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Primus’ Les Claypool Says Band ‘Wasn’t Fun Anymore’ in the Late-‘90s

Justin Renney, Getty Images

When Les Claypool decided to resurrect Primus and put out the band’s first full-length in 11 years with, ‘Green Naugahyde,’ out last September, Primus fans jumped to their feet in celebration. After all, back in the late-‘90s, it seemed as if Primus’ days were over for good.

Claypool says he initially pulled the plug on Primus because it simply wasn’t exciting anymore. “You know, people would always ask me, ‘How long is Primus going to go on?’ And I would say, ‘Until it isn’t fun anymore,’” he told the Arizona Central. “At the end of the ’90s, it just wasn’t fun anymore on many levels. Creatively, we had hit a wall. It was the first time we were being second-guessed by the people around us, and we were starting to second-guess ourselves. On a personal level, we weren’t getting along. From my experience, moving through life, things tend to go in eight- to 10-year cycles. Friends, relationships and whatnot.”

He’s glad the guys stopped because, “for me, ‘Antipop’ is a pretty awkward record. And I think if we’d have forced ourselves into making more records, just to keep the bank account full, we would have made some pretty crappy records.”

While Claypool says Primus doesn’t play anything off ‘Antipop’ at shows these days, he enjoys playing some of the old stuff– so long as it’s mixed in with the new. “It got tedious for me to do nothing but old stuff. There was nothing moving forward, no creativity, no enthusiasm to do anything new. So that’s what got stagnant. Playing those old tunes is amazing. There’s some really fun material to play.

“You know, there are times when you play a song over and over and over and you get a little tired of it and you let it sit for a while. It’s like you may love eating sushi, but if you eat it every single day, you’re going to get a little tired of it. Now, we’re doing two sets. And it’s different every night, which I think is a big thing, to mix it up. Also, there’s a lot of improvisation within certain elements of the songs. The first set, we’re doing all older material. And then, the second set, we’re doing the new album in its entirety from start to finish. We were a little skeptical about that at first, but it’s been going great.”

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