Primus mastermind Les Claypool was a guest on the latest episode of Lars Ulrich's Beats 1 radio show "It's Electric!" In addition to discussing Primus' new album The Desaturating Seven (which hits shelves today, September 29th) and his burgeoning reputation as "The 'South Park' theme song guy," the bassist extraordinaire reminisced with Ulrich over his botched Metallica audition at the tail end of the 1980s following Cliff Burton's death, as well as his decades-long friendship with guitarist Kirk Hammett. Check out some highlights from the interview, above; their full conversation airs on Apple Music this Sunday, October 1st, at 6 p.m. EST.
"I got invited down," Claypool said of his audition. "It's a very honorable thing to be able to come down and play with my old buddy Kirk, and the Metallica guys." He recalls showing up with bass banjo in hand ("I figured 'Hey you know, this will work great with Metallica!"), only to have the ensuing jam hampered by a pesky pane of glass. "We're in this room and it's this control room, and there's a glass ... and Lars is on the other side of it, and he's like 'I can't hear James! I can't hear James! I can't see James! We don't know what to do.'"
Naturally, the Big Four thrashers quickly took matters into their own hands. "Guys came in and removed the glass from the studio," remembered Claypool. Bryan "Brain" Mantia, Primus' then-drummer, found his bandmate's story hilarious: "He just thought that was the greatest thing he'd ever heard in his entire life," Claypool recalls.
Elsewhere in the interview, Claypool let listeners in on a secret: had it not been for Hammett, Ulrich's Metallica bandmate and Claypool's childhood friend, the man may never have picked up a bass to begin with. The two rockers met in 10th grade algebra class and quickly bonded over their mutual musical interests, prompting Hammett to invite Claypool to audition for his band – as the frontman, no less. He went home to rehearse the assigned audition song (Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love") only to chicken out: "I was too embarrassed," Claypool said of his singing attempts. "I was just too bashful and I couldn't do it."
Rather than embarass himself, the would-be singer switched to bass and joined another band. "My interest in getting into any of this [bass] was because of him, pictures of his Stratocaster," Claypool said, "and then him wanting me to sing for his band, and me chickening out because, like, I couldn't sing; I still can barely sing, so I ended up with a bass, and in a band." And so, a legend was born.