Primus Preview New Album, ‘Green Naugahyde,’ at Harmony Festival
Despite having played Bonnaroo in a field in Manchester, Tenn. just two nights earlier, a recently revived Primus flew back to Northern California over the weekend to close out Santa Rosa's Harmony Festival, as the Sunday night "local-boys-done-good" headliner. The gig was some kind of homecoming for the band, who got their start in the greater Bay Area in 1984. More directly, Santa Rosa is in the same county (Sonoma) as leader Les Claypool's current residence. In fact, Claypool enthusiasts will note that D's Diner -- which he wrote and sings a song about -- is just six miles away from the festival's front gates. So make no mistake about it: This is Primus territory. Claypool turf.
It was a fact that Claypool addressed himself, from the stage. "There is a good hunk of Northern California staring me right in the face, and it's an amazing thing," he told the crowd. "You look like a group of happy folks. You are a hunk of the better part of humanity and I don't say that too often. I wish I lived around here somewhere..."
Claypool also referenced the band's early beginnings, back when they toured local dives, mentioning several early venues by name, fondly recalling gigs at the nearby Cotati Cabaret and the Phoenix Theater just a couple exits down in Petaluma. But the crowd was more interested in something else Claypool referenced throughout: the new, upcoming Primus album, 'Green Naugahyde.' It'll be the first new Primus studio album in nearly a dozen years.
Recorded at Claypool's home 'Rancho Relaxo' studio, it features a lineup that reunites him and guitarist Larry Lalonde with original drummer Jay Lane, who initially departed the band in 1989. At Harmony, Primus took the opportunity to preview several of the album's star tracks, including 'Jilly's on Smack,' 'The Green Ranger,' and 'The Last Salmon Man (Fisherman Chronicles, Part IV)' -- the latter of which deals with the plight of local, Sonoma County salmon communities.
Of course, the set also showcased many of Primus' essential cuts, including 'Harold of the Rocks,' 'Jerry Was a Race Car Driver' and 'Those Damn Blue-Collar Tweekers.' The old material sounded fresh again while, directly before the set, Claypool told Spinner that the new material actually sounds like a return to the band's early days. The album doesn't drop until September 13, but the live preview certainly seemed to agree with that assessment.
Of course, as is the custom at Primus shows, the dudes riding the rail started a "Primus sucks" chant, hoping to incite an encore. As familiar a chide as it has become, Harmony is the one remaining festival where the fans can say it's not just a Primus thing; it's a local thing.
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