That was it, thought Primus leader Les Claypool on Jan. 1, 2011. He had played 20 annual New Year’s Eve concerts in San Francisco, and enough was enough. Everybody around him, including his wife and kids, told him, “OK, now it’s time to stop, because you’re usually stressed about the holidays.” But the madcap bassist, who just released “Green Naugahyde,” the first new Primus studio album in over a decade, simply changed his mind. “I thought ‘I’ve crossed the finish line, to an extent. But let’s just turn it into a marathon!’” Thus, the band will play a special “Hawaiian Hukilau” New Year’s Eve gig at The Great American Music Hall, with a second show on New Year’s Day.
What was your best Christmas ever? My dad always made a big effort to make Christmas amazing, because his Christmases as a kid weren’t that great. So he was the guy painting scenes of Santa Claus on our front window and putting a big light out there so everyone could see. And we had ornaments hanging all over the place — it was very Griswold-ian. But we had a St. Bernard, so he’d always try to work the St. Bernard into the Christmas scene he painted somehow.
How many kids do you have now? Two. And they like to get up late on Christmas morning, and they’re looking for smaller packages now because those tend to represent electronic items. They want to own every device that keeps them from having conversations with us in the car. This year they want the iPod Touch.
Real tree or fake? Real tree! Every year! We have a pretty big tree this year, probably 10 feet tall. And we cut our own, so this year the kids were actually old enough that I didn’t have to do a single stroke — they took it down themselves. It was a proud moment for dear old dad. Plus, they didn’t get the traditional photo of me bending over, sawing, with my a-- crack sticking out of my pants.
Ever get a present as cool as a Red Ryder BB Gun? Well, I had my stepdad’s old original Red Ryder from the ’50s, and that’s what I used to shoot as a kid. It was so old that you could actually watch the BBs come out of it. I’m thinking of getting the kids Red Ryders this year instead of the iPod Touch. They need to be more tactile.
And the Hawaiian Hukilau? We were supposed to do this show in Hawaii with Jane’s Addiction the day before New Year’s Eve, but they bailed out. So we’re going to bring Hawaii to San Francisco, since we didn’t get to go!
IF YOU GO
Primus Hawaiian Hukilau
Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., San Francisco
When: 9 p.m. Dec. 31; 8 p.m., Jan. 1
Tickets: $50 to $65
Contact: (415) 885-0750, www.gamhtickets.com