photo & text by nacrowe
my introduction to the IDIOSYNCRATIC ALTERNATIVE FUNK that is PRIMUS was their main stage appearance on OZZFEST 99. i was fifteen and that music festival was my initiation into concert going as well. so much of that day was OVERWHELMING with its INSANE lineup that included BLACK SABBATH, SLAYER, ROB ZOMBIE, DEFTONES, BLACK SABBATH, SYSTEM OF A DOWN and FEAR FACTORY as well as a FRENETIC, emerging group from the MIDWEST called SLIPKNOT, but i distinctly remember PRIMUS standing out both sonically and in terms of their presentation. they were GOOFY. but WACKY in the sense that they were such ridiculously TALENTED musicians that they could get away with it. case in point was their special guest who was a VIRTUOSO guitarist that wore a KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN bucket on his head with an accompanying JASON mask going by the name BUCKETHEAD. even SLAYER fans were into their set despite it being nothing remotely EXTREME or AGGRESSIVE in terms of EXTREME METAL.
turns out that go around was for their ANTIPOP (INTERSCOPE, 1999) record that found the group playing with a more HARDER-EDGED sound courtesy of all the special producers brought in on this project, including TOM MORELLO (RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE), FRED DURST (LIMP BIZKIT), MATT STONE (SOUTH PARK), TOM WAITS and STEWART COPELAND (THE POLICE). not to mention guest appearances by JAMES HETFIELD (METALLICA) and JIM MARTIN (FAITH NO MORE) as well. regarded in retrospect by the band as their least favorite record with a TORTURED creation story to boot, it nearly broke them as they went on hiatus shortly after its release for three years. STANDOUT tracks include "GREET THE SACRED COW," "LAQUERHEAD," "ELECTRIC UNCLE SAM" and "THE ANTIPOP," all employing TRADITIONAL hooks with stop-on-a-dime precision SYNCHRONOUS rhythm playing and ECCENTRIC lyrical conceits to match in the best tradition of KING CRIMSON, THE RESIDENTS, WEEN, SYD BARRETT, DR. DEMENTO and FRANK ZAPPA.
its interesting that ANTIPOP was my introduction to the PECULIAR world of PRIMUS, because it is arguably the least representative of the catalogue. this was a record they made for their label seemingly out of pressure to remain commercially relevant, whatever that meant back in the late 1990s when the writing was on the wall with NAPSTER and file-sharing driving profits away from compact disc sales. it was an INTERESTING time to say the least.
still love this record, but for the uninitiated there are better records to dive into first, like FIZZLE FRY (CAROLINE, 1990), SAILING THE SEAS OF CHEESE (INTERSCOPE, 1991), PORK SODA (INTERSCOPE, 1993) and TALES FROM THE PUNCH BOWL (INTERSCOPE, 1995). just get ready for their PROGRESSIVE ROCK via FUNK sound as interpreted by CAPTAIN BEEFHEART. its a fun mix and required listening in my opinion.