Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thrones in NYT

ANNALS OF JOE, May 24 - Joe Preston's one-man band, Thrones, has finally received some respectable coverage from the national media. Writing for the New York Times, reviewer Ben Ratliff reports that Thrones are "phlegmatic", and "friendly", and "bearded". Joe is not "particularly limited by typical subgenre ideas about metal," the article goes on to say, "and he's certainly not limited by loneliness; he seems broadened by it."

This last bit is rather shrewd for such a short article. Having seen the band 46 times, I've frequently found myself transported, in different degrees, to some very lonesome emotional realms. I've given serious thought to writing and directing a documentary on Arctic explorers just so I'd have the opportunity to provide some visuals for his disarmingly spooky songs.

Touring with a band can be a surprisingly lonely affair. I have a hard time imagining what touring solo must be like. Thrones, however, is the only band I've ever seen that has been able to distill this solitude into something visceral enough to be performed live. It is a testament to Preston's ability that he can achieve all this, night after night, on his own, with only his wits and the equipment he can shove under a van loft.

Rahav Segev

In the article's accompanying photo, at least a dozen unsmiling faces welcome Joe to Brooklyn. They're not exactly slack jawed, but they're certainly not greeting him with any traces of human empathy. I'm not sure if this disdain is some new phenomenon of 21st century concert audiences, or some older strain of tedium I managed to willfully ignore in years of touring with bands.

Some time in early 2005, I drove into LA to see Big Business, the band formed, in part, by Joe's former bandmate Jarred Warren. It was the first show I'd attended after my own band imploded, and I remember being shocked by this same indifference on the faces in the audience. I spent most of their set turned sideways, examining this sea of disinterest. It was like a "Twilight Zone" episode.

Joe's photo brings me back to that night. It is a lonely moment in a lonely business.