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New band crawls out of the Claypool.

Byline: Lewis Taylor The Register-Guard

Les Claypool is no stranger to unusual band names, but Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains might just take the cake.

Claypool - the mad bass player from Primus, Les Claypool's Frog Brigade and Oysterhead - says there's an explanation for the unwieldy title of his latest supergroup.

As the story goes, members of Praxis - drummer Brian "Brain" Mantia, guitarist Buckethead and keyboardist Bernie Worrell - were scheduled to play the 2002 Bonnaroo Festival in Manchester, Tenn. But their leader, Bill Laswell, failed to show.

Claypool, who was performing with his Frog Brigade, invited the wayward trio to join him on stage. They had no songs, no setlist and no sound check.

The least they could have was a name.

"It just seemed like an interesting way to get everyone's name in the title," Claypool said in a news release. "Those guys ... they wanted to play."

Nobody in the group imagined anything other than a one-off performance at Bonnaroo, but fans were calling for more. Several sold-out shows later and the group started talking about an album.

Claypool and company come to the McDonald Theatre today for a performance in support of the new album, "The Big Eyeball in the Sky." The group has included skits and a puppet show at some of its perfor- mances.

It took all of five days of work in Claypool's private studio to track the songs for "The Big Eyeball," a jagged jangle of quirky lyrics and big bass riffs. Written during the dramatic lead-up to the Iraq War, the record is more than just the instrumental musings of a supergroup.

Claypool gets downright political on songs such as "Ignorance Is Bliss" and "Junior" (`There's a boy named Junior/ Playing Uncle Sam/ Gotta a master plan/ Like Vietnam').

Which is not to say he doesn't show his famous oddball side, too. "Tyranny of the Hunt" is a song about an urban legend involving cocaine, gangrene and the male sexual organ.

"Really, the record came out better than I thought it would," the self-deprecating Claypool told Bass Player Magazine recently. "Not that I had low expectations, but I really didn't think we'd come up with any songs.

`I thought it was going to end up being a series of instrumentals or whatever."

Claypool, who has a tendency to steal the spotlight with his thunderous bass playing, is kept in check by the enigmatic Buckethead, a player known for his solos, strange effects and for the fact that he wears an empty chicken bucket on his head.

Before joining the Bucket of Bernie Brains, Buckethead and Mantia did time in the short-lived Guns N' Roses revival. Having moved on to Claypool's group, both musicians seemed grateful for the chance to be a part of a more collaborative effort.

"We approached (this project) as free-form," Mantia said in a news release. `Every take was different. It wasn't like, `Here's where I have to do that lick for `Sweet Child o' Mine' or something stupid like that.'

While Claypool heaped praise on all of his players, he was clearly impressed by Worrell. The veteran P-Funk member and former Talking Head brought to the table a lot of experience and some heavy duty keyboard playing.

"Bernie, I was most amazed by," Claypool said. "He said he'd have arthritis and that he could only (play) something once. So we just hit record and he'd play and our jaws would drop.

`His musical sensibilities are incredible."

Lewis Taylor can be reached at 338-2512 or ltaylor@guardnet .com.

CONCERT PREVIEW

Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains

With: Gabby La La

When: 8 p.m. today

Where: McDonald Theatre, 1010 Willamette St.

Tickets: $18.50 in advance, $20 at the door

CAPTION(S):

Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains: Les Claypool plays Frankenstein yet again.
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Title Annotation:Entertainment; Guitar great Buckethead joins forces with players from Primus and Praxis
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 5, 2004
Words:634
Previous Article:This week's offerings are voteworthy.
Next Article:BRIEFLY.


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