What is there to know about Primus these days, aside from the fact that they’ve been the quirkiest and most diverse act that were ahead of their time since the nineties? Having released nine full-length records to date – with 2017’s ‘The Desaturating Seven’ being the latest in the mix – Primus have been showing the world what was to come from their alternative prog-funk signature style through the form a tour. Now that they’re returning to Australia for the first time in four years, and almost two decades since a headline tour, we spoke with long-time drummer Tim Alexander about his thoughts on ‘The Desaturating Seven’, the incarnation of the record, and, of course, the prepping for the tour.
“I think it’s going to be great, I’m ready” he says. “We just found out we hadn’t played there in like four years, so that’s kind of a long time. I remember some of the venues and being in the hot sun, being on the beach. When we were there, it was January, I believe. Up here, it was full-on winter. So, it was nice to be in the sunlight. Last time we were there, we took a little sailing cruise through the Sydney bay, and that was pretty fun.”
Primus’s ‘The Desaturating Seven’ has been met with positive responses from both their loyal fans and critics. Of course, Tim has been feeling as though his work on the record paid off and has been able to enjoy listening to it back and forth, he has his doubts as to whether people really mean it when they say they like the album. However, he doesn’t disregard any optimistic results from those that have stood by them for so long, shouting the infamous slogan “Primus Sucks”.
“I only know from what I’ve heard, personally. I’m not sure if people are always honest when they’re talking to me, but they seem to really like it. I enjoyed listening to it, especially when I’m refreshing myself on everything and doing a little bit of practicing. It’s a really cool record and the visuals on the show are really cool, so it’s going good so far.”
Anyone who has attended a Primus headliner show would tell you that they’ve been known to perform two different sets throughout the event. This would go from playing classics in the first, to performing an entire album in the second, ending with the encore. However, Tim believes that it may change for this occasion, with the Dean Ween Group getting involved on this tour with Primus.
“I think it’s probably just a way for us to structure the set and Les [Claypool] usually writes out the set list. On this tour, we’re playing with Dean Ween Group, and we’ll probably do one long set. I’m not entirely sure what the structure’s going to be. It might be playing a bit of old stuff, playing the new stuff and then finishing with some old stuff. It’s kind of how we’ve done a few shows in the past.”
A majority of Primus’s Australian appearances have taken place at the Big Day Out and Soundwave Festival‘s, dating back to the early to mid-nineties. However, they’ve managed to keep a schedule of headlining sideshows ready in terms of the circumstances, as well. Tim and co. haven’t felt fussed as to what they’ve been offered, so long as they have a good time of day to perform and are able to bring their onstage gimmicks and scenery to life.
“Our only restrictions are the time, really. Sometimes when we’re playing festivals, if we’re playing and it’s not dark, it gets a little less exciting for us, because we’re not able to use the good visuals with our music, and that kind of dictates too, a little bit of how we might arrange the set, so those are kind of the main restrictions. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter where we’re playing. We kind of play the same songs and similar songs if we wanted to and there’s no holding anything back.”
With Tim going in and out of Primus since he joined, past drummers such as Jay Lane and Bryan Mantia (aka Brain) have taken his spot whenever he was not active with Les Claypool and Larry LaLonde. He states that it’s a different experience for him to perform tracks he knew he wasn’t involved in, but he’s been able to give them a new life as he recites with the rest of Primus.
“It feels different, for sure. Being a drummer, I’m not someone that most people can relate to, but every drummer’s different. So, when I’m playing someone else’s stuff, it definitely is most likely something I would not have done. I’ve known Jay [Lane] and Brain for quite some time, and they’re all really cool guys and really good drummers, too.”
As Tim looks back on everything that occurred during the recording of production of ‘The Desaturating Seven’, his feelings for the record have changed greatly between the time of when it was recorded in the studio, up to the final mastering stages of the LP. Now, with ‘The Desaturating Seven’ making its way all across the globe, he aspires to give the songs off the album a special persona as he goes around from city to city, worldwide with his bandmates to execute the product that is of Primus.
“When I record my drums, there’s no guitar and mostly, no vocals. On this record, Les had bass parts laid out and then we go and played those parts together, so we can lay down the foundation and then I’m gone. The next time I had heard the album was when they had done everything. So, I had a pretty fresh perspective on it, because I didn’t even know what it was gonna sound like. I had even forgotten what we did, because I hadn’t heard it in so long. It’s very different than live. Now I’m playing it as a band, everything is all organised and sounds great together. So, it’s a lot more fun playing it live, but I do miss being in the studio. It’s a similar approach with the older songs. When we make them, we’re kind of writing in the studio, we’re not playing together. So, obviously, the live show, we’re all together and everyone is doing everything when it’s all put together.”
‘The Desaturating Seven’ is OUT NOW. Grab your copy HERE.