THE PRESETS with MSTRKRFT , DEEJAY NAV and MIKEY APPLES at the Hacienda (794 Bathurst), Friday (March 31). $8 advance. 416-536-0346. Rating: NNNNN
The former music conservatory teachers of Australian electro-rock duo the Presets must be bewildered and disappointed at what they've done with their training.
While their classmates are likely still practising hard and playing classical music, former students Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes have gone in the other direction, performing simple, short and kind of silly synth pop and gleefully refusing to take themselves seriously.
"There weren't many other people at the conservatory who actually went out to see bands or went out to clubs to dance. They tend to lock themselves away in the practice studio," recalls Moyes from the Winter Music Conference in Miami.
"Once the two of us met, it was inevitable that we'd end up playing together."
Their initial collaborations weren't that far away from their training, though. They used to play in a sprawling instrumental post-rock band called Prop that was as earnest and serious as you'd expect from classically trained rock musicians.
"It was impossible to tour with that band; we could only go places we could drive to. The only way we survived at all was by getting an arts council grant. We used to try to bring songs into the band that were more in the vein of the Presets, but it never really took.
"The Presets are pretty much the complete opposite of Prop. We're so lazy now that we program half the band in the iPod so we can carry them around in our pocket."
After releasing a couple of EPs, the Presets quickly went from being a fun side project to their main gig. Their recently released full-length album, Beams, has brought them to the attention of the rest of the world, and they've been pleasantly surprised at how well their first tour outside Australia has been going. Instead of the 20 people they expected to play for, they've seen packed houses across the U.S.
In their music, you can hear elements of the electro-house that's dominating dance floors all over the world, but the fashionista aspects have been replaced by beer-fuelled hooliganism. Onstage, Moyes handles drums and some keyboards, while Hamilton delivers the vocals and the rest of the keyboards (with the iPod orchestra providing the rest).
Don't expect any high-concept Fischerspooneresque stage routines, though. These guys just want to party.
"We're a bit more retarded than most rock stars. The idea is that if you dance around like an idiot, the audience will feel more comfortable getting into it and having fun."