You’d expect Les Claypool, the eclectic bassist from the rock band Primus, to approach classic country music in a unique way. And that’s exactly what he does with his new combo, Duo de Twang, which teams him with old friend Bryan Kehoe.
Mixing up country standards (“The Battle of New Orleans”), unexpected pop classics (“Stayin’ Alive”) and vintage Primus tunes (“Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver”), the collection should satisfy listeners with a wry sense of humor about musical reinterpretation and reinvention.
By email, Claypool answered a few questions about his lively rendition of Jerry Reed’s “Amos Moses,” a highlight of the duo’s Four Foot Shack, slated for a Feb. 4 release.
CMT Edge: How did you first hear the song “Amos Moses”? Would you consider Jerry Reed an influence on your music?
Claypool: I first heard “Amos Moses” through the AM radio speaker of my Mom’s old ’64 Chrysler 300K as we rolled down the highway. Back in those days, I was paid $1 for every ‘A’ I got on my report card. Needless to say, I didn’t get too many dollars. I would always take those dollars and buy myself a new 45 for my record player. One of my first purchases, if not the first music purchase of my life, was Jerry Reed’s “Amos Moses.”
Folks these days don’t realize what a great guitar picker Jerry was nor his incredible sense of groove. To me it’s like some sultry swamp funk. Plus, how many guitar players do you know who were immortalized in a Scooby Doo episode?
How would you describe the recording sessions for this album — with the studio setup as well as the mood?
Like usual, the setup in my studio is pretty casual. I have a room full of old vintage recording gear, and the notion with this record was to make it as bare-bones as possible so we could capture the concept of two guys sitting around a campfire and picking. Lots of room-bleed to the point you can hear rattling in the background and the occasional dog bark from outside.
What is it about classic country music that resonates with you?
When I was a kid, my auto mechanic stepdad would spend his weekends drinking Buckhorn beer and cleaning his garage. He had his old Bakelite radio tuned to what he called “the Okie station.” So, as I was out there working on my bike and whatnot, I was exposed to all these country players from the ’70s and prior.
At the time, I didn’t appreciate it, and my exposure was subconscious. But then later in life, these fellows like Johnny Cash, Jerry Reed, Merle Haggard, Waylon, Willie, Johnny Horton, Roger Miller, etc., came to represent a fond slice of my childhood. I can still imagine the crackling twang of “Dang Me” as I gripped a 9/16-inch end wrench tightening the chain on my purple American Flyer bicycle. Good times.
Check out the CMT Edge premiere of “Amos Moses” by Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang.