Watch the Claypool Lennon Delirium’s Cosmic “Blood and Rockets” Performance

Les Claypool and Sean Lennon of The Claypool Lennon Delirium leave James McCartney's performance in the Yellow Submarine bus at The Foundry on June 6, 2016 in Athens, Georgia.
(Image credit: Chris McKay/Getty Images)

Some of the best musical collaborations are those that on first glance look a little “off.”

We don’t mean weird linkups like Jimmy Page, Tom Morello and P. Diddy reworking “Kashmir” for the 1998 Godzilla film, or Metallica and Lou Reed teaming up to make Lulu.

We’re thinking more along the lines of Eddie Van Halen laying down the solo on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” Omar Rodríguez-López and John Frusciante connecting for their self-titled album, David Gilmour and the Orb conspiring on Metallic Spheres…and Les Claypool and Sean Lennon uniting as the Claypool Lennon Delirium.

The musical union of Primus bassist Claypool and multi-instrumentalist savant Lennon is inspired, entertaining and, on first glance, a little surprising.

You might not immediately see the connection between the oddball nature of Primus’s funk-metal prog-rock and the psychedelic pop Lennon crafts with his project, the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger.

But as Claypool told Guitar Player, both he and Lennon are a little “off-center.” And indeed, there is a free-form daredevilry to their respective outputs.

Put these two musical adventurers together and there’s no telling where they’ll go. If the celestial artwork on their albums is any indication, it’s most likely to another planet.

Like their sprawling psychedelic rock debut, Monolith of Phobos, the Claypool Lennon Delirium’s sophomore album, South of Reality, is a cosmically inspired collection of tunes on which they indulge their love of prog, psychedelic and garage rock.

Claypool Lennon Delirium

The Claypool Lennon Delirium's second album, South of Reality, was released in 2019. (Image credit: ATO Records)

As for the circumstances that led to their collaboration in the first place? According to Lennon, it was all down to a spontaneous acoustic jam in the back of Claypool’s tour bus.

“We were playing on acoustics in the back of Les’s tour bus, 10 or 15 minutes before one of us was supposed to go onstage,” Lennon recalled. “And we came up with a bunch of things really fast. I remember Les being like, ‘Yeah, I noticed that you were kind of writing a song as we jammed, as opposed to just noodling.’ I think he liked that.”

“He was playing things that I wasn’t expecting, and that always intrigues me when I play with someone,” Claypool added. “So I could tell right away that we had an interesting dynamic together. And I also liked the fact that Sean sometimes has odd approaches to what he does.” He laughs. “Because as you may know from my work, I’m a little off-center, too.”

Sometimes you find inspiration where you least expect it. Word to the wise: Keep your eyes and ears open.

Christopher Scapelliti
Guitar Player editor-in-chief

Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World, a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar WorldGuitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.

With contributions from