Seeking Empire is a San Francisco rock project featuring bay area musicians Nikki Aclaro and Alan Kao (Mud) Phil Pristia (Phantom Kicks) Paul Thomas (Good Charlotte) Cary LaScala (The Lovemakers) whose debut album was produced by Paul Thomas. We talked with Phil about his favorite cities/venues to play in, musical influences, favorite books, and more.

For the record, what’s your name and what do you do in the band?

I’m Phil Pristia, and I play lead/rhythm guitar/ back up vox for Seeking Empire!

What was the very first concert you attended and how much of an impact did that have on you musically? 

Wow, I believe that concert was Paula Abdul…that’s right, I said it.  My folks won tickets to see her at Shoreline…and I’ve been trying to drown the image out of my mind by playing guitar very loud and distorted ha ha.

How did you meet each other?

We eventually met at shows we played at together or through mutual friends..

Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs and do you think these topics will change over time?

It starts with myself and Paul with the main idea, then works its way down to all the other members.  The topics are loss, love, etc, which are a very common theme through the ages.  I’m sure it will probably stay that way for a while!

How would you say you’ve grown as musicians just from the time-span between your old bands to now? 

My ideas were pretty narrow, so it was nice to get out of my comfort zone.  In the long run, it actually broadened by horizon.

What’s one thing that you can tell us about the album that everyone wouldn’t know on their own? 

That it took quite a bit longer to finish than expected. 

Do you think you’ll end up signing to a label at some point or do you want to see how far you can get on your own?

We’re definitely looking toward a label, but you just don’t know these days!  Technology has made things very accessible.

What are some of your favorite venues/cities that you like to play in? Any standout experiences that you’ve had (good or bad)?

I really liked playing in Seattle, but I also love playing in SF.  My favorite so far is Great American Music Hall, it’s incredible in there…..wait, maybe it’s a tie with the Independent.

On that note, what are the best/worst run venues from a production and band point of view? 

Actually, I’ve had a lot of trouble at most of the bars I’ve played at. You run into shoddy systems, I can’t really blame em, it’s just hard.  When you get to a bigger venue, a lot of people’s asses are on the line, so they make it the best they can. 

It’s about mid-way through the year. What albums have you really been enjoying lately from 2012?

I just purchased an album by Meshuggah. It has blown my mind.  I’m not very good with 6 guitar strings, somehow, they’re using 8. 

What’s one thing you’ve never mentioned about you or your music before in an interview?

That creating music is my favorite part of the process.  There’s just something that happens, and it makes you feel great….well, actually, sometimes it can also be very frustrating.

What’s one book that you’d recommend to anyone that listens to Seeking Empire and why?

I would say any “choose your own adventure” books.  I wanna meet one person who has read an entire one of those.