Les Claypool returned to Kyle Meredith With to discuss his upcoming Fearless Flying Frog Brigade tour and revealed that, in addition to being “halfway done with a new [Claypool Lennon Delirium] record,” he is working on a new album with Billy Strings.

The brief 20-minute interview begins with a conversation about the origins of the Fearless Flying Frog Brigade, which the Primus bassist says he threw together for a festival set and revived on the advice of his manager. He also describes how the name was originally going to be “Thunder Brigade” because the band had two drummers, but the person in charge of booking the festival thought the name might be too intense for their hippie crowd:

This whole thing started as, you know, Michael Bailey and Bill Graham Presents used to put on this festival, Mountain Aire, and it was in Calaveras County, where the famous “Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”—Mark Twain‘s story—[takes place] and after I’d done Oysterhead, they asked me, “Hey, can you put together a project for our festival?” And so, I put together something for this festival. I had Tim Alexander and Jack Irons on drums, and I had my buddy Mirv on guitar, and then Skerik on sax.

I was going to call it the Thunder Brigade because we had two drummers, and Michael was like, “You know, that might be a little heavy coming into the jam world, and might freak out some of the hippies.” Because, you know, here comes the Primus guy with a band called Thunder Brigade with two drummers, so I called it Frog Brigade because it was so… I mean, the band’s always been morphing and mutating. It sort of just depends on the record, but this version of The Fearless Flying Frog Brigade Harkens back to us doing the Pink Floyd Animals in its entirety. So that’s sort of what defines this, whereas later on, it became the Purple Onion band, and then it just kept evolving from there. Yeah, so some of my guys just weren’t available. Jay Lane and Jeff Chimenti are busy playing Grateful Dead songs all summer.

Later on in the interview, Meredith asks whether it’s awkward for Claypool to cover artists he’s friends with, like when he covered Tool at a recent benefit concert for film director Jimmy Hayward, who he said is working on a Primus documentary with Les’s son. Claypool responds by suggesting the awkward part of the performance was having to be the frontman without a bass guitar in his hands. He says he had to hide behind his famous pig mask, adding, “I enjoyed not having to waggle my fingers at least on a hunk of furniture anyway.”

Then, after intimating that he and Sean Lennon are nearly done with a new Delirium record, Claypool announces that he is working on a new album with bluegrass phenom Billy Strings, with whom he traded sit-ins at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium last year. Claypool offers a heartfelt description of Billy, who he says has become a good friend, attributing his remarkable talent to his unusual upbringing.

Well, he’s had a very interesting life and I’m a firm believer in people that have [had life experience]. It’s like to me, one of the greatest musicians I’ve ever played with, and I say it all the time, is Bernie Worrell. Well, he had an amazing life and he was technically proficient. He was classically trained, but then he had all these amazing life experiences, and just what would come out of him was just so natural and honest. And I feel like that’s what happens with Billy.

He’s become a good friend and a friend of the family, and I hear these stories, and we have kind of similar upbringings. His was even, even more colorful in many ways or equally as colorful, and he’s just got, he’s got more years on him than his actual tenure on the planet, if that makes any sense. He’s got an old soul vibe to him, and a lot of it comes from the, I’ll call it salt. He has salt. He’s salty, you know, so he’s the real deal. He can play like he plays because he sat on the porch with his family for many years and just played with his friends and relatives, you know, and that’s it. It’s just like breathing for him. Like he’ll just do a solo, and he’s like, “Okay, let me try that again. All right, there it is.” It’s just what comes out of him is very honest and natural.

Watch the full Les Claypool interview below. Head here for more on the upcoming Fearless Flying Frog Brigade tour, visit Les Claypool’s website for tickets, and stay tuned for updates on his new album with Billy Strings.

Kyle Meredith with… Les Claypool