The name Prima Donna suggests a lofty position, an air of regality and poise. When it comes to rock ‘n’ roll, L.A. band Prima Donna are the cream of the crop. With a pedigree that includes playing with Green Day side project Foxboro Hot Tubs, Kevin Preston has a way with throwback licks and crunchy beats. Nine Lives and Forty-Fives delivers a sledgehammer to the head and a lift to the feet. We chatted online with Preston just as the album hit shelves and online stores.
How’d the Amoeba gig go? In another interview you said you were going to shop till you dropped. What was your haul? And do you prefer CDs, vinyl, digital or cassettes?
The show absolutely ruled. They let us crank up loud and I didn't fall off the stage...success. I got some Sparks, Clarence Carter, Les Rita Mitsouko and the new Pete Molinari. I dig all formats, but I find that I take care of my vinyl the most. CDs and cassettes litter the floor of our van and get smashed/scratched/stolen.
What are some other L.A. haunts you love? Venues to play, places to eat, locations to clear your head?
To play: The Redwood, Viper Room, B52 Club (Boardner’s). Eat: The Federal, Tony's Darts Away, El Criollo. If I need to clear my head, you'll find me at Sportsmen's Lodge.
What made you choose the covers for the album, especially the Blondie and the Rubinoos ones?
I had this dream of turning “Rip Her To Shreds” into a Hollywood Brats song. That's why we did that one. As far as the Rubinoos tune goes, we just want to scream, "Rock and Roll is Dead" every night on tour.
How did recording in Los Angeles and Milan shape the sound of the album?
It gave it some cool grooves. It was written all over the world. The songs recorded in Milan have a very aggressive sound because we were on tour. Some of the songs recorded in L.A. have a laidback California thing going on.
You and David (S. Field, drummer) in particular have been buds for a long time. What keeps you guys playing off each other so well?
We have fun playing. That's really it. No matter what, we're always able to get back in the jam room and really connect. It's almost telepathic at this point.
Who’s handling second guitar these days? I know Erik (Arcane) last played in early 2014.
I'm the lone guitar man these days. I just play extra loud now.
How was the New Year’s gig with Fitz and the Tantrums? You guys have different vibes but a similar, riotous energy.
It was a wild party. We should tour together, right? Somebody make that happen, stat.
I love that you credit X-Ray Spex as an early influence. What other women in rock (or other genres!) do you admire? (Other than Debbie Harry and Poly Styrene, obviously!)
My absolute favorite record of all time is Nina Hagen's "Angstlos (Fearless)." I also really dig Cindy Wilson, Annabella Lwin, Diana Ross, Darlene Love, Wanda Jackson, Jayne County, Hazel O'Connor, Toni Basil, Texas Terri, Yoko Ono, Mariska Veres, Nikki Corvette, Josie Cotton, Alice Bag...I'll stop there for now. Too many to mention.
You hinted that your past band, the Skulls, are possibly planning something big for 2015. Care to elaborate?
We'll see! Still working out the details. Skulls never die.
What’s going on in the Foxboro Hot Tubs camp these days?
Last time we played was SXSW 2014. We played Rachael Ray's party and she said that we were better than spaghetti. That's a true story. How can you top that?
You’ve toured with Green Day and Adam Ant. What other artists might you want to hit the road with? How about up-and-coming names you want as openers for you?
The Kinks are coming back! (Editor’s note: Sorry, gang. No confirmation on an official Kinks reunion yet.) That would be a rad tour. There are some really great bands right now like The Withers and also the Paper Hearts. It would be cool to bring them out to play some dates.
What keeps you playing rock music in a time where the genre almost seems passé? (Hope that doesn’t come off harsh— I’ve played in rock bands, too, and I sometimes feel the “kids” don’t “get it” with everything being so electronic and hip-hop influenced these days.)
You know, we just can't stop. There's nothing else we'd rather play. It also helps that there are people out there with the same addiction.
Prima Donna play the Maui Sugar Mill in Tarzana, Calif., on Feb. 28 and the Viper Room in West Hollywood, Calif., on March 26.
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