Larry “Ler” LaLonde has been playing guitar alongside bassist Les Claypool in Primus since he was 19.
Together in the late 1980s and throughout the ’90s, the two created some of the oddest rock ’n’ roll music in extant, anchored on Claypool’s rubbery funk-punk bass slapping, redneck vocal delivery and humorous lyrics. LaLonde’s guitar playing always provided shading and texture, rather than actual chord progressions, shrieking and grinding over Claypool’s muscular rhythms.
For LaLonde, playing with Claypool today is nearly second nature to him — he pretty much knows what to expect. But it’s not like playing with any other bass player, and he admitted that early in the band’s career, some of the sounds Claypool was making with his instrument surprised him.
“In the beginning, it was like, ‘Whoa, what was that crazy sound?’ ” LaLonde said from his home in Santa Monica, Calif. “Most bass players will tend to kind of go the traditional bass route, filling in the low end with something simple. With Les, you never know — he could be hitting any kind of crazy sound. It might sound like a tuba one second, sometimes it sounds like a bass. But you get a lot of crazy sounds thrown at you, and a lot of crazy keys. It makes it pretty exciting, definitely, and it makes it to where you don’t have to worry about fitting in.”
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday
Where: The Palace Theatre, 19 Clinton Ave., Albany
How Much: $40, $34.50, $29.50
More Info: 465-3334, www.palacealbany.com
“Green Naugahyde,” Primus’ seventh studio album and first since 1999’s “Antipop,” finds the band once again creating a musical pastiche of comedy, noisy riffs, funky grooves and country twang, while still finding a few new angles within their sound. The trio, also featuring drummer Jay Lane — who returned to the group last year after having left in 1988 — is hitting the road this weekend for the first official round of touring behind “Green Naugahyde,” released this month. They’ll be at the Palace Theatre on Tuesday night.
The shows on this tour will encompass two sets — one focused on the band’s extensive back catalog and the other “Green Naugahyde” in its entirety.
“I think we just kind of assumed, hey, we’ve got a new album, we like playing the songs; let’s go out and play the whole album,” LaLonde said. “Hopefully it turns out to be a good idea, playing the whole new album. Usually when you hear that somebody is playing one of their albums, it’s some album from years ago.”
Primus has had experience playing these kinds of nostalgic sets — it’s a format the band followed in its 2003 tour, on which the band played their 1991 breakthrough “Sailing the Seas of Cheese” front to back, and in 2004 for 1990’s “Frizzle Fry.” And since calling a hiatus in 2000 after touring “Antipop,” and reuniting in 2003, the only new material from the band has been the five-song supplemental EP in the DVD set “Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People.”
Tours in 2003, 2004 and 2006 featured the band’s “classic lineup” with drummer Tim “Herb” Alexander, who replaced Lane in 1989 and played on the band’s releases up through 1995’s “Tales From the Punchbowl.” But though the tours went well, at the time the band was not interested in recording new Primus material.
“Usually the way it works with Primus, is,we toured forever and when we got done touring we’d come back and start writing songs, end up in the studio again,” La Londe said. “We finished touring [in 2003] and just never came back together — Les did his solo thing, but we never came together as a band. In 2004 and 2006 we went out and did some touring, and we got other offers to start playing, but it never turned into doing another album — no one had the amount of enthusiasm to get in and do the work and make an album.”
When more show offers started coming in for 2010 and this year, LaLonde again brought up the idea to release new music. The problem was, Alexander wasn’t interested.
“It didn’t seem like Tim was really gonna want to do it,” LaLonde said. “So I got to talking with Les, that maybe if Jay’s into doing it, we can come together and see what this is gonna be. And that turned out to be the case.”
Lane, who was responsible for writing many of the drum parts on the bands’ first few albums, although he never played on them, brought a jolt of energy to the band and helped Claypool and LaLonde connect to Primus’ early, raw sound.
“He came out to L.A., and we went to a rehearsal space and jammed to see if it would work out, if everyone was excited about it,” LaLonde said. “We were playing songs that he was a part of writing, and it sounded amazing — it had a great energy. Everyone was kind of like, ‘Let’s do this.’ ”
LaLonde compared the recording process for “Green Naugahyde” to the early records in other ways, as well. Because of the long layoff between albums, the band had time to work on ideas both on and off the road, and had built up a number of jams together prior to writing.
“The first Primus record was easy; it was songs we’d been out playing for a while — we went to the studio and banged it out,” LaLonde said. “The second album, we had a few songs left over that time. As we went along, we ended up doing a lot of writing in the studio, and that can get a little difficult after you’ve toured forever. You get a tiny bit burned out. This one, we hadn’t recorded or toured in a long time, so we could build up a lot of ideas over time too.”
The album has been compared to “Frizzle Fry,” though LaLonde thinks it’s more of a mix of every Primus album.
“That’s definitely one thing, with every Primus record, when it’s time to come out — ‘Oh, let’s see if anybody is into this one,’” LaLonde said. “We always push a little bit to make it a little bit weird — like, here’s another one.”
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