By Nikki M. Mascali
Don’t let the name fool you. Los Angeles-based band Prima Donna is a merry band of poppy punk rockers whose songs ooze the infectious sound and raw sexuality not often seen since the days glam rock could be heard on every street corner in the City of Angels.
Formed in 2003 — and featuring singer/guitarist Kevin Preston, saxophonist/keyboardist Aaron Minton, drummer David S. Field, bassist “Lights Out” Levine and guitarist Erik Arcane — Prima Donna has toured the world and shared the stage with Green Day, Turbonegro, The Libertines and countless others. These days, Prima Donna is opening for Adam Ant on the icon’s Blueblack Hussar Tour.
In advance of the tour’s two-day stop at the Irving Plaza this weekend, we caught up with Preston about first thing he does when he steps off the bus in New York, his writing process and being on the road with the notoriously private pirate.
H81R: How has the tour with Adam Ant been going so far?
KP: Such a blast so far. We did three shows down in Florida. Those were some of the best. Ant fans have been extremely supportive!
H81R: Prima Donna is very punky and poppy, much like Adam Ant. Was he an influence?
KP: I’ve been a fan of his for as long as I can remember. My parents are fans, so I grew up with him. As far as his influence, take a listen to “Maxine.” That’s my nod to Antmusic.
H81R: You’re doing two nights in New York — what are some of the things you like to do when you’re in the city?
KP: First thing I do is grab a few drinks at Manitoba’s. Then, I make my way over to Trash & Vaudeville so I can hang with [buyer] Jimmy [Webb].
H81R: When can fans expect a follow-up to last year’s “Bless This Mess?”
KP: We just put out a 7-inch single with two new tunes. It’s on the ever-cool Italian label Rocketman Records. We’ll get to work on another full-length when we wrap up this tour.
KP: I do most of my writing when we get home from touring. I let it all sink in, and then the songs start gushing out like blood. The ideas usually hit me on the road. Like, the song “Bless This Mess” came about when I was hungover in France. One of those brutal red wine hangovers.
H81R: Prima Donna has played all over the world. Is there a favorite venue that you love to play?
KP: As a matter of fact, we played the 9:30 Club in D.C. last night. I already wanna go back! Rad place. So many to mention, but one of my other faves is Panic Room in Essen, Germany.
H81R: How do audiences outside the U.S. differ from those stateside?
KP: There is definitely more screaming outside the U.S., I love it. Especially Hong Kong. They really let loose.
H81R: With so much of your life spent on the road, what are some of the things you do to stay sane — or even friends with each other — out there?
KP: When things get tense, we listen to standup comedy in the van. We also prank call people back home. That usually puts us back on the same page. You gotta laugh, man!
H81R: You’ve toured with tons of different artists. Is there an artist or a group that’s on your bucket list?
KP: We’ve been fortunate enough to play with most of our heroes. I’d still love to share a bill with Joan Jett. That would be godhead.
H81R: And finally, Adam Ant is famously private. After being on the road with him for this tour, what is something that people would be surprised to learn about him?
KP: That he’s famously private for real. It isn’t just publicity.