The Presets - My People
Author: Carlisle Rogers
Friday, 28 March 2008
I know this girl who can never remember what the Presets look like, and I always tell her, “Remember those guys we saw on the video screen at the bowling alley, pumping the air with their fists- One of them was wearing fingerless black leather gloves…” and then she remembers.
In a musical landscape where everything has been done, then put in a blender, and done again, the Presets have come up with a whole sound all their own. Their long-awaited second album, Apocalypso, takes another bite from their dystopian musical outlook, but this time it tastes a lot more accessible, and sounds better and better the more you turn it up. It gathers all the sprawling crescendos of Midnight Juggernauts’ debut and the viscera of electro and condenses and compresses them into a kind of acid techno vacuum tube.
Moyes, one half of those great album cover stars alongside Julian Hamilton, says the sophomore record was created all over the globe over the last year or so.
“We made the album over about a year in a few different places,” he says. “We worked at a studio on a farm in Byron Bay for a couple of weeks to start writing. We did quite a bit of work when we were on tour. We were based in Berlin for the European festivals tour last June/July. And we both have project studios at home. We did most of the recording ourselves and finished the songs in a friend’s studio and had it all mixed in LA. So it’s quite a geographically broad record.
“I think we’ve just gotten sharper in the studio. I would hope that with each record we progress in all the elements of music making. I think we’ve gone up a couple of notches with this record and I’m happy with it. We use a lot of synthesizers, we use a lot of found sounds, percussion sounds and we record a lot of sounds. We use a lot of drum machines, and whatever we can get our hands on. We try to be as interesting as possible. We have quite a broad musical history and we know a few sounds. We try to bring them into what we do. We are not trying to do anything innovative or life changing. We just use what we know. I have a history of classical percussion, and there are a few exotic instruments you can pull there, and synthesisers have an unlimited amount of sound possibilities. We have a good grip on traditional instruments.”
For the last two years Moyes and Hamilton have been travelling almost constantly, taking the show on the road. Moyes says one of the things they have learned throughout it all, is that you can’t quite party all the time. But they definitely tried.
“We are coming home for the V Festival and we’ll stay there a month, then to the US for a month to tour. You are born used to this life. I think you have to have a certain high threshold for pain. It is certainly not for the faint hearted. It’s about having the energy to just keep doing it. It is a very tiring job with all the late nights. Not even just partying, but physically late nights with late shows and not much sleep before you have to go somewhere else. You have to have a bit of extra drive or something. So we’ll be back here in June to do a big tour, and we’ll probably be touring for the next couple of years. When we first started touring it was all about getting drunk and having a bit of a party and all. After a while you get over it and you realise that your body can’t keep up with it. These days we amuse ourselves by trying to find really great food wherever we go. That is especially challenging in the UK. We have been trying to find great little delis, organic places and restaurants. We have been reading the papers in every country we go to. We go to see movies whenever we get a chance to have some time off. Nothing too rock n roll.
“When we first started touring, we were excited about going to all of these places, meeting people, going to after parties, taking lots of drugs, and after a while you get over the shallowness of it all. We just try to stick with each other and make it as painless as possible. It gets lonely, so you have to make the most of it. It is a weird life. Every night you’re getting really hyped up playing, and then all of a sudden it’s finished and what do you do- You have this adrenalin rush and it’s tempting to go out and have a party, but you have to save yourself for the next night.”
On stage the guys have been earning their keep, combining the kind of musicianship most DJs sneer at (because they can’t) with the kind of crowd-pleasing mentality that only electronic artists seem to be able to master really well these days.
“I play drums and Julian sings,” Moyes says, “we play keyboards and we perform. We have a light show, we create a show. We just did the Laneway festivals, and we only played two new songs and they went down really well. We played My People and another song that opens the record called Kicking and Screaming and nobody had heard that and it went down really well. In Europe we have been playing five new songs and they’ve been going well. I’m looking forward to getting more of the new stuff into the set because it’s really fresh for us and we’ve been playing the old stuff for a few years now.”
WHO: The Presets
WHAT: Apocalypso through Modular/Universal / Play Enmore Theatre
WHEN: Out 12 April / Friday 13 June