Published Jul 29, 2014The classic '90s period lineup of prog-textured alt-funk renegades Primus is back, and with it comes a bizarre, bass-slappin' new album, Primus & the Chocolate Factory. Indebted to kids film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Primus' eighth studio effort will be pumped out October 21 through ATO.
Despite a 2013 reissue of Sailing the Seas of Cheese, Primus & the Chocolate Factory is the band's first full-length release since 2011's Green Naugahyde. The record, which reinterprets material from the musical, is also the first to feature the lineup of bassist/vocalist Les Claypool, guitarist Larry "Ler" LaLonde and drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander since 1995's Tales from the Punchbowl. While Alexander had initially left the group in 1996, he popped back in for a live tour in 2008.
The album spawned from a Wonka-themed New Year's Eve concert in Oakland last year, with the tribute to the kids classic expanding the lineup to also include Critters Buggin percussionist Mike Dillon and Frog Brigade cellist Sam Bass, billed here as the Fungi Ensemble.
"The idea was to combine the Frog Brigade and Primus, and do this record," Claypool said in a statement. "I think like a good portion of the planet, we were all pretty put off by the remake of the Willy Wonka movie — the Tim Burton version. I really wanted to pay homage to a film [1971's Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder] 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."
Claypool also added of the concept: "The thought was that I wanted to take on some kind of sacred cow, and the whole Wonka thing was a massive part of my childhood. It just seemed like the perfect project to take on, in part because those tunes are all so strong."
A U.S. tour behind Primus' the new disc will be staged in October, with Claypool explaining it will feature a "stripped-down" Primus set before revealing a "chocolate room" stage set-up for them to play the Chocolate Factory material. The group are also considering staging matinee shows of the latter for children.
"We're going to do some touring with it and we put together this pretty abstract stage production," said Claypool. "We're going to take it out there, around the planet, and see what happens. And, in light of the record business being gutted by the internet, we've made some Primus brand chocolate bars to peddle as well."
A digital pre-order is up now, and you can check the plunky-funk oddness of "Pure Imagination" beneath the tracklisting.
Primus & the Chocolate Factory:
1. Hello Wonkites
2. Candy Man
3. Cheer Up Charlie
4. Golden Ticket
6. Pure Imagination
7. Oompa Augustus
8. Semi-wonderous Boat Ride
9. Oompa Violet
10. I Want it Now
11. Oompa Veruca
13. Oompa TV
14. Farewell Wonkites
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