Les Claypool praises Willow Smith's Primus cover: “Fine guitar pickin’ there young fiery lass”

[L-R] Les Claypool and Willow Smith
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Pop superstar-turned-punk rocker Willow Smith has posted a clip of herself jamming to Primus’s 2022 single Conspiranoia, prompting approval from the Primus leader himself, Les Claypool.

The clip – posted to the star’s Instagram page, which boasts over 10.5 million followers – shows Willow playing one of the track’s avant-garde, alternate-picked leads using her out-of-this-world St. Vincent signature model.

“I fucking love Primus,” Willow proclaims in the post’s accompanying caption, adding: “If you haven’t listened to Conspiranoid… that’s a big issue.”

It didn’t take long for the video to catch the attention of the track’s original composer, Les Claypool, who commented: “Fine guitar pickin’ there young fiery lass.” Willow has since changed her Instagram name to ‘Young Fiery Lass’.

Willow Smith’s new album, COPINGMECHANISM, is set for release on October 7. Its three singles released thus far – <maybe> it’s my fault, hover like a GODDESS and curious/furious – are once again rooted in electric guitar-driven pop-punk, like Willow’s last album, 2021’s lately I feel EVERYTHING

The record will feature drumming from veteran punk sticksman Travis Barker, as well as an appearance from guitarist Ayla Tesler-Mabe, who told Guitar World earlier this year that laying down tracks for the album was an “honor”.

Willow Smith is one of several popular artists to have taken their music in a more guitar-driven direction in recent years. The last two albums from Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets to My Downfall and Mainstream Sellout – helped bring pop-punk back into the gaze of the mainstream, while Demi Lovato’s latest LP, Holy Fvck, boasts a far rockier sound than that of their previous material.

Lovato has even recruited six-string shredder Nita Strauss – who until recently served in Alice Cooper’s live band – for her ongoing tour in support of the album.

Primus have been on the road this year, performing Rush's A Farewell to Kings in its entirety. In a recent interview with Bass Player, Les Claypool touched on the challenge of replicating Geddy Lee's bass guitar and vocal parts.

“Well, there’s a big difference between doing my voice and playing bass, and doing Geddy’s voice and playing bass,” he said. 

“For many years, I was never very comfortable with my singing voice, so I always said I was the narrator of the band. But singing Geddy Lee parts and playing bass, or just singing Geddy Lee parts period, is fucking hard, because it’s up in the upper stratosphere.”

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Sam Roche

Sam was Staff Writer at GuitarWorld.com from 2019 to 2023, and also created content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar.