My Town: Sydney
The Presets on Their Beach-City Paradise
Considering their current world tour and recent album release, dreaming of their balmy hometown must happen often. Before their performance at New York’s Bowery Ballroom, psychoPEDIA joined Moyes and Hamilton inside their tour bus, where they discussed all-things-Sydney:
What’s the current music scene like in Sydney?
JH: There have always been great DJs and parties. There are quite a few good indie nights where bands play, and a few great venues; the Oxford Art Factory, where there’s a club and a live venue where bands perform. Another spot that’s really dingy called Club 77.
KM: We’ve played there!
JH: There are a few bands like us in Sydney. Sydney is really known more for a club-place. The pub-rock rock n’ roll thing is pretty there, yet it’s more a suburban thing in the greater Sydney area. Sydney has a huge gay population so there’s a lot more of the club vibe.
Are there popular sex shops in Sydney?
JH: Well, we have Tool Shed!
KM: The sex shops here in New York are fun and cool. Australia is so oppressed, unfortunately. In Australia, there are awful scary places that you don’t want to go into, where it’s run by heroin.
JH: It’s the more dingy, Book Exchange-type places, where you go swap your pornos, are really dirty and seedy.
Is there a big heroin scene there right now?
KM: There was, then the war in Afghanistan killed it. From what I understand, there was a huge heroin problem, then it disappeared suddenly overnight. Ice now has become a problem. They call it crystal meth here in the States. You couldn’t get heroin in Sydney for a while because of the war in Afghanistan, since they produce most of the heroin for Australia. Ice now has slowed down and the overdoses have stopped, but mental illness has gone through the roof.
Any other major controversy?
KM: We have a new Prime Minster right now, Kevin Rudd, who we love to compare to John Howard, who was our last Prime Minster. Rudd is more left leaning and liberal. What happened recently was that an amazing photographer Bill Henson, who shoots a lot of teenage models in these stark, dark, ghostly images just released a photo of a naked 13-year-old girl. It’s beautiful, but the police raided the exhibition and took away all the photos. Kevin Rudd came out publicly and said it was disgusting and the work was horrible. He’s a left-leaning guy, but socially a Christian and a conservative. It’s funny, because the national art galleries in Sydney and Melbourne have had major retrospectives of Bill Henson’s work. In the art world, he’s quite respected.
On a lighter topic, where would you recommend staying in Sydney?
KM: Zerp Tree Hotel. It’s down near The Rocks, which is an area down underneath Sydney Harbor Bridge. The Park Hyatt is really lovely down there, because it has a great view of the Opera House and harbor. Also, Observatory Hotel.
JH: More boutique hotels, The Kirketon and the W. Most of the hotels on the harbor are great.
Best restaurants to check out?
JH: Bondi Icebergs Dining Room and Bar. It’s right on the south side of Bondi Beach, and it looks across Bondi and out to sea. It’s one of the most breathtaking places to have a meal.
KM: We’re so lucky because we’re really multicultural. We can get anything you want, except Mexican! All Mexican food in Australia is crap. We have great Thai, Pakistani and Chinese. There’s a spot called Golden Century, where we can go at 4am. It’s a little bit of a musician haunt too. Often, when bands finish shows, they head down to grab something to eat. During the Olympics in 2000, after a show we’d gone down to get some food and the Hungarian wrestling team was there!
Places to shop?
JH: There’s this great store called Assin and the clothes are stupidly expensive but really cool designer stuff. Ksubi is a clothing label with sort of street-beach vibe. That Beach Boys sort of culture and attitude mixed with street city vibe. Obviously, all the surfing labels are huge too.
What's the most special thing inherent to Sydney?
KM: I don’t think you could find a better beach anywhere in the world than Sydney. To be able to go to these world-class beaches that are so clean and beautiful is just amazing. It’s definitely its high point.
JH: And, of course, The Presets!