If Joe Preston had simply hopped from prolific, legendary stoner metal band to prolific, legendary stoner metal band, he would still probably be Joe Preston.
But he didn't. In addition to performing as a member of some of the genre's all-time heaviest hitters - Earth, The Melvins, High on Fire, and Sunn O))), to name only a few - Preston has also maintained his solo project, Thrones, for almost two decades.
And from inception to now, he has channeled his obvious lust for doom-and-weed-laden riffage into some of the most innovative stoner metal since Earth 2 changed the game forever.
Crossfade: What's the impetus behind this tour? Is there a new album we missed?
Joe Preston: I don't put stuff out on a regular basis. I don't worry about it too much. Its more of a career thing for me: Go out and tour when I can.
Would you say seeing Thrones live is the definitive experience?
Well, in a way. Since I don't put stuff out very often, I don't have a lot of new material, so I'm usually playing old stuff in general. I just like performing.
What accounts for the long gaps between releases?
I'm a pretty lazy guy. Getting motivated to do stuff like that can be pretty difficult. I've been doing this for almost 20 years. Seems like it used to be easier for me to sjt down and write some music. Now it's a little more like pulling teeth. I've been working on things but it's not enough that people seem to notice anymore. Which is ok.
Do you ever see it turning into a regular gig again?
It is a regular gig, I just can't travel regularly. I still play shows regulaly and I work on music. It feels pathetic to say this stuff, but every time i go on tour I'm like, "Well i was working on this thing, but i didn't get it done and then i had to leave." I have a label and I'm hoping this tour gives me enough income to put out another 12'' this year. I'm pretty much doing small run things. I just put up a bandcamp account for the first time. I did it the last 15 minutes i was home before I left on this trip.
How did you hook up with Floor?
I got ahold of Rick from Torche to see if he could help me out. I haven't played in Miami since I was in The Melvins. He got back to me later that night and was like, "Yeah, shows are on. You're playing with Floor." i was like, "Cool." I had no idea it was going to be that easy. It got the hardest part of the tour out of the way immediately, and now maybe it's going to be the best part of the tour.
What kind of lineups do you end up on more: metal or experimental?
It's always a mix. I prefer it. The thing I look for most is people I like. Whether I like their music is almost secondary. Luckily, most of the people I like make music I enjoy. I always thought Thrones doesn't connect completely with any scene. There are people into all sorts of things interested in what I'm doing. But I don't get a solid turnout from the "doom metal scene" or the "noise scene" anywhere I go. Its cool to tour with bands that draw well and their fans see me. And [this time] it feels like I'm helping out with the draw. I've been getting a better response than I thought I would. It can be hard for me to gauge because I play with my eyes closed but I've been selling a lot of stuff, so that says something to me.
A lot of your press coverage mentions how you tour alone, load your own gear in and out. And you've done time in a number of bands, but have always maintained Thrones as a solo endeavor. Generally speaking, how do you relate to bandmates and does that have anything to do with touring alone?
Touring alone is getting hard. It wears me out more. I started this with a 3000 mile trip in a hurry and it really kind of wrecked me. But I like touring alone. You do whatever you want. Bandmates are great too, if you get along with them. But anyone that has done any kind of tour will tell you: It's hard. I have nothing against bandmates, but I like Thrones as a solo thing.
When you first started hashing out the Thrones aesthetic, did you have any specific influences or goals? Your tools are familiar but the digital sounds pressed right up against the metal riffs are still striking. My favorite example is the beginning of "Oso Malo."
The end result of the way things sound is almost accidental. I plan for things to sound a certain way and they rarely do. They have their own thing going on. I think synthesizers are fun. I totally see how they fit. But obviously I look to put things together for contrast.
Some of your vocals are really distinct. I'm thinking specifically of many of the songs on the Sperm Whale LP
Like, the vocoder?
Well, on "Man Mountain" and "Django" the vocals are very soulful.
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That's just how I sing.
Thrones. With Floor, Holly Hunt, and Kenny Millions. Friday, April 12. Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE 2 Ave, Miami. Doors open at 10pm and there is a $10 cover. Call 305-757-1807 or visit churchillspub.com/.