypool and his various works, as such, this BPOTM is difficult for me, as I have to choose what to omit, as opposed to what to include.

It seems fairly obvious to not bother with details of his work in film and game soundtracks, film making and fiction, although the fact he’s involved in such varied projects (all with their own sense of humour) reflect in his eclectic bass playing.
I’ll also try not to go into horrendous levels of obsessive detail, instead choosing to throw little nuggets of knowledge here and there throughout the piece. Those of you who are interested can find the rest out for your selves.

Without further ado then, let us commence our Journey in the Wacky World Of Claypool:

A Bass-ic History

He was born, on September 29th, 1963 in Richmond, California, but moved to El Sobrante at a young age, and it was here that he was raised. During his childhood years, he would frequently go out fishing on his grandfather’s boat, in the San Pablo Bay, often hunting down diamond back sturgeon, this became a lifelong hobby of Les’ and the experiences are immortalised in the “Fisherman Chronicles” (A set of tracks appearing on numerous Primus albums).

At 14, Les decided to buy a bass, after watching numerous shows and becoming interested in the boomy low ended guitar-like instrument (I’m now unable to find the exact quote, I really miss my computer folks). However, he originally didn’t have the money to also afford an amp, and so would sit for hours playing unplugged making the strings go clackity clack. This helped him build up finger strength and meant he sat and learned musical theory, as opposed to rushing in at the deep end like so many young whipper-snappers do these days!

Whilst looking around a pawn shop I believe, he discovered a most peculiar beast: a 4 string fretted 32" scale piccolo bass made by a mister Carl Thompson. Claypool originally thought of it as the ugliest bass he’d ever seen, but decided to try it out anyway, jamming out the song “Roundabout” and discovered that it was the most comfortable bass he’d ever played. Begging his mum for money, he purchased it the next day. Since then he’s added a Kahler Tremolo arm to it, and the headstock now contains a piece of flamed maple, signed by Rush’s Geddy Lee (One of Claypool’s musical idols).

In 1984, Les formed the band Primate with guitarist Todd Huth, and a drum machine, before finally settling on Jay Lane as a drummer, and changing the name to Primus, due to another band already having the name Primate. Allegedly Claypool just chose the next word in the dictionary. Claypool developed a style of using the bass as a lead instrument, using a mix of Larry Graham style slap and pop, fast finger work and venetian strumming. The trios wacky, bass led, mosh friendly music quickly helped them build a cult following and led to them being involved in the Bay State Area early thrash scene.

In 1986, following the death of Cliff Burton, Les, being an old school friend of Kirk Hammett (Who would later appear in the John the Fisherman video) decided to audition to be Metallica’s replacement bassist. However, he didn’t get the job, allegedly for being “Too good and too funky.” He instead went on to become the short term bassist for the progressive thrash band Blind Illusion,where he met a young guitarist named Larry Lalonde, though left half way through the tour supporting The Sane Asylum (BI’s only record) to reform Primus.
At the end of 1989, Todd Huth and Jay Lane played their last ever gig with Primus, the footage of which can be found as a hidden extra on the Animals...DVD, following their departure, Larry Lalonde and Tim “Herb” Alexander joined on guitar and drums respectively, thus the “Classic” Primus line up was complete!!!

89 saw the release of the live album Suck on This, culled from two shows at the Berkeley Square, and financed by Les’ father. Then, in 1990 came Frizzle Fry, on Caroline records, later reissued on Interscope, to whom the band signed soon after.

Hmmm...wall of text so far, not really fulfilling my promise of cutting stuff down here...but I’ve been sat at this desk for a good hour or two, and I’m not re-writing. So here on in, I solemnly promise, to be too the point and to brutally self edit....

Soon came more albums, such as 91’s Sailing the seas of cheese, where Les first used the 6 string fretless known as the Rainbow bass, next was Pork Soda, which hit number 7 in America, despite being both eclectic and dark. 96 saw the release of the psychedelic drug inspired Tales of the Punchbowl, which saw Les step away from the spot light and encourage Lalonde to really go to town with the guitar work. Shortly after the tour for Tales, Tim Alexander would leave the band. Brian Mantia, aka Brain would go on to play on the last two Primus albums before their hiatus, 97’s Brown album which was recorded at Les' own studio, at his home named Rancho Relaxo (Yes, after the Simpsons) and was step in a very different musical direction, with a very clipped production style and 99’s Antipop...which we pretend doesn’t exist.
Claypool also released a solo record and an album with the original Primate line up under the moniker Sausage before the millennium.

Since then, we’ve seen a Primus reunion, with a new EP released with a comprehensive DVD in 2003 called Animals should not try and act like people, a couple of other DVD’s for Primus, another solo album or two, and some side projects, including:

Colonel Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade: a jazzier, jammy, floydian style band to Primus, who have recorded two live albums (One being a cover of Pink Floyds Animals in its entirety) and one studio album named Purple Onion.

Oysterhead: with Trey Anastasio and Stewart Copeland, from Phish and The Police respectively, a very improvisational style band, originally formed as a one off, but who later recorded a studio album

Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains: with Buckethead, Bernie Worrell of Talking heads and Parliament/Funkadelic fame and Brain. This group really pushed the improv boat out, with no rehearsals or set lists, and even going as far to prepare sandwiches for their audience at one show. However, they did record one album of experimental music, The Big Eyeball in the Sky.

Most of these side projects are pretty difficult to track down in the flesh, unless you know a good independent record store. Though they are easily available on the ol’ Interweb.

Coming up on March 19th 2009 is Claypool’s new album “Of Fungi and Foe” collecting his sound track work for the film Pig Hunt, about a giant evil boar running amok in a marijuana plantation, and the Wii game Mushroom Men, about mushrooms coming to life. Among the collaborators is Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello, a band Claypool is a fan of, and who he mentioned in UG’s last interview with him. Word!

Quote by the humanity
I'm just joking Moog. you know nothing can tear our friendship apart, not even the fact we are miles apart, I am right there beside you, yelling, "Chug it, ya little wimp!"
Last edited by skippy_moogoose at Feb 24, 2009,
#2
Gear and such

Finally, now you’ve all read through that drivel (or just got bored and scrolled down) I can bring you all what you want: Carl Thompson Pornography!!!

But first: a couple of lil titbits on Les’ playing:

For a while (I don’t know if he still does) he strung his 4 strings with only A and G strings, but still tuning EADG, this was to get an extra twangy sound, certainly he was doing this around the Seas of Cheese era!

He attacks mainly with his finger nail, again for a twangier, aggressive, almost pick-like attack!

He has popularised the strum technique, where a quick flick of the wrist and/ or fingers in an up and down motion against two or more strings allows the bass to be played in a more guitar like style, see tracks such as Southbound Pachyderm or Tommy the Cat for examples.

OK...OK, I’m done; here it is folks, a list of the gear and basses Mr Claypool uses to make his musicy goodness with:

For recording, Les tends to D.I his bass, very rarely using an amp. He used to use a variety of ADA rack mounted effects, but has since stopped, preferring to use pedals instead.

Pedals:

XR M-80 Bass DI
Line 6 DM4 Distortion Modeller
Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeller
Boomerang Phase Sampler
Kork Toneworks AX3000B multi-effects unit
DBX 160A Compressor
Access Virus TI Synthesizer with MIDI pedal

Live Rig

2 Ampeg SVT-5PRO heads
2 Ampeg 4x10 and 2 Ampeg 1x15 cabs

Les used to run his effected tone straight through both amps, but these days he plays his wet tone through the 4x10’s and his dry tone through the 1x15.

Les’s Bass Collection

All of Les' CT's use EMG-DC pickups with an EMG-BTC preamp

Carl Thompson 4-String fretted walnut and mahogany bass with black Kahler tremolo


Carl Thompson 4-String fretted maple bass (Used primarily as his back up bass, and thus rarely pulled out onstage)


Carl Thompson 6-String fretted, birds eye maple bass with a cherry neck and ebony fingerboard (Originally the first fretless 6 string when built in 1977 for Chris Brubeck, Carl then fretted it and sold it to Les just before the recording of Pork Soda, it’s distinctive for its thin neck.)


The "Rainbow Bass" Carl Thompson 6-String fretless, made with strips of walnut, curly maple, padauk, purple heart, ebony and cocobolo. The strings are threaded through the back of the rear extension - near where the strap pin is. They're stretched over a one-piece, hand-made wooden bridge and anchored by Schaller tuning machines. The basic part of the neck is made of quartersawn hardrock maple. The center of the fingerboard is Indian ebony, with 1/8-inch-wide strips of padauk, cocobolo and ebony on either side. Les got this just in time to record Sailing the Seas Of Cheese. Originally this bass didn’t balance properly, so Les sent it back to have an extra horn added, it can be seen in its Original form in the Jerry was a race car driver video, and in its current form in the Tommy the Cat video.


Carl Thompson 4-String fretted with bolt on neck. Has a 1/8 layer of Macassar Ebony covering the whole bass. It has 24 frets, 2 pickups, 36" scale, and a black Kahler tremelo bar. In order for Les to be able to reach the high frets, Carl had to re-carve some of the body after the bass was finished. Made for Les for the Antipop tour, and is known as the Antimatter Bass.


Carl Thompson 4 string Fretless Piccolo bass, used for the Hallucino-genetics tour, for example, during Toys go Winding down. Pictured here being modeled by David Muntner:


2 Fender 4- String Jazz Basses, one being red (And can be seen in the video for Wynona's Big Brown Beaver) and the other being cream-colored
Kay acoustic upright which Les bought for $200 in a pawn shop
Eko fiddle bass
Tune 6-String fretless
Dan Maloney 4-String fretted bass banjo
Dan Maloney Electric Stand-up bass
White Rickenbacker 4001 (a gift from Alex Lifeson of Rush)
Steinberger Upright bass 5-String
The Whamola


Phew....that about wraps it up, apart from to say, the man that is les Claypool has been and still is both an amazing musician, a tremendous influence for many bassists (myself included) and appears to be an all round pretty cool guy ya know! Hope you enjoyed!

Quote by the humanity
I'm just joking Moog. you know nothing can tear our friendship apart, not even the fact we are miles apart, I am right there beside you, yelling, "Chug it, ya little wimp!"
Last edited by skippy_moogoose at Feb 24, 2009,
#3
Sorry about posting in the middle of them im still lovin them though.
Yamaha TRB1006
Fender MIA jazz bass
Hora Hybrid double bass
Hartke lh 500
Ev 606L
Epiphone les paul
#4
Stickied.

I am going to trek 5 hours up to the Lake Tahoe area to see Les next weekend in Nevada. Yeah, I know WAY more about Mr. Claypool than I care to admit.

I actually don't live that far from the general area of his youth in the upper East Bay. A few quick facts for the fodder and I'll come back later on and comment more on Mr. Claypool

The hospital in Richmond,Ca where Les was born is now a mental institution. I'm not kidding

The shop where he bought his first bass was in Oakland Ca; Leo's Pro Audio. Its still there btw, and they tend to have some interesting things in stock at times.

Yes, there is a D's Diner. Check my profile.
#6
Between us anarkee, we may know more about Les than Les does

Yes people, we are that scary!!!

Right, Im gonna stop finding mistakes now, or at least stop correcting them,and have added the last of the pics, hope this is all ok for everyone, did me best in the time on the computer I had. and fatgoogle, no worries, yoy wern't to know, hope u liked the second half too!!

And to everyone wondering why Im posting early, I dont have the net at home, and had to come out to my dads after booking time off work (Its my bday this week and I got a hospital appiontment too) as such, it was now or never, sorry
peace out ya'll
Quote by the humanity
I'm just joking Moog. you know nothing can tear our friendship apart, not even the fact we are miles apart, I am right there beside you, yelling, "Chug it, ya little wimp!"
Last edited by skippy_moogoose at Feb 24, 2009,
#7
The early posting is due to the fact that Mr. Moogoose will not have internet access at the beginning of March, so he's posting early by agreement of the moddess.

Yes, I can be reasonable at times, contrary to popular opinion, lol.
#8
Its great man, prob the longest and most well written bpotm. but i though he used aload of svt 3's not 5's.
Yamaha TRB1006
Fender MIA jazz bass
Hora Hybrid double bass
Hartke lh 500
Ev 606L
Epiphone les paul
#10
Fatgoogle, he's currently using 5's, I found a little interview peice that includes comments from one of his techies, thats how I know about the splitting of wet and dry signals he now does too, also my mates college teacher (music tech) did some roadie/tech work for primus in the 90's. sadly I didnt get to talk to him before this, or we could of had some real cool personal info. *sigh* what could of been eh?
Quote by the humanity
I'm just joking Moog. you know nothing can tear our friendship apart, not even the fact we are miles apart, I am right there beside you, yelling, "Chug it, ya little wimp!"
#11
Quote by skippy_moogoose
(I’m now unable to find the exact quote, I really miss my computer folks)



I believe this is it-

Some guys who won a school talent show--two guitarists and a drummer--played [the Allman Brothers'] "Ramblin' Man" through little Fender Champ amps. It came time for the solo, and it was the most god-awful, twangy, high-pitched thing I'd ever heard. I thought, "That's not the kind of instrument I want to play. I want to play the big, fat-sounding one." I started to notice that the guitar with only four strings sounded huge and fat and the one with six strings sounded twangy and boring.
Last edited by Casketcreep at Feb 24, 2009,
#12
cheers CasketCreep, that is indeed the quote

happy days, I had a similiar expereince, never liked the twangy one, I liked the boomy one hence Im a bassist, even though when I got a bass i wasn't really sure what it did, and the first time I heard Primus, i hated them
Quote by the humanity
I'm just joking Moog. you know nothing can tear our friendship apart, not even the fact we are miles apart, I am right there beside you, yelling, "Chug it, ya little wimp!"
#13
Well I only started playing bass because the band I played guitar in had a hopeless bassist.
I took over, and it was the best decision I've ever made.

Also, Great article.
I always seems to learn the most in this forum from the BPOTM posts.
Good bloody job.
#14
he 's the man. nice article thing
Cryptic Metaphor!


Quote by ZachisSuperCool
"How to finger the bass faster"
That's funny, I guess every high school has a really fat chick named The Bass.
#15
Les once said in a Bay Area Music (BAM) magazine interview:

"It's all relative, you know; if you're a big Residents, Zappa or Captain Beefheart fan, Primus is tame. If you're a Bon Jovi fan, Primus is pretty damn weird."

I was in the former group. I love Primus from the first time a co-worker played them for me. Les is a huge Resident's fan, a group that is truly weird and that I've loved since the 70s. If you want to see how much of an influence they were on Les, listen to "Duck Stab".

He's also done some interesting side-projects with other people. One of my favourites has been with Adrian Belew on the Side 1 and Side III albums.
#16
Ah i need to do soem listening, ive heard various bits and peices (especially an ace Colonel claypools bucket of bernie brains video on youtube(im a big buckethead fan)) but what would you recommend?
#17
For a brief show of his talent, listen to these.
Primus - Tommy the cat, Those damn blue collar tweekers, American Life, Laquer Head.

For his massive jamming talent I would recomend c2b3.

And for just damn good songs check out the fearless flying frog brigade.
Last edited by Casketcreep at Feb 24, 2009,
#18
S'good. Nothing else to say...
Quote by Azgirio
Yeah, you definitely raped his churches and burned his women.

Quote by LordBishek
Forgive the bluntness, but what in the chucklefucking hell is this?
#19
ITS NOT MARCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I refuse to read this until then
Quote by cakeandpiemofo
Of course I don't wanna go in the woods. There's bears in there.


Quote by Deliriumbassist
Jeff Ament is a sexy sexy beast.



Quote by Karvid
Yes. Chest hair = automatic awesome. Even if you're a woman.
#20
If you are looking for a Primus sampler, you could dig into "They can't all be Zingers" which is about the closest you'll get to a greatest hits album.

As far as solo work, the Flying Frog Brigade albums are solid. I like the "Holy Mackerel" album as well. I really like Oysterhead, but I am big Stuart Copeland fan, so it was all good and if you like your music a bit jam-y its a great listen as well.

Another project which Claypool got involved with was Jack Iron's solo album, "Attention Dimension". It has a cover of "Shine on you crazy diamond" (which both Claypool and Irons did on Live Frog II), but this time with Eddie Vedder on vocals. To me, that is just about close to musical heaven in a track.
#22
Ok score one for you...

But I've seeing him in less than two weeks so I can be gracious about that.
#24
I just want to make a comment... Am I the only one who thought the first pic was David Spade? Maybe? No? *Leaves room crying...*
Quote by Azgirio
Yeah, you definitely raped his churches and burned his women.

Quote by LordBishek
Forgive the bluntness, but what in the chucklefucking hell is this?
#25
personally i don;t like his music style and his playing isn't all that amazing to me as it is to everyone else, but he is DAMN good at what he does
#27
He enrolled in Jazz class in high school, but much of his bass playing style is self taught by absorbing the many musical influences of the Bay area such as funk and the east bay rock scene at the time. His love of funk and R & B got him dubbed "Disco Les" in HS.
#28
Quote by anarkee
He enrolled in Jazz class in high school, but much of his bass playing style is self taught by absorbing the many musical influences of the Bay area such as funk and the east bay rock scene at the time. His love of funk and R & B got him dubbed "Disco Les" in HS.


Thx for the info Anarkee ^^
#29
Claypool is who got me to take the bass seriously. I remember the first time I listened to Primus; yes, I'd heard some singles before then, but the first album was on a train ride from Oakland to San Luis Obispo. Frizzle Fry... I couldn't believe how hard the man threw down. I knew I had to sit down and learn what the hell he was doing. Nowadays I don't really like to play his songs because I just can't do them justice... but every once in a while I can't help but bust them out. I can play the basics of Tommy the Cat, which I never thought would be possible... if I can play Jerry someday I will be unbelievably pleased.

Saw the Frog Brigade on New Year's Eve '05 at the Fillmore, Primus in '06 in Boston, Fancy Band on New Years Eve '06 at the Fillmore, Fancy Band again in '07 at the Warfield, and saw his most recent collaboration for free this past summer in Oakland at Jack London Square. His shows blow my mind out of this world.

Excellent BPOTM. Thank you.
#30
Finally a good BPOTM
Last.fm

Fender Deluxe Players Strat > Big Muff > LPB-1 > Moog Ring Mod > MXR Dynacomp > MXR Phase 90 '74 > Fender Hot Rod 410 (soon)
#32
Quote by aguacateojos


Saw the Frog Brigade on New Year's Eve '05 at the Fillmore, Primus in '06 in Boston, Fancy Band on New Years Eve '06 at the Fillmore, Fancy Band again in '07 at the Warfield, and saw his most recent collaboration for free this past summer in Oakland at Jack London Square. His shows blow my mind out of this world.

Excellent BPOTM. Thank you.


I missed that Jack London Square concert, I was so mad If you ever catch wind of something like that again, please PM me.

I have buddies at work who actually saw Blind Illusion during the stage when Les was with the band. They say he was pretty out there at that point as well.

I agree, if you can catch one of his shows, they are amazing and eclectic.
#33
I moved into my new house on les' Birthday last year, it's wrong that this excited me!!!

Woo, my sausage album came in the post today, and they've started re-issuing primus vinyls over here, so my wonderful missus has purchased both Seas of Cheese and Pork soda on this yummy format for me! I am indeed a happy moose!!

thanks for all the great positive feedback, tis been a while since Ive been a real member of this here most excellent forum, its good to get involved again

and to all who've seen him, ARRRH
Tam, I order/request you kidnap/seduce Les and make him come to England, preferably with Ler and Tin in tow, mmkay?
Quote by the humanity
I'm just joking Moog. you know nothing can tear our friendship apart, not even the fact we are miles apart, I am right there beside you, yelling, "Chug it, ya little wimp!"
#34
Quote by anarkee
If you are looking for a Primus sampler, you could dig into "They can't all be Zingers" which is about the closest you'll get to a greatest hits album.

As far as solo work, the Flying Frog Brigade albums are solid. I like the "Holy Mackerel" album as well. I really like Oysterhead, but I am big Stuart Copeland fan, so it was all good and if you like your music a bit jam-y its a great listen as well.

Another project which Claypool got involved with was Jack Iron's solo album, "Attention Dimension". It has a cover of "Shine on you crazy diamond" (which both Claypool and Irons did on Live Frog II), but this time with Eddie Vedder on vocals. To me, that is just about close to musical heaven in a track.

You just had to mention that didn't you.
Good read.
#36
I had no idea about Of Fungi and Foe! Thank you!!!

Good read, too.
Call Me Joe
Quote by wesleyisgay
IF MATT DAMON DIES TOMMAROW

FUK



Communist Mormon of 2.21.19.8

Caffeine Head of The Bass Militia
#37
Quote by ccam555
You just had to mention that didn't you.
Good read.


Come on, would you expect me to pass THAT one up?

The oddest "hey that's Les" experience I had when I was over a friend's house and her pre-school daughter was listening the "Barnyard" soundtrack and the song "Hittin' the Hay" comes on. And I do this double take and make her play it again. Yup it was the dulcet tones of Les on vocals.

From a recent Bass Guitar interview, Les is now mainly a pedal guy. He used to work at some point as tester for ADA and did use rack equipment but has moved away from rack equipment in recent years.

The gear at the end of the article was listed as follows:

Basses Carl Thompson 4-string with Kahler tremolo; Carl Thompson 6-string fretless “rainbow bass”; Dan Maloney banjo bass; “Whamola” one-string washtub-style bass; 5-string NS Design electric upright; Dean Markley Blue Steel strings (.045–100)
Rig 2 Ampeg SVT-5PRO heads, 2 Ampeg 4x10 and 2 Ampeg 1x15 cabs
Effects MXR M-80 Bass DI +, Line 6 DM4 Distortion Modeler, Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler, Boomerang Phrase Sampler, Kork Toneworks AX3000B multi-effects unit, DBX 160a Compressor, Access Virus TI synthesizer with MIDI foot controller

“We used to just run Les’s effected tone to the amps,” says tech Derek Walls. “On this tour we started to split his signal: wet to the 4x10s, and dry to the 1x15s.”
#39
Jack Irons eh! Gonna have too give that a listen
Quote by IndianRockStar
The bass SHOULD cover the bottom end at the very least.



70's MOD Jazz->
BOSS LMB-3->
Hartke HA3500->
GENZ-BENZ NEOx 2x12->
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