GENRE IS DEAD! Interview With Prima Donna’s Kevin Preston

GID: Is it a break for you since you’re not the frontman?

KP: For me, it’s so many things. I love being a guitar player. I do it every now and again and it’s cool. I get to learn from of the greatest. I’m playing with Billie Joe and sometimes I get to watch and enjoy it. I listened to a Rolling Stones interview with Bill Wyman; he was a statue on stage. He didn’t move because he said he loved to watch Mick [Jagger]. And I feel like that sometimes. I move a lot more but I do trip out watching Billie do his thing. He’s the best there is and I get to sit there and take that all in. Every time I get to be the guitar player I get a new perspective. I remember what that’s like and what that dynamic’s like. I pick up things that way. It’s just a completely different perspective. It’s strange because you wouldn’t think so, but every part of a team is totally different.

GID: This isn’t your first time working with Billie. Prima Donna has not only toured with Green Day, but you worked with him on Foxboro Hot Tubs. What’s it been like working with Billie over the years?

KP: I could talk about Billie until I’m blue in the face! He just never stops working. It’s incredible. He’s the most prolific guy I’ve ever met, without a doubt. The guy just writes and writes with a passion. He’s a vessel for music. I think about people like that and on paper, it seems like they’d be super strict and quiet and constantly working. Billie’s really fun, easy going, and cool to be around. He’s totally the opposite of what you’d think, but I can tell sometimes he’s got another idea. He’s always working even when he’s not working. It’s just fascinating. He lives to play rock n roll. It’s infectious to be around him.

GID: Getting back to Prima Donna, you guys have been making music for a while now. How has the band evolved over the years?

KP: Well, when we started I was really obsessed with early to late 70s rock n roll. The explosion of rock music during, let’s just say ‘72 – ’77, was insane. It went from UK glitter to the punk rock that we love. That’s what we wanted to do. We wanted to be young and crazy and be a band that no one knew what to make of and it totally worked. We played constantly. We would play anywhere and everywhere early on. It was always a party. Then Bless This Mess came around and we got a little more serious. We definitely weren’t partying as much. We got more focused along the way and now we’re really honing in on our studio craft and that sort of thing.

GID: One of your biggest fans is E Street Band’s, Stevie Van Zant. What’s it like having a legend dig your music?

KP: Words can’t describe. He’s been playing us on his radio show since the first record. We were on the road the first time we got wind of it – think we were sitting in Oklahoma, somewhere far from home. We couldn’t believe it. We still can’t believe it. He’ll put me on the list to go see him and [Bruce] Springsteen and it’s a trip. We had some new material and he wanted to put out the record and that’s how this LP came about. It’s crazy. He’s like Billie Joe – they’re kindred spirits. The guy is just constantly working and doing something music related.

GID: When you started did you ever think you’d be on a list to see Springsteen?

KP: No, no way. I’ve had the privilege of seeing him a few times, but the first time I went I was near the stage standing directly behind Rob Lowe who was trying to get pictures of Stevie and Springsteen. It was hilarious. Somewhere I have a photo of Rob Lowe taking pictures of Springsteen. That was a trip.

GID: What are your plans for the summer?

KP: Over the summer we have a few shows with James Williamson who used to be The Stooges guitar player. He’s got a new record out so we’re supporting him on a few dates on the West Coast. Then we got some New York and East Coast dates later this summer. And then we’re gonna go to Europe in the fall. We’re in talks to go to Central and South America too. We’re really trying to make that happen, so no promises to the fans down there, but we’re really trying to get there.

GID: Cool! Have you ever been there before?

KP: We’ve never have, but we keep getting word our songs are getting played on the radio. It’s crazy. We’ve have a couple of songs in Brazil and Peru that’ll pop up in the charts once in a while, so we gotta get down there.

S/T is out now. Pick up your copy here. Prima Donna hits the road with James Williamson on June 29. Find all their dates here. See Kevin and The Longshot on tour. See remaining dates here.

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Ashley Perez Hollingsworth

Ashley Perez is a freelance music journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared on AXS, The Crypt 1331, Chicago Innerview, New City, The Millions, and Reality-Comics. She also runs her own music blog at Radio Not Found. Some of her favorite bands include Nirvana, The Cure, Muse, Marilyn Manson, and Green Day.

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