Primus bandleader Les Claypool admits that he just can’t help it — his annual year-end concerts in The City are a de rigueur compulsion at this point. “We’ve just always done a traditional New Year’s Eve show — we tried to stop after 20, but I got talked into 21, and it just kept going,” says the perpetually busy bassist. “An where are we now? At 26 or 27?” But this year, there’s a curious twist. Claypool will be performing with The Claypool Lennon Delirium, the prog-inventive combo he formed with rock royal Sean Lennon, celebrating its “South of Reality” sophomore disc for ATO, recorded at Claypool’s Rancho Relaxo home studio in Sonoma.
How are things at Rancho Relaxo?
We no longer have dogs; we have two Siamese cats. And now that the kids have moved out, my wife comes with me on the road. We don’t worry about empty nest syndrome — we just leave the nest. My son is finishing up arts and design college. He’s doing game design, and he’s been doing that since he was pretty young. And my daughter has a clothing line out of San Francisco called Buck Lucky. They seem like they were born yesterday, but they weren’t — they’re 21 and 22, respectively.
How did you meet Sean Lennon?
Sean’s band Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger opened for Primus on a tour, and we just hit it off right away and started jamming backstage. He had an acoustic guitar and I had my dobro bass, and interesting things were coming out. And I thought, “Wow! This is actually sounding really cool!” And then he sat in with us one night for “Southbound Pachyderm,” and it was the best sit-in we’d ever had. So I said, “Hey, come out to my place and we’ll record something and see what happens.” And we made the first Delirium record.
What did you guys learn from each other? Or have in common?
Well, first of all, my dad was a transmission mechanic. His dad was the polar opposite. And actually, Sean hit it off with my son before me, just hanging out on tour. But Sean is like a mad scientist. He’s a total sponge for any kind of eclectic knowledge, usually very science based. So lyrically, I bring this twisted Americana perspective to the table. Then he comes in with lyrics that reference Aleister Crowley, because that’s his world. I didn’t know anything about Boriska, this Russian kid that claims he’s from Mars, for instance. But I do now.
And Sean crashes with you at Rancho during sessions?
Pretty much. We do a little crabbing, do a little mushroom hunting, drink some wine. There’s a lot of wine drinking getting done when he’s visiting.
IF YOU GO
The Claypool Lennon Delirium
Where: Fillmore, 1895 Geary Blvd., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Dec. 31
Contact: (415) 885-6800, www.livenation.com