In a new interview, Primus bassist Les Claypool opens up about a unique experience auditioning with Metallica in 1986, after the death of the band’s founding bassist Cliff Burton. Claypool’s first recollections was that the audition was “fucking loud,” but then he elaborates on how poorly he fit with the band’s image.
“I didn’t fit the bill at all. I showed up with this bass that was a hunk of driftwood, I had two different-coloured tennis shoes on, bleach-blond mohawk, baggies, skater pants – I didn’t fit the bill, especially for Metallica back then.”
The One on One With Mitch Lafon interview reveals that, although Lars Ulrich was intrigued, the remaining band members were much more skeptical. “Lars was probably the most enthused about the audition. They were all still pretty messed up about the Cliff Burton thing. But James, you could just tell, was like, ‘Who the hell is this fucking weirdo?’”
He did add, “It was fun. I enjoyed playing through Cliff’s rig.”
Meanwhile, Claypool founded Primus in 1984, though the band went through some lineup changes of its own before settling in with Larry LaLonde and Tim Alexander. They gained popularity in the Northern California area around 1986, allowing Claypool to have the opportunity to audition with Metallica. It seems, though, that Primus was a better fit for Claypool.
“I just think of us as this little band from Northern California that caught a wave and rolled it into the beach. We’re on the same beach making the same sandcastles. We just do our thing, make some racket, throw some Oompa-Loompas on stage, try and have fun and make a living at the same time.”
The Oompas-Loompas refer to the band’s recurring Primus and the Chocolate Factory shows, of which they’ve been touring on and off since they released the album of the same title back in October of 2014. While their final Chocolate Factory tour dates will be this September, the band will be playing their original tunes when they hit the Philly waterfront next Thursday, July 23rd, bringing along Dinosaur Jr. for a great night of music.
You can watch the full interview below: