Primus hit a different road after nearly three decades of reinventing groove metal, alternative metal, and progressive rock. Their career took a surprising turn in early 2020 when Les Claypool & Co. announced the “Tribute to Kings” tour.
The idea behind the tour was to cover Rush’s “A Farewell to Kings” in its entirety on every date, and given how few bands did anything similar ever before, the tour has since become somewhat of a standout feature in Primus’s portfolio from recent years.
The tour has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response, which might not have been the case had Primus done a similar thing earlier in their career.
Les Claypool opens up on the response
Les Claypool recently looked back on how Primus would get strong criticism from the press by touring with Rush when they were still an up-and-coming band, Claypool said in a new interview with Bass Player:
“It’s interesting how things have turned around. I was watching a documentary from years ago that I was in, and a lot of musicians stepped up and said, ‘Oh, I’ve been a Rush fan forever’.
“Well, in the early ’90s [when Pearl Jam and Nirvana rose to prominence with their debut albums), nobody would have admitted that. They would never admit they were Rush fans. It was like saying, ‘I play Dungeons & Dragons’ – not necessarily the hippest thing to admit in the days of grunge.”
During the interview, Claypool went on to elaborate on the decision to dedicate the tour to cover “A Farewell to Kings” in particular rather than any other iconic Rush album, Claypool said:
“Well, any Rush album is an undertaking. You know, we always joked that we should go out and play Hemispheres in its entirety – but then we thought, ‘Well, maybe we actually should do ‘Hemispheres’ in its entirety’.
“But one reason why we didn’t is that you can’t do ‘Cygnus II’ before you do ‘Cygnus I’. In looking at all the Rush records, ‘2112’ seemed a little too obvious, and some of the records have a little more keyboards than I’m comfortable with. But ‘A Farewell To Kings’ was the first Rush record I ever heard in my youth, and it has ‘Cygnus I’ on it, which is my all-time favorite tune by those guys.
“It was a pretty easy decision to make, you know. A big factor was the damn keyboards. I play keyboards on this thing, and I have a couple of Moogs that are completely covered with different-colored pieces of tape, so I know where to put my fingers. You know, I’m a bass player!”