Sunday, May 4, 2008

Bonna-rumours: SuperJam 2008

One of the key features of each Bonnaroo festival is the unique musical pairings and highly improvised output of the SuperJam set. Some years the lineup is announced ahead of time (last year's Ben Harper, John Paul Jones, ?uestlove) and other years it is a surprise until the the players appear onstage (Gordon, Russo, Anastasio, Benevento). So far this year, there has been no official word from the organizers on who will be participating in this year's SuperJam, and until today, I hadnt read any rumors either.

While perusing the PhantasyTour boards, I stumbled on a post that references the blog of the Press Democrat, the newspaper of record from Santa Rosa California. The blog contains a short post about Gogol Bordello's vocalist Eugune Hütz, which ends with:

While in SoCo, he's crashing with his buddy Primus frontman Les Claypool. It turns out they're rehearsing a set of Tom Waits songs with Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett for the upcoming Superjam at Bonnaroo.

So you might be thinking that these three gentlemen coming together to play Tom Waits tunes is just too crazy to believe, but here are some connections pointing to why it's not:

1. As a teenager, Claypool met fellow student Kirk Hammett (yes, the Kirk Hammett of Metallica fame), who turned him on to such rock acts as Jimi Hendrix, Cream, and Led Zeppelin. It was around this time that Claypool took up the bass, influenced by the likes of Rush's Geddy Lee, Yes' Chris Squire, and Paul McCartney. Although Hammett asked Claypool to join a band he was in, he opted for another group in his high school, progressive metallists Blind Illusion, while broadening his musical horizons by playing in jazz and swing bands. []

2. In 1986, after the death of Metallica bassist Cliff Burton, Claypool auditioned to play bass for Metallica, playing the song "Master of Puppets" on his bass. In Metallica's Behind the Music, Claypool said that during the audition he wanted the others to "jam on some Isley Brothers tunes," after which Lars Ulrich asked whether he's "not really used to playing this kind of music." James Hetfield remarked that Claypool didn't win the job because "he was too good." [Wikipedia]

3. From an interview with Eugene Hütz:

"Are there other influences of yours that you would like to get together with?"

You know Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Sonic Youth, Primus and yeah I haven’t met Tom Waits yet. But at the same time he is one house away from Les Claypool and Les Claypool has been playing on his records for the last ten years.

4. Tom Waits has a brief voice-over on "Tommy The Cat" from Primus' 1991 Sailing the Seas of Cheese.

5. "Clearly, Claypool--who popped up, along with Brain, on several songs on Tom Waits' new (2004) album, Real Gone (Anti)--is hitting his creative stride." []

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