Photos by Ed Miles
Temples, the U.K. quartet that formed in 2012 and quickly garnered attention with their debut single “Shelter Song,” belongs to a sub-genre of music that evokes the nostalgia of 60’s and 70’s era psychedelia, while putting a contemporary spin on it. Frontman James Bagshaw and bassist Tom Walmsley met in their hometown of Kettering, U.K., where they played in separate bands, eventually coming together to self-release four tracks, one of which was “Shelter Song.” When Heavenly Recordings founder Jeff Barrett caught wind of the band via the world-wide Internet, he offered to release the single that same year. Temples added keyboardist and rhythm guitarist Adam Smith and drummer Samuel Toms to the lineup and accrued a mass following in the U.K. Their influence has since spread throughout Europe and the U.S. following their freshman release Sun Structures in 2014.
On their sophomore album Volcano, which was released on March 3rd, the band employs crafty sound effects and the almighty subwoofer to create an atmosphere keyboardist Smith describes as “punchy, something you could really feel on this album physically, as if it was a live environment.” Pyramids is not an album you need to listen to ten times through or meticulously try to navigate, it hooks you immediately, making spacey psychedelia feel grounded and accessible.
In anticipation of Temples’ show at the Regent tomorrow night, I spoke with Smith about what can be expected from their live performance, their prolific tour schedule, and the shifting sound on their new album. Tickets are still available for tomorrow night’s show, with a lineup that also includes Night Beats, Deap Vally, Froth, and Jjuujjuu.
I feel like you guys have been touring non-stop since “Shelter Song” was released. How did you find time to write another album with such a hectic schedule?
We probably toured the first album for about two years, and we didn’t really begin working on Volcano until we stopped that touring cycle, so we don’t typically write on tour. We sort of treat the two separately. We still had a lot of gigs while we were writing Volcano, but we were just playing little one-off shows. We had a year from October 2015 to October 2016 where we collected all the songs together and went from there. The recording only actually took about a month or a month and a half.
You self-produced both albums. Do you think the process is quicker that way?
Yeah, I can’t imagine it being any faster given the way we write and record. We’ll write a song and when we record it, the way it sounds is the way we formulate it at the time. And then we’ll go back and produce a little more, but if we were working with a producer I don’t think we’d come up with the same sort of stuff. It seems to work well for us at the moment.
Is it totally collaborative with all the band members?
With this album, after the tour ended, we went our separate ways for a few weeks, wrote a handful of songs, and then brought them all together in the studio. We didn’t sit down in a room and have a meeting or anything [prior], and once we collected the songs and knew what we were doing, we had a clear path to follow.
Volcano has all these electronic elements and techniques that lend to a really interesting sound, but at the core still maintains that ethereal spaciness. How did you figure out how to implement all those additional sounds and effects?
Yeah, the sound on this album is quite different, mainly because we bought a subwoofer, and once we had that in place, it sort of dictated the other high-fidelity sounds that we implemented. It definitely still has some of those ethereal qualities.
Is it easy to translate the sound on the new album into your live performance?
We’re sort of learning now. We’ve only played a handful of gigs with these new songs so it will be interesting to see how they develop. It’s a bit more difficult because there’s probably a lot more going on. Tom bought a new keyboard, and so he’s playing keyboard as well as me, and he also bought some new bass pedals. [We’re all doing] a lot more stuff this time around, so it’s a bit more difficult. We know where we want it to go, but it’s interesting to see how the songs will develop. The first song we ever played sounds totally different now, and hopefully on this tour we’ll find space to [explore].
Do you think thematically the song-writing has shifted?
Certain songs are far more direct than anything we’ve ever done before, but other songs hark back to our first record. There’s still a lot of abstraction, and it appears to be that we ask a lot more questions and have more perspective.
Do you think it was easier producing the second album having experienced the first? Was there more pressure?
Yea, there was a little bit of pressure but only the pressure we put on ourselves. There wasn’t really any pressure from the record label because Fat Possum and Heavenly are great, they sort of let us do whatever we want. We took it quite slowly, and it wasn’t easy, or easier than the first one, but it wasn’t a real uphill battle either. The beginning was the hardest part, to figure out how the album as a whole would sound, and once that fell into place, we sort of knew what we were doing.
You’ve been compared a lot to bands like the Beatles and The Beach Boys other classic psych rock acts. Do you listen to contemporary artists that have similar sounds as you guys and find inspiration there?
I don’t know whether we find direct inspiration from them, or even from the 60’s and 70’s stuff. I mean maybe we do, but I think we all like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, they’re really great and so prolific, every album is so different. They have all these amazing conceptual ideas.
You’ve been able to break out of popularity in the U.K. Do you have any insight into what makes your musical appeal to America and other places outside the UK? Any advice for other bands trying to expand their reach?
I don’t really know, I think we were very fortunate, especially with Americans opening up their arms to us. It’s a difficult thing to quantify. I guess I’d say stick to your guns, don’t let anyone tell you what to do.
And you prefer producing albums yourself and having creative control?
Yes, but that may not work for everyone. I think it was important on this album for us to make sure we changed ourselves, we didn’t have anyone helping us so that we developed on our own.
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