photos by Timothy Norris
L.A. Weekly caught up with the Presets' Julian Hamilton (pictured left with co-founder Kim Moyes) prior to their set at Detour on Saturday night. He was very buzzed about the prospects for a kind of deeper, darker dance dementia during his group's time onstage; the Australian band's new Apocalypso album is real emotionally layered stuff, definitely not typically happy ravey stuff, so how it would all play out this night was a rather intriguing thought.
“Well, we have fun with it,” he said. “However, with a band like NIN, for instance, which we adore, in terms of production, it's all quite like dark. But we don't want to be dark-dark like them. Then there's bands that just say Party! And they're just all UP!! all the time. Us, though, we're a little in the darkness, a little in the light.”
It's nice to think that his band's peeps back in Sydney were very supportive right from the get-go, just like we'd like to have a supportive scene for adventurous music here in L.A. But it wasn't quite like that.
“I don't know if it was such a supportive scene there,” he said. “When Kim [Moyes] and I met first in 1999, there was a couple of cool clubs, places that we liked, places with DJs and bands, you know. And it was pretty cool. There were places that had a couple of, like, gay nights, you know. But it was mostly our own doing. There was never any real scene.”
But Presets don't just make electronic dance music, you know. They throw a lot of heavier musical content into the stew, seemingly at times to convey that they're capable of being “serious” musicians — not that that kills the joy, exactly…
“We were at music school, studying classical music, at daytime,” Julian said. “And at night time, we enjoyed going to clubs and listening to all these new bands that were forming back then. And we formed other bands that sounded like Tortoise or those sort of groups — instrumental, atmospheric sort of film score music, and we really enjoyed that. But Kim and I wanted to make music more even a bit more kinda stupid.” He larfs his head off.
“We really loved that rock energy. We really wanted to make dance music that rocked.”
And so, Presets now make a sound that is in a way quite similar to most of the other acts on this year's Detour bill – where electronic and rock and whatever else has long since melted down, and no one knows or cares what to call it.
“We prefer Pop Music, but pop music from a strange place,” said Julian. “The wall between electronic and rock is becoming more irrelevant. Some of the best dance beats these days you're gonna find in a rock song, or, you know, that rock & roll sort of attitude you'll find in a dance tune. I mean, listen to Justice, you know. That's more rock & roll — I mean sonically, it rocks harder than Metallica.” — John Payne