Interview with Jimmie Bryant of Prestor John
In my last post, I reviewed a Prestor John live show and referred to them as “boogie rock” a term very fitting for their sound. I caught up with their guitarist/vocalist Jimmie Bryant a while back, and I wanted to know a little more about the history of the band, how production of their new record is going, and their plans for the future. You can check them out on Facebook and Reverb Nation. Prestor John are playing a show at Tsunami on November 20th with Machina, a band currently being filmed for a reality show called “The Making Of Rock Stars”, and they members of Future Leaders Of The World, Evanescence, and Living Sacrifice. Find out more about the show Here.
How long have you been playing music and what instruments do you play?
I have been playing since I was eight years old. I started playing the fiddle, and about two years into that, I realized that the fiddle sections were really big and there’s a lot of competition, so I switched to viola and I played for my school orchestras all throughout high school. That’s what I went to college for was music performance, I didn’t get my degree, but I was on the music performance track for viola. About six years ago, I picked up the guitar seriously and decided to give it a stab.
You used to play drums in Prestor John right?
Right, I also play the drums. That was really a lot more out of necessity, because we had a really difficult time finding somebody who was a good fit for us, and at the end of our struggles we decided to go with the two-piece for the sake of getting the songs we had written on stage and out for people to hear.
Prestor John has been involved in the Monroe music scene for quite a while, and in various incarnations. Who is currently involved in the current incarnation of the band?
It is myself on guitar and lead vocals, and occasionally on the fiddle, Mitch Lang aka “the stache” on bass and acoustic guitar, and Matt McDonald on drums. In the future, we may be having the return of Johnnie Hollis on lead guitar.
Do you incorporate the fiddle into your live performance?
We did initially in what I call Prestor John version 1.0, but now I don’t do it so much. It was pretty much because we were a two piece, and there weren’t enough hands for so long that I kind of got away from it, but I’m looking forward to reintroducing the fiddle into our live shows.
Is this the first time the band has had a bassist? If so, why did you choose now to add that to the sound?
This isn’t the first time we’ve had a bassist. We’ve toyed with the idea, and we played with a bassist on stage, but we never really stuck with it beyond a show. Mitch actually came to me and we got to talking about him possibly joining up, and I’ve always thought of the band being more than a two piece. Everything we did initially was out of necessity, because we weren’t happy with the people we were working with and trying to flesh out the sound with. I’ve always imagined the band being a four piece or being very Queens of the Stone Ageish, where they’ll perform with ten people on stage, but the band is only three dudes. Really it’s only Josh, but it’s the same dynamic I’m going for, to have a big diverse group of people.
You’re currently in the studio working on a new record, right? How has that been going so far?
Yeah, we are. It’s been going well. It’s always pretty stressful when you work with new people, and you don’t know how they’re going to interpret your material and mix everything down, but we went to Music City Studios in West Monroe, and Scott over there was amazing. He got us with an engineer who I felt was in touch with us, his name is Cody Codine Oliphant, and the first cuts feel pretty good. I’m looking forward to getting the whole shebang done.
When the album is finished, and you begin the cycle of distributing it, will you be doing so online through bandcamp, or are you trying to get a record label for it?
I’m of the new school when it comes to that, because record labels don’t serve the same purpose that they did twenty years ago, and with the development of the internet, a lot of their power is taken away in terms of distribution. Kids in China can download my songs right now. So, to me the real value in a label is their ability to promote you, and their ability to facilitate you on the road. I would love to be signed to a label, but only if it was the right situation, because between bandcamp and reverb nation, you can do everything yourself. You can go to the library of congress and copyright your songs. You can file for a business license and make a publishing company, you can do a lot of these things on your own, so I’m kind of not in any rush and open to both ways, whether it is through a label or totally internal is fine with me.
Are you going to be doing any hardcore touring in the future?
That’s the plan, but it’s important not to put the cart before the horse in terms of promotion and stuff. Right now we’re working on a college radio campaign to build awareness up, and give us a gauge of where we’re playing and where would be good to go and play. College radio is a really valuable tool to bands trying to make it, because students run it, and students decide what to play, so we’re really trying to work on tightening up and trying to be as professional as possible so big opportunities don’t pass us up.
So, if you were asked by someone who’s never heard your band, to describe your sound, what would you tell them?
I would tell them it’s like progressive blues. Grunge rocky at times, a garage rocky type thing at times, and very groovy.
Who are the people that inspired you the most to start playing music, or even the type of music that you’re doing right now?
I would say there’s one family in particular. The whole desert rock scene out west really influenced me and Johnnie Hollis–the other co-founder of the band–and they just left a mark on us, hearing the way they arrange their songs, the beats, the guitar tone and the family kind of spread out from there. All those bands like Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal and Kyuss. Also bands like Nine Inch Nails, System of a Down and Rage against the Machine.
If you could pick any 3 bands to go on tour with, who would it be?
If we were in a perfect world, I would ask from the local scene, Gatorbait or Flea Circus. I was also thinking The Vidrines or Electric Sermon. If I could go on tour and open for anybodythough, it would have to be the Eagles of Death Metal or Arctic Monkeys.
If you could have written any song ever, what would it be and why?
I would say “Song for the Dead” by Queens of the Stone Age.