The Presets - Post-Apocalypso Future
Playing their last Australian tour before working on their next record, The Presets reflect on superstardom, staying grounded in spite of it all, and preparing to return to the studio.
Sydney synthesists The Presets found a winning balance on last year’s multi-ARIA-scooping second album Apocalypso, a set that merged pure pop and the dungeon club echoes of New Order and Numan into a dance beat pulse the kids found irresistible.
Since its release a year ago, the triumphant album has reinvigorated Australian dancefloors and turned the spotlight on the duo’s reluctant stars Julian Hamilton (vocalist/keyboardist) and Kim Moyes (drums).
“Things have changed so much since the last Presets tour,” says Hamilton over the phone. “The last time we did an Australian tour was before the ARIA awards and before the album went platinum, it was a really different time for the band and a really different crowd. Now things are much, much bigger and the venues are bigger too.”
Success and trophies haven’t warped the pair however and nor will they. “It’s nice to recognised by your peers and by the industry,” says Hamilton. “It’s nice for them to say ‘you guys have been around for a while and this weird dance music you guys make is pretty cool.’ It’s a feather in our cap but we honestly couldn’t give a shit (about ARIA’s)."
“I mean we haven’t really changed as musicians over the past 12 years. We’re still the same people making the same kind of music but we’re able to do it a little more comfortably now. I don’t have to make pizzas or teach piano on the side anymore, I can just do The Presets, which is great.”
Fronted by five electro-pop singles, Apocalypso might have “blown up” according to the pundits but the duo’s collective ego is yet to follow suit. Sure, they now fly business-class, enjoy separate hotel rooms and are gradually familiarising themselves with the bars of Barcelona and the restaurants of New York - even the “running tracks around Utah” – but the Presets’ ascension has been an incremental and level-headed one.
“There hasn’t really been any one moment where suddenly it’s been huge for us,” shrugs Hamilton. “When we started we’d play small shows and then build it up and up and up. So there was never a moment where we thought ‘holy shit, we’re playing Festival Hall!’.
“It’s been a really gradual natural development. Kim and I have been working musicians for many years as well, working for other bands and so we’re trying not to take it for granted that people are enjoying what we’re doing now. We’re trying to keep a level head about it.”
Last year they watched from the sidelines as their comrades and label mates Wolfmother dissolved in acrimony, a sobering reminder of the fleeting nature of mainstream acceptance.
“Chris and Myles, the two guys who recently left the band, they’re very close friends of ours,” says Hamilton. “They’d only been playing a few weeks together and had known each other only a few weeks and suddenly they were one of the biggest bands in the world. Whereas Kim and I were friends for many years and music bums so I guess that sort of helps things keep going.
“We’re almost like family now. We love each other like bros but we also fight occasionally and get annoyed with each other like brothers do too. It’s one of those things that works, we love the music that we make and so it’s worth doing it.”
Hailing from Sydney’s north, Hamilton and Moyes have been on the same creative page since their teens, both studying classical music by day and hitting clubs at night where they marvelled at the brave ‘new’ ‘90s electro sounds of the Chemical Brothers and “all of this music coming out of Europe.”
Now it’s their turn to perform in Europe and beyond. Recently, they took to the stage in flu-ridden Mexico City before an audience of facemasks. Prior to that a Sound Relief crowd of 30,000 soaked up a pumped Presets at the SCG.
“It was crazy,” laughs Hamilton. “It was a big moment coming off stage with people from INXS and Icehouse coming up to us saying ‘holy shit that was great, my kids really love you guys!’ Dicko was there giving us the nod and Molly was telling us we’re amazing.”
Last week they found themselves in a fenced-off Geraldton car park crammed with wild kids as part of a national tour, the final promotional stint for Apocalypso. Next week they return to Sydney to showcase a fresh set-list of remixes, older tracks (expect Girl And The Sea) plus the new single If I Know You.
“We’ve never played that live so it’s nice to pull that out and give it a go on stage,” says Hamilton. Fans will also get to experience a new lighting show, a visual first for Sydney.
“We’ve got this guy who designs the lights for Daft Punk and Nine Inch Nails,” he says. “He’s come on the road with us and it’s incredible. We saw it for the first time set up in Perth and it’s quite amazing. He’s the kind of lighting guy who does every snare and clap. Anyone who saw the Daft Punk tour a couple of years ago will know how musical the lights were. And it’s been nice to be up there on stage amongst it. It’s been a fun show to perform.”
Just don’t expect any new material warns Hamilton who insists he and Moyes are yet to switch on their rehearsal keyboards.
“We haven’t written anything yet but we’ll get into the studio and start mucking around and hopefully have some time just making music not for a record, just making music for nothing for a little while first. But I’m sure it’ll be something you can dance to.”
WHO: The Presets
WHAT: Play WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong / Panthers, Newcastle
/ Hordern Pavilion
WHEN: Thursday May 28 / Friday 29 / Saturday 30