Les Claypool Admits Primus Took A Hiatus To Avoid The Breakup

In a recent interview with Kyle Meredith, Primus frontman Les Claypool reminisced about the band’s much-discussed hiatus at the turn of the century, which he revealed was a tactical move to prevent an irrevocable breakup.

Primus took a pause in 2000 before reuniting in 2003, a move that puzzled fans and critics alike. During this interlude, Claypool embarked on a journey of musical exploration, leading to his compelling rendition of Pink Floyd‘s ‘Animals,’ with his musical project, Colonel Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade.

During the chat, the singer noted that the hiatus was more of a semantic decision, a way to avoid admitting that the band had drifted apart. He described the band as being ‘technically broken up’ due to a lack of communication. He said the term ‘hiatus’ was a more palatable alternative to the notion of complete dissolution.

With a drive to continue his musical journey, Claypool sought out talented local musicians. During this musical exploration, he developed an affinity for Pink Floyd’s ‘Pigs,’ a song he had long wanted to perform with a keyboardist in the band. This sparked the idea of learning and performing the entirety of the ‘Animals’ record.

The frontman said the following about Primus’ 2000 hiatus:

“I mean, like most everything I do, I just hope people show up. It’s like this band was born out of desperation and fear because it was right around the time when Primus was on going on hiatus, which was just our way of not committing to breaking up.

We were technically broken up because we weren’t communicating or anything, but you say hiatus when you don’t want to stick a fork in it and put the last nail in the coffin or whatever metaphor you want to use. So I gathered my favorite musicians from locally and just bought an old Airstream motorhome and was driving up down the coast, playing bars, and didn’t play any Primus songs.

That’s how we kind of fell into the ‘Animals’ thing because I always said if I ever have a keyboardist in the band, I want to play ‘Pigs’ because it’s definitely my favorite Floyd song. Then also I had Jeff Chimenti, and we started learning ‘Pigs,’ and I said, ‘Well, why don’t we learn the rest of the record and do two sets, so [we] don’t have to pay an opening band.'”

So, judging from Les Claypool’s words, the ‘hiatus’ that initially seemed to spell an end for the band was, in fact, a strategic pause, providing the members an opportunity to explore their individual musical interests while keeping the possibility of a future reunion alive.