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Metallica audition was loud, says Claypool

Primus leader Les recalls 1986 try-out with thrash giants: “James was like, ‘Who is this fucking weirdo?’”

Primus leader Les Claypool has recalled his 1986 audition with Metallica as a “very loud” experience.

The bassist, who was already friends with guitarist Kirk Hammett, was invited to try out while the thrash giants tried to recover from the death of Cliff Burton in a tour bus crash earlier that year.

And he admits that while drummer Lars Ulrich seemed positive about the test, frontman James Hetfield was much less interested.

Claypool tells One On One With Mitch Lafon: “I remember it was very loud. That’s the first thing that pops to mind – it was fucking loud.

“Lars was probably the most enthused about the audition. They were all still pretty messed up about the Cliff Burton thing. But James, you could just tell, was like, ‘Who the hell is this fucking weirdo?’

“I didn’t fit the bill at all. I showed up with this bass that was a hunk of driftwood, I had two different-coloured tennis shoes on, bleach-blond mohawk, baggies, skater pants – I didn’t fit the bill, especially for Metallica back then.”

But he adds: “It was fun. I enjoyed playing through Cliff’s rig.”

Ex-Anthrax and Armored Saint singer John Bush recently reflected on refusing an invitation to join Metallica in their early days, saying: “I would have changed the face of heavy metal – and I don’t need that pressure.”

Claypool has a similar attitude to reaching the big time. He reports: “I’ve been asked to do a lot reality things. I just don’t want the world to see all my warts and pimples. There’s something to be said for just staying under the radar.

“I just think of us as this little band from Northern California that caught a wave and rolled it into the beach. We’re on the same beach making the same sandcastles. We just do our thing, make some racket, throw some Oompa-Loompas on stage, try and have fun and make a living at the same time.”

His band are currently touring their Primus And The Chocolate Factory show, based on Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka stories.

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