Talking Holiday Favorites And Reflecting On 2020 With Prima Donna’s David S. Field And Adam ‘Lights Out’ Levine

GID: I imagine being able to get together, even virtually, and make music gave you some sort of normalcy for this strange year. What did it feel like getting together to do the song? Was it a cathartic release?

DSF: Definitely. When lockdown first started everyone went kind of radio silent. We texted each other but for the most part, none of us did anything.

AL: I think we did one of these zoom meetings and that was it.

DSF: It was also during all the riots and it all kind of hit at once. There was a lot of shit going on we had to pay attention to, so we kind of just stopped for the most part. We talked to each other, but we weren’t even thinking about making music because when everything was going on, we thought who cares what we have to say? There are bigger issues than our music right now. As time went on, we were like okay, we have these two or three songs we worked on before the lockdown.

Once we figured out that we could record them safely and we had everyone on board, it was like oh man, yeah! We love doing this. It just felt good. Being in the studio again felt good. Even rehearsing the songs to a click track was great. I admit for three or four weeks I didn’t even touch my drums. I still listened to music, but music was not on my mind. But once I started rehearsing it just felt natural.

AL: It was as if we didn’t stop at all, which was the best part.

GID: Prima Donna has been around for 16 years now and you all are still here making kick-ass music. Do you ever get the chance to sit back and reflect on the journey thinking about where the band started and where you guys are now?

DSF: I try not to dwell on the past. A lot of our friends will remind us how much we’ve done and for us, it’s like well that’s what we do. We’re not thinking about that. We’re thinking about what we are going to do next. When do we get to travel next? When do we get to record next? Recently, we had a lot of downtime to reflect and I’m proud of everything. Every bad tour, every great tour, every really bad situation we’ve been in made us tighter as a group. We’ve been in some really sticky situations and we’ve experienced every aspect of being a band. We’ve had really bare-bones tours, playing in squats, sleeping on floors, sleeping in venues. We’ve had amazing tours where we’ve been able to have a bus and a hotel room and actually feel like this is a great life. But everything we’ve done just made us who we are, and I love it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I don’t regret any second of being in this band.

AL: Even the sticky situations are comical now. We talk about them and laugh.

DSF: People are like I can’t believe you guys did that or weren’t you scared? And we’re like nah. We’re four guys, we can trust each other, so there’s never been a time where we thought I want to go home. I don’t want to do this anymore. We’re all in it together. We chose this life and we knew what it came with. We just love it. I love every second of it.

AL: Me too. Even in the fear of death I never thought I want to go home.

DSF: We’ve got some stories.

GID: Mind sharing one of those stories?

DSF: I think the craziest thing is when [Adam] first joined the band, we bought one-way tickets to Europe. We just thought we’ll make enough money to get home. It was Adam’s first tour, so he knew us, but not [well enough] for six weeks on the road stuck in a van with people. But it worked out. It made us think this guy’s a keeper for sure. He’s in it. He never complained.

So, we did the whole tour. We started in the Netherlands and ended up in England. And we realized we didn’t have enough money to get home. Our friends, Eddie and the Hot Rods rented us a flat on top of a pub and we were there for six days playing every night trying to make enough money to get home. It was so cold. It was winter and raining every day. Basically, we were playing at every pub in town. It was a horrible time, and it was an amazing time.

Touring with these guys and even the bands we’ve played with – I can’t express to someone how great the touring lifestyle is. Yeah, it’s tough but the things we get to see and places we get to go and people we get to meet; I never would’ve been able to do that. We’ve tried every beer in Europe. We’ve almost been to every major city.

AL: There are still some regions we haven’t conquered yet, but that’s in the books.

DSF: We feel very lucky to be able to do this for as long as we have and we’re all still here.

AL: We definitely feel blessed. Most people we know have never left the country or left L.A. They’re stuck in the towns they grew up in.

DSF: And we’re lucky enough that labels will pay us and pay for our sessions. I think the hardest thing for any band is funding yourself. When you’re starting out, you’re paying for tours, paying for merch, paying for studio time – that could kill a band for sure. We haven’t put any of our money in since we were kids basically. So, we’re very lucky that every trip, every recording session, every album has been funded by labels and management. And we’re lucky that people want to see and hear us, so the band keeps going and going. We’re most thankful for that.

GID: As long as you have that passion to make music, that’s what it’s all about.

DSF: We have a group of guys who have the same goal and who are willing to put in the work. And we’ve all been friends forever. I’ve known Aaron for 20 years; I’ve known Kevin since kindergarten. We’re gonna keep doing this no matter how we have to do it.

AL: We’re not throwing in the towel by any means.

GID: I think that tightness you all have comes through in the music. That’s part of what makes it great. You know these are a group of guys who are really close to each other. 

DSF: We grew up in our own little bubble. We knew a lot of bands in L.A. coming up, but we only hung out with each other. We never partied with other bands. It was always us four or five at the time. That’s all we did. Every band is cliquey with each other, but we could play with different bands because we were never in a clique. We would play with punk bands and rock bands – we played a lot of weird shows with a lot of weird bands. We were cool enough where we got along with everybody.

GID: 2020 is almost over, thank god, and it’s been a difficult year for everyone. Looking back, are there any positives that you’ll take away from this year? Is there anything that you gained from this year?

DSF: I think with all the political stuff going on, it’s good to look at how we responded to it and what we got out of everything that happened with the protests and the riots and the election. I think it made me a better person because I looked at myself and thought I could’ve done this better in my life or I could’ve supported this thing more. That’s the good part of it. I think this is the chance for people to get right with themselves and take a look at themselves and see what they’re doing to make everyone’s life easier. As far as the COVID thing, I don’t mind not talking to a lot of people. (Laughs) There are certain things I’ll miss about the lockdown. Not having to sit in traffic every day or dealing with everyday people. I’m not gonna miss going back to that.

AL: I’m a hugger – I really miss hugs, man. The people I don’t get to see that I love very much, that hurts, but the love and the strength of my family have been something I’ve been proud of. We’ve been persevering through all this and following the rules, might I add. Wear your mask! I have a sense of pride in how I behaved. I’ve continued to work and be safe and take care of the family. And that’s what we should all be doing. People confuse liberties with luxuries. And that’s just ridiculous.

DSF: Yeah, there’s a lot of anti-maskers here, you know? There’s a lot of people who don’t think this is serious. Well, now look at us. L.A. is in the biggest spike we’ve had since the beginning and all the hospitals are full. It’s just a lot. Sure, I’ll miss touring and getting together with these guys but just lock us down already. Get everyone locked down for 10 weeks, get this over with. The more we fight it the longer it’s gonna last.

AL: I hope everybody discovers what really matters. Sitting at a restaurant or drinking at your favorite bar doesn’t matter.

DSF: It’s funny, before I never thought twice about packing up my gear and then eating a sandwich. Now, I’ll think twice about it. It changed everything, but it’s okay. We’ll work through it.

AL: I used to laugh at people who’d wipe their beer bottles before they drank them. I’ll be doing that from now on.

DSF: Or what about when you share a beer and they wipe it off. It’s like are you afraid of my germs? Just drink my beer!

AL: Now it’s like yeah I’m afraid of your fucking germs!

GID: Everything will change, but hopefully for the better. So, your last album came out in 2018 and we’re ready for more music. Have you guys started working on the next album at all?

DSF: Definitely talking about it. Everyone’s coming up with ideas right now. It’s gonna be a process. It’s gonna be a lot of phone demos. Hopefully, it won’t slow down the process too much, but it’s gonna be tough writing a whole album like this. Best case scenario is we all get tested and go up to the hills for three weeks, but we know that’s not possible right now considering everyone’s own situation. It’s gonna be slow, but we’re all in that mode. We have a label that wants to put it out, Wicked Cool. They’ve been super supportive of us. They’re ready to do it, so we’re ready to at least start throwing around ideas. What else are we gonna do in the next few months?

GID: What’s next for Prima Donna? I know it’s hard to say right now, but anything happening in 2021?

DSF: Right now, just the new single, and then if things get back to normal, we’d love to – I don’t know about touring, but maybe play some major cities. We did that a few years ago. We did the West Coast and then flew to the East Coast. We’d love to tour the Midwest and the Southwest, but it makes more sense financially [to keep it small] instead of touring across the country. Of course, we’d love to go back to Europe. They seem to have a little more sense with this whole thing than we do as Americans.

AL: They might not let us yanks in!

DSF: (Laughs) Hopefully, we’ll end up doing a livestream show. That’s our goal because we have a lot of songs and we’d love to have a great recording of them.

AL: There are still some goals and dreams we have too. We wanna do South America, we want to go to Australia. There are places we haven’t been to.

DSF: Alaska and Hawaii are the last two states in the U.S. we haven’t played so we want to go there. But we have a good company promoting the Christmas single, so hopefully, next year’s Christmas movies will have some “Mistletoe Blues” in them.

GID: It’ll be number one on the charts!

AL: Bring it!

Prima Donna’s “Gimme Christmas” single featuring “Mistletoe Blues” is out now. Stream and buy the single 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, Creeper, and Green Day.

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