Over recent weeks I’ve been thinking about this question a lot: “What album has had the biggest influence upon me?” This is a tough question for any music fan to answer as I can come up with a whole list of albums which have been important in shaping the person I am today, from Prince’s ‘Sign of the Times’ (in the days when my playlist consisted of a Sony Walkman with a bunch of old tapes in my school bag) to Faith No More’s ‘The Real Thing’.

When I was 16 years old I would often head into the centre of Rotterdam with my good mate David at the weekends. We were big music fans listening to lots of different records. We were also big chess players... and we used to smoke the occasional joint. The combination of good music, a joint and a game of chess was at the time the perfect way to get through a rainy afternoon. One day we were sitting in one of the more popular coffee shops in Rotterdam, De Drie Musketiers. It was a busy Saturday afternoon, but David and I found a little table in the corner smoking away and being zoned out in our game of chess. This coffee shop used to play a variety of different styles of music, depending on who was on bar duty at the time. So we were sitting there at this table when my ears noticed this soft intro coming out of the speakers of drumsticks rhythmically ticking away on a ride cymbal, followed by the oddest bass chords and these piercing vocals snarling loudly “Too many puppies….are being shot in the dark” and this heavy distorted guitar kicking in over thumping and very rhythmically played drums. I remember looking up from the chess board to David with this huge grin on my face and him questioning, “What the fuck is this? This is awesome!” I went to the bar and asked the barman what the music was and he said he had just put a random CD in by this band called Primus. I was instantly intrigued.

This being a time without internet, and with the shops being closed on the Sunday, I had to wait until Monday afternoon to get hold of some Primus records. The moment I was out of school that afternoon I raced on my bicycle to my local record shop and bought all the Primus albums I could find, which at the time were ‘Suck on This’, ‘Sailing the Seas of Cheese’ and ‘Frizzle Fry’. It is the latter which contains the song I heard in the coffee shop that Saturday night, namely ‘Too Many Puppies’ and listening to the album in full absolutely blew me away. It was such an incendiary mix; the metal guitars, the intricate drum patterns which both made you want to dance and join the nearest mosh pit, and of course the craziest bass playing I’d heard at that time (and I was used to Flea’s amazing bass slapping skills). That’s before even mentioning the characteristic voice and humorous lyrics of the now legendary Les Claypool. This album (and admittedly the other two albums mentioned earlier) ticked all the boxes I was looking for in music: heaviness, craziness, distorted guitars, heavy bass, great drumming and a band who weren’t taking themselves too seriously. After all, they used to come on stage with the classic line “Hi we’re Primus and we suck”.

So, why has ‘Frizzle Fry’ had such an influence on me? When I first listened to it I was trying to be a drummer. I had a very old drum kit and, with the help of a local drummer in my neighbourhood named Floris, I had just about managed to master a standard 4-beat rhythm. I was still having doubts if I wanted to be a drummer or if I wanted to play guitar or bass instead. Tim ‘Herb’ Alexander’s amazing drumming on ‘Frizzle Fry’ made me realise that I wanted to become a drummer. Seeing video footage of Primus (soon after buying the albums I bought the ‘Cheesy Home Video’ on VHS, which I watched on a weekly basis) made me determined to play more than that standard 4-beat rhythm. I wanted to become ‘Herb’, I wanted to play weird and complicated rhythms, I wanted to play on a stage in a band with people in the crowd stage-diving and moshing into each other.

Since that Saturday in that coffee shop and hearing Primus for the first time, I have played drums for over twenty years in various bands, ranging from alternative and grunge to punk-rock and metalcore and I’ve always had ‘Herb’s rhythms in the back of my mind. He’s been my biggest inspiration as a drummer and if I hadn’t heard ‘Frizzle Fry’ I’m not sure if I would have continued playing the drums as I did. It’s an essential album, that in the past I have had to re-purchase after having it scratched to death, and really should find a home in the collection of any music fan. 

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