For years, Kevin Presbrey toured the country as the front man of Painkiller Hotel, a modern rock group inspired by guitar-fueled bands like Pearl Jam and Live. Now, he’s turning back the clock with his solo debut, an Americana album that takes its cues from Jim Croce’s folk music, the Eagles’ country-tinged rock and Fleetwood Mac’s 1970s pop.
He'll perform from 8 to 11 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, at Cellar Door, 5150 Main St., Downers Grove. No cover is charged. For more information on the show, call 630-241-2030 or visit www.hinsdalecellars.com.
Looking for a producer who could help him capture an old-school acoustic sound, Presbrey turned to Ryan Hadlock, who’d recently struck gold as producer of the Lumineers’ platinum-selling debut. Together, they brewed up "Dust Unto Dust," a solo album that puts a dusty, twangy spin on Presbrey’s rock & roll past.
"Dust Unto Dust" was pieced together from song fragments and lyrical ideas that Presbrey had been jotting down for years. The floodgates really opened after his father’s death in 2012.
“When I lost my father, who’d been such a big supporter of my music and [an] inspiration to me, I spent a lot of time thinking about something he’d told me over and over again throughout my life,” Presbrey recalled. “He’d say, ‘Do what makes you happy, and do it as much as you can, because you never know how long you’ll be here to do it.’ There had been rougher times throughout the last few years, where I’d questioned my music career and my writing, and now without my biggest fan, it seemed like maybe it was time to hang it up and try something else.”
Instead, Presbrey doubled his efforts to do something his dad would’ve loved. Inspired by his old collection of vinyl records, he turned to music as a sort of therapy, carving out a new sound that relied heavily on acoustic guitar, vocals and a rootsy 1970s aesthetic.
After demoing several songs in Chicago with producer Bobby Scumaci, he headed to Seattle in March to work with Hadlock. The two booked some time at Bear Creek Studios, where Brandi Carlile recorded her own American throwback album in 2012.
They pulled long hours and paid close attention to Presbrey’s songs, and, when the dust settled, "Dust Unto Dust" remained.
“Maintaining your sanity and a rock band at the same time generally don’t go hand in hand,” Presbrey said. “So after several years of focusing solely on Painkiller Hotel, my gut instinct told me that it was time to return to my acoustic roots. Music is a big part of who I am, and even though my dad isn’t here anymore to cheer me on and talk shop after my shows, his guiding principles will always be here inside of me. His passing was a tragic event that abruptly changed my life, but in the end, the silver lining was the inspiration he gave me to create this album.”
Presbrey's songs can be heard this summer and fall on the following television shows:
Oxygen Network - "Best Ink"
Bunim Murray - "The Ruckers"
Bunum Murray - "The Real World"
E!TV - "Keeping Up with the Kardashians"
E!TV - "Total Divas"
E!TV - "Take"
Oxygen - "Bad Girls Club"
MTV Network Multi Sync
Style Network - "XoX Betsie Johnson"
Showtime - "The Real L Word"
Fox Sports/Artist First
To learn more about the artist and all of his coming performances, visit www.kevinpresbrey.com.