- Hardcover: 380 pages
- Published: 9/16/14
- IBSN: 9781617753220
- e-IBSN: 9781617753305
- Genre: Art/Music/Pop Culture
An oral history of the legendary band Primus, with a star-studded cast of interviewees (Tom Waits, Phish front man Trey Anastasio, etc.)
One of BookRiot’s Must-Read Books from Indie Presses for 2014
“Prato has curated a collection to attract the uninitiated as well as preach to the unwashed converted masses.”
“It’s a wild ride that’s vividly captured in Greg Prato’s excellent oral history, Primus: Over the Electric Grapevine.”
—Bass Player Magazine
“A book about the highly strange San Franciscans Primus has been overdue for years, so Greg Prato’s excellent oral history of the band is welcome—doubly so, given that the key bandmembers, Les Claypool, Larry Lalonde and Tim Alexander, are involved. . . . Great stuff.”
—Record Collector Magazine
“A master storyteller, skilled in the art of assembling oral histories that not only examine their subjects in great depth but also spin a great yarn, Prato is able to combine a thorough study of Claypool’s eccentric genius with a relaxed, free-flowing narrative of the Primus’s origins story, detailing influences and lineup changes, early performances and the making of landmark Primus albums . . . . [The book] doesn’t get bogged down by minutiae, and although it could be called an ‘exhaustive’ work, it’s far from an exhausting read.”
“Esteemed journalist and rock historian Greg Prato brings his estimable literary skills in unwrapping the enigma of Primus. . . . If you loved Primus before but maybe didn’t understand everything they did, that will change after reading this. In fact, when you finish the last page here, race over to your Primus CD collection and re-listen to all their music with new and educated ears. Their music will never have sounded so good.”
—Curled Up With a Good Book
“Almost as if you’re sitting across from them at the bar as they reminisce about the past . . . this book was the most fun I’ve had reading a book all year. Go get it!”
Praise for Primus:
“They were real musicians’ musicians…Primus had their own thing, for sure. Nobody really does that Primus thing—they have their own personality, which is something difficult to do.”
—Chad Smith, Red Hot Chili Peppers
“Primitive, animated, dinosaur, Halloween, trailerfunk. I felt Les was a kindred spirit. Someone I could learn from and collaborate with. Quick, schooled, humble, with an amazing musical lexicon and down home as hell, with a bent sense of humor.”
Also check out South of the Pumphouse, the debut novel from Les Claypool.
Usually when the “alternative rock revolution” of the early 1990s is discussed, Nirvana’s Nevermind is credited as the recording that led the charge. Yet there were several earlier albums that helped pave the way, including the Pixies’ Doolittle, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Mother’s Milk, Jane’s Addiction’s Nothing’s Shocking, and especially Primus’s 1991 album Sailing the Seas of Cheese.
This fascinating and beautifully curated oral history tells the tale of this truly one-of-a-kind band. Compiled from nearly fifty all-new interviews conducted by journalist/author Greg Prato—including Primus members past and present and many more fellow musicians—this book is sure to appeal to longtime fans of the band, as well as admirers of the musicians interviewed for the book.
Interviewees include: Tim Alexander, Trey Anastasio (Phish), Matthew Bellamy (Muse), Les Claypool, Stewart Copeland (The Police), Chuck D (Public Enemy), Kirk Hammett (Metallica), Larry LaLonde, Geddy Lee (Rush), Mickey Melchiondo (Ween), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Matt Stone (South Park), Tom Waits, and many more.
Read an excerpt from Primus, Over the Electric Grapevine at Alternative Nation.
Check out Bass Player Magazine‘s cover story on Les Claypool.
Click here to listen to a podcast of Primus’s book event at Tattered Cover in Denver, Colorado.
Check out this list of Greg Prato’s top ten Primus songs—accompanied by quotes from Primus, Over the Electric Grapevine—at Alternative Nation.
“Tommy the Cat.” “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver.” “My Name Is Mud.” Yessiree, PRIMUS is responsible for some of the most cutting edge and original rock music of the 1990s. Although originally formed in 1984, it was not until shortly before the end of the decade that the classic Primus lineup featuring Les Claypool (bass/vocals), Larry LaLonde (guitar), and Tim Alexander (drums) was solidified. With most hard rock/heavy metal acts at the time either neatly falling into either “thrash” or “glam” categories, Primus joined a variety of underground bands that refused to be pigeonholed (and by the early ’90s, had fully infiltrated the mainstream)—merging metal, funk, alternative, punk, country, roots rock, and experimental music, along with Claypool’s penchant for witty and often humorous storytelling lyrics. Building a large and loyal following first in and around San Francisco (before eventually, going global), Primus kicked things off with a string of releases that are now considered classic alt-rock titles: Suck on This, Frizzle Fry, Sailing the Seas of Cheese, Pork Soda, and Tales from the Punchbowl. Along the way, Primus toured with some of rock’s biggest names (Jane’s Addiction, Public Enemy, Rush, U2, etc.), headlined the third Lollapalooza Festival, and issued a variety of crafty music videos, which stood out in sharp contrast to the ultra-seriousness of most other video clips at the time. Primus, with Greg Prato, is the coauthor of Primus, Over the Electric Grapevine: Insight into Primus and the World of Les Claypool.
GREG PRATO is a Long Island–based music journalist, whose writing has appeared in Rolling Stone. He is the author of numerous books, including A Devil on One Shoulder and an Angel on the Other: The Story of Shannon Hoon and Blind Melon, Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music, and MTV Ruled the World: The Early Years of Music Video. He is the coauthor, with Primus, of Primus, Over the Electric Grapevine: Insight into Primus and the World of Les Claypool.