ADMITTEDLY, it was a stupid question. "It was a long, long time ago," explained Joe Preston, the man behind Thrones, when I asked about his time playing bass with the Melvins, back in the early '90s.

"That's got nothing to do with where my life is now. I hope [being a Melvin] doesn't tag me forever. As long as it keeps coming up in interviews it might. I don't get the feeling people actually care, they're just looking for something to talk about."

Point taken.

Thrones is set to pummel Tube on Christmas with its technically enhanced sludge-slide. Created in 1993, Thrones is Preston, a bass, a guitar, a shitload of amps, a bunch of weirdo synths, some drum machines, and more pedals than one man should legally own and operate. Thrones produces a low-end earfuck capable of blowing you straight off your feet—like the crackle and groan of tossing a toaster into a tub of bearded warlocks bathing in crude oil.

The last time Thrones released a record of new music was 2000's Sperm Whale. Preston says these are happier days for him, but he linked an improved mood to a creative block preventing him from writing new Thrones material. The block, and Preston's vigorous touring schedule with High on Fire—the Bay Area doom metal band he bowed out of a year ago—led to what may have seemed to some like a hiatus. In actuality, Thrones never went anywhere. Preston was simply too damn busy for more than a handful of Thrones shows a year, and not in the proper mindset for new Thrones music.

"I'm hoping to write more. The process has changed for me. I'm not as depressed and crabby anymore, that's a big factor. I've worked on a lot of blocks in my life, but never a creative one. I'd rather not be feeling like shit, than feeling like shit and putting out records.

"I've got a lot of material that's unfinished. I just need to stop being lazy."

More important than Jesus' birthday on Monday, it'll be the 13th anniversary of the creation of Thrones—all the more reason to come out. Just don't expect Preston to die for your sins. He'll be busy on stage.