Ask any music fan to name their favorite Pink Floyd album, and invariably the answer will be: “The Dark Side of the Moon.”
For Les Claypool, it’s “Animals.”
So much so, the Primus frontman and his Frog Brigade have devoted its second album, “Live Frogs – Set 2,” to a full-length cover of “Animals.”
” ‘Animals’ was pretty much the first Pink Floyd record that I stumbled across,” Claypool said recently. “I think it was one of the albums I got from the RCA record company thing where you get six albums for like a penny.
“The lyrics and the music is just one big ball of imagery. The visuals that pop into the brain are pretty incredible, as with most Pink Floyd stuff. It’s pretty heavy stuff for a prepubescent kid. Obviously, the whole theme and the metaphor of the various animals is pretty remarkable. It’s a piece of music; it’s a whole album, one big piece from beginning to end. It’s not the kind of album you can put on and listen to two songs and then turn it off. You have to listen to it all the way through. That’s what I enjoy about it.”
Claypool and Frog mates – drummer Jay Lane, keyboardist Todd Huth, saxophonist Skerik, guitarist Eenor – first took a swing at “Pigs,” the most haunting “Animals” track,” in the summer of 2000. After perfecting it, they decided to tackle the whole “Animals” album.
The results are equally adventurous and respectful.
“It’s funny, when I did the album, a lot of people either said, ‘Oh, my god, that was my favorite Pink Floyd album’ or ‘Oh, my god, that’s my least favorite Pink Floyd album,’ ” Claypool said. “Some people got it, some people didn’t.
“The thing is, I don’t think I was old enough when ‘Dark Side’ came out, I wasn’t quite buying music yet. When ‘Animals’ came out, a friend of my older brother had it and we’d hear the pig making that squealing sound at the beginning of ‘Pigs’ and we’d go, ‘Oh, my god, that’s amazing.’ And we thought the (album) cover was incredible, too. A lot of the times, albums were purchased back then simply because it had a cool cover. Then the album became an amazing part of my life.”
Claypool has plenty of other amazing things in his life: He played bass on Gov’t Mule’s upcoming “The Deep End,” one of several all-star bassists filling in for the late Allen Woody; he also has been finishing up the debut Oysterhead album, “The Grand Pecking Order,” due Oct. 2 on Elektra. The supergroup features Claypool, ex-Police drummer Stewart Copeland and Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio.
“The other projects I’ve been doing are a direct reflection of myself, or as with Primus, it was a strong reflection of myself,” Claypool said. “With Oysterhead, it’s three very strong individuals that have very strong personalities musically and just in their existence. That comes through in the music. It was a lot of give and take, push and pull, but all very positive.”
Claypool also is a producer, songwriter, video director, cartoonist, multimedia and screenwriter.
And what of Primus?
“It’s on hiatus,” he said. “Hiatus is a fancy word for ‘We need to get the hell away from each other for a while.’ I like doing things, keeping busy, and right now, with Primus, we needed a break – we’ve been putting out records since 1984. It’s time to put it to rest for a while.”
THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT: “A Cheech & Chong record, ‘Los Cochinos.’ My dad heard it and then my mom took it away from me. The first real album I purchased myself was ‘Led Zeppelin II.’ It was big-time rock ‘n’ roll.”
THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER WENT TO: “Rush with Pat Travers opening up at the Cow Palace in San Francisco sometime in the late ’70s. I was a 19-year-old kid wanting to play bass, so of course Rush was the band.”
THE WORST JOB I’VE EVER HAD: “I worked at a clothing store for like two and a half days and I thought, ‘This sucks,’ and quit and went back to work at the gas station. It just wasn’t my thing.”