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“Definitive” Primus lineup reunite to remake Willy Wonka

on July 29, 2014, 1:25pm

Though Primus last released an album in 2011 with the entertaining Green Naugahyde, its been some 20 years since the group’s “definitive” lineup — frontman Les Claypool, guitarist Larry LaLonde, and drummer Tim “Herb” Alexander — put out a full-length. All that changes, however, with the release of their eighth studio album, Primus & the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble, on October 21st via ATO Records.

If that specific title strikes a nerve held deep within the recesses of your childhood, that’s sort of the point: Claypool and Co.’s latest effort is a re-make of the 1971 classical Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. It’s a concept they first explored with their “Wonka-centric” performance held in Oakland last New Year’s Eve.

Claypool told Rolling Stone, “I think like a good portion of the planet, we were all pretty put off by the remake of the Willy Wonk‘ movie – the Tim Burton version. I really wanted to pay homage to a film that was very important to me as a kid and very influential to me musically. So that’s what we did. And as opposed to just going in and recording the songs and playing them the way they are in the film, we twisted them up a bit…twisted them up a lot.”

Added Claypool, “The recording is about my early perception of the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory film. The notion wasn’t so much to go in and redo the soundtrack note for note as much as it was to utilize the classic elements of the music yet try to reflect some of the darker undertones of the Roald Dahl books, because when you read those books, there is an eerie and somewhat menacing aspect implied.”

Joined by Critters Buggin percussionist Mike Dillon and Frog Brigade cellist Sam Bass, Claypool said the collective quickly expanded upon the sounds and concepts of past Primus records. “As we started putting it together, especially with the expanded soundscape of having string and vibraphone and marimba, it started sounding to me like one of the early Peter Gabriel records meets Dark Side of the Moon meets the Residents,” said Claypool. “That’s what I get out of it. Obviously that’s some big-ass horn-tooting to be doing.” Claypool gives much of the credit to drummer Alexander, who he calls “orchestral at times”.

As our first (chocolate-covered) taste, Primus has unveiled “Pure Imagination”, a bizarre, post-modern take on the whimsical classic. If Wonka had situated his factory in some psychedelic nether-dimension, and replaced the sugar with LSD, then this would be the appropriate theme song.

Listen in below:

In support of the album, Primus have announced U.S. tour dates for this October and November. Claypool indicated that the outing includes a “stripped down, old school, nightclub Primus set” before launching into the Wonka-themed set. He added, “We’re also talking about doing a matinee stage production of it, for kids. We’re gonna do an early show that’s only the Wonka thing — and it’ll be a short show ’cause kids have a short attention span.”

Claypool also mentioned the band may once again sell PRIMUS bars, the gourmet chocolates designed by Pennslyvania’s Asher’s Chocolates that were originally sold during the Oakland date. The flavors include Mr. Krinkle (crisped rice), Professor Nutbutter (peanuts) and the Bastard Bar (dark chocolate).

Despite suffering a heart attack just last week, Alexander is expected to join the band on stage for each show. Consult their full schedule below.

Primus 2014 Tour Dates:
09/19-22 – Denver, CO @ Riot Fest Denver
10/22 – Upper Darby, PA @ Tower Theatre
10/24 – Albany, NY @ Palace Theatre
10/25 – Boston, MA @ Orpheum Theatre
10/26 – Burlington, VT @ Flynn Center for Performing Arts
10/28 – Waterbury, CT @ Palace Theater
10/29 – Baltimore, MD @ Hippodrome
10/31 – New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre
11/01 – New Brunswick, NJ @ State Theatre
11/02 – Rochester, NY @ Main Street Armory
11/03 – Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore Detroit
11/05 – St. Louis, MO @ Peabody Opera House
11/07 – Cincinnati, OH @ Taft Theatre
11/08 – Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle
11/09 – Orlando, FL @ Hard Rock Live
11/11 – Miami Beach, FL @ The Fillmore Miami Beach at The Jackie Gleason Theater
11/12 – Clearwater, FL @ Ruth Eckerd Hall
11/14 – Biloxi, MS @ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
11/15 – Austin, TX @ ACL live at the Moody Theater
11/16 – Dallas, TX @ The Majestic Theatre
11/17 – San Antonio, TX @ Majestic Theatre
11/19 – Phoenix, AZ @ Orpheum Theatre Phoenix
11/21 – Los Angeles, CA @ Orpheum Theatre LA