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Les Claypool: Need-To-Know Bassist

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Primus got plenty of of airtime on MTV and college radio in the 1990s, thanks to songs like "Jerry Was a Race Car Driver." By the start of the next decade, though, the San Francisco band was ready for a hiatus.

"Which was just sort of a fancy way of saying we were all tired of each other and tired of the music and not getting anything done," founder and bass guitarist Les Claypool tells Weekend Edition Sunday host Audie Cornish.

Claypool didn't sit still during those years: He published a novel, produced a satirical movie about psychedelic jam bands and even got into wine making. Eventually, after performing with other bands, he says, he couldn't resist the pull back to Primus. The band has a new album, Green Naugahyde, and it features lots of Claypool's trademark funky bass, the sound that distinguishes Primus above all else.

"I've always said the bass just happens to be the crayon I picked out of the box," Claypool says. "I'd still be drawing the same pictures ... should I have picked trumpet or accordion or guitar, whatever it may be. The sounds in my head are still the same."

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