Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio, Primus bassist Les Claypool, and drummer Stewart Copeland, formerly of The Police, performed together for the first time as OYSTERHEAD on Thursday, May 4th, 2000 at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans.
OYSTERHEAD formed when New Orleans-based promoter Superfly Productions approached Claypool about putting a group together for a special one-time concert. Claypool contacted Anastasio, with whom he had been interested in collaborating with since first sitting in with Phish in 1994. Stewart Copeland, who produced a track on Primus' latest release Antipop, was also asked to join the group. The trio made a surprise appearance during a Primus concert at the University of Vermont in Burlington on February 21.
"The Grand Pecking Order," the debut album from these three monsters of music emerged fully formed on October 2, 2001, on Elektra Records. The group conquered the country live for four weeks in October and November.
For more info and updated news please visit: www.oysterhead.com
Setting up shop in the guest-house-cum-home-studio of Rancho Relaxo--his spacious, "Wayne Newton meets Mike Brady"-style spread in the idyllic rolling hills of Northern California--Les began by working up grooves and rolling tape. "A lot of these songs started with me and Jay Lane just jamming," he explains. "Jay's my favorite drummer on the planet, so whenever we get together we tend to have a pretty good time. We just laid down a bunch of grooves, and when one of 'em sounded cool, I'd hit RECORD and we'd lay it out for a few minutes. Then we'd shut it off and say, `That was cool. Let's do a different one.'"
With rhythm tracks in place, Les summoned several stellar sidemen--all old friends, of course--and told 'em to go nuts. "I've known Les since he was a teenager, and he hasn't changed that much," quips guest guitarist Joe Gore (PJ Harvey, Tom Waits). "He has more than a little Saturday morning cartoon-show host in him. Plus, he has the most extraordinary free-thinking, do-it-yourself ethic in the studio I've ever encountered. He goes strictly by what sounds good to him--whether it's achieved with some very expensive, sophisticated piece of gear or some junk from Radio Shack. He encouraged all of us to just freak out."
Guitarist/electric-saw virtuoso M.I.R.V. seconds that emotion. "I just played what I felt like playin'," he says. "It was one of the cooler recording situations I've been in. Les offered some direction because obviously they're his tunes, but there was none of the `big studio, time is money' pressure that makes it hard to concentrate. I'm another big proponent of the technology that makes it affordable to bring large-studio quality into the practice room. It lets you relax and get weird tracks done--which is what we did!" Other guests include jazz-funk 8-string guitar whiz Charlie Hunter and spoken-word maestro/publishing magnate/angry young man Henry Rollins.
Fresh from his recent successes with both Oysterhead (which also featured Trey Anastasio of Phish and Stewart Copeland, formerly of the Police) at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and new lineups at Mountain Aire, Gathering Of The Vibes and the Jammy's (Jambands.com's awards), Primus main man Les Claypool continued to broaden his horizons with another musical alliance, Colonel Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade.
Bassist extraordinaire, vocalist and songwriter are just a few of the roles Claypool has taken on over the years with Primus. Producer, video director, cartoonist/animator, screenwriter, record label owner, and interactive design artist are all part of the panoply of talents and interests this unique multimedia adventurer has explored. Claypool has always kept his musical hands wet outside the Primus waters, not only with side projects Sausage (featuring Jay Lane of Rat Dog) and Les Claypool & the Holy Mackerel (which included the talents of Jay Lane, Charlie Hunter, and Henry Rollins), but his playing can be heard on albums by Tom Waits, Rob Wasserman, Alex Lifeson of Rush, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains. In addition to Primus appearances, look for Les to resurface occasionally in the future with an array of various musical reinforcements.
Two of the members of The Frog Brigade are also in Rat Dog. Jay Lane was a member of Primus in 1988 and was the drummer in Sausage, Claypool's reunion band from that era, whose album "Riddles Are Abound" was released in 1994. Jay has also been a part of both the Charlie Hunter Trio and Alphabet Soup both of whom had their debuts on Les' Prawn Song Records label. Keyboardist Jeff Chimenti has a lengthy resume, having played with Phil Lesh, En Vogue and such jazz legends as Pharoah Sanders, James Moody, Ernie Watts, Art Farmer and Frank Morgan.
Guitarist Todd Huth was an original member of Primus. Todd was also a member of Sausage, and had his own band, Porch, who released their one album on Claypool's Prawn Song Records label in 1995.
Seattle's sax maniac Skerik leads avant-group Critters Buggin and has also been a member of Galactic, Tuatara (featuring REM's Pete Buck), and Ponga.
Guitarist Eenor was chosen by Claypool from the many submssions received recently from local musicians around the Bay Area. He is best known locally for fronting funk-rockers Channel 23.
Sausage: sliced and diced fatly chunks of weird particles with meaty grizzle that doesn't really taste like meat. Like fine wine, the three members of Sausage have improved with time in the five years since their last jam session.
Talented bass player Les Claypool (of Primus fame) joins forces with old friends Todd Huth (guitar) and Jay Lane (drums) to perfect a state of unconsciousness normally unattainable during the waking hours.
"Prelude To Fear" includes Claypool's familiar thwappin' bass with Lane slammin' the beat right along with him (almost impossible, but Jay is dazzling). Sit back and relax to the more than seven minutes of "Shattering Song," whose reckless riffs were recorded at a faint pianissimo level, and become stronger and louder, like a train gaining speed as it approaches. The fast pickin' "Toyz 1988" showcases Todd Huth's bluesy style; "Girls For Single Men" layers talking voices over one another in a dreamlike sequence so real that you might wake up with tiny beads of water on your brow. It's just Sausage's way of penetrating your imagination. Experience the above, along with the title track, "Here's To The Man" and "Caution Should Be Used."
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