Interview with Julian Hamilton of The Presets: Awesome Shit

Do you consider yourselves lucky or has it taken old fashioned hard work to reach the level of success that you have?

Yeah, totally—no luck at all. We’ve worked really hard. Ten years ago we were working for other bands, playing keyboard in other bands, seeing how other bands worked, seeing how managers worked, and seeing how the record deals worked. We were learning and talking to people and trying to make that shit happen for ourselves, and finally it is. It’s not through luck at all. We’ve worked damn hard and we’re trying to be smart about it too, you know. And I guess the way The Presets’ universe and the Australian pop music radio universes have collided this past year has been kind of crazy—I don’t think we could have predicted that, so maybe there was an element of luck in that but I don’t know, I think if you just do something that’s cool and you believe in and you’re sincere about it, it’s amazing how a bit of honesty and sincerity are qualities that can cut through the crap.

It seems like for at least four years you’ve dropped everything for your music. Is life hectic?

Yeah it’s hectic but it’s wonderful as well. It’s nice not to have to teach piano anymore or, before that, make pizzas. It’s nice to be able to make The Presets our life. It’s getting more and more hectic in some ways and less in other ways. We’re starting to be able to do it a bit more comfortably, a bit easier. Right now we’re in rehearsal mode. We’re putting a new show together for America and for the big Australian tour coming up, and it’s hard work. We spent two weeks in the studio and that’s kind of one of the hardest times for us. It’s a bit hectic right now but you know, it’s all good.

So you were a pizza maker and piano teacher?

Yeah, for years. I taught piano before this and was playing keyboards for other people’s records and played keyboard for Silverchair before that and made pizzas before that and I was on the Doll [welfare] with Kim before that. We were losers for a long time. But don’t get me wrong, the Silverchair keyboardist thing—that wasn’t a loser thing—that was really cool.

Is playing your own show at Webster Hall something you were aiming for? Is it a milestone you’re happy you’re achieving?

Not really. We never sort of stood outside Webster Hall and said, ‘One day we’re going to play here,’ but of course, whenever you get back to a place, you want to play a bigger room. You definitely want to do that and that’s what’s happening, so that’s good. Our only goal was that we wanted to have a life where we made music and we didn’t have to be poor and finally we have that. We had a life for a long time where we made music but we were very poor—and now we’re not poor anymore. It’s great.

Apocalypso has won a bunch of ARIAs and it’s topped the charts. Do you feel like you guys have nailed your sound or are you still searching?

I think we’re always getting closer and closer to nailing it. We’re music nerds. We’re happy with the album we made, but of course we’re always going to look back on the album and think, ‘Oh we could have done that better and that better, I wouldn’t have put that track on.’ But that’s because we’re anal nerds. We don’t really think about, ‘What kind of record are we going to make this time?’ We just sit down and start making music and whatever’s in us, comes out. It’s not until we finish the record and look back at it and we start doing interviews that we really start to break it down. We never really think about it. At the time we’re just trying to have a really direct connection with our souls and the music and we’re trying to make honest music.