POLKcast: Peter Preston & Zen Fuse Box

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

POLKcast: Episode 1 


MF: Madison Fantozzi  

LB: Leah Bartholomay 

PP: Peter Preston 

LB: Very first POLKcast, Peter Preston. 

PP: Wow—I’m excited! We’ll be looking back at this someday! 

[Theme Music] 

MF: Alright, well welcome everyone to POLKcast—Polk State College’s first official podcast. I’m your Host Madison Fantozzi and— 

LB: I’m Leah Bartholomay, the Co-host. 

MF: Well I wanted to ask you about the tune, our little theme song what did you think of that? 

LB: I thought it was awesome, and it was created by our very own Peter Preston! 

PP: Greetings, I too thought it was awesome! 

LB: [Laughs] I hope so! 

MF:  He is—Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School’s guidance counselor and lead singer of rock band Zen Fuse Box. 

PP: That’s correct, yes!  

MF: Awesome, well thank you for— 

PP: And driver of the Winnebago.  

MF: Oh, love it! [Laughs] 

LB: Rock ‘n roll! Now would you consider it a rock band? What do you guys call yourselves? 

PP: I think so, yeah. We generally go with alternative rock. 

MF: Gotcha. 

LB: Cool! 

MF: Cool—Well we did want to give a little shout out to your band mates. I know that they can’t be here with us today, but—we have Steve Davis, who plays drums and bass and Rich Marcil—am I saying his name correctly? 

PP: Mm-hmm, yes—yes! 

MF: He is on the guitar—and so we just have a little introduction of you here from your website bio: Raised a poor Gypsy child on a sun-drenched dirt road down Palm Beach way and fed a steady diet of reggae, roots-rock, alt-country, ska, Dixie-fried punk, and assorted esoteric influences as he writes in his bio. Preston has balanced a life of Rock ‘n roll and Higher education earning his Masters-degree in Mental Health Counseling from USF to better understand his self and his band-mates, and his PhD from Barry University, so people can ask him “What’s up, Doc?” And mean it. Well welcome to the show and it sounds like you have an eclectic mix of influences. Can you tell us a little about that—how you got into music in the first place? 

PP: I guess I just didn’t know any better. You know when I was growing up I had influences from a—my parents and my family and—you know I grew up in a—Palm Beach County and I really just didn’t know that it wasn’t normal to burst into song or start dancing you know I have a sister that is a choreographer, my father was a—you know—very instrumental in things, Their a little older than most folks parents so I grew up with a almost a different style of music: old Jazz and things—my dad was a big Nat King Cole fan and I had an uncle—uncle Hep. Which you know if you don’t know Hep it’s the word that predates hip. And a—he was actually a professional harmonica player, played with some of the big harmonica bans that were big in the 30s and 40s: The Harmonica Rascals or Borrah Minevitch, things like that. So, I—I grew up with a lot of music around me and just have—never really pigeonholed myself into one style of music one type  

MF: What instrument did you pick up first? 

PP: I guest voice obviously, you know I always had that around, but a—but then when I got into high school want to be in the band and so I actually started playing trombone and it’s interesting how when you learn any musical instrument that can translate very well you know I only played it a couple years and then a—and then I went on the Football team actually. So I couldn’t do both unfortunately—but then I picked up guitar later—I don’t play much guitar with my current band, cause a—Steve and Rich are pretty awesome—but I do play harmonica and a—just kind of other odd instruments you know didgeridoo I found one of those once and decided we threw that on an album and then any sort of percussion type instruments you know symbols or—of course castanets being a Gypsy and all.  

MF: Really cool! So, what is the inspiration behind Zen Fuse Box? 

PP: Really just a long time group of friends that I had for many years and—every time we got together we kind of jammed and would do you know different tunes and things and they’re both in other groups—talked a little about Rich, he’s out of Orlando and he’s with the Forefathers which is a world music instrumental band and then Steve Davis is the incredible bass player for the Tomcats Jazz Orchestra and 18 piece—orchestra that plays out of Saint Pete beach and—they have been playing for years, and we’ve been jamming for years and all of a sudden we just said you know we should use altogether—and so that kind of kicked off the start of—doing original music, we—actually took a vote among all the family members to come up with the names Zen Fuse Box, because we liked the idea of how—we come from many different angles you know whether it’s very Jazz are you know I feel like what I add is—you know—a little bit country, a little bitter reggae and just—you know—we kind of—come from all different angles fuse it altogether—specialize in doing all number of genres I mean that’s really some that were proud of that we have a—on one of our albums we have a Hip-hop song, we have a death metal song, we have—you know—pretty crooning type songs pretty Instrumentals—but you know probably mostly we lean towards alternative rock. 

MF: Okay. 

LB: Now how long have you guys been together, like as Zen Fuse Box? 

PP: Gosh as Zen Fuse Box, I guess that was actually 2011 that we came up with that name—is my—is my best guess. The record might not reflect that, but I think that’s pretty close. 

MF: Neat! 

PP: Yeah! 

LB: And you guys have three albums?  

PP: We do! We—have a—three albums, our first two albums are all original music our third album evolved out of an EP where we had done some a—cover songs and decided to expand on that. So, our third album Sound Revival is all cover tunes—and that gave us some time to start working on the fourth album which is coming out any second. look at it for a—Internet websites near you! It’s actually kind of cool we make like—you know—every—every month we make like a—dozens of dollars from a—from a—Spotify and a—it really—the neatest part about it is how Spotify tracks things and so for whatever reason we have like a nice little fan base in Turkey! 

LB: That’s awesome! 

PP: They will hit up our Facebook page in Turkish— 

MF: What! [Laughs] 

PP: —and I’m not sure what you’re saying. I don’t know, you never know. 

MF: [Laughs] 

PP: This might be how politicians got involved so who knows. But we do have—It’s neat to see where we sale albums around the world! 

LB: Might be your first world tour huh—Turkey? 

PP: Absolutely yeah! 

LB: First Stop. 

PP: We were first actually played on the radio in England! We were played on their version of NPR and they played one of our songs on a Roots rock—Roots rock radio show and what was neat was through that we were on the same—ticket. You know our songs were played with some groups from around the world and one of them was from Argentina. And we keep in touch with them!  

MF: That’s awesome! 

PP: Yeah—it’s neat! 

LB: Very Cool! So, in all of that it sounds like we were having a conversation—you’re like a rock star! 

PP: [Laughs] 

LB: You know, that sort of like sounds like the main thing that you do with your life—and—free time, and really, you’re a high school guidance counselor. 

PP: Absolutely yeah—that’s what I enjoy doing.  

LB: So tell us a little bit about that icon is that. Like how does that sort of come into play? 

PP: Okay—well I’ve been a guidance counselor for many, many years! I was at a large public school and when the position came up at the collegiate high school and you know, I had finished up my PhD studies! I said wow this is like—my dream job. It’s working at a college but also being a guidance counselor in working with high school students and a—getting them on their way and it’s—it’s now probably—it’s funny that—I think the most rewarding part of being a guidance counselor is the end product of just love having our alumni come back and say that they’re doing great and they had a great time when they were here and learned a lot all their friends were running around not knowing what to do in they were right on it, knew it to do! 

MF: Have any of your students heard your music? 

PP: You know it’s interesting but—I would say yes, but mostly no! [Laughs] It seems like it’s almost just like a running joke that every once in a while, a student comes up and say Dr. Preston I heard your band and—you know—I heard this song I turn on this YouTube video and there will always be like ten other student that will go—You’re in a band? You know that relationship, but I try to—try to reciprocate my—you know—just being aware of music today! 

MF: Mm-hm! 

PP: I mean that’s something that I’ve never tried to— once again pigeonholed myself into any specific genre of music and I keep an eye out for you what T-shirts and things my students are wearing, so I can say well I haven’t heard of that group—you know—see what that’s like. 

MF: I bet they would love to hear you rap Jessie Jay.  

PP: [Laughs] I don’t know! That was the a—I don’t know if that was my top rapping—you know—excursion. You know—the theme song here I’m The One is—is you know—it seems like each album we put at least a little bit of rapping. 

MF: [Laughs] Are there any other ways that your music kind of ties into what you do here? You said that staying on top of new music and things like that, but anything else you can think of? 

PP: Oh, absolutely you know—that’s really the main thing is—is that you know music can be such a—you know—such a panacea for everything else. It—it is obviously linked to math and things of that nature in math and science tie-ins, but also just culture—you know—just being aware of culture—you know—a lot of students—you know—will talk about—you know— different classic rock bands and things, and you know it’s amazing how many students haven’t heard of the Doors and know that Jim Morrison’s from Florida and you know they’ll sometimes say excuse of you know well yeah, but we didn’t grow up in that. And I’m like well I didn’t grow up in that either, that was before my time either you are sometimes I’ll use the statement of well you know I listen to Beethoven and he was before my time too, so you know—but it is it is a nice tie in to students. 

MF: What were you like as a student? Why didn’t you pursue Music in school? Why did you go the mental health counseling route? 

PP: Oh gosh! There’s—There’s a lot of distance between those things I mean I really, I—I was involved with music. When I was in college and went to work on a second degree in Gainesville is really where I got my start playing with different bands and things. I’ve played with—oh gosh—legendary band Loose Fragments and the Squirrel Nut Zippers and things in Gainesville I—I you know I either was on the same bill with them or played with them but that was where I really got my start it was kind of a neat—you know—hanging out in the student ghetto in Gainesville in and moving from band to band—and you know—singing one night with this band and another night with this band—you know—doing some of the festivals there. So that’s—you know Gainsville a very—you know—neat eclectic place—you know—we occasionally go by the Tasty Freeze where Tom Petty used to work, so that was—neat! But as far as—gosh what kind of a student was I—I was really a bad student—you know—I was always especially from elementary school on getting a lot of trouble and things but finally you know when I got off to college that was really my big wake-up call. I went to Stetson University and you know—really loved it there—you know—and so I still tell my might students is—you know—when you go off to college have as much fun as possible and just realize at the price you pay for that fun is going to class getting good grades or you’ll get kicked out! So that was—always a big motivation not have to go back to West Palm. 

MF: Where can people go listen to your music? 

PP: Oh yeah, I started to mention that—I believe that where we get the most—the biggest cut is from CD Baby. So if you know—if you want to buy the albums and things which you know—our first album Zero Downtime and second album was something else— we name them each different names— 

MF: Dogs in Helicopters! 

PP: Dogs in Helicopters! Yes, which oddly enough were two—the names of our albums were actually two names that didn’t make it for the name of the band—you know—Zero Downtime that was one—that sounded like a cool name, so we named the first album that. Then Dogs in helicopters that was Rich’s idea. Which—you know—we soundly defeated. But the new ones called Turnpike to Jupiter. Which is kind of an interesting Florida history thing for many years. I-95 had a gap in it and so you had to—get off at Fort Pierce and go on to the turnpike and then take the turnpike to Jupiter and then get off at the town of Jupiter and get back on I-95 and so when I was explaining that to the bandmembers they just they just jumped on that—you know—Turnpike to Jupiter that be a good name of an album! 

LB: That’s neat! That’s cool! 

MF: Who puts together your crazy YouTube videos and your music videos? 

PP: We all kind of assist on that—but I like to throw in kind the artworks and things—you know—some of those eclectic artworks and things and know we do those, and we occasionally do play out. It’s kind of tough since we live in different spots, but we have played it at the Duncan Theatre Palm Beach State College we’ve had our music performed at him Seminal state college and then also the lyric Theatre and Stewart—Stewart arts Festival. So, we have been out there a few times. 

MF: Very Cool! 

PP: Mm-hmm! A lot of fun to play live. 

MF: Well if there’s no more questions. We were hoping that you can play a little bit of your harmonic for the listeners. [Laughs] 

PP: Okay! Sure, thing—yeah, I brought my Blues-Rat, and this is actually one that I got—got in a—got this one in Nashville. and this is a song that is gonna actually be our third album and it it’s an old tune. Steve suggested that we each put a solo thing with just us on each—so Rich does a really pretty piece, and I do this!  

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: Made my baby back in Boeing!  

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: For three years hand runin! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: She was my main most woman! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: And we lived off of lovin! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: Pretty soon she called me lazy! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: She wanted diamonds and furs! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: She started calling me lazy! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: With motivational seminars! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: Made me sell all my huntin dogs! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: Yeah, all my Cocker spaniels! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: She Started hangin out with— 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: My best buddie Jack Daniels! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: She was a mean Mrs. Treater! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: Which is why I had to leave her! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: Such a mean Mrs. Treater! 

PP: Which is why I had to leave her! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: [Yells] Such a mean Mrs. Treater! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: Which is why I had to leave her! Watch me leave her—watch her go now—come on! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: Now a State’s Attorney told me it’s a sin! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: They gave me time served! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: And restitution!  

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: Such a mean Mrs. Treater! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: Which is why I had to leave her! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: Such a mean Mrs. Treater! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: Which is why I had to leave her! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: Such a mean Mrs. Treater! 

[Plays harmonica] 

PP: Which is why I had to leave her! 

[Plays harmonica] 

[Theme Music]