A "dirtier type of energy with distinctive contradiction." Q&A with Don from Presto Bando!
[First published on DC Setlist on 4/11/2011]
Check out our latest Q&A with Don from PRESTO BANDO who let us in on everything from walking "the line between discomfort and joy "to "male-to-male peanut butter/fluffer nutter..." to "crowd chants and horseplay." Never a dull moment with this crew or their music!
Q: How did you come up with the name of the band, Presto Bando?
A: Presto Bando was a nickname that my father called me growing up. I thought it was a good fit for a band being that I wanted to just show up, plug in, play, and entertain. As a band, we only wanted to deal with absurdity in our music, we didn’t want to have to tune or return text messages or advertise ourselves in any way. Our first logo was a play off of oxy clean. At first we wanted the band to be experienced as an instantaneous aid and ode to existence. Something to make your derangement a little easier because you see how worse off other people are. Then the band sort of shifted to, “What if you ate the oxy clean? What if we were an audio emetic?” We wanted to become a band that you go to shows to experience, to walk the line between discomfort and enjoyment. To shake you loose of the soundtrack of your daydreams and the songs you play loud in your car or sing in the shower. We wanted our performances to illustrate the old, dirtier type of energy with distinctive contradiction.
Q: Share with us how you came together as a band.
A: I previously played in an experimental improvisational band with our bass player Corey called Evokiai. We met in school and played in this band from our late teens through our early twenties. In our late stages we believed only in improvising songs. Anything previously written was unacceptable. We would come up with everything on the spot, lyrics and all, and hope the recorder was working so we could remember what we had played. Our last performance as Evokiai came at Artomatic in 2009. We wrote/performed/improvised a ballet that captured the beauty and abrasiveness we were always in search for. Corey then moved south to Alabama to try and spill some oil.
Following this, I played in a rockabilly band with our drummer Evan called Skin Pink Outfit. Evan helped hone the wild sound so that other people might be able to enjoy our records. As just a guitar and drum duo, we felt freer to experiment live. I would take the mic and dance; Evan would pick up the guitar, strumstick, or keys. Eventually our shows became performance art. Some lucky readers may remember a night at Solly’s on U Street about a year ago that involved male-to-male peanut butter/fluffer nutter regurgitation. We made a record that sounds so innocent now called “Shelves of People”.
Corey moved back a week before the gulf oil spill and we all decided to start a new group. I was very unstable at the time, being that in the span of a few days I had seen a blackened dolphin gutted and scentless on a beach, and then a few days after saw a bald eagle in a tree in College Park, MD. We carried this animal instability into our first group project, the Washington Post Pet Songs competition. We recorded a rendition of a tune about my dog “Stella” being a four-legged vacuum cleaner. We did not win or place in this competition, though I truly believed they never received our submission because we mailed it on the last possible day and I refused to donate change to the gulf cleanup cause. We have been going strong ever since.
Q: We understand you have a new CD coming out in about 2 weeks, how exciting! Tell us about it.
A: We picked the ten songs that we felt had the most time to settle into the saddle. We recorded them all live and only added backing vocals after. We wanted to make something more understated than our live shows, something that represents the calmness and melodic density within each song. Also, I wanted people to be able to hear what I was singing about. The CD can be downloaded from our website www.prestobando.comstarting on Sunday April 10th. It is free on the internet and free at our shows. The physical CD's will be hand-stamped and individually numbered to validate it as an authentic copy.
Q: What was your first experience in the studio as a band like? Challenges? Pleasant surprises?
A: Our only disagreement was where to go for lunch on our main day of recording. We decided on McDonald’s and I swear my Fish Filet had a piece of tail or some other nautical lump in it. This only served as a Proustian moment, the dead dolphin and our beginnings returned to consciousness and reopened the doors of our original purpose. It was then I realized that we were sitting in the middle of a bunch of youth soccer teams and their parents, babies being fed fries and then bottles the next minute. We looked different. We were feeling the eyes of everyone in the establishment. We were making a record.
The hardest part of recording was finding the line between our over-the-top live shows and the song-as-a-precious-gift approach the studio can sometimes engender. We enjoyed the rare experience of playing live and being able to hear what each other was doing. It was the first real time we heard ourselves as a band and not just the screams and drunken fumbling we have come to expect from each other. That we are all competent musicians was the most pleasant surprise.
Q: Do you Tweet? What's your Twitter handle?
A: Yes we tweet. Our twitter handle is @PrestoBando.
Q: For those who've never heard your music before, describe your style & feel.
A: We play a variety of styles, all accompanied by the phrase "high energy". We have a strong blues influence, as well as an experimental edge. We sound a little abrasive the first time or two you hear us but once the melodies become understood people find we are a pop band. Take a listen to the new record and decide for yourself. We are an American band. (Click here to get a taste!)
Q: When and where are your upcoming shows?
A: On Saturday April 18th we will be playing a matinee show at Baked and Wired in Georgetown from 1pm to 3pm. Come by and get some coffee and cupcakes at a spot that has been very supportive of us and other local artists. Later that night we will be playing at The Red Door in Chinatown staring at 8:30 with our friends Paperhaus, Lithia Corsica, and Pree. Then on May 7th we will be playing at The Alley Cat in Alexandria, VA at 9pm. Check our website for addresses and more details.
Q: Tell us about the Ballet/Performance Art show you're putting together for June. Sounds cool.
A: Our last ballet had live music and classical/modern dance. The storyline was influenced by, but not parallel to, Greek and Roman spirituality, gender discomfort and domestic abuse/cunning. This new project being performed on Saturday, June 18th will be more performance art. It will be live music along with prerecorded clips and other theatrical elements. The story will be based around a fantasy soccer player, Donald "Horsehair" Fabuelonna, who has been an obsessive daydream of mine for the past two years. I wanted to give these thoughts extension so the majority of my daydreams from my early twenties did not go to waste. We are planning for it to be a stereoscopic experience. There will be soccer balls on bungee cords, references to Denzel Washington's Oscar acceptance speeches, unnatural European sports narration, crowd chants and horseplay. We will also have some great bands opening for us as well. It will be performed at St. Stephen's Church in Columbia Heights. The next two and a half months will be totally creatively devoted to this project. We are excited about the possibilities.
Q: What are the 5 songs and artists that have been looping on your iPod this week?
Elvis Presley – I’ll Hold You in my Heart
PJ Harvey – The Glorious Land
Washington Phillips – Key to the Kingdom
Scars – Adult/ery
The Beach Boys – Don’t Go Near the Water
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