Press Recap

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Prima Donna in New York by Bob GruenPrima Donna Prima Donna by Patrick Boissel

Prima Donna Red Wall by Dawn Laureen Prima Donna couch 1 by Dawn Laureen Prima Donna couch 2 by Dawn Laureen

SLUG Magazine

While some might suggest rock n’ roll has been played out after years of use and abuse, Prima Donna are here to say through their defiant, no-shits-given tracks, “Rock and Roll Is Dead,” and “We Don’t Care!” Prima Donna are what L.A. rock n’ roll sounds like at its most pronounced and best. Nine Lives and Forty-Fives is a great addition to the no-bullshit sensibilities of punk while playing on the passionate adolescence of rock n’ roll rebellion. It’s simply electrifying, snotty, fast and defiantly raw. The opening track, “Pretty Little Head,” defines this album’s tire-less energy, and “Like Hell” carries forth awesome riffs and prominent sax. Prima Donna even cover Blondie’s “Rip Her To Shreds,” which, followed up with “Eat Your Heart Out,” tugs at notions of sex-filled rock n’ roll that begs for a flirt with the New York Dolls.


4th album from Los Angeles band—blustery, gut-driven guitar rock ‘n’ roll that pulls no punches with its classic blues-roots stylings and unapologetic retro-roar of melody & power.  Irresistible songs with an alluring, recognizable flair and energy; hum-along rips of move-your-hips, fist-in-the-air rock ‘n’ roll served with a side of glam/punk and power pop riffs.  Includes covers of songs by Blondie, the Rubinoos and Dwight Twilley.  Recalls bands like early Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Chuck Berry, New York Dolls.  Totally addictive!

Vive Le Rock Magazine

Bubblegum rock from the City of Angels.


Fronted by Kevin Preston, a mainstay of Green Day offshoot Foxboro Hot Tubs, California's Prima Donna knock out glam-injected garage rock 'n' roll, that blazes through the ages, down the Sunset Strip, stumbling into Rodney's English Disco, circa '74, Iggy's on dope, Joan Jett lurks in the shadows, and Kim Fowley plots large scale. Prima Donna covers The Rubinoos 'Rock and Roll is Dead', a smoking version I gotta say, ala latter-day Hellacopters, who thinking about it had an album called 'Rock and Roll is Dead'. Full Circle Baby! In full stride, Prima Donna let off a mighty head of steam, with mucho foot stomping riffage. Yeah, stacks of groove going on here. Did I mention the banging 'Too Much Too Soon' take of Blondie's 'Rip Her to Shreds'?

Billings Gazette

Punk rock with 1970s glam guitars and horns is a nice combo, and there should be more of it.

And, nobody’s doing it better these days that the L.A. band Prima Donna.

On their new album, the foursome adds eight of their own songs to raw, thrashing covers of cuts like Blondie’s “Rip Her to Shreds” and Dwight Twilley’s “I’m On Fire.”

But, they hardly need to call on the oldies to get things jumping. Original tracks like the triple-speed “Tattooed Love Girls” and the Clash-ish “Living in Sin” are great send-ups. And, it gets better. “Like Hell” and “Rubbish,” with it Chuck Berry guitars and Clarence Clemons sax are pure old school rock ‘n’ roll.

“All the boys, all the girls, they all talk the same now,” Kevin Preston sneers.

Everyone but Prima Donna, that is.

Blurt Magazine

Prima Donna has long been one of the more exciting acts strutting through the rock & roll underground, but it takes a while for the L.A. quartet (recently shorn of second guitarist Erik Arcane) to make a record, what with leader Kevin Preston’s involvement with the Green Day project Foxboro Hot Tubs and all. But when it does spit out a new LP it’s always worth the wait.

The product of numerous sessions in different locales over the course of a couple of years, Nine Lives and Forty Fives follows the band’s usual garage-rocking glam punk MO, with tunes and attitude in equal measure. Preston and Aaron Minton’s exuberant guitar and sax riffs roll across the bouncing rhythms of bassist Lights Out Levine and drummer David S. Field, as Preston’s grainy pout lords over all. The band’s attack brings out the best in its energy-spewing songs, from the sneering “Rubbish” and the pogoing “Pretty Little Head” to the roaring “Eat Your Heart Out” and the cheeky “Tattooed Love Girls.” The quartet also blasts through a trio of covers that give insight into their musical minds, putting the Prima Donna stamp on Dwight Twilley (“I’m On Fire”), the Rubinoos (“Rock and Roll is Dead”) and Blondie (“Rip Her to Shreds”).

By the time its 33 minutes are over, Nine Lives and Forty Fives will leave you exhausted from head-bopping, air guitar slashing and general leaping about the room in rock & roll abandon. 4/5 stars.

Kevin Preston interviews with enthusiasm on his band Prima Donna's upcoming Tuesday (6 P.M.) Amoeba Music gig, on the group's new album and on playing with the members of Green Day:

W.E. What are you most looking forward to about the Feb 10. performance at Amoeba Music?

K.P. I can't wait to play these new songs for our fans. That's the main thing. I'm also gonna shop 'til I drop. Amoeba has everything. I can't get out of there without spending more money than I have.

W.E. How would you describe your new studio album Nine Lives and Forty-Fives?

K.P. No holds barred rock n' roll. We touched on a ton of different influences, but it's still a very cohesive record. I wrote "Pretty Little Head" right after seeing The Sonics a few months ago. "Deathless" was something I wrote in Spain when I couldn't sleep. Every song has a story.

W.E. What was the experience like working on the Green Day side project Foxboro Hot Tubs with Billie Joe Armstrong?

K.P. It's always awesome! We get together and do at least one show every year. Foxboro Hot Tubs is all of the members of Green Day plus yours truly. Those guys are so locked in musically. Tré counts to four and then it just explodes man. The energy is infectious.

Color Is Its Own Reward

Prima Donna have been reliably pumping out scuzzy, Dolls-indebted rock for over a decade and have finally made the album they have long been threatening to.  “Nine Lives and Forty-Fives” is a step up for Kevin Preston and co., a rollicking 33 minute drive into the seedy underbelly of L.A…the songs are sharper, the attack both more precise and menacing, and the choruses reach for the rafters.  The spy-theme riff that underpins first single “Deathless” worms its way into your skull, and the driving “Rubbish” matches pounding keys with a staccato guitar slash that wouldn’t sound out of place on “L.A.M.F.”; when Aaron Minton’s sax bleats out a quick run in the middle, you’d be hard pressed not to floor the accelerator and just give yourself over to the rush. 

The production, courtesy of California punk stalwarts Bruce Duff (Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs, Triple X records) and Paul Roessler (the savagely underrated Screamers, 45 Grave, dozens of others), is just the right amount of raw…this is a band that benefits from scuffing up the veneer a bit, and Duff and Roessler have a very good handle on how to keep one foot in the gutter.  Not everything here works – “I’m On Fire” is generic and too “bloozy” by half and “Tattooed Love Girl” seems to be a bit TOO in love with the riff and rhythm of Jim Carroll’s “Friends Who Died” - but album centerpiece “Rock and Roll is Dead” belies its own title and shows exactly how precise and powerful a band Prima Donna have become.  Roll down the windows, clap along  and play this fucker loud!

Classic Rock Magazine

Prima Donna - Deathless
Kevin Preston, who sings with LA glam-punk'n'rollers Prima Donna, is also a member of the Foxboro Hot Tubs, a band that includes Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong. But wait! Come back! This doesn't sound anything like Billie's boys, but is instead a rather lovely nugget of new-wavey pop-rock, like The Strokes, but harder. Steven Van Zandt is a fan.

New Noise Magazine

With their new album, Nine Lives And Forty Fives, set for a Feb. 10 release through Naturalsound Records, they’re ready to take the party out to the world. Singer and guitarist Kevin Preston formally extends an invitation.

How did you guys get together?

We all pretty much met at shows and parties in Los Angeles. I had been writing songs that sounded like The Sonics meets New York Dolls meets X-Ray Spex. I knew I needed to get [drummer] David S. Field and [keyboardist and sax man] Aaron Minton involved. They totally got the picture.

What was it like leaving legendary band The Skulls to form your own band?

It was a tough call leaving The Skulls. We had a really cool thing going. I just got super involved with Prima Donna, and I knew I couldn’t do both.

Your new record, Nine Lives And Forty Fives, was recorded in Italy and L.A. How did that work out?

A few of the songs were recorded in Milan, Italy, at Real Sound Studio, but most of it was recorded at Kitten Robot in Los Angeles at different times between tours. I always feel most comfortable doing vocals at Tone Duff Studio in Hollywood, so nearly all of my singing was done there.

You have been constantly touring for years, sharing the stage with the greatest names in punk and rock. How does touring with a big name like Green Day compare to more humble beginnings?

Our first European tour was with Texas Terri in 2005. We were practically babies. We cranked up loud, and drank and went nuts. Everything you’d expect crazy young boys to do. The crowds were up close and really in your face. It was awesome. They wouldn’t let us get off the stage until they got what they wanted. That’s when we learned how to do it right. Texas really taught us the ropes.

Flash forward to 2009: Green Day asks us to support them on a six week tour of Europe. Instead of the small clubs we were used to, it was arenas with nearly 20,000 people at every show. It was incredible. I always liked to take a moment and just let my guitar feed back in front of all those people. Somehow, that’s what made it seem real. They’ve always treated us like brothers. That was such an experience.

Are you planning any reunion shows with The Skulls?

We got together earlier this year to play some little parties for fun. It was like no time passed at all. I think we’ll do something big and proper in 2015. We did some fun tours and made a ton of rad fast music together; we’ll always have that bond.

You’ve also played with the Green Day side project Foxboro Hot Tubs for some time now. What’s happening there?

We played a few shows at SXSW this year. Since 2008, we’ve gotten together every year to play at least one show. It’s always an awesome time. Those shows are completely wild. We always pop up when you least expect it.

What are Prima Donna’s plans for the future?

We are definitely getting back on the road. That’s always the main focus. New Year’s Eve with Fitz And The Tantrums, then we’re heading to Sundance 2015. We’ve got a few shows coming up with The Dictators NYC. Then there are plans to get back to Asia and London. Also, we’re trying to get down to South America. We exist to play live; that’s what we got into this for. Seeing the world through rock ‘n’ roll, man. It doesn’t get better than that.

Hunnypot Unlimited

When PopMatters and Team Rock agree on something, it is cause for curiosity. In this case, the mystery is Prima Donna's new single "Deathless". Known for high-strung, heavily distorted, bulls on cocaine type energy the LA Rock scene mainstay has taken a nonchalantly wide turn towards proto-americana; a change in direction that's as refreshing as it is unexpected. 

Written in a Spaniard hostel (because of course it was) and featuring a driving yet deftly danceable shoe gaze beat, "Deathless" feels like a winding, tumbleweed-laden dirt road in a Robert Rodriguez movie: while scorpions, banditos, and all kinds of precarious dangers most definitely lurk just beyond the horizon, Prima Donna is just too goddamn cool to care.   

Über Rock - Album Review

You know the drill here - Prima Donna release an album and we all go crazy for it because it's chock-a-block, full to the brim with cool as fuck rock and roll with equal doses of sweet sweet glunk, rock 'n' roll, '70s glam sprinkled here, there and everywhere, and just enough punk rock attitude: oh, and great hair cuts to pull this whole damn thing off.  

 There aren't many bands who've released five albums (I include 'Kiss Kiss and 'Vinyl Cuts') that don't contain one single bad song amongst their numbers. That, my friends, takes some doing and sometimes you find a band releases a fantastic debut then slowly but surely the quality slips. Not Prima Donna - no sir, not for a second. Okay, so this new record might well contain three covers and a whole host of previously released singles and songs from last year's European tour CD - the aforementioned 'Vinyl Cuts' - but don't hold that against them, hell, the final track is the monster of a song that was their debut single on red coloured heart-shaped vinyl (I know, they've always been this cool). 'Eat Your Heart Out' is worth putting out again because it really is that good.

 Anyway, it's at the beginning we must start and of the brand new tunes that aren't covers or have featured on previous albums opener 'Pretty Little Head' is a big riff and gang backing vocals mood setter. It's got intent, isn't fuckin' about and rocks like a good 'un and even gets a bit jazzy on the breakdown.

 'Deathless' on the other hand has handclaps and radio hit all over it. 'Born Yesterday' is as cool as it gets and has plenty of glunk piano, cow-fuckin'-bell, sax appeal and just enough T. Rex in its DNA to raise the bar to a ridiculous level, and this album is only a few tracks old (sure, I'm easily pleased when the rock 'n' roll on offer is this good).

 'Living In Sin' is still as fresh as the first time I heard it with a great guitar break and melody to kill for. Kevin Preston knows what's needed with a super cool turn of phrase and a hook to draw you in. It's fair to say Prima Donna have the chops.

 As I mentioned there are three covers in the mix - 'I'm On Fire' (Dwight Twilley), 'Rock and Roll is Dead' (The Rubinoos) and 'Rip Her To Shreds' (Blondie) - Three very different tunes but three that fit perfectly into what Prima Donna are all about. They can shape-shift anything and totally own it thereafter and it all goes to enhance this record rather than detract from it.

 Oh, and for the record 'Rubbish' is just oozing with attitude as it punk rock and rolls and has some barking saxophone in the finest Mott and Hanoi tradition. It's also one of the finest songs I've heard in a long, long time, a real shot of rock and roll.

 I don't care what strain of Rock and Roll you're into this is a must own record and Prima Donna once again show how it's done. Simply stunning and as strong a record as you're gonna hear all year.

With Love, the Underground

"Buying [Nine Lives and Forty-Fives], is a lot of fun and everything is so varied that you can let the album rotate several times." (Original review in German.)

Music News Nashville

Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley on a steady diet of punk and glitter rock, Prima Donna are infamous on the L.A. scene. Their curriculum includes musical road trips with Eddie and the Hot Rods, Adam Ant, D-Generation and even Green Day, who they supported on two arena tours on two continents. Frontman Kevin Preston has also continued participation in Green Day side-project Foxboro Hot Tubs.

While touring the US and Europe, Prima Donna was in and out of the studio numerous times, both at home in L.A. and in Milan, Italy. The finished product is Nine Lives and Forty-Fives, an 11-song variety pack that displays the band’s skills in the studio, and compiles some of their rarest and rawest recordings, including “Rock and Roll is Dead,” available for the first time in U.S. The track was named one of the Top Ten Songs of 2013 by Little Steven’s Underground Garage.

Nine Lives and Forty-Fives features eight original songs, and three covers: “I’m On Fire” (Dwight Twilley), “Rock and Roll is Dead” (The Rubinoos) and “Rip Her To Shreds” (Blondie).

Prima Donna’s Nine Lives and Forty-Fives will be available January 27th, 2015 on CD, digital and limited edition colored vinyl through Alive Naturalsound Records.

Color Is Its Own Reward

Scoring the opening slot on the U.S. tour return of Adam Ant would seem to be almost any band's crowning achievement, but for L.A.-based rockers Prima Donna it's just another in a long line of amazing experiences that most bands would kill for. The band's vocalist and songwriter, Kevin Preston, reached out via email from the road and talked about the band's (and his) experiences melting faces and the undeniable awesomeness of Iggy Pop.

First off, congrats on scoring the opening slot on Adam Ant’s US tour! How did that come about?
Well hey, thank you! Exciting stuff. He heard our latest record (Bless This Mess) and thought we'd be a great support band.

Your songs have a very clear New York Dolls vibe….a nice mix of glam sleaze and huge pop hooks. What are some of your musical touchstones, those things that you heard and loved and go back to? Who continues to inspire you musically?
When it all started, we were playing in a garage doing covers of The Sonics and X-Ray Spex. We're into so many things that it's hard to narrow it down. I will say that Iggy Pop is always with me. I love everything he's done, new and old.

“Bless This Mess” seems to be a more collaborative effort songwriting-wise than your previous releases. What is your songwriting process like? Do you start with a riff and build from there or do the lyrics come first?

It's always different. There were some special moments on this record for sure. “Let the Games Begin” was pretty much written in the van on the way to Texas. I pulled out my notebook and we passed it around. Everybody jotted down a few lines. Same with “Puta, Te Amo.” Except, we wrote that one in Spain.

Kevin, you also have served time in Billie Joe Armstrong’s Foxboro Hot Tubs. How has the experience as a sideman informed your “leadership” of Prima Donna?

I love being just the guitar man from time to time. I get to watch the crowd more. Playing alongside Billie is always a learning experience. He whips the crowd into a frenzy every time.

I imagine your songs are like children – it’s tough to choose one above the others. But let’s say you are asked to make a “Sophie’s Choice”; is there one that you are particular proud to have written or one that is particularly special to you?
If people only remember one thing I've ever written, let it be “Feral Children.”

You’ve been given one “musical wish” – to work with any musician/songwriter/producer – who would you choose and why?
That's a toss-up between Prince and Iggy. To me, those guys are both untouchable, unstoppable, timeless & genius.

Other than the tour with Adam, what is on tap next for you?

Oh you know, just more world domination! We already have another European tour booked. I've been writing music like a fiend, so we'll start working on some of that soon...

HighWire Daze

The first time this publication caught Prima Donna was several years ago playing at a New Year’s Eve Party in the San Fernando Valley. This was way before they were signed to Acetate Records, and even back then, Prima Donna demonstrated a star quality that went above and beyond the little backyard studio they were performing in. Since then, they’ve released at three albums and have toured the world with the likes of none other than Green Day. In 2013, Prima Donna find themselves on the road once again, this time with the legendary Adam Ant & The Good The Mad and The Lovely Posse.

The show at Club Nokia was the third date of the tour, one which would last all the way until mid-September. It was as hometown as you could possibly get for the band, and it was obvious that Prima Donna had a good amount of fans in attendance. And those who had never heard of the collective before were in for a wild and rambunctious punk and glam ride of a lifetime. Once Prima Donna hit the stage, the hot and sassy tunes kicked into supersonic gear. The early arrivals were definitely treated to a top notch show from a support act destined to be headlining their own stages in these bigger clubs all across the nation.

Their anthem about the perils of social media Sociopath was played early on, a wildly infectious tune that is just as addictive as time spent updating your Facebook and Twitter pages. “I will corrupt you,” super-charismatic vocalist (and guitarist) Kevin Tyler Preston promises with a fiendish glee on the show stopping Feral Children. Soul Stripper was another thrilling highlight, which found Aaron Minton switching back and forth from keyboards to saxophone like a total champion. Throughout the set, Eric Arcane unleashed some tremendously tasty licks on guitar, while bassist “Lights Out” Levine and drummer David S. Field brought the rhythm section home with a sexy vengeance.

With the rollicking refrains of I Don’t Want You To Love Me, the Prima Donna party came crashing to a pulsating conclusion. There is little doubt that they made a good amount of new fans amongst the Adam Ant Army. Now in their tenth year of existence, the Los Angeles based collective still perform like a band on fire, fearlessly unique and ready to take on the world at large. Don’t just take our word for it – even Green Day and Adam Ant know raging talent when they see it. Be sure to check into what Prima Donna has to offer in a live setting, and let these guys rock you into the stratosphere. Bless This Mess is Prima Donna’s latest magnum opus, now available from Acetate Records!


Prima Donna - Here to Save Rock N Roll (cover feature)

Rock and roll has been in a rut for the past couple of years. If it’s not hip-hop, it’s deejay programmed and synced tracks or indie rock bands that have more attitude than ability to actually play their instrument. Prima Donna is here to save the day. For the first time in a long time a real rock band is out there making great music and turning heads with a great live show and songs that refuse to get out of your head. Prima Donna toured for a while with Green Day and now on the road in support of the legendary Adam Ant. Lead guitarist and vocalist Kevin Preston took a few minutes to speak with Enigma from the road.

Not to blow any smoke, but thank you for being a real rock band, especially the way I've been inundated by indie rock, hipster bands and other genres and sub-genres the last couple of years.

Well hey thanks! We really love rock 'n' roll. It's the only thing we wanna do.

That being said, to you… what makes a rock band?

Sweat, blood, dirt and loud guitars. Keep the guitars loud, man.

How important is attitude?

It's great for the stage, I'll tell you that. You have no business being up there if you don't have some attitude. Just remember to hang up the 'tude when you jump in the van.

You guys are hot in your hometown of L.A. and have gotten tour with Green Day and now Adam Ant. What did and are you learning about your art by touring with two icons in popular music?

Green Day and Adam Ant are some of the best performers of all time. The most important thing I've learned: give it all you've got every single night. You can never ever half-ass it.

Was there anything they may have or are picking up by having you on tour with them?

Well, I think you'd have to ask them that one.

How do you think your attitude and eve motivation has changed the more you've gotten away from home and are on the road a lot?

On the road I get really focused, laser focused on one thing - performing. That's all I think about. I get really intense. At home, I get quiet and write my songs.

To you what makes a good show?

Energy. I go see all types of concerts. You can watch an artist in a dive bar or a stadium and as long as they've got energy, it's gonna be good.

Where do you get the inspiration for your songs?

Everywhere. Even bathroom wall graffiti.

How are the songs written? Is it music first or do you write the music to fit the lyrics?

Both. Just depends. For example: "Sociopath" started with words and "Maxine" started with music.

What is the most overrated part about being in a band?

Well, I'd really have to go with the whole backstage fantasy. Everybody wants to hang with us backstage. It's usually us five guys cramped in a janitor's closet with half-eaten food all over the place. Let's just drink at the bar instead.

What songs or songs, if any, were you surprised that people picked up on the most?

On this record, "Broken." It's really personal, so I'm always surprised that other people get it.

Do you consider yourselves more of a "live" band?

Sure. We really get off on stage. We started this band to play shows. Now, we've become a real force in the studio, too.
Are you guys actively writing new material even while touring, or is it one of those things were you have to set time aside just to write?

I write a bit on the road, but I'm really just concentrating on the performance. I write at home when I've got time to think.
You guys have garnered growing attention over the last five years. How have you handled the increase in attention?

We want more! More the merrier when it comes to the band. Not crazy about people digging for personal stuff though...
What can I look forward to when I see you in concert?

Five guys firing on every fucking cylinder!

Prima Donna is currently on tour with Adam Ant. They will be at the Cannery Ballroom in Nashville on Monday, August 5 and at the Center Stage Theatre in Atlanta, GA Tuesday, August 6.


Prima Donna are a hot 5 piece Punk Rock band from Hollywood, Southern California. Band members include: Kevin Tyler Preston (Vocals/Guitar), Aaron Minton (Keys/Sax), David S. Field Drums), Erik Arcane (Guitar), and "LIGHTS OUT" Levine (Bass). Their latest CD entitled “Bless this Mess” was released in 2012 (Acetale Records).

The CD kicks things off with “Sociopath” a rocking intro piece that serves up driving rock rhythm, against infectious groove and heartfelt vocals from Preston. Track 2 “Maxine” serves up impressive follow-up piece delivers a more in your face rock grove with its mesmerizing melody and thought provoking lyrical content that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. Track 3 “Feral Children” shifts gears a bit with its methodical low end intro impressive vocals and harmonies against a grand slam chorus. As the CD quickly unfolds I can hear influences ranging from Jett, Brandon Flowers, Franz Ferdinand, The Killers and even Green Day. The music has everything you would expect from a high-energy Alternative Rock/Punk release. Besides the standard 4 piece delivery you will also notice impressive vocal harmonies, keyboards, Saxophone, rocked out guitar all build upon a thick as a solid rhythmic foundation. The musical style refuses to be pinned down and offers a wide range of musical depth with elements of Alternative Rock, Pop, and even a splash of Classic Punk. Preston’s vocal style works extremely well with this confines of this 12 song catalogue. He takes many vocal risks throughout indicating to me a strong and confident vocal ability. The rhythm section - lays down the low end groove thick as a brick, and the vocal harmonies are to die for. What I like most about the music is the very consistent songwriting. Like a heavy weight boxer the strong song line-up keeps coming at you one after the other - with no sign of letting up. From rocking “Broken” and Miss Avenue” to melodic “Let the Games Begin” to the slamming title track to grooving “Starring Daggers” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 12 “She Says” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.

I normally dedicate this paragraph to any weaknesses found. As you can see I have nothing major to report. I will however say I do wish I heard more ripping solos throughout (Keyboards, Guitar, and Saxophone). All songs over 3.5 minuters tend to drag you to the finish line.

This latest CD teaser from “Prima Donna” is a solid and consistent musical statement from start to finish. Its strength – the consistent song for song line-up that keeps coming at you. I will go on record to say there’s not a weak piece on this entire catalogue, and with 12 songs, Bless this Mess comes fully loaded. No doubt these guys are a total riot to check out live in the back clubs of Hollywood and beyond.

Huffington Post Entertainment

Every once in a while life showers us with something so perfect it's nothing short of brilliant, and Prima Donna's recently released album Bless This Mess is as good as down and dirty rock 'n' roll gets. A cynical journey through love wanted, love lost, pure lust, and masochistic obsession and need, Bless This Mess is a reflection of the pure sexy stage presence of the band members themselves. Sappy love ballads and mellow chords it definitely is not.

From Los Angeles, California, Prima Donna consists of Keven Preston, lead vocals and guitar; Aaron Minton, keyboard and saxophone; Eric Arcane, guitar; David S. Field, drums; and "Lights Out" Levine, bass guitar. I was lucky enough to hang out with the guys in Prima Donna in London at The KerPUNK Festival last January, finding them to be some of the nicest, most professional, hardworking musicians in the industry. There is just no ego with these guys.

When I caught up with Kevin Preston again this week via telephone to talk about the new album, one of the first things he told me about the songs was, "The more interesting ones are the ones we write together." Released on Valentine's Day, Bless This Mess conveys lyrics such as "Oh girl you're such a tramp, but I wanna be your man" from the song "Puta Te Amo," Spanish for "I love you bitch," and inspired when band members saw the phrase written on a bathroom wall on tour in Spain. Preston laughingly told me, though it was written in Spanish, they all understood its meaning perfectly; thus the song about a horrible woman he can't help but want anyway was born. Playing around on tour and laughing at the sentiment, they wrote it together as a group.

The first track on the album "Sociopath" speaks of the addictive wasteland of social media, which reaches the point of turning people into detached, narcissistic sociopaths who will "Screw you over just because I'm bored. Manipulate all of your friends," setting the tone of in-your-face brutal honesty for the rest of the album. "Feral Children" talks of animalistic sex as they "...pretend we're virgins / Rowdy feral children" and states very plainly he's a real "sick lover" promising, "I will corrupt you... life so filthy that you won't mind and you won't care." Of all the songs on the album, this one grabs me to the very core, and makes me say, "Yes, absolutely yes, take me wherever you want." And then there is the catchy upbeat sing-a-long in "Broken" that contradicts the sober, cynical lyrics about the evils of love, like he's warning another fool about to fall, "Love will take you down / Wipe off that smile" and "My happiness turns violent."
In addition to the sometimes complex and serious, sometimes satirical, sometimes offensive and misogynistic lyrics, the chords and melodies flow together in perfect harmony, indicating a group of musicians completely in sync with each other's strengths and weaknesses. The guitar riff in the song "Bless This Mess" and the guitar solo and emphasis on the sax in "Miss Avenue" offer up another example of the band's lack of ego as one steps aside to let the other have his moment, allowing the listener a rare chance to glimpse the talent of each individual member as it fits into the whole of the band.

"Feral Children" from Bless This Mess
The stage show is as down and dirty as the music, with Kevin Preston rubbing up against other band members, audience members, male and female alike, inanimate objects and whatever else happens to be lying around, sending the fans into a sexual frenzy. It's this ability the band has of interacting with the audience and drawing them into an intimate give and take of music and dancing that makes a Prima Donna show special. You're not going just to watch a performance. Being with Prima Donna is an experience, and the fans repeat the experience over and over again.

A bit reflective and gracious as ever, Preston talks of the band's early influences, primarily T-Rex and X-Ray Specs, but also The Saints and Little Richard. Like a kid who still gets starstruck over his heroes, his voice lights up when he talks of Little Richard and the times "we've seen him really kick out the jams" onstage. He reminisces about the time he got to play with Josie Cotton, another hero, and drank with her after the show, saying, "She's so much more than [the song] 'Johnny Are You Queer,'" and his gratitude towards the fans who still go through the trouble of sending the band actual fan mail through the post office.

And then he tells me the funny story of how he damaged the heels of his feet a little over a week ago. He was hanging outside of a club after a show and decided to do something crazy, like climb the wall. Kevin has a thing for climbing up on whatever's around. I've seen this personally in London. So he decides to scale the wall of the club. He makes it to the top and realizes the only way down is to jump. He jumps down from the wall and "fucks up" both heels. Now on crutches, he's trying to sit and stay immobile as much as possible in preparation for Prima Donna's upcoming show this weekend at The Mess Fest, a party of sorts to celebrate the new album, as well as showcase other up-and-coming bands. Put together by concert organizer Kat O'Connor, The Mess Fest will be at the Metro Opera House in Oakland, California on Sunday, July 8th.

You can also catch Prima Donna's live show in September when they spend a week on the East Coast, and also in October when they tour for two weeks in Europe and a week in the UK. Assuring me he wasn't letting a little thing like not being able to walk slow him down or deter him from performing like he always does at his upcoming shows, there won't be any cancellations.

From their Acetate Records debut album After Hours, this is the official music video for "I Don't Want You To Love Me."


Sounding like a band weaned on little more than the New York Dolls and Cheap Trick, LA's Prima Donna (why has no one snatched this band name up before?) play glammed up power pop and punk rock that sounds like they've just awaken from a 35-year coma. Try and name any other glam punk band recording today that includes saxophone and tubular bells?

Bless This Mess, their sophomore effort, is a nice step forward from their impressive if a little uneven 2008 debut. The band has certainly kept busy during the four-year gap touring the globe several times including a high profile world tour opening for Green Day (Singer/guitarist Kevin Preston also plays guitar in the Green Day side project Foxboro Hot Tubs).

Years on the road have worked out well for the band as they sound much tighter on these newer songs than their first go round. "Feral Children" comes off like the Stooges if they had discovered melody and "Broken," with its piano backing, is closer in vain to more modern pop punk songs, but both manage to highlight the band at its best. The record loses a little steam toward the end, tacking on a couple of the weaker tracks, but the earlier songs more than make up for the flaws. What's punk rock without some scars, right?

The Big Take Over

Good old-fashioned glam rock is alive and well – or at least its spirit is, as that’s what powers the delightfully decadent Prima Donna. To say the L.A. quintet’s third record Bless This Mess is a throwback isn’t entirely accurate – the band sounds like it could only have existed in the new millennium. That said, leader Kevin Preston and his merry men definitely flaunt a certain savoir faire, if you will, borrowed from the flamboyance of Great Britain in the early 70s. Not to mention big, fat hooks – the record is practically drowning in them. “Sociopath,” “Feral Children” and “Miss Avenue” indulge in some seriously catchy melodies with roof-raising style, while “Tryin’” and “Broken” take a more classic (but no less memorable) pop approach. “Puta, Te Amo” and “Crimson Lust” rock harder but with the same skull-burrowing tunefulness. Preston’s casual debauchery and cheeky sneer wear the glitter pop duds on display like they were custom-fitted to his throat. Packed with pop hooks and preening attitude, Bless This Mess is sinfully delicious.

No Depression

Pure unadulterated rock and roll from a young L.A.-based five piece outfit, Bless This Mess is an apt title for Prima Donna‟s second release. Like all good rock and roll, it is a glorious mess. Some critics are labeling this stuff glitter rock, but there are no lipsticked, hair sprayed, sequin-studded spandex posers in this band.(check „em out here: Prima Donna looks and sounds like a bunch of sweaty, '7os-era bar band garage rockers.

Although they spent nearly a year opening for Green Day on their ‟09 tour and grew up sharing bills with punk bands, they‟re no punker than Motley Crue. There‟s plenty of attitude, but it‟s done with a swagger, not a snarl. Even if “Sociopath” could be construed as Ramones-influenced, it‟s more fleshed out than anything the Ramones ever raced through and more melodic. And even though you can feel the punk framework trying to poke through the fabric on “Puta Te Amor,” the scratchy sax break, the “ooh woo ah woo” vocal chorus and the funky bass solo pull it out of the oi bin and over onto the rockpile.

On the T Rex tribute “Feral Children,” they promise that “I will corrupt you,” and they live up to that promise. It‟s great to hear this stuff these days- simple but effective rock, with great howling guitars and a pile driver beat.
Frontman Kevin Preston channels his inner Mick Jagger on “She Says,” sounding like Tattoo You-era Stones. And although the band would more than likely have no problem with those who claim punk allegiance with them, in a live setting, it‟s a pretty safe bet that there‟ll be more rocking than slamming going on with those whose feet get caught up in the moment and carried away across the floor to dance this mess around.


As noted previously in my post in praise of Biters, I dig me some glam rock. In that earlier post, I referenced T. Rex, since Sir Bolan struck me as being the most apt reference point to the band at hand, but I’m also an ardent admirer of take-no-prisoners gutter glam as practiced by the New York Dolls, so when Prima Donna’s “Stray Doll” came up in my perusal of the second of this year’s SXSW 2011 torrents with its spoken intro reminiscent of the Dolls’ “Looking for a Kiss,” its swaggering groove influenced by ‘50s rock but dragged through a ‘70s gutter, and its prominent saxophone (!), it was L-U-V at first listen. By the time South-by rolled around, I’d listened to the .mp3 enough times to proclaim to friends in advance that, based on this one song alone, Prima Donna was the band I was most looking forward to seeing in Austin this year.

I’m well aware that expectations of that sort can be a dangerous thing but, as it turned out, I had nothing whatsoever to fear in this case. Did Prima Donna’s dedication to Dolls-influenced glam extend to their hairstyles, clothing, and onstage posturing? You bet it did, and it was when I noticed Dolled up band members posing for pictures with excited (female) fans before they had even played a note that I realized the showcase ahead promised to be quite the rock ‘n’ roll spectacle. And as to the showcase itself, did Prima Donna craft original songs with a spirit, style, swagger, and sexiness of the Dolls in their prime? Oh my, yes. Did the showcase feature a front-of-stage lined two-deep with admiring women who were practically delirious, and fully under the spell of the band throughout the set? Oh, indeed.

Prima Donna’s set got underway with my second-favorite quote of the week when frontman Kevin Tyler Preston intoned, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called South by Southwest.” The set which followed was chock full of originals guaranteed to put a smile on the face of any fan of glam from virtually any period, from the golden age of Bowie/Mott/T. Rex and the proto-punk glam of the New York Dolls in the ‘70s to the Sunset Strip glam metal of the ‘80s. The only exception to the addictive originals that was included in the set was the band’s choice cover of Blondie’s “Rip Her to Shreds,” which I invite you to enjoy now, courtesy of video captured by my friend Jamie:

Incredibly (and admittedly somewhat disappointing for me), given that it was the song they chose to represent them on the official SXSW site (and, consequently, in the torrent), the originals played at Prima Donna’s Friday night showcase didn’t include the aforementioned “Stray Doll.” It did, however, include a number of other choice cuts which I’ve since come to love, most especially the showstopper, “Soul Stripper.” As well, Prima Donna delivered their barnburner of a set with such zeal that their show culminated in that rarity of rarities: the South-by encore.

One thing I know for sure… if you see Prima Donna’s live show, by the time it’s over, I guarantee that you will walk out the door knowing that, by god, you’ve just seen a rock ‘n’ roll band. Odds are good that you’ll also be humming a new favorite melody and grinning from ear to ear too, all while still digesting the rock ‘n’ roll spectacle you just experienced. And that, my friends, is always an exhilarating feeling … and it’s no accident that the hunt for that sensation of exhilaration is the primary reason that 2011 was my thirteenth straight year traveling to SXSW for rock ‘n’ roll spring break.

See you there in 2012?