You can't question the authenticity of Presence's Curb Records debut Rise, or the players it came from. Unlike most bands who start with a singer-guitarist songwriting core, Presence hail the rhythm section as the starting point for their infectious groove, bombastic beats and lyrical flow. "Our music is very groove-oriented, we're not just about bashing out riffs," says drummer Nick Wells. As anyone with an ear for music can tell, those words are more than just lip service. Opening track "Soundcheck"--the first song the band wrote together, more than four years ago--is an immediate indication of things to come, drums and bass creating a half-pipe that the guitars and music bounce through with the effortless ease of skateboarders at the top of their game. "The band starts from rhythm section up," offers Fulmer as an explanation, "it all starts with crazy funk beats."
Maybe that's what make Presence the most convincing band of their ilk in years, packing the aggressive punch of Rage Against The Machine, the melodic swirl of P.O.D., and a lyrical range that drops from resolute, to utterly tongue-in-cheek. "Go, get dressed, get out of my bed, now find your way home…" frontman Jay Slim snaps in "Tonz Of Fun," a morning-after ode to the night before's beer-goggling. But it's not all fun and games for the quartet, as "Van Down By The River"--which was written back in '96 and, according to Stange, "changed about six times"--was penned in memory of the late “Saturday Night Live” comedian Chris Farley.
The bassist, who started writing music in 1994, joined forces with Slim in '96, with Wells and guitarist Dan Fulmer joining the fold not long after, in '99. Influenced by the likes of Primus, 311, Rage Against The Machine and The Roots, the goal of Presence was simple: "To be a band like the ones we grew up listening to," says Stange. That meant being a band that developed naturally, trading overnight success for regional popularity, and concentrating on Florida, while other bands were focused on nothing more than getting signed. "We released a few albums on our own, toured on our own, and now we feel like we're ready to do it nationally. This isn't rushed," says Fulmer, who cites Rancid, Nine Inch Nails and Metallica amongst his musical influences. "We had a two-year cycle with our first record, and we just pumped it out wherever we could," confirms Wells. With local success, the band turned their attention to album number two, the prophetically titled When The Smoke Clears.
Released in fall 2001, “that album was unnerving to us,” recalls Wells. “It was an album about dealing with tragedy through growth…” “Dealing with loss and darkness in a positive way,” adds Stange. “About overcoming it, not dwelling on it,” continues Fulmer. “We’re heavy with a purpose,” says the guitarist.
After releasing When The Smoke Clears regionally, Presence joined forces with Curb Records, which was expanding into rock music. Fulmer adds, “Now we’ve got a new home at Curb Records, with a whole team of people who understand us.”
If the band’s new CD Rise culminates at any one point, it just may be the jarring "One Final Breath," an emotional and physical expression of losing love ones, and memories that never fade. "That's a song for any and everybody," says Stange. "In one short time, our manager lost his mother, I lost my father, and Jay lost his grandfather."
"I think our lyrics are going to separate us from the rest of our genre, because people will be able to relate to us a lot more than just being pissed off all the time," says Wells. "There are bands out there that are doing it right, like P.O.D. and System Of A Down, and I think that just proves that this is a music of its own, and it's not going anywhere. It's not going to die, because too many kids who are playing music now grew up listening to rap music. It's part of what we are."