Talking Holiday Favorites And Reflecting On 2020 With Prima Donna’s David S. Field And Adam ‘Lights Out’ Levine
2020 is nearly over. Filled with political unrest, numerous hardships, and lots of bad news, everyone is ready to say goodbye to this horrid year, including Prima Donna‘s David S. Field and Adam “Lights Out” Levine. Used to playing music around the world, the band was forced to cancel their 2020 plans and spend the year at home. Rather than take a well-deserved break, they got back to work. They found time to get together (safely) to record their new Christmas song “Mistletoe Blues.” They also used the time to reflect on 16 years of Prima Donna and how 2020 has changed them for the better.
Before we officially say goodbye to 2020, the two sat down with GENRE IS DEAD! to talk about the new song, whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie, and how they’ll look back on 2020.
GENRE IS DEAD!: We’re still in what feels like a never-ending quarantine. What have you guys been up to these past few months while we’re still stuck inside?
David S. Field: We’ve been lucky enough to be able to record and put out the new single and film a socially distanced music video. It’s hard being a band and making music together when not everyone’s comfortable being in the same room. We totally get it. Adam and I are in the same room, but we’re still wearing masks just to be safe. It’s been real tough but hopefully, when we get over this hump we’ll be better for it, so we’ll see what happens. It’s been weird for sure.
GID: “Mistletoe Blues” is your second Christmas song. You previously did “Gimme Christmas” a few years ago. What inspired you to follow up with a new holiday song this year?
DSF: We wanted to release “Gimme Christmas” on vinyl. That was always the plan, but we knew we needed a B-side for it. [Singer] Kevin [Preston] came up with the song. We’ve been working on it for a while, but then it changed ideas a little bit. Yeah, we always wanted to have an A-side/B-side seven inch of our Christmas songs. So that was our goal.
GID: Listening to the song, it reminds me of ’50s rock n roll like Chuck Berry and especially Elvis Christmas songs, like “Blue Christmas.” Was that an inspiration for the song at all?
Adam “Lights Out” Levine: That was the feel we were going for. That’s all the good stuff, y’know?
DSF: We’re huge fans of Chuck Berry, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis – that whole era. We’re huge fans of that music so it made sense.
GID: You guys definitely captured the sound and vibe of the era. And though it’s a song about being alone on Christmas, it’s still a lot of fun. I love the bluesy sound and that sax solo is killer. It’s a better alternative to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”
AL: (Laughs) We want to be number one! Get Mariah out of here!
DSF: We’re gonna take the crown! That’s our new goal.
AL: We need a licensing deal. We need to be in all the movies now and all that stuff. Then we’ll take it.
GID: Since we’re in the middle of the holiday season, what are your go-to Christmas songs?
DSF: That’s tough. “Father Christmas” by The Kinks – I have that on a seven-inch and every Christmas I put it on for sure. I’m not a Christmas song person. I do have some I like. What do you think, Adam?
AL: I have three. One is “Jingle Bell Rock.” I’m a huge Lethal Weapon fan and that’s the first thing you hear in the movie. “Mele Kalikimaka,” which is Bing Crosby, not very rock n roll, but an awesome song. And then Tom Petty’s “It’s Christmas All Over Again.” That always makes me happy.
DSF: [José Feliciano’s] “Feliz Navidad” is a classic. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause” – I do love that song!
AL: Kevin would want us to say “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” [by Band Aid].
DSF: [Elton John’s] “Step Into Christmas” is a classic that doesn’t get played as much as it should. There’s a lot of them! But I’m tired of hearing the same old Christmas songs. We need some new blood for sure. And I think we made the best Christmas songs in the last decade.
AL: I agree.
GID: I’ll third that. All right, so how about your favorite holiday movie?
DSF: Oh man that’s tough. Home Alone’s a classic Christmas movie. Nightmare Before Christmas is always fun to watch. What else?
AL: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Scrooge –
DSF: That’s one of my top five. I love Scrooge.
AL: Bad Santa is awesome. Oh, Santa Clause the movie. This was a 1985 film with Dudley Moore. Very cool!
DSF: Die Hard.
AL: We disagree on this. I don’t think it’s a Christmas movie. It’s a big debate for people.
GID: Thank you! I don’t think it’s a Christmas movie either.
DSF: I think it crosses genres.
AL: And people say the same about Lethal Weapon too. That’s not a Christmas movie.
DSF: Yeah, I don’t think that one is a Christmas movie.
AL: Just because Christmas is the time of the season that the movie takes place doesn’t mean it’s a Christmas movie.
GID: I say the same thing, but everyone is like no that’s exactly what makes it a Christmas movie.
AL: Thank you. I’m with you on this.
GID: Getting it back to the song, it was written and recorded at a time where you can’t be in the same room together. What was it like recording and writing this song during a pandemic?
DSF: It was interesting. It was a lot of iPhone recordings. Kevin would do a little note on his phone, send it to us, and then we did our own thing. Get that recorded and send it to [keyboardist/sax player] Aaron [Minton]. Aaron would record something over that. Stuff like that I thought was so lame two years ago. It’s a necessity now. If someone sent me a song on my phone that I needed to play drums to I would think this is weird! I don’t want to do this. Now, we have to do it. Adam and I went in together with face masks which is weird because when you’re playing something you can read someone’s face to see how they like the song. To record a whole song and never see how everyone’s feeling about it is very weird. It worked out really well, but it’s definitely weird.
AL: I was really thankful that he and I were together at the very least ‘cause it was just us. Kevin and Aaron went on separate days, but at least we were together. It’s definitely weird. It’s as if we lived in different cities even though we’re all within eight miles of each other.
DSF: I get how band members in different countries and states record like this now. It’s not complicated to do it, it’s just not ideal.
AL: It takes a lot of the magic out of the room when not everyone is there together, but I think we did a hell of a job.
DSF: The guy we recorded with, Bruce Witkin made it so easy and painless for us. I think we only recorded for about five hours. We’re used to being in the studio for weeks going in every day, which can get annoying, but luckily Bruce is right here in the valley with us. Honestly, it’s our best-case scenario. If we have to do it the same way, we’re gonna do it with him for sure. If we have to do this another six months, we’ll make it work, you know?
AL: And we’ll still put out good music.
DSF: Yeah! We have another single coming out soon –
AL: Around February or March.
GID: Can’t wait to hear that! It’s great to see so many bands still working during this time. They found ways to keep making music and share it with people even if it’s not ideal.
DSF: Yeah, we can’t just go quiet for six months and not do anything with nothing to promote. We could always promote our old albums, but at a time like this people are starving for entertainment and they’re starving for new material. We have to keep going. We get some bands are taking the time off and not doing anything. I get some bands are going harder than ever putting out song after song. But it’s also an overflow of too much, so we have to be very – everything we release is going to be well thought out.
We’re not putting out crap. Everything we put out has to be good and well produced and well mixed. Everything has a lot of thought behind it. That’s how it’s gonna be for the foreseeable future. Hopefully, we’ll be back on the road eventually, but even then, I’m sure it’s gonna be different touring from now on, you know? It’s gonna be a whole new world. It’s all we’ve done for so long. We have to adapt.
GID: Thinking about adapting, have you guys thought about doing a livestream show?
DSF: We do have some offers, but it has to be okay for everybody. Just because someone wants us to do it doesn’t mean we’re gonna do it. If one of us wants to do it, we have to make sure everybody is okay with everything and feels safe and comfortable. Even seeing who’s gonna record it, who’s gonna mix it – for us everything has to be well thought out. So, we do have some offers on the table. We’re just gonna see what happens. We would love to do it. Time will tell, but eventually, we’re gonna have to do something like that cause we want to play.
AL: Yeah, in the worst way! But like he said everyone’s gotta be on the same page and feel comfortable and be safe. When it happens it’ll happen, but I think in the future something like that will go down.