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Interview:
Primus' Les Claypool gets his twang on in new duo
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Given his wealth of other commitments -- Primus, Oysterhead, the Fearless Flying Frog Brigade and more -- it seems like the last thing Les Claypool needs is another group to play in.

But the bass guitar virtuoso certainly doesn't have anything like Duo de Twang, a collaboration with longtime friend Bryan Kehoe of M.I.R.V. that plays bluegrass-style versions of Primus material as well as surprising covers such as the Bee Gees` "Stayin' Alive," Alice in Chain's "Man in the Box" and "The Battle of New Orleans."

"I have a pretty strong background in blues and R&B and whatnot," says Claypool, 50. "As far as the hillbilly stuff, I grew up listening to it -- more like subjected to it, by choice. Working in the garage on my bike, my stepdad was always out there drinking his can of Buckhorn with the radio going and playing what he called the Okie station.

"That stuff just washed over me. At the time didn't pay attention to it; it was just there. But years later it became very endearing tome, and I still listen to that stuff -- Vernon Dalhart, Johnny Horton, Eddie Cochran and all that. So when it came time to do this, it seemed natural."

Duo de Twang was launched as a one-off for the 2012 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in San Francisco, and Claypool enjoyed it so much that he turned it into a going concern that released an album, "Four Foot Shack," in early February. Claypool plans to keep the Duo going, too, especially since it's fairly easy to get in gear than the more large-scale rock bands.

"I feel like it's expanding me once again as a musician," he explains. "I'm always shooting off into some different direction or another; a lot of it is just me trying to stay interested in being on the planet. If I only did Primus or only did Oysterhead or only did Frog Brigade all the time, I'd probably go nuts.

"So for me it's very interesting to keep opening doors, as a player and a performer. And (Duo de Twang) is so casual. It's less like a show and more like a hang. We sit around a campfire -- we do have a campfire -- and usually have a cocktail or two and talk and tell jokes with the audience and play a song every now and then. The glory of it is the stories, really; if the stories or jokes fall short, then we play a song."

Les Claypool's Duo de Twang and Reformed Whores perform Friday, March 7, at the Majestic Theatre, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $23 in advance, $25 day of show. Call 313-833-9700 or visit www.majesticdetroit.com.

Web Site: www.majesticdetroit.com

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