Temples burst on to the scene as bright-eyed psych kids, with their Heavenly backed debut album soaring into the upper echelons of the charts.
A follow up soon followed, with their effervescent live shows revealing a yob-like glam punch in amongst the flower children effects.
But now things are changing. New album 'Hot Motion' is out now, the first on new home ATO Records, with live shows reflecting an overhauled line up.
Frontman James Bagshaw leads the way, and Temples were on preening form during their album launch at London's Rough Trade East last week.
A record bejewelled with sterling psych pop moments and some unexpected diversions, 'Hot Motion' could well be Temples finest record yet. Clash spoke to James Bagshaw about how it all came together...
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It’s been a period of subtle change for Temples – you’ve moved labels and changed drummers.
It’s been a positive change. It’s hard letting a member go. Basically, when you’re on tour it’s all about having a gang mentality.
The label change has been positive. There’s plenty of love between us and Heavenly. We’re still good mates with them. It’s just one of those things we had to do.
It’s like when you’re freshly starting, all the attention is on you. You got to make these changes even if they’re hard.
When did you start work on the album?
When we stopped doing so much touring. And then you had that period of time of being home again. You’ree doing what you’ve always done and wait for the inspiration to come knocking. Next thing you know you have a couple of new songs.
We all wrote individually. In the start of 2019 we started to bring our ideas together.
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You took charge of production on the first two Temples records…
I did the producing again. I absolutely love making sound and creating the character of a track. With any song ever recorded it relies about 50% on production - the production really lend itself to the emotional feeling of the song and the character and personality.
It could be someone just playing lo-fi piano and distorted vocals. If that’s the choice that’s made that’s as good as something that’s high fidelity and elegantly arranged. Until the inspiration dries up and I can’t see us bringing someone in to do it.
The funny thing about production is that in its infancy you’re not necessarily thinking about what you want it to sound. You’re just building the foundation of the song.
It’s very much like how you start with a synthesiser - you start with the basics and shaping that sound, until the point where the notes that you are playing starting to sound like a song. All the elements of a recorded track are different sections of that. They sort of all inform each other.
The melody might sound completely wrong without reverb but once you put the reverb on it might sound mystical and once again adds character to it.
There’s a lot of different elements to the record.
Some of it is breakbeat-esque. Something like a hip-hop sample. It’s hard when people describe the band you’re in as psychedelic. It’s easy to fall into what people expect because of the things we have done before.
We used some studio gear that I had never used before. And that just made a lot of interesting sounds on the record.
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‘You’re Either On Something’ is a real highlight.
Yeah, I mean, that song is not about getting wasted or high it’s about perceiving that, it’s about being an onlooker to that… it’s like being a fly on the wall. The song is about the anxiety that comes with being in a crowded room and being with an unfamiliar group.
Have you found yourself in these situations with the band?
No more so than maybe, I guess, club culture and things like that. It’s no different than going out in the weekend in whatever town you live in. Going out for drinks and not feeling comfortable because you’re in a place you haven’t been to before, there’s that unfamiliarity.
Some people don’t really experience that. It’s all been self-channelled through self-experience. It’s a very honest song. Lyrically it means a lot to me. It’s me accepting that. It’s about being self-conscious to a certain degree.
‘The Beam’ feels like one of the album’s most straight-forwardly positive moments.
That song is about the love of glam rock that’s always present in our music. It was about finding the visceral simplicity of drums, guitar, bass and a vocal that is in-yer-face. There’s definitely some Bowie and maybe even a bit of Slade in it. We wanted it to sound like a modern song as well.
It’s a song that plays with your emotions. It’s a melodically happy song up until the last part of the song when it changes to a lower key and then it’s sort of apocalyptic and the main theme of the song is then changing to a darker rendition.
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That element of taking something familiar and reinventing it is pretty pivotal to what Temples do, isn’t it?
I think it’s important to reinvent what you are doing. But I am hyper aware of not losing the charm of what is the core of Temples. We want to keep that integrity of what the Temples ‘sound’ is.
We don’t want to ditch that and do something completely different. We almost did that with the last record but this record is way more us.
The launch show at Rough Trade East was a blast – you seemed overwhelmed by the reaction!
Absolutely yeah, it’s hard with the way that the music industry is. You get that instant gratification from stuff that you put out. When people turn up to our shows it means more than a play on a digital track or likes on a post because it’s people physically having to make an effort.
I don’t want to stand on stage and be all sappy and telling people we’re not worthy of them coming but there’s a part of me that feels so appreciative.
And people keep coming back – it’s psych kid, people who just love the songwriting… a real mix.
It always surprises us how diverse our crowd is. It’s multi-age which is a great thing. I think we were brought up on era-spanning music and I feel like that comes through. From 18 to… I don’t know who the oldest person we met is. The oldest is probably in their 70’s!
It’s not bad at all that people of all ages like our songs.
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'Hot Motion' is out now.
Photo Credit: Eleonora C. Collini
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