Monday, September 8, 2008, 06:39 PM ( 1023 views ) - Interviews - Posted by Administrator-This interview appeared originally on Little Radio.-
The Presets are an electronic/pop duo from Sydney, Australia. They just released Apocalypso, their follow-up to 2006’s Beams – both cds are excellent - and are set to tour the States in September and October with fellow Australians, Cut Copy.
I talked to the Presets’ drummer and co-writer, Kim Moyes from London. Moyes has a fantastic sense of humor and even answered some of my stranger questions about Cane Toads and masks.
Q: So you’re in London? I noticed you have a lot of shows there.
Kim Moyes: We just did a festival yesterday called Get Loaded and then we did another one called Creamfields. We’re kind of in London all the time and jet-setting around, doing festivals in Europe.
Q: You travel a lot. Do you have any pets at home?
K.M.: No. A girlfriend – a very patient girlfriend. I’m not that cruel to get pets. I suppose she could look after them but I don’t know how well she’d do.
Q: Were both of you (in the Presets) fans of Pet Shop Boys?
K.M.: Yeah, we still are. We weren’t sort of obsessive fans. I think we like what they do in terms of pop music. They’re really quite camp – and there’s one guy, you don’t really know what he does. They’ve always kind struck of as kind of weird and they’ve always had crazy video clips and flamboyant shows.
Q: How come you two weren’t wrestling in the milk in the video for This Boy’s in Love?
K.M.: We were meant to be standing in purgatory or something seeing these two people fighting. I don’t know why weren’t in it – that’s just the way the treatment came through.
Q: It’s a great video. Did it take a long time to get rid of all that dust you had flying all over you?
K.M.: It did actually – at least three showers and a couple of antihistamines.
Q: How did you find the director, Caspar Balslev?
K.M. He was great – like all directors they come in to the shoot and they’re really excited and then they get into this crazy detail about what’s going to happen and it gets a bit lost on you when you’re not a filmmaker or whatever. They’re all very passionate about what they’re doing and love to tell you about it. It’s all going over your head but you’re like, that sounds pretty cool.
Q: I don’t know how often you still use them in shows, but they’re have been a few pix of you guys in masks. Are there ones you seek out or is it a coincidence?
K.M.: The mask thing just kind of happened when we were waiting to pick up our girlfriends in Byron Bay and they were coming in on a plane about an hour later than us. So we went into this shop – it was like a fancy dress store – and they had these masks. They were just these plastic, clear masks with features on them – but if you put them on it kind of looks like you, but like a weird, older version. That was the first time we ever used them. The guy who does all of our artwork, Jonathan Zawada kind of saw that and ran with it. He’s really into skulls and masks and really exotic, weird and wonderful looking stuff. He got some masks for our first album cover and then it sort of developed into the second album cover, where a piece of bark became a mask and I was dressed up like a pumpkin. I’ve got some friends who go to parties dressed up and they really go out of their way to do really strange things when they go out. I guess people like Lee Bowery – those people from the 80s – you know, like Party Monster with Macaulay Culkin? It’s based on this whole New York dance scene and there was this really famous guy called Lee Bowery and he had this costume that would zip up over his face. He’d make these masks that were kind of like gimp masks but really elaborate, really colorful. We’ve got friends who are really into that kind of stuff. We’re always getting inspired by them.
Q: I like that. That’s cool . . . so Byron Bay, you did the second album there?
K.M.: A friend of ours has a farm. We’d been doing so much touring so we went up there to get away from all the distractions and make a start on the new record. We kind of had a mini-holiday and switched on the creative brain after all that touring. It gets damaged after playing the same music every night for three years. We got to go swimming every day. There were cows.
Q: It was a cattle farm - for food?
K.M.: No, it’s more a hobby farm. There were about 15-30 cattle.
Q: So they’re kind of like pets.
K.M.: Kind of.
Q: That’s good . . . this is kind of a weird question but do you ever see Cane Toads?
K.M.: Yes, they’re in Queensland. They were introduced in Queensland to get rid of these sugar cane bugs that were eating all the sugar cane. The bugs in the cane were like crickets, or something like that – they were damaging all the plants so they brought these Cane Toads in to eat the bugs. And of course Cane Toads don’t have any natural predators in Australia. A dog knows not to eat a Cane Toad because it will die. It has poison on the back of it – no animal can eat a Cane Toad. There’s an epidemic of a plague of them now and no one knows how to get rid of them. They’re really stupid and have no natural predator so they have no guard. You can just walk up to one and kick it. There are a lot of mean people. But in some areas if you walk out into your backyard the [toads] are everywhere, like in a horror film. And some people try to smoke their skin as well because apparently it’s hallucinogenic. I don’t know anyone who’s actually done it – I wouldn’t recommend it.
Q: Do you two ever argue, like on tour?
K.M.: There are moments when we get on each other’s nerves. You’ve got six dudes in a tour bus, every day. It’s a great life but there is a lot of boring, getting to the airports on time . . . stress for an hour of music a day. When you see situations arise you step back. We had a funny situation on one of our first tours. We were away from home for four months’ straight and we were on tour with the Rapture. The whole four months we didn’t have a crew, we did all the lugging, all the setting up, all the breaking down – everything. For four months we didn’t have one argument - except when we were packing up after the very last show. It was about whether or not I could put this new guitar pedal that I’d bought into the case or in my suitcase - if I put it in with the gear it would put it over the baggage allowance weight (we were going to Japan). We were yelling at each other in the middle of a car park in front of everybody about the stupidest thing. Sometimes it’s healthy to blow off some steam.
Q: The Presets have quite a large gay following – is it to do with the dance scene?
K.M.: Definitely. I mean in Australia we were first embraced by the gay community. The dance scene in Australia is very homocentric. We have massive clubs and we have the big gay and lesbian Mardi Gras once a year.
A lot of it is quite commercial but there’s a cool underground dance scene as well. It comes back to things like Pet Shop Boys, Bronski Beat and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Those are the people who like to party the most, have a good time the most and show the least inhibition. It’s always been a real attractive thing for us – that freedom. I don’t mean to sound patronizing, it’s just a good fucking time. No matter what city we’re in we’ve had a gay following – and I guess it helps with the homo, like “fauxmo” thing that we do – playing up to it. We always said when we started out we wanted to milk the pink dollar.
Q: Did you learn to play drums when you were very small?
K.M.: Yeah, I started when I was about eight. I could barely reach the pedals. My sister started having lessons – and it was group lesson – and I really wanted to go. She went twice, and I just continued.
Q: Are your fans different, like in the U.S. compared to Australia?
K.M.: I think everywhere you go people are pretty much the same – obviously little bits of differences. I’m just talking as someone who stands up on the stage and looks out at the crowd. In Australia it’s a lot more advanced for us – the crowds are bigger. The reach has gotten more suburban whereas before it used to be more inner city and I guess hipster orientated. Those people like that are every where in the world . . . Istanbul. There’s almost the same kind of night club every where – kind of indie-disco. Now that we’re getting a bit bigger in some of the major cities people are starting to react more like they would back home. When we first started playing back home no one knew quite what to do and then they developed this kind of way getting into it. I’ve always felt it’s warmer for us in the States than anywhere else. People are kind of up for it. I think people in the States dance better than anywhere else. They really know how to dance. In Australia people don’t really dance together, they do this kind of weird robot dance. The States are just groovier, I can’t explain it. You guys should pat yourselves on the back.
Q: Before you worked as a musician you were teaching – what other types of jobs did you have?
K.M.: When I finished Uni I was teaching part time, one or two days a week, at various Catholic Girls schools. They never turned up – some were cool. I picked up a part time job for six months at a corporate recruitment company and I was the receptionist. That was bad. I was so bad at that. I was really grumpy. I was trying to be nice . . . we have this thing called the dole, I guess it’s like benefits – don’t know what you call it there. I went on unemployment benefits for four years and started the Presets. I worked every day and vowed never to have to do anything unrelated to music again. I saw it as kind of like an arts loan. You have to have meetings with these people at the dole office and explain to them what you do. It wasn’t like I was sitting at home smoking weed and watching television. I was working hard and learning about electronic music. I worked in a library for three years when I was at Uni. I worked in supermarkets – I worked at McDonald’s, that was my first job.
Q: What’s your favorite drink (alcohol-drink)?
K.M.: I’m really into vodka apple at the moment and we were in Munich the other day and this guy was telling us about the Russian way to have vodka. So you have a shot of vodka and then you have a pickle and then you have a beer. It’s so delicious. It really gives you a nice buzz.
Q: The tour with Cut Copy starts in mid- September?
K.M.: It officially starts on my birthday, the 15th of September, in Kansas City Missouri. We’ll be in Seattle on the 8th of October at the Showbox.
Q: Are you going to do any dj-ing?
K.M.: Possibly. We’re in a tour bus with Cut Copy so we’ll probably have to split after the shows to get to the next city. I think along the way I think there will be a couple little soirees.
Q: You guys are going to be on the same bus?
K.M.: Yeah, don’t rub it in. Twelve dudes. Normally when we tour there are twelve beds and six guys. Now we’ve get twelve stinking men on the bus. I think this tour will end the relationship I have with Cut Copy. We’ll all crack the States but we’ll all hate each other in the end. It will be worth it.