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Interview
Temples

Temples

Interviewed by
Martyn Pepperell
date
Friday 7th February, 2014 8:59AM

Alongside the likes of Tame Impala and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, British Quartet Temples are representative of a new generation of musicians successfully mining and adding to the rich traditions of psychedelic rock. On the eve of the release of their sublime debut album Sun Structures, I spoke with singer/guitarist James Bagshaw....

Sun Structures is such an immersive and transportive listen. I imagine you place a real importance on these qualities?

I think if it doesn't do that too you, that doesn't make it as good in a way. We love records that do that. Obviously when you are out in nightclubs and stuff you lose yourself in a different way, but I think those qualities are really important. They mean you have real intent, and the record really does something to you emotionally. I think that is really important.

What have been some of the works that captured and transported you in that way, ultimately leading you to think, I have to make a level of work that has this effect?

There are a couple of records that were really important. Odyssey and Oracle by The Zombies, I love that record. It's such an odd record, awash with pop melody, but also pop melody. It's very baroque, but also classically influenced. It has really unusual lyrics, and is really unusually played and recorded. That record is an experience when you listen to it for the first time, and even now. Also Days of Future Passed by The Moody Blues. I was just listening to that album, for what must have been the fiftieth time I've heard it. We were going through Switzerland. It just really worked with the mountains. Usually I just close my eyes when I listen to music because I think visuals can sometimes be a bit distracting. In this situation it was completely different. It felt like a film soundtrack. It was great.

I think imagery and words are qualities we are very keen on, poetry as well. Warlock of Love by Marc Bolan is a good example of the writing that influences us. There is some really fantastic imagery in there. He coins his own words, and it is very immersive in a similar way to how those albums are, but without the aid of melody.

It's been forty six years since Odyssey and Oracle came out. Psychedelic guitar music as we know it, has this rich history. What is it like making music within this continuum with access to the modern recording and live performance tools the twenty first century affords?

It's different to the way it used to be done, but also very similar. Technology can aid the production aspects. It can make things come together a lot quicker. I guess the music still comes from the same place. I think it is still about trying to create something that has a sound to it. It's still about finding that holy grail within the drum sound or the vocal sound. The reverbs and the lusciousness of it all. I guess that pursuit hasn't changed at all. We have more to draw upon, because we aren't the first generation of this kind of music. This makes it harder in a way, but I also think it makes it easier. You can suck it all in like a sponge, but not drain it out so it's what went in, if you know what I mean? You don't want to be a pastiche, but I think you can learn so much from those records.

Could you describe the conditions under which you wrote and recorded the Sun Structures album?

At the tail end of 2012 we had four songs which we uploaded online. Three of those are on this record, and very much in the same form they were in back then. I guess we had nailed the sound that we wanted on those first uploads we put on YouTube. Next thing you know, a record label wanted to release our music. We had always intended to make a record, but not necessarily as soon as we did. At points we had to stop and say wow, this is quick. Really the process is the same as it has been from the inception of Temples as a recording project. We recorded in my parent's house, in a tiny little box room. It was the room I grew up in, and my two brothers who are older than me grew up in as well. Then I moved into a bigger room as I grew up. So I guess it was a return to the small room for recording. I set all my stuff up in there, and that was my studio, if you want to call it that. The whole thing was recorded there. Late night. Put some headphones on and see what you can do. The next day, wake up early, nobody is around, so make the most of making as much noise as you can while they aren't around. The whole record was like that. It was a really great experience.

What do you think the benefits were to recording in your old bedroom?

It was a comfortable environment, because it was an environment I knew. As soon as you get into a studio, and that red light comes on, it's like a foreign environment to anyone. Unless of course you're Paul McCartney and have been doing it your whole life. I think studios can be very stagnant and not conducive to the creative process. It's like saying to a painter, "Paint me that leaf now as it's falling to the ground!" The pressure is on. You've got allocated time, and you've got to try nail it and get all the details. You wouldn't end up getting all the details, and you'd end up drawing a very watered down version of what you were meant to. Also, I knew my way around every single piece of gear I had in that room, which is very important.

Sun Structures is out now.

 

links
http://templestheband.com
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