Temples: TAS Interview
Over the past year Temples has released a handful of blissed-out singles — like "Shelter Song" and "Keep in the Dark" — while tirelessly touring and building an enthused fan base seduced by the Kettering, England band's knack for lush, psychedelic pop gems.
Yesterday, Temples announced the release of the quartet's self-produced first album, Sun Structures, on February 11 (February 12 in the States) via Heavenly (UK) and Fat Possum (US). Listen to a brand new song from the album, the swoony, kaleidoscopic "Mesmerise," streaming below.
In anticipation of those shows, The Alternate Side caught up with Temples' singer, bassist and co-founder Tom Warmsley over email to discuss Temples' evolution, fascination with the "lost art" of production, famous fans like Johnny Marr, treasured albums and much more:
The Alternate Side: Temples just finished a big tour in the UK — anything stand out as being a highlight of that particular road trip?
Tom Warmsley: Every night was exciting, it was our first headline tour, so we didn't know what to expect, but it was great to play our own shows to everyone around the UK, with the best bands too The Merrylees and Telegram.
TAS: You've managed to create a remarkable amount of excitement on the basis of just four singles and dynamic live sets. What do you think people will be most surprised by when they finally hear your debut album?
Tom: It's been a long wait, but we're really looking forward to releasing our album. We've been writing in between touring since February, and have been in the studio at every opportunity. It's finished, and we can't wait to show everyone. Our singles are only one part of our sound, so I hope everyone will learn a little more about us.
TAS: Temples began as a duo — you and [guitarist] James Bagshaw. You'd been friends for years and you were both in other bands, but when did you start feeling that you could abandon those other groups and create a partnership?
Tom: We had both been writing separately at the time and happened to show each other these new ideas. We decided it was something we both wanted to be a part of, so we decided to drop anything else we were doing and record some songs in James' studio, and we haven't stopped since. It started off as an imaginary band, but we were asked to play some shows, so we quickly had to figure out how we'd play songs live. It only became a real band when the four of us started playing together [ed. note: the other band members are drummer Sam Toms and keyboardist Adam Smith].
TAS: I suspect that production is quite key for you, given the wiry beauty of your singles, like "Shelter Song" or "Colours To Life." Was the process of recording the album painstaking or swift?
Tom: We're huge fans of producers, as much as artists and songwriters, so it's something we're all passionate about and like paying a lot of attention to. It's a lost art. We like to take ideas to the studio straight away and record them, begin building a picture, to see where we can take a song, so things tend to happen fast. We've tried to achieve something different with every track, so it's been exciting to hear them as a collective.
TAS: You've been playing a lot of new material in your sets. What still-unreleased song are you most enthusiastic about and why?
Tom: There's a song called "Move With The Season" that we love playing live; it's slower and dreamy, we put these huge looping drums on the recording.
Tom: They are both producers who were really ahead of their time, and they brought this alien quality to a lot of their artists which matched their characters. I think a lot of artists they worked with were very conscious as to how they wanted their record to sound and a running concept to go with.
TAS: You were signed to Heavenly before you'd ever played live — what was that courtship like with the label and how shocked were you when they "proposed" to you?
Tom: We'd been playing about four months of shows before we signed with Heavenly. Jeff Barrett at the label heard "Shelter Song" and proposed to release it as a single last November. We were all big fans of the label; they seemed to be one of the few who were actually involved in a lot of new music. So it's an honour to be part of their roster. It's like one big family.
TAS: When you look back over the last six months, what events do you think were watershed moments in the evolution of Temples? Was there a particular moment when things really came into focus and you felt your confidence as a band soar?
Tom: We loved going to Paris for Record Store Day last spring with Heavenly. We all went over in this coach with the label, TOY, Stealing Sheep and Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs. It was like a big school trip and amazing to be a part of. You don't really get those family values at record labels anymore. Playing at Reading and Leeds Festival was an experience too; we all used to go as kids to see our favourite bands, so it was strange being one of those for the weekend.
TAS: You're on the brink of your first North American tour — anything that you have planned in New York, odd places or things you'd like to do or see?
Tom: I think we're going to do as much exploring as possible, we're really excited to be playing such great places, Chicago, New York and Canada too. It's a world away from the Midlands.
TAS: Can you name three artists or albums that you think are essential touchstones in Temples' sound or spirit and why? And since you're from the Midlands, one band from the region that you feel deserves the same rapturous attention you're receiving?
The Byrds, Notorious Byrd Brothers: The Byrds are one of our favourite bands, they wrote pop songs like no other group. This record is really incredible, they started to get experimental, Moogs, tape loops, time signatures - it has this dark underlying tone all the way through it, yet they're still pop songs.
Pink Floyd, Saucerful Of Secrets: This is such an explorational album. The sound bridges the gap between Syd Barrett's departure and Gilmour's arrival, and in turn crosses between their pop sensibility and longer soundscapes.
Kraftwerk, Kraftwerk: Their debut is so different to everything else they ever recorded, there's a real organic aesthetic to it while still being synthesised.
Our favourite band from the Midlands is Traffic.
TAS: It's very hard for young bands to have the kind of breakthrough you've experienced over the last year with champions like Johnny Marr or Noel Gallagher and others. What has been the most surreal — or silly — moment of this embryonic journey thus far?
Tom: It's all been very surreal, we haven't had time to think about it yet, which is probably for the best. Benicassim festival was amazing, we all had sun stroke and didn't expect to be playing in front of thousands of people. It was the loudest crowd we've ever had and a special moment for us. We were all cured by the end of the set.
TAS: What does 2014 look like for you?
Tom: We're excited for our album to be released very early in 2014, then we're going to play as many shows as possible all year.
Remaining Temples North American Tour Dates
11/19 – Detroit, MI at The Loving Touch
11/20 – Toronto ON at The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern
11/21 – Montreal, QC at Le Petit Campus
11/22 – Allson, MA at Great Scott
11/23 – Philadelphia, PA at Kung Fu Necktie
11/25 – New York, NY at Bowery Ballroom
11/26 – Brooklyn, NY at Union Pool
11/27 – Washington, DC at DC 9