Interview: Prima Donna Comes Out Swinging with New Album, ‘S/T’




Prima Donna - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
Prima Donna - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

Photos and Story by DONNA BALANCIA

Prima Donna is one of the busiest bands around. The guys: Kevin, Aaron, David and Lights Out, have released a new album, called S/T and it’s one of the best records from the punk-pop band in years.

The album S/T (“self-titled”) is upbeat and fun and moves at a lively pace, just like an interview with the bandmates. Prima Donna sat down for an exclusive interview with CaliforniaRocker.com.

“The whole process for this record started two years ago,” frontman Kevin said. “I was going to see Springsteen on St. Patrick’s Day at the Honda Center in Anaheim.”

“Rich Russo and Little Steven, who I bumped into, were asking if we had a new record in the works,” Kevin said. “They said ‘We’re starting up Wicked Cool again. The seed was planted. About a month later we had a deal with Wicked Cool. We started writing and demo-ing with Bruce Duff our manager throughout the year, and we recorded last May.”

The record was produced by Eric Palmquist (Thrice, The Bad Suns, The Mars Volta).

“Before S/T came out we were testing the songs live, taking the photos and all that.”

Prima Donna: Lights Out, Kevin, David and Aaron - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
Prima Donna: Lights Out, Kevin, David and Aaron – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

A New Direction for Prima Donna

The album is a slight departure from the band’s first album, After Hours, released in 2008

“On the first record, I wrote most of it,” Kevin said. “And this time we all wrote together.”

While all the songs on the record are strong, our favorites are “Recurring Nightmare,” for its island-like buoyancy, “Give It Up,” for its driving beat and “Sound The Alarm” for its urgent call.

Preston wrote or co-wrote all 11 songs on the album in combination with his bandmates  — two each with David, Lights Out and Aaron, plus two full-band co-writes on “4 Real” and “Until I Break Loose.”  Producer Palmquist is a co-writer on “Until I Break Loose.”

The record has a good ebb and flow when it comes to pacing.  There are stories of heartbreak, success and life lessons. But is there an overall theme to the album?

“It varies song to song,” Kevin said. ” We never set up for a record about one topic. Every song reflects a different mood.”

S/T was released on vinyl as all the Prima Donna records have been.

“We like vinyl because we like to hold the physical copies in our hands,” said Lights Out. “And CDs are not a thing of the past for us.”

“The technology has changed,” said Field. “When we started our band the music industry has collapsed. The biggest difference now is vinyl is back. Streaming was already going on, we were late to the party with that.”

Prima Donna Keeps a Hectic Pace

What lies ahead in the music business?

“Chip implants will be next,” joked bassist Lights Out. “We’ll put the music directly into our skin.”

Prima Donna’s band members stay busy. The single “Vulture Culture” off S/T will be used in a new movie about the final days Johnny Thunders. And Kevin and drummer David are doing double duty working with Billie Joe Armstrong in a new band called The Longshot. The Longshot has a new EP out and is touring.

See our story on The Longshot in CaliforniaRocker.com

If you’ve ever been to a Prima Donna show, you know the band puts on a lively performance, with the guys jumping around and keeping it high-energy.

“It’s just how we play, we’re physical,” said Field, the drummer. The fans have come to expect high energy.

Prima Donna - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
Prima Donna – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

For Prima Donna, It’s All About the Fans

Aaron said the fans are the best part about the job.

“They tell us the nicest things sometimes,” he said. “Sometimes they even start crying it’s really sweet.”

For Prima Donna it’s all about the performance.

“We don’t write songs that are meant to be sat to,” said keys and sax player, Aaron.

“Yeah, we’re not writing scores,” said Lights Out.

“We try to recreate live what’s on the record,” said David. “It’s a give and take between the crowd and us. And the crowd is giving it back.”

“We give it everything we’ve got,” said Kevin. “We always come out swinging.”