Primus Pinball Revealed! Interview with Zoltron and Zombie Yeti

Primus Pinball is the newest pinball creation!  Check out details below!

Primus Introduction

For those unacquainted with Primus music, their description on Apple Music reads:

Their music is willfully weird and experimental, yet it’s not alienating; the band was able to turn its goofy weirdness into pop stardom.  At first, Primus were strictly an underground phenomenon, but in the years between their third and fourth albums, their cult grew rapidly.  Released in 1991, Sailing the Seas of Cheese went gold shortly before the release of Pork Soda.  By the time of the album’s 1993 release, Primus had enough devoted fans to make Pork Soda debut in the Top Ten.

Here is the intro from their Wikipedia Page:

Primus is an American rock band based in San Francisco, California, currently composed of bassist/vocalist Les Claypool, guitarist Larry “Ler” LaLonde and drummer Tim “Herb” Alexander. Primus originally formed in 1984 with Claypool and guitarist Todd Huth, later joined by drummer Jay Lane, though the latter two departed the band at the end of 1988. Featuring LaLonde and Alexander, Primus recorded their debut Suck on This in 1989, followed by four studio albums: Frizzle Fry, Sailing the Seas of Cheese, Pork Soda, and Tales from the Punchbowl. Alexander left the band in 1996, replaced by Bryan “Brain” Mantia, and Primus went on to record the original theme song for the TV show South Park and two more albums, Brown Album and Antipop, before declaring a hiatus in 2000.

In 2003, Claypool and LaLonde reunited with Alexander and released a DVD/EP, Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People, before touring sporadically through 2009. In 2010, Lane rejoined Primus, replacing Alexander, and the band released their seventh album, Green Naugahyde, in 2011. In 2013, Lane left the band to focus on other projects, and Tim Alexander rejoined once again… Primus is characterized by its irreverent, quirky approach to music. Robert Christgau once remarked: “[Primus is] quite possibly the strangest top-10 band ever, and good for them.”


— PRIMUS PINBALL —

 

  • Limited to 100, plus eight special editions for those involved
  • Modified Whoa Nellie layout
  • Price: $7,995

Features

  • Includes 13 full songs
  • All machines signed by the band & include a laser etched numbered placard on the apron

  • Custom Frizzle Fry Shooter Knob

  • Upgraded Kenwood Sound System
  • Custom Voice-Overs by Les Claypool
  • Track your high scores

  • Powder-Coated Metal Armor, Backglass Frame & Legs in “Green Naugahyde”
  • All LED lighting & controlled general illumination
  • Incredible Artwork by Zombie Yeti and Zoltron


How to Score

  • Top lanes light corresponding colored pop-bumpers and star roll-overs

  • Skill shot scores 50 points, 200 when flashing

  • Pop-bumpers and roll-overs score 10 points when lit

  • Bullseye Targets score 5 points for side hits, 50 points for center hits
  • Bullseye Targets score 200 points for center hits when lit

  • Any 5 or 50 point score rotates lit 200 point shot

  • Hole shot scores 50 points or 200 points when lit… plus…
  • Hole shot collects lit bumper values, start Pudding Time when all 4 bumpers are lit


Interview with Artists Zoltron and Zombie Yeti

From what we’ve heard about this machine, it sounds like a “passion project”. Can you share how the Primus Pinball Machine came to be?

Yeti: It definitely has been cathartic and it was a long time coming.  I was a huge Primus fan since probably middle school. I was always attracted to unique weirdness so it was an instant love for me. I drew quite a few skeeters back in the day.

Flash forward a handful of years (and multiply those) and I had the incredible honor of being asked to create a gig poster for the band through an artist I had been a huge fan of by the name of Zoltron (who has been working with Primus for decades, doing their album covers and creating and curating posters for all of their shows.) Coincidentally at that time, I had just started working with JPOPalicious. So there I was working on my very first Primus gig poster and I was also doing concepts for Zidware. That was the first time the seed was planted between Zoltron and I. Basically I’ve been pushing for a Primus pinball machine since the first time Zoltron and I worked together!

So over the years, and many Primus projects later, we continued discussing it – and naturally it started to seem plausible once I started working with Stern. (Ironic borrowed anecdote that I’ll share – Tanio Klyce’s old band once opened for Primus – ask him about that!)  Then after Iron Maiden came out this past March, a discussion began with Jason at Primus Management and it all started coming together. I introduced Primus to Jody Dankberg (That Godzilla thief!)… Primus made sure they could retain Zoltron and myself and the rest was a non-stop death grind to get it done in time!  I’ll let Zoltron tell the tale from his end.

Zoltron: Hi! Yeah, I think that pretty much sums it up. Yeti/Jeremy had been pushing for it for a while and over the years we kept circling back, talking about how classic it could be. Then this past summer, when Primus and Stern got together, it quickly became a reality. It was crazy timing, Jeremy had introduced me to Wade (Krause) about making a one-off custom Zoltron pin, loosely based on my slot machine; when management started getting serious about this thing. So we put that one on the back burner and jumped right in.

Zoltron Slot Machine

Anyways, like 20 years ago when I was working with Les, we went to his house one evening, drank booze and binge-played his brand new South Park Pinball machine. It was a gift from Matt Stone to Les, as I recall. Les had just done the South Park theme song and this was one of those glorious perks. He has always been more of an analog guy as opposed to digital. Pinball over Pixel… Hand drawn over Vector. I remember one time in the 90s, I was trying to add a note to my “Palm Pilot.” He was like… “What the hell is that thing?” Then he threw his notebook on the floor and said, “See..? It doesn’t break!” The truth is; Primus and Pinball is kind of a no brainer. It’s a perfect match. Just the world of characters they’ve created, the music, the hooks, the overall vibe. Honestly it was only a matter of time.

How involved were the band members in the process of creating this machine?

Yeti: I’ll let Zoltron field this question because he had more interaction with the band while I had more with Stern throughout the process,  but I will share that Les had the best direction of any pinball brief I’ve encountered. I want Stern to hire him… and Bob Cock, but I’ve pushed for that for years now… (partially joking)

Zoltron: The band was heavily involved, especially Les. The majority of the work actually happened while Primus was on tour, which we thought would be a recipe for disaster, but somehow it was seamless and easy.

Approvals were quick and there were very few design changes. In the beginning stages, when Jeremy and I were still a bit tentative about the aggressive timeline and insane dead lines, we had a big call with Les and everyone.

That call kind of sealed the deal. We asked Les how he envisioned the artwork and he just throws out, “I want it to be a Frizzle Fry Acid Trip. You know…. ‘I’d Like to Take You to the Inside World’ kinda thing”

That was it. It was literally the only direction we got and we kind of loved it. So we agreed to do it and a week later came back with a rough sketch and a story board pitch. The band liked it and we were off and running….

The whole process, start to finish, couldn’t have gone better.

Yeti: Yeah we got off that call and both basically had the same idea – Willy Wonka’s boat ride via Alice in Wonderland by way of Primus… seemed like a no brainer… lol

How did you pitch the band to sell your idea?

Zoltron: Honestly, It was kind of a Jerry McGuire Pep-talk Pitch.. Basically, in order to get this thing done in time, we had to get everyone on board with the creative direction from day one. So we tried to explain the thought process behind the sketch.

This is the exact email of what we sent over…

“Welcome to this World”

To us, this is the mantra to the game. The underlying theme to our story.

It’s inherently clear that “Primus” and “Psychedelic” go hand in hand, so while Frizzle Fry is our anchor, we think it’s critical to bring in the iconic elements of the visual history of the band.

We picture the “Frizzle Fry Acid Trip” as less of a cliche 60’s LSD trip and more of a Journey through the very psychedelic world of Primus, which truly is and always has been an acid trip in and of itself.

Basically, the Primus universe is a culmination of 30 years of their story telling and in our case, the story of the game stops by and visits with iconic characters from Primus’ history, the various chapters of the Primus universe, so to speak. We see the Primus psychedelic world as more ‘Alice in Wonderland’ than Woodstock. More ‘Nemo in Slumberland’ than ‘Grateful Dead…’

This is our take on a Frizzle Fry Acid Trip.

——

The Playfield

To start the game, the ball launches through the fungi-laiden shooter lane and emerges through a psychedelic spiral vortex and into the playfield.

We pass John the Fisherman, riding his diamond back sturgeon, coxswain firm in hand.

A double headed skeeter guards the roll over lanes, fishing the seas of fromage. Skeeter’s eyes are lit up (all of the green inserts will be lights)

and seas of cheese flow through the center of the play field, adding some breathing room and a nice contrast to the various elements.

The Frizzle Fry guy is dead center of the pop bumpers, creating a perfect central image for the maddening activity of the bumpers. (the sizzle!)

Of course it depends on the songs we choose, but various Primus characters accompany our path. Frizzle, Pachyderm, Punchbowl guys, Jerry flags, etc.

A band of skeeters adorn the lower plastics (a shout out to Les’ old band portrait) And a surreal, cratered, eyeball planet with a skeeter astronaut is the transition down to O’Malley’s Alley, bricks floating into space, where Tommy the Cat lives in the gutters, watching the ball go down the drain…

Xox,

Z & ZY

Can you talk about the process and collaboration that went into creating the artwork?

Yeti: Sure. First off, Zoltron and I have collaborated a lot over the years since 2011 so it was pretty effortless. We both have differing approaches and eyes but similar loves and respect, so it really started by deciding what NOT to do and discussing what Primus WAS to us. This is definitely a love letter to the band. We said ‘ok, so let’s pretend this is our swan song for the band – what would that mean and how would we approach concentrating years of Primus into one visual package?

Zoltron/Zombie Yeti collaboration: Primus
Zoltron/Zombie Yeti collaboration: Puscifer Poster
Zoltron/Zombie Yeti collaboration: Melvins

Being a technical guy, and looking at the timeline, I focused upfront on the finish look of the art. I had been on Deadpool & Iron Maiden for 12+ months and I wanted to lean toward Zoltron’s more textural approach to screen printing and do everything I could to separate this from my previous pinball work aesthetically. This wasn’t a Stern project, and it had a tight deadline BUT the beauty of this project was the band was giving us full reign to do something different than anything before it. I wanted to run with that – and Zoltron was already running lol. Seriously, if you get close to this machine there’s so much subtlety in texture. No clean lines – all dirty but controlled via my OCD so it can tow both sides of the line. I’m beyond proud of the work on this machine and I hope people get close to it and feel the same way. I’m not sure anyone has had this kind of freedom on a production pin before, so I wanted to give that latitude reasoning and purpose that hopefully push the medium for better or worse lol.

Selfishly – this project and my goal for it was to succeed and show Stern folks that a younger music crowd is ready for something different. So everyone should buy 2 or 3! Lol

Zoltron: Yeah, We work together all the time, so we have a good handle on each other’s creative process. We’ve actually done a bunch of posters and projects together over the years, so this wasn’t too much different. We bounced files back and forth via Dropbox, using Clip Studio and Photoshop. We texted constantly. Siri became familiar and well-versed with the phrase, “Call Jeremy.” We laughed. We cried.

Yeti: I did the crying.

How would you describe Primus music in one sentence?

Yeti: Weird, but not goofy – fun and ultimately CREATIVE and UNIQUE.

Zoltron: To defy the laws of tradition is a crusade only of the brave.

Do you have any idea on production numbers and/or cost?

Yeti: Only 100 units being made. There is an additional edition of 8 for band, management and Zoltron and I – but that’s not part of the 100 so I guess 108?

Zoltron: Yeah, we wanted it to be super transparent. No extra machines floating around. No proofs or extra units for friends/family, etc. That’s part of the reason we designed the COA directly into the apron and had the band sign on the machines themselves.

It was definitely an aesthetic decision to have the “Limited Edition” aspect be prominent and obvious and showcase the rarity of these things. So there’s exactly 100 main edition copies which have a silver laser engraved placard and then to differentiate the band’s copies, those have a gold placard. Those 8 go to Les, Ler and Tim, Me, Jeremy, Brad & Jason @ Mgmt and the last one is for a gift to Matt Stone as a “Thank you” from Les, 20 years later. Pretty classic and definitely full circle.

Do you know when orders and manufacturing will start?

Yeti: I was told by 2nd week of December they should be done and start shipping soon after.


Feedback?  Email thisweekinpinball@gmail.com.


Get alerts for new posts from This Week in Pinball – follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or sign up by email: