Hey, this really sucks! It all began, as Chimenti tells it, when he was an assistant in the tape room at the time that "Jerry was a Race Car Driver" was coming into post, directed by Mark Kohr, a friend of his from college and a colleague at then Colossal Pictures, "but I was too busy at the time to cut the video," he recalls with some regret. When the b&w animated "Tommy the Cat" project followed a few months later, "they asked me again if I could work on it, they needed somebody who was cheap, and I had done a few small videos before. That was the first 'big' one I edited, and it took off from there."
A string of Kohr-directed videos followed, then another string directed by Les Claypool-Primus leader, vocalist and electric bass virtuoso-himself. Chimenti even posted Kohr's "Mr. Krinkle" clip, a one-take circular circus extravaganza, it's like Orson Welles doing Fellini-"I put a fade-up and fade-out on it," he says. So he's been there from the Sailing the Seas of Cheese album to Pork Soda to Tales From the Punchbowl right on to the new Brown Album and the "Shake Hands With Beef" clip. "Beef" is a typical Claypool "white trash barbecue," as Chimenti notes, with musicians-as-insects (though it won't be a Buzz Clip) who fondly recall the dawn of digital with the Cars' classic "You Might Think" video from Charlex.
So how could Chimenti, who sports a most unPrimuslike Brian May Queen 'do, suck so consistently? Well, it's partly a Northern California thing. Chimenti happens to be a San Francisco native and a graduate of San Francisco State-"I was a bio major, then I saw all the math requirements. The television/radio department sounded good, MTV had just begun emerging, I had an interest in visual media"-but the key point is Claypool lives an hour north of Western Images and Primus is, in a sense, a local act. "It's a small circle of friends," says Chimenti. "I'm not in the really close Primus circle," he adds, which probably means he's not allowed to touch Les' bass, "but I've been to his ranch and I see Les every couple of months by default. Primus has always pretty much done everything themselves. Interscope doesn't jump in and tell them how the video should be."
No one tells Chimenti how the video should be either, but, interestingly, none of them are frantically cut in typical MTV style; in fact, they have a sensible, almost leisurely pace about them. This may have something to do with the deliberate thrust of Primus' pulverizing, mad-methodical funk, but "the videos are built on concept, they don't rely on fluff or just pure visuals," Chimenti notes. "They don't need a barrage of imagery to cover up a lack of good storytelling. The videos are based on a narrative because the songs are; they're built around strange characters or odd occurrences, and I try to go with the groove of the music. While the music is not exactly slow, you need to let the stories play out. They're not hard to cut."
They're not hard to watch either, and some are quite amusingly inventive, particularly the prosthetic cowboys of "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver," who make the Puttermans look like a bunch of uptight dry cells.
While Claypool and Kohr have a lot of input in post, in all this time the subject of self-consciously avoiding fast cutting has never come up, Chimenti avers, nor has anyone ever commented on the civilized pacing. Then again, the videos are rarely seen, "which is kind of unfortunate, because they really are good videos as videos go," he says, but Primus aren't chart toppers, and they won't be seen on MTV for much longer than 120 Minutes.
So what's floating now in Chimenti's Primus punchbowl? He's already cut "Over the Falls," the next clip from the Brown Album-it's a b&w, stock footage-driven number with very refined pacing (the band is even in black tie)-and he reports that Claypool and Kohr (who's at Satellite Pictures) are working on the Primus movie, details unknown. "Whatever it is, I hope to cut it," he says.