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Music

When Les Claypool and Robert Trujillo teamed up

@TylerGolsen

One of the most famous stories that have bandied about the worlds of Headbangers Ball enthusiasts over the years involves the near-union of Primus madman Les Claypool and thrash gods Metallica. Claypool had grown up with lead guitarist Kirk Hammett in northern California during the 1970s, and when bassist Cliff Burton tragically died in 1986, Hammet called up his old friend to come in and audition as his replacement.

What actually happened during the audition has been humorously debated for years. Claypool claimed that he tried to break the ice by suggesting that they jam on some Isley Brothers songs. Claypool had little experience with thrash metal up to that point, and although Hammett vouched for his playing ability, Claypool’s stylistic differences were apparently obvious.

Years later, James Hetfield would claim that Claypool was “too good” to join Metallica and that he should be doing “his own thing”, but Claypool graciously concurred that Hetfield was simply letting him down easy. Instead, Metallica went with Flotsam and Jetsam bassist Jason Newsted, who stayed with the band until 2003 when he left and was replaced by former Ozzy Osbourne bassist Robert Trujillo

Claypool clearly had no hard feelings toward Metallica as his friendship with Hammett still appears to be solid. Even better, it seems as though Claypool has struck up a friendship with the man who eventually landed the job he once auditioned for, as Claypool and Trujillo teamed up to make a wild 2021 short film entitled Precious Metals.

In the film, Claypool and Trujillo are gunslingers searching for the titular treasures. When Claypool comes across gold, Trujillo attempts to take it for himself. The standoff ends not with a shootout, but with a bass duet that leans heavily on Claypool’s signature slapping style. Trujillo does more than hold his own, showing off the funk and jazz influences that he brought to bands like Suicidal Tendencies. 

Just like everything Claypool has ever done, Precious Metals is off-kilter, wacky, and completely singular. Only this time he brings in someone his fellow bass compatriots to join in on the fun. Ultimately, the short film winds up being an advertisement for Claypool’s and Trujillo’s respective custom pickups, but ads rarely get this silly.

Check out Precious Metals down below.