If you’re a regular visitor to the Black Flag, you’ll no doubt recognise the name Presley. Presley with his partner in crime D’Lear presents the Sanctuary Xposed Podcast (which you can listen to if you click the link at the top of this page) of which we are pleased as punch to be hosting on the Black Flag.
As well as Sanctuary Xposed, Presley also co-hosts the hilarious Drag Radio show, is a member of the band Kik and plays Keyboards for the legendary Gary Numan. We caught up with Presley and asked him a few questions about Sanctuary Xposed, the music industry, DJ’ing, working with Mr Numan and of course Drag Radio….
BLACK FLAG: What age did you first get into music and what was the song that really stood out for you at the time?
PRESLEY: I got into music when i was really young, i think it was bunking off school, any chance i could actually, and seeing Elvis films on the TV. That’s probably my first memory of thinking music was something cool and exciting, even though looking back the films were shit (laughs).
BF: So I’m assuming Elvis is a hero of yours?
P: Oh god yeah, but I have quite a few heroes.
BF: So is Presley your real name or your DJ name?
P: Right, what happened was, when i joined KIK, there was no way i was gonna have my real name (John) on the album. It’s just so fucking dull, not rock n’ roll is it, unless your surname is Bon Jovi or summat (laughs). So i decided to try to come up with something, it was the time when people were just starting to use famous surnames as Christian names, it might have been Cindy Crawford who called her kid Presley, not too sure, but i just thought that was cool, but nothing to do with naming myself after a hero of mine, i just liked the sound of it and it stood out. My girlfriend at the time suggested that i should partner that cool name (in my eyes) with the surname of the lead singer of the Dandy Warhols, hence giving the world Presley Taylor-Taylor………how bleedin poncy is that! That idea was quickly trashed thank fuck. The name Presley just stuck and now most people call it me, apart from my very closest friends who call me JohnnyBabes (don’t ask)
BF: How did you get into the music industry?
P: Me and a close mate of mine just decided one day “What are we doing? We’re doing jobs we hate, we have a passion for music. Let’s just pack everything in and start DJ’ing”……haha, yeah like that would be easy.
But we had good intentions and he started learning his craft in one style of music and I went in a slightly different direction. I luckily was seeing a girl who was the manageress of a club called Edwards No.8 in Birmingham, and she kinda got me in the back door, so to speak, and it all started from there. It was really hard though at first, obviously I wasn’t experienced enough to DJ one of the busy weekend nights, so I’d be given a very depressingly quiet Monday or Tuesday. It was so horrible, just playing to stragglers that were wondering into the place pissed. But it helped me learn how to DJ properly and in a way made me work harder because playing to a full club is a whole lot easier than playing to a dozen pissheads.
BF: You’ve been DJ’ing for 15 years now ….. Do you remember the first time you DJ’d and what was the first song you played ?
P: It would have been at the club I just mentioned, but it was the mid ’90’s so it probably would have been some Oasis crap or summat. Oh god at times it was so painful, cos I hadn’t even got to that level where i was DJ’in the music that i was passionate about. Looking back, i probably went about it all in the wrong way, but luckily it worked out eventually.
BF: Where have you DJ’d in the past and what’s been the highlight of your career on the ones and two’s?
P: Oh god, so many places, difficult to pick out a specific one. You see my DJ’ing career really ended up with me being given residencies, so after I’d learnt how to do it properly, I started to get asked to do the same nights at the same clubs on a weekly basis. I ended up being resident in Birmingham for about 10 years, maybe a bit more. I then moved my residency to the Corporation in Sheffield, well I say moved, they very kindly asked me. But between me and you, I’d wanted to be a part of that club for years, I knew the people there really well and how good a family feel it was and still is, and I love all that. The first time I DJ’d a club in London called Reptile, well that was very special, I’ll always remember that one, good people.
BF: What’s the worst question you can get asked when you’re DJ’ing?
P: There is literally hundreds to choose from as you know, so many cliches. But I got asked to play Niki Minaj the other week, that was a highlight, especially in a rock club? Oh and someone wrote “Can you play Bury A Lie by Nine Inch Nails, I pissed myself at that one………how can you not know it’s called Terrible Lie? Brilliant.
BF: Tell us a little about KIK . How did they form and what’s your part in the band?
P: Before I joined, there were 3 guys in the band and they wern’t called KIK at that point. They’d had a few different names, one was Darkadia I think lol…..oh my god, what were they thinking, dreadful name. I’d become friends with them all in the late ’90’s at a club I was djin at called the Casbah, at that point I’d already started writing music, well trying to haha and learning how to play keyboards…..quite badly it has to be said at that point. I’d seen them play live and thought they were really, really good (apart from that name!) Then one day D’Lear (the singer) asked me if I’d join the band, I’d never even given it a thought at that point. I thought about it for a few days and then said “Yeah go on then, but we gotta change that bloody name” The band then changed a lot musically over the next few years, not saying that was all down to me or anything, but what we ended up as was a million miles from where we started.
KIK – God Gave Her To Me
BF: What’s the best thing about being in a Rock N’ Roll band and whats the worst?
P: It’s difficult to think of a bad side to be honest with you. Some promoters are a pain in the arse and bad at their job and try to blame the band…..well sorry, you’re the fucking promoter, now go out and promote! The best thing is though, you’re with your mates, doing what you love. Of course, if you’re hugely successful that must be a massive buzz, we never were, but we got a really nice little following that at times gave us some of the most brilliant gigs.
KIK – Define My Love
BF: What advice could would you give to musicians just starting out in the business?
P: Only do it if you’re passionate about it, not just for success. Try to never give up (which you won’t if you’re passion is strong) And don’t ever do a pay to play deal with any promoters, we managed to avoid that nonsense luckily, but a lot of bands get dragged into stuff like that and it’s a real shame.
BF: So 15 years in the business, how has the music industry changed in that time?
P: The basics are still the same. Technology moves on obviously, makes things easier and harder in equal measures. Plus of course the download thing has changed things a lot. We’ll probably never release our next album in any kind of physical form, it just doesn’t seem much point to it anymore, unless you have an older fan base who still like to have the piece of music in their hand. It’s really sad i think that this has happened. I used to love vinyl, the whole packaging, staring at the cover and the pictures inside whilst listening to the music, i miss that.
BF: So would you say the Internets had a positive effect on Music?
P: Fuck, that’s such a hard question. It’s certainly made it difficult to make money out of selling your music. KIK are fairly well unknown, but within 24 hours of it being released it was all over the net for free. Then again, as a DJ, I get introduced to so much great new music, it’s pretty much a daily thing, now for that reason alone it’s been brilliant. It’s made me be able to discover stuff that I would never have heard of in a million years.
BF: D’Lear and yourself are a great double act. How did this partnership come into existence?
P: 100% because of our band. But although all of us were close, D’lear and myself had the biggest bond. The other two band members have regular jobs, are now married and they can’t dedicate themselves to music as much as D’lear and myself. Everything we both do is related to music, djin, radio in some form or another.
BF: How did the Drag Radio Show come about?
P: We’d had an idea to do it for a little while, thought it would be fun, something a bit different. At the time we both used to write a music column for a local newspaper (I won’t mention the name) and I think the radio station wanted to advertise with us, then the guy who ran the newspaper said “There’s a radio slot free if you want to do it” we kinda jumped at the chance, a bit of cross promotion and all that. It’ll help the paper and it would help the radio station. Then after doing it for a very short period of time the newspaper sacked us…….Fuckas (laughs). But anyway it all turned out well, the radio station which was only a community station then got its commercial license and it’s growing all the time. Plus they’ve let us do anything we want, given us total freedom and we’ll always be thankful to them for that, they’ve been brilliant.
BF: Total freedom? Have you ever taken things a bit too far?
P: We have to be careful of the threshold, when is it again? (wink) We push things as far as we can, but we know what our limits have to be. But being a late night show we can do so much more and anyway, inuendo can be just as powerful.
BF: You have some interesting characters on Drag Radio and Sanctuary Xposed, the most notable being Camp David. What’s the story behind Camp David and some of your other characters?
P: It was always our intention to make our shows as much about entertainment as they were about music, we like to make ourselves laugh. Camp David was just a name that we nicked off an Alan Partridge episode where he said “And now over to Camp David” and this very camp voice replied “Ooh mince” That was it, that was the whole section of that part of the sketch. So D’Lear came up with the idea of Camp David being a gay alien psychic who was given that name after the famous army base in the US where his spacecraft had crashed. Elvis came about from a party……..in fact a lot of things on that show have come from being at parties come to think of it.
BF: Out of all your characters on Drag and Sanctuary, which is your favourite and why?
P: Def Leppard at Home is possibly my favourite. It’s just so much fun to do and we piss ourselves laughing whilst we’re recording it…….then we think…..”Oh my god, what’s happened to our lives, this is ridiculous” (laughs).
BF: Any chance Brian the Window Cleaning Goth is going to become a regular character? (Sorry this is my own question)
P: He was on our ‘sister station’ in America as a phone in wasn’t he? Oh yeah, he will certainly be back for sure. He seemed very popular.
BF: You play Keyboards for Gary Numan. How did you get involved with Gary and what’s the main man like?
P: I was a fan initially. Met him quite a few times, always got on ok. Then around ’91 time we became mates. We were both going through exactly the same experience in our lives which I won’t go into, but it helped us become mates. Then we started hanging around together a huge amount, it just felt completely natural, you would think it would be weird wouldn’t you, but it so wasn’t. That was probably more down to him than me, he was totally down to earth. What could have been dodgy though, was that within about 6 months of us being mates he then started seeing Gemma, his now wife, who was also a friend of mine. If that relationship had gone tits up then it would have been a nightmare for me, it’d be all that stuck in the middle rubbish, horrible. But luckily they didn’t split up and they are without doubt the most solid couple i know, brilliant.
Playing keys for him really came about cos he knew, obviously that i was in a band, he’d come and see us play sometimes and my playing was much better than when I first started, haha obviously, it couldn’t have gotten worse. Then I think it was the Replicas 2008 tour that Gary did and David, one of Gary’s keyboard players couldn’t do the last 5 dates, which I think was because he was booked to play with his band on Snoop Dogs yacht in Monaco…..how fucking cool is that! So Gary asked me if I’d step in and cover for him. Then the Snoop thing got postponed to a different date, so then David could do the dates after all. Gary just said to me “You should come and do the shows with us anyway, it’ll be fun” So I did, I bought along my own Korg and just filled up some of the basslines to make then sound bigger and do little bits of effects, bleeps and whooshy sounds (laughs). Since then, if one of Gary’s keyboard players can’t do a show, then Gary kindly asks me to step in and the whole thing just works perfectly. It really is a perfect situation throughout and I really love it. Again it’s going back to that thing of being with your very best mates, who trust each other implicitly, and going around playing gigs, love it.
BF: You’ve just launched a night called Machine in Birmingham. Tell us a bit about that?
P: The promoter from Sanctuary Ltd wanted to get me back DJ’ing in Birmingham again, cos I’d not played there for about 18 months. So we came up with this night together, he kindly funds it all which is a huge help and much appreciated. The first one was a huge success, we couldn’t believe it, but now the difficult part begins where we have to try to keep it running and for it to be successful. Pete the promoter isn’t concerned about making money, well to a certain degree obviously lol. He’s more interested in giving people a good and pretty cheap night out, for example we only charge £3 to get in, for a Saturday night with usually 3 name DJ’s on, that’s a bloody good bargain we think.
BF: Any other projects you’d like to plug?
P: D’Lear and myself are quite far into a side project at the moment which we’re finding really exciting. It’s much quicker writing and recording with just the two of us than the whole band. KIK will never split up, we’ll still do stuff in the future, but this will be the next thing that comes out musically. Just gotta figure out a bloody name now (laughs). Plus we have something else that we’re working on that’s a lot more in depth and involves a lot of different aspects of music which is almost ready to be out there.
BF: Can you give us a bit more information or is it hush hush?
P: If I told you, I’d have to kill you (laughs) Sorry to be vague, I just don’t wanna jinx it lol.
BF: Finally where do you see yourself in 5 years?
P: Abroad i think, I don’t wanna live in this country forever. I really love warm climates and hate the winters here. Or maybe 6 months here and 6 months somewhere else. A lot depends on where the career goes I suppose. I like the idea of being successful radio DJ’s that then have a band, I’ve not heard of that before, that could be cool.