Metallica, as many of you know, is no stranger to bass players. Currently the bass gig is secured by the masterful musician we all know as Rob Trujillo. Rob has played with one of the most exclusive lists of epic musicians on the planet- Ozzy (drummer Mike Bordon pictured above 2nd from left), Zakk Wylde, Jerry Cantrell, Suicidal Tendencies, and more! I mean, for good reason: Rob is arguably one of the best bassists alive today. And you would need to be the best to play in Metallica. Just check out this video of Rob shredding up some flamenco style guitar putting James and Kirk to shame!
That being said, after the band lost their original bassist Cliff Burton in a tragic bus accident, they went through an interesting audition process until they discovered the Jason Newsted, with whom they played the majority of their career with.
Can you imagine, one of those prospective bass players to audition for the 'tallica was Les Claypool?! Les recently revealed in a new interview that he was one of those chosen few back in 1986. While Primus is out promoting new music with Primus and the Chocolate Factory, Les also decided to rewind quite a bit and talk about his audition with the metal legends. Imagine that- a legend of prog funk jamming in the same room as Hetfield and company?!
Now, recall first that only about ten years ago, Metallica did a similar audition process in an effort to fill the void of Newsted. Metallica had many other legendary musicians try out for the spot including Twiggy Ramirez, Pepper Keenan, Eric Avery, and more. If you haven't seen the full 2003 auditions, you must see it!
Les may have been one of the most epic choices of all time however. Sadly when the time came in 2003 to replace Newsted, Les was not contacted. So he does not appear in the above video. And since there was no YouTube back in '86, we have no glorious evidence of him jamming thru Cliff's rig. When asked about the tryout, what was the first thing that comes to Les' mind about the audition? One word: LOUD.
According to Les, the band loved it despite being very shaken up about the death of Burton. James was perhaps the most confused, whereas Lars was the one who seemed to enjoy Les' playing the most.
Claypool went on to say:
“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.”
Which only leads to wonder, what would the last 20 years of Metallica been like had Claypool been involved?!
Check out the full interview with Mitch Lafon right here!