Some say our school days are the best days of our lives. Probably a lot easier to say if you're Alfie Templeman, who at the tender age of 16 has released two EPs, a mini-album, performed at Brixton Academy, and went to play Reading & Leeds after picking up his GCSE results. He's got big plans for the next year, and with literally his whole life ahead of him, we wish him all the best.
Hey! How are you, fella?
I'm good! I just got out of the hospital; you can probably tell, I'm a bit hyper. I just had some bad lungs, but they're getting better.
Life of a rock star. So how has this year been treating you?
It's been good! I played Reading and Leeds, which is cool, and Brixton and stuff like that, I didn't expect that kind of level, so it was really cool. And it was cool seeing more people enjoy my music and all that kind of stuff. It's gone down well, I think.
So you've done three EPs since this time last year, how have things changed since then?
The first one was pretty indie, I guess it was me finding my roots in what I wanted to do. That was recorded over the space of a year, so it was kind of like, the first time I knew I was doing something right, and I knew that I might be able to get somewhere with it.
Then Chess Club Records found me, and that's when I knew something went right. So it started off as like an idea for me to try and make music a bigger part of my life; my career. I started off making indie music. And then by the time I got to 'Sunday Morning Cereal', my second EP, I knew I was in a position where I could do this as a job now. It meant that I could experiment more and try out new things, I had more people backing me and stuff.
By the time it came to this new record, 'Don't Go Wasting Time', it's just me completely exploring everything that I've always wanted to do. And I think it's just like a very exotic record. Like there's a lot going on, and there are tons of different like elements to it. So basically, over time, I've started making music that I myself want to hear. The start was more to get people's attention if you get what I mean, that kind of thing.
When you were making the first EP, did you ever expect it to go this far?
No, not when I actually started it. When Chess Club signed me, yeah. When I was recording it, I was like, you know what? I might as well give this a try. I'll chuck it up and see if anything happens. And then, like, once something did happen, I was like, right, this is not what I expected, but let's go. So it was actually a really nice surprise.
Was that when you started making music seriously?
Yeah, in a way. I used to put it up on Bandcamp and stuff, but I never took it too seriously. When I started upper school, my attention was on that and making sure that I was in a good state of mind to revise and get on with my schoolwork and stuff. But then I realised like, I've got one life, and I might as well do something that I've always enjoyed rather than waste time on other matters and stuff like that. I might as well like, actually take this seriously, and enjoy it.
So how did like your parents and stuff feel when you decided that you were going to do this seriously?
They were like 'wait, what?' And then they were like, 'oh, actually that's cool'. And they just let me do it because they knew that I knew that I could do it. They always believed in me a lot, and they always put their children first. And they knew that this is what I wanted to do and if it made me happy then do it, see how it goes, they'll be there every step of the way. They were really supportive instantly.
When you were younger, you were super into a lot of progressive rock. How'd you get into that?
It's actually a really weird story so, I went to work with my dad because he was doing a job for his friend. His friend liked progressive rock, and I was just there because like my mum was out, so I had to go with him, and he was like, 'I dunno what to give your son to do, I've got nothing but a ton of Rush DVDs'. So he gave me a ton of DVDs of Rush and Genesis and stuff. I sat there watching Neil Peart, it was the best thing ever. And I was like, I want to be a drummer in the band. 'Dad, Dad, can I get a drum set?' He was like, 'yeah, we'll see'. And that's how it all kicked off.
Did you get the drum set?
I got a guitar first. He was like, nah I'm not letting you do that straight away. So I got a guitar, it was a Squire Strat, which I played on all my recordings until like, this year, I think. And then the drum set came the next year because see, they're really supportive, they let me make some noise.
Do you play all of the instruments on your recordings as well then?
I did on 'Like An Animal'. And it was like 95% me on 'Sunday Morning Cereal', just a bit of additional production. And this new one is basically me as well. Rob Milton from Dog Is Dead and Easy Life did a lot for 'Sunday Morning Cereal', he did bits for this new one, and Kid Harpoon did a song with me called 'Used To Love', where he played acoustic guitar on it.
I'm more open to the idea of collaborating with people recently and you know, letting other people's thoughts go into my songs. It has a big difference, especially when I'm at the stage where I'm learning everything, and taking in so much of other people's ideas and knowledge into recording actually benefits me.
So the first one was just me, and now it's little bits of other people chipping in, which is really cool.
What's been inspiring you lately?
Oh man, it's so weird. There are so many different things. Charlie Puth is really inspiring me recently for some reason. I really like the way he constructs songs. Rex Orange County obviously, as always. Frank Ocean. What a banger DHL.
And you've got a new song coming out tomorrow* (*the song is now out, it is obviously very good). What can you tell us about that?
I said that I wouldn't make much more indie music, but I think this might be the most indie song I've ever made. It's really Mac DeMarco-y, and it's probably one of my favourite songs I've ever written. I wrote it a couple years ago, and it started off as a punk song, which is really weird. It started kinda like The Strokes, like 'Someday'-ish. And then I changed it, so I made it into almost like an ice cream van; the melody is really, really sweet. It's called 'Don't Go Wasting Time', and it's about telling yourself to stop missing someone. It's saying forget about what used to be, move on, focus on the future, that kind of thing. So it's got some heartfelt, you know, true emotions.
Is this part of an album?
Let me ask you, is seven songs an album?
Erm, probably. It's not an EP.
I dunno what to call it, mini-album?
There are too many words for albums these days. Mixtapes and whatnot.
Yeah, I never really liked that, because it feels like it's less. Not like a proper release in a way. It's in the 20-minute zone as well, so I guess it's a mini-album. We'll go with that.
So how is the mini-album coming along?
Oh, it's great. It's done. So hopefully it comes out in a couple of weeks' time. So this is the title-track, 'Don't Go Wasting Time'. It's got everything in it. It's a different vibe, each one's a different story, each one has a purpose. It was recorded in like the space of eight months, so it was quite a long period, but it was just making sure that every song was important and every song I was really happy with. It's one of those things when you listen to an album and each song like connects well; there's a variety of different things going on, like 'Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club'. That's what I wanted to achieve here. And I've done it, and I just feel so proud to get it out. The cover's really cool as well. It's done by these two guys who work with Beabadoobee. Her boyfriend does the drawings, and her mate Amir does all the pictures, they go under the name Bedroom Projects. I'm so happy with it, it's such an exotic record, and it's looking great.
You clearly haven't been wasting time either, you've done loads this year.
I've actually had a really productive year. I'm really happy about that. Two EPs, I'm happy with that. Everyone's getting fed.
And you're supporting Sports Team around the UK soon…
Yeah, that's gonna be so sick. Every single one of them is so nice, Alex Rice is a bit of a legend. It's gonna be fun. I just can't wait to see them like 15 times as well. I'm very hyped, and so is my dad, he's a massive Sports Team fan.
What have been some of your favourite parts of this year?
Right off the bat playing Brixton Academy was insane. That was the most surreal experience and like, when you're actually on stage playing it, you don't even realise that it's Brixton. You're stood there, and it's like 4000 people watching you, and you try not to look up because I would've probably shit myself. But, yeah - Brixton, Reading & Leeds. I did a really cool EP release gig for my second EP. We played our best show ever at EartH in Hackney for War Child.
Releasing music. That's also a big staple this year. And just meeting fans and stuff like I'm so grateful to have a like a really cool, really nice fan base that just follow you whatever you do. Also getting Insta famous is pretty cool. But I keep getting called an e-boy, and I don't know why because I'm not an e-boy and it's really annoying.
There's no e-boy vibe here.
I'm not that much of a dick, really.
And you don't have a tiktok.
Nope, and I'm not gonna get one either.
And what can we expect from you in 2020?
Tons of new music. Actually, more gigs, I've got a few headlining gigs coming up that I'm yet to announce. Also, hopefully, a pop record. I've just made a really good pop song today. So I'll probably release it next year. But that's me. I just keep changing each time I need something which is kind of cool, kind of annoying, because it's like one minute I'm an indie person, one minute I'm R&B, one minute I'm pop. It's like, can you keep up? But if people like it, and if I have fun making it, then hey, why not? That's 2020 for ya.
It's okay. Going into the new decade genre doesn't exist anymore. You don't have to be an indie boy, you don't even have to be an e-boy.
I can be whatever I want.
Taken from the December 2019 / January 2020 issue of Dork. Alfie Templeman supports Inhaler on tour from today, Monday 9th December.
Featuring Girl in Red, Inhaler, Beabadoobee, Blaenavon and more.