This summer antiMUSIC’s Dr Fever attended the very first Mid Atlantic Music Experience in Lewisburg, WV. While there his new “partner in crime” Susanna Robinson took a few minutes to interview Les Claypool. So without futher b.s. from your friendly editor, here is the interview… (stay tuned at the end for links to Dr. Fever’s review of the Festival!)
Susanna Robinson for antiMUSIC: What percent madness? What percent genius?
Les Clayrool: I think it’s, um, 80% penious. (laughter) The other 20 you can divide up however you want
antiMUSIC: Fill in this blank; (Blank) is the enemy of creativity? And feel free to expound on why.
Les: Hmmmm. I could be a smart ass, or I could think about it a second. (pauses to think) prejudice I think.
That’s a good one. Nice broad term. There are many forms of prejudice.
antiMUSIC: For somebody who’s never heard your music, how would you describe it?
Les: I usually just avoid it. I mean, my whole career has been based on avoiding describing what I do, because nobody has really been able to do it. Ya know with Primus..which is what got me here...nobody was ever able to really categorize what that band. I’ve seen that band under many different monikers...But, ya know. It’s sort of an eclectic blend of many different style. Little edgy, little quirky, little scary.
antiMUSIC:I felt that space and humor were really important (to your music.) What are you thoughts on that?
Les: Well I mean all these guys...our guitar player’s new to this band, but I’ve known him for 25 years. But, they’re all lunatics. If you had each one of them in this room talking, they would all impress you with their lunacy. (laughter)
antiMUSIC: (laughter) Well, ya get them to go along with you, to follow you there...
Les: Well, I mean, they help propel me there, ya know. There’s no anchors in this band. The sails are all up.
antiMUSIC: Have you had a certain inspirational moment, creatively? A pivotal life change musically? Or anything that made you realize this is what you want to do to?
Les: Well I think there is never ‘one.’ Well, at least not for me. There are pivotal ‘moments’. I think that’s just the way it is in life. Whether your a shoe salesman, or an auto mechanic...and I come from a long line of automechanics...or a bass player. Ya know? Things happen, you come to a cross roads, and something makes you lean to a certain direction.
antiMUSIC: So, what inspires you still?
Les: Playing with people that I enjoy not only playing with but being with. To me, it’s not only the making of the music, it’s the camaraderie. That’s where a lyrical idea might come from. Or a notion for whatever we might were on stage...or just the attitude of the day might come from an event that happens because you’re gelling together...
antiMUSIC: And that’s what keeps you happy on the road...
Les: I mean, this is my job...I come from a long line of auto mechanics and I was brought up with the notion of ‘Learn a trade.’ I know many trades and I’ve had many jobs over the years. I’ve had some really good jobs. But, I’ve had some really s***ty jobs too
antiMUSIC: What was your worst job?
Les: Uh..(quick pause to think) busting tires was pretty unfun..but it builds character.” (chuckle)
antiMUSIC: (laughter) I think all jobs build character, but especially those kind....
Les: Some jobs build character. But some jobs destroy it...
antiMUSIC: You mentioned coming from a long line of auto mechanics; so, describe the atmosphere of your childhood home..
Les: My parents were divorced when I was, like, 4 or 5. So, I had two sets of parents.. they remarried pretty quickly.. I had two sets of Christmas’s, all that and whatnot. My stepfather was a mechanic, my father was mechanic, my grandfather was mechanic, all my uncles were mechanics. My other uncle was a fireman. Very blue collar. to me, it’s funny because my parents are at the age where they’re older and they’re doing their soul searching.....especially over the last 15, 20 years. They’ve had their therapy and whatnot...they’ve come to me at different times apologizing for this that and whatnot. I just think that’s the way it is these days. A generation of therapy. Generation of guilt. And I just tell them, I had a pretty good childhood. I wasn’t beaten. I wasn’t sodomized by anybody...it was pretty good ya know? what I would consider an average American childhood of the Seventies.