Short and sweet … and noisy
PRE takes a slash in the snake pit and returns to the States
Frightening. Absolutely frightening. London, England’s PRE might have created the soundtrack for, let’s see—a fiery car crash, eternal damnation, getting stung to death by a swarm of killer bees, a back-alley lobotomy. It’s all captured on the band’s first full-length, Epic Fits, 14 short bursts of bedlam that might conclude quicker than the first two Ramones records put together.
PRE’s live performances are another story altogether. Vocalist Akiko Matsuura could come to the show bedecked in some sort of leftover Bladerunner costume pieces, and it wouldn’t be uncommon for her at some point to strip down to her skivvies as she writhes on the stage and spits agro wails at the audience. The rest of the band—which includes guitarist John Webb, drummer Rick Bennett and the bass combo of Kevin Hendrick and Matt Warburton—fuel the debauchery with razor-sharp, detuned noise that maintains a certain tightness even when it feels like it’s about to fall apart.
The band formed in 2005 and has released a number of split 7-inches with bands like Comanechi and AIDS Wolf as well as its first EP, Treasure Trails, in 2007. PRE was snatched up by Skin Graft Records (Melt-Banana) and released Epic Fits in September, which coincided with the band’s first U.S. tour. Now PRE is back, playing a number of dates with Los Angeles experimental noise-freaks HEALTH and more-friendly sound-scapers The Mae Shi, the latter of whom will be along for the Chico performance.
Guitarist John Webb took some time to explain via e-mail from London why PRE’s songs are so short, and to let us know that the only anger they harbor is toward one another.
Who listens to bands like PRE and HEALTH?
Smart cats. HEALTH are one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen. They slay … always! As people they are amazing, and they totally live that band. It’s inspiring.
Who do you listen to?
Wow, so much. I can only really speak for myself. I like a lot of no-wave bands like DNA and Mars. Love bands like Finally Punk, Mika Miko, Silver Daggers, Coughs, Deerhunter, Pens, Fleetwood Mac, Charalambides. Loving Sensitive/Lethal by Thurston Moore at the moment.
You toured the States for the first time late last year. How was the response?
It was good. We got to play with some amazing bands and had a total riot. We came home to find a two-page review of [one of our shows] in Spin magazine. We’ll be on the cover of Rolling Stone after this tour. For real!
Are “Slash in the Snake Pit” and “Ace Cock” about Slash and Ace Frehley?
Ha, amazing! We used to drink in this metal bar in London, and before any of us went to the bathroom, we would say, “I’m going for a slash in the snake pit.” So I guess it’s about Slash, peeing and Slash’s solo band Snake Pit, plus general heavy metal stuff. That’s the kind of guys we are—F-U-N-N-Y. From this point “Ace Cock” is about Ace Frehley.
Which do you prefer, live or in the studio?
We are always live, whether it’s in the studio or at a show. Epic Fits was recorded live. Question: Live or live? Answer: Alive.
Why two bass players?
That’s just how we roll. It works well for us though. We can cover a lot of ground. We’ve got the “frequency” thing covered.
Tell me about the recording of Epic Fits. There are 14 songs, and it clocks in at just over 20 minutes. Was that a conscious thing to make the songs short?
We recorded Epic Fits in a pizza-storage unit. The faster we played, the warmer we stayed—plus we recorded all the songs in one day live straight onto half-inch tape. Time and money were an issue. That’s why the songs are short.
Finally, are you guys angry?
Only with each other.