PRIMA DONNA are back in Europe and still on tour right now! Their show in Solothurn, Switzerland was a good opportunity to meet the whole band and have a conversation about this tour, the band’s history, rock’n’roll, cinema, clothes and haircuts! Go and check PRIMA DONNA live if you can and you will understand why they are our new favourite band!
Let’s start and talk about the tour, how is it goin’ so far?
Kevin: The tour is goin’ great, we just got out of Italy. We did 3 shows in Italy and they were all wild, wet and crazy. We got to go to Portugal where we’ve got a lot of loyal devoted fans, all girls, a couple of guys too but mostly girls. We did 2 shows in Holland, up and down Spain, France and Austria last night.
Levine: Austria is awesome!
You’re from Los Angeles, which is quite famous for its 80s glam metal scene. How did you get the idea to start a band closer to original 70s glam rock’n’roll ? Was it easy to complete the line-up?
David: No, it wasn’t easy at all… We got a good amount of bass players. Levine is new to the band, it’s his first tour. His first show ever with PRIMA DONNA was in Holland.
Kevin:… But now we finally have our ideal line-up. You know there’s still a scene for the 80s glam metal in L.A., old and young kids doing it but it’s not really our thing. We love bands like The JONESES and some of the 80s garage revival stuff that was comin’ out of Los Angeles but not so much pop metal. There are a lot of kids who are into really cool rock’n’roll and punk rock music so now everything has come together.
Is there any L.A. band you feel close to nowadays?
David: We’ve got a lot of great bands playing rock’n’roll around the country that we get along with really well. Some good bands in Seattle, in Texas that we’ve enjoyed playing with. There was Levine’s band, LADYKILLERS when they were still playing. That’s how we met him.
Kevin: Hm. In Los Angeles? The BILLYBONES, a really good band. There’s these cool kids called PHALLUSIA 71, they’re really good, I like them.
What’s your favourite club to play in L.A?
Kevin: It used to be the Knitting Factory but that closed down. For me, probably the Viper Room. It’s my favourite, I think it still got all the sleaze that the Strip is known for but it actually has great sound and the staff is great, free drinks… A lot of the Strip clubs just strive on like, legend but they’re not really accomodating and fun to play, but the Viper Room is an exception. It’s still very much what it was in the early 90s.
David: Our last show there was a really good one.
How did you get the opportunity to open for GREEN DAY?
Kevin: I passed on our record “After Hours” to them and they loved it. They wanted to bring a cool, hip rock’n’roll band to Europe with them.
Like they did with D-GENERATION!
Kevin: Exactly! That’s how we got the idea, we’re big D-GENERATION fans. GREEN DAY took us on the European leg of the 21st Century Breakdown tour and then after that they took us to Asia for 2 weeks.
Isn’t it too hard top come back to the small capacity club reality on this tour?
Kevin: We enjoy playing small clubs as much as big clubs.
Levine: It’s just different art forms.
Kevin: Yeah, one is like trying to project this energy that we have to this giant places, it’s two different things but we love them both.
Do you manage to put as much energy when playing a small club as you do in those big arenas?
David: I would say more! Just because the people are so close in small clubs.
Levine: Attention focused.
David: Yeah, they’re right into your face, yelling and screaming and you feel it, you know.
Levine: Definitely sweatier!
How do you usually spend your time on tour when you’re not playing or soundchecking?
David: On this tour we don’t have enough time for sightseeing. All the time driving, listening to music and reading books, drinking.
Aaron: Trying to write new songs.
Kevin: Yeah, keeping inspiration. A lot of bubblebaths! (Laughs)
Levine: We laugh, make jokes!
Any fights over the music in the van?
David: No ’cause everyone has their own ipods!
Levine: Yeah, and the driver plays his music in the van.
David: Mine got stolen so I only have the driver’s music, it kinda drives me crazy sometimes!
What are the first and last albums you bought?
Aaron: The first was the BEACH BOYS’ “Greatest Hits” and the last one was Nick Curran from Austin, Texas.
Levine: He was in the FLASHBOYS, a great band. My first one was BILLY IDOL, well the first I bought with my own money. The last one was PETE DOHERTY’s solo album, not BABYSHAMBLES.
David: The first record I ever received as a gift was the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS but the first I bought was GREEN DAY and the last record I bought was The PRETENDERS, on vinyl.
Erik: I can’t think of any, it’s a big blur you know, trying to go back and forth.
Kevin: I remember the first record I ever danced to when I was a little kid, the B-52s! And I know the next record I’m gonna buy is DUANE PETER’s band The GREAT UNWASHED. It’s pretty good, kinda like TOM WAITS and stuff like that. We heard a couple of tracks and it sounds really good and he’s telling really cool fucked-up stories. I think he’s gonna right really good music ’cause right now he’s been injured so he’s gonna keep writing some good stuff. I’m looking forward to that record.
Do you think that rock’n’roll bands will be able to live off their music again in the future by selling it or will they just have to play live over and over again to get a little money like in the 50s for instance?
Levine: Hopefully. We’d better doing like that than hoping for record sales, you know.
Kevin : I think it’s difficult no matter what ’cause even touring, the costs of gas are so high now and kids rather go and listen to DJs, David Guetta music. We can’t change that but we’re trying.
David: Like the RAMONES, they didn’t sell that much records but toured and toured and toured…
And in the end they probably sold more shirts than records!
Kevin: Yeah! people buy these shirts and don’t even know what it is!
Levine: They worked very hard though.
David: Yeah and that’s why they’re like models to us.
Aaron: But they got bigger when they died!… So I don’t want that!
Kevin: The biggest thing to remember is just that we do this because we enjoy it and hopefully it would be great to make a living off of rock’n’roll but it’s just really difficult. We do it because we have a blast playing rock’n’roll and on this tour we’ve had 3 fans who travelled to each show in Italy, they had even more travel time than us because they were going by train! When you’re playing for the crowd and got a couple of fans and people go crazy when you say the right things and play the right chords, it makes it all worth it.
Hollywood being famous for cinema, did you get any chance to have your music featured as a movie soundtrack yet?
David: Yes, in TV shows like Californication.
Kevin: We’ve been on Cougar Town which is the new Couteney Cox show, Flipping Out which is a show about renovating houses and some football shows that I can’t remember. Unfortunately we don’t hear about any of these until they’ve already aired most of the time. But yeah we’ve been on a lot of TV shows.
What kind of movies do you like?
David: I love Westerns, horror movies and comedies.
Levine: Exploitation movies, old ones, a lot of stuff. I’m a big Errol Flynn fan.
Kevin: I really like John Waters movies and a lot of things like that.
Let’s get back to music. How do you usually write a song? Do you write the lyrics/vocal melody first or the music?
Kevin: I think every song is different. For several of them we had the lyrics first and something usually pops in after that. Sometimes it’s a riff or a sound you hear like the fucking refrigerator or something, the car horn waking you up in the morning. All sorts of different things but we just kind of come up with something and play it, like on this tour doing things during soundcheck. For instance, we have a song from a line that we read on a bathroom wall called “Puta Te Amo” which means “Bitch I Love You” in Spanish. So yeah, all sorts of different things.
Do you use everything you write or are you sometimes disappointed with some songs that you’ll never release?
David: Some songs go through stages like “Feral Children” started out years ago and we just start playing it now. You just have to get the right melody… And now we have a great song.
Levine: It’s quite brilliant. We will be playing it tonight, you’ll hear it.
Where do you get your cool clothes?
Levine: Where you get yours! (Laughs)
Kevin: Yeah, same places you get them!
Any favourite places to shop in L.A?
David: There’s a place next to Iguanas called American Vintage where I buy most of my clothes. It’s a cool store. Also, Goodwill, a second-hand store.
Levine: Target, where I get my underwear! (Laughs)
Kevin: I get everything good from ex-lovers, always! All my best clothes… And current lovers too!.. And fans too! We get a lot of cool things from fans.
David: Bootstraps, jewelry, rings…
This one is from Franck! You’re going to play several French shows on this tour. Do you like wine and cheese? Snails and frog legs??!…Do you plan on practicing French kiss as well?
(Laughs) David: I did pretty good French kisses already!
Kevin: I don’t eat cheese.
Levine: I love it all!
Aaron: Yes, yes, yes Franck! We’ve done the French shows already and it was great!
Erik: St-Etienne, Toulouse and Rennes!
Levine: Yes, Mondo Bizarro, that club is awesome! We played with the FUZZTONES. Awesome bassplayer.
Oh yeah I was there last week and saw the poster!
Kevin: Who does your hair? it is good!
Thanks! Hm. My hairdresser…
Kevin: Hope you would say you do it so you’d cut mine. You used to be blonde, right?
Oh yeah, I like to change.
Kevin: That’s when I saw pics of you.
Erik, I think you like to change too, I’ve seen different hair colours in pictures.
Erik: Yes! (Laughs)
Levine: He changes a lot!
… So, anything else to add to your fans?
David: keep coming to shows.
Levine: We love presence.
David: Drumsticks, we need some drumsticks! (Laughs) ’cause the fans steal my drumsticks after the show so I’m running out…
Kevin: We are all Feral Children In Love.