The label was created in 1989 for the initial limited release of the Primus live album Suck On This. To fund the release, the band borrowed three thousand dollars from Claypool's father and pressed one thousand vinyl copies of the record. The album was later licensed to independent record label Caroline Records in 1990 for its second pressing, the same label that released the Frizzle Fry album the same year. Primus signed to Interscope Records before their third album Sailing the Seas of Cheese in 1991, who have released all of their subsequent albums to date.
Prawn Song was resurrected in 1993 as a subsidiary of Interscope (at the time 50% owned by Atlantic Records, the parent company of the original Swan Song label) for the use of Claypool's side projects: Sausage and The Holy Mackerel. At this point, Prawn Song was also made a sister label to the Atlantic imprint Mammoth Records, working together with them to launch the musical projects of many of Claypool's friends and former bandmates, including M.I.R.V. (featuring Mark "Mirv" Haggard), the Charlie Hunter Trio (featuring Jay Lane), Alphabet Soup (also featuring Lane), Porch (featuring Todd Huth) and Laundry (featuring Tim Alexander).
During this time, Primus' albums continued to be released solely by Interscope. In 1998 & 1999, however, Primus also started utilising the Prawn Song imprint to release the albums Rhinoplasty and Antipop. By 2001, Prawn Song had dropped its association with Mammoth and branched out from Interscope to become a fully independent label, whilst also remaining as Primus' liaison to Interscope for the release of their EP/DVD Animals Should Not Try to Act like People in 2003. The 2006 compilation album They Can't All Be Zingers was released only by Interscope, separate from Prawn Song.
As an independent label, so far it has been used to release Claypool's most recent side projects and to reissue the early, out-of-print, pre-Interscope Primus albums. It has also been used to launch the artist Gabby La La's debut album Be Careful What You Wish For..., on which Claypool produces and provides the rhythm section. The Oysterhead album The Grand Pecking Order, however, was released by Elektra Records. The 2011 Primus album Green Naugahyde will be a joint release by Prawn Song and ATO Records.
When operating independently of Interscope, the Prawn Song label is based in San Francisco, California, and distribution is handled by RED Distribution in the United States, and Essential Music & Marketing in Europe.
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