Primus's Larry Lalonde Talks Frank Zappa, Seas of Cheese, and Oddity Faire

Whether you describe its signature sound as funk metal or you've got no idea what to call it, there's no question Primus has been rocking out ever since the three-man band debuted with 1989's Suck On This.

As frontman Les Claypool's bass throttles from a deep rumble to percussive slaps and he delivers stories of the odd and absurd in his irreplaceable Southern twang, Primus is anything but just another alt band. And guitarist Larry LaLonde's unique attack, which often involves swells and sweeps and grinding noises, only adds to the chaotic, unforgettable brew.

Crossfade recently got a chance to catch up with LaLonde before the band's show at the Fillmore Miami Beach this Saturday.

Crossfade: Tell us a bit about the Oddity Faire. What sort of oddities can we expect?

Larry Lalonde: I'm not sure what it's going to be this year. The Oddity Faire, up until last year, was mostly a festival that Les had put together with as many kind of crazy bands and sideshow, stilt walker type things as possible. And last year was sort of the first year that Primus was involved. So what we did was try to have as much going on as we could. In between bands we'd have whatever local people could do whatever oddity type things they did. Rope tricks, stilt walking, juggling, like I was saying, acrobatics. Whatever we could find. A lot of things were actually pretty scary to me.

It's a bit different from this current tour.

Right now we're just doing three weeks in the states. Then we go to Europe. And our record is coming out in July. And after that I'm assuming the next thing will be the Oddity Faire. We haven't planned that far ahead. Now we're just kinda throwing in a bunch of show before the record comes out, and then we'll kinda do this whole giant thing around the planet.

What can you tell us about that new record? I'm interested to hear all about it.

[Laughs] Every time we do a new Primus record I'm always kinda trying to figure out what it is too. But it seems to me to be a little bit of everything we've done on every record. Jay Lane's back in the band. He was the original drummer, who had a lot to do with writing a lot of the songs on the first two records. So it might have a lot of that influence on it. And hopefully we've moved on from there.

It's definitely another crazy Primus record. It sounds like Primus, that's for sure.

From day one, Primus has always had a very distinct and unique sound. How do you describe it?

I think the elements that make it sort of different are, there's not a lot of bands where the bass is such an upfront thing, or a part of the melody of a song. And there's also, you know, we never set out to be another version of whatever the last thing was, or even a rock band.

You have a very distinct way of playing lead that's really very complementary to that heavy bass. What was it like putting all those elements together?

Well, the band was together before I got in. It was a local band playing clubs and stuff. And when I got in was when we really started touring and putting records out. But the sounds was sort of there already. I kind of hoped to expand on it. When I first got there, all I cared about was Frank Zappa, the Dead Kennedys, little bit of King Crimson and the Grateful Dead. And all those bands had their own sound, and kind of didn't have boundaries.

So when I joined the band, that was really a chance to do anything I wanted. You could play the craziest sounds, make the craziest rhythms and you know, the notes didn't necessarily have to be the traditional box sounds. So, to me, I think that was the spark that made this band really go for it.

Primus with the Dead Kenny Gs. Saturday, June 4.  Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $36 plus fees via livenation.com.

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