Think you know what Temples’ album will probably sound like? Think again.
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“You know how some people know every single word to Bob Dylan?” James Bagshaw questions. “They'll know every single word. I won't know every single word. But I'll know all the notes, and I'll know how to play them on guitar.” Two years on from the release of ‘Sun Structures’ and Temples’ focus is solely on their music.
“Don't get me wrong, I love great words,” he continues, “but when I'm listening I'll be listening to the melody of what's going on, and the melody of those words.” Placing the spotlight on their sound, the Kettering four-piece have spent much of the past year piecing together their second album – and they’re finally ready to share it with the world.
“With this record I know these lyrics have been painstakingly pulled apart, thrown at the wall, and come back at you,” the frontman describes. “It's getting that across and really connecting with them.” Favouring a “more direct” approach with their writing this time around, Temples have created an album that’s entirely more open – and in its essence, bears a character that’s more authentically them.
“Some of the songs on this record are more story based,” James illustrates. “The first album has very mystical lyrics, it's quite ambiguous. With this record there's a timeline to the songs.” Letting the meaning of what they write stand more prominently, the outfit have opened up their world of swirling psychedelia for all to enter. “It's been really fun to get into the role of, and to tell that story.”
Favouring a more real inspiration, the group strove to create something to which people can easily relate. “I wouldn't say that we’d go out on a sunny day and then inadvertently decide to do a song that's sunshine pop,” the frontman chuckles. “It's very hard to put your fingers on what inspires a song until you've written it, then you can see what the sentiment is behind that.”
With their newfound direct approach comes a homespun honesty. “It seems a little bit arrogant to write about life on the road,” James comments. “Y'know, 'this is what it's like for us, and it's not all hunky-dory and easy going,' – the struggles of a touring musician,” he laughs. “I don't want to bore people with that.”
Sure enough, in the two-plus years since the release of their debut, Temples’ success has seen them find fans all around the world. “Up to us releasing that album all of us in the band were failed musicians,” the frontman laughs. “No one had heard our music other than us, and maybe a few people down the pub.” Now, selling out shows in a matter of hours, the amount their world has changed is inescapable.
“I remember sitting in a hotel room in Japan with a twelve string acoustic and I wrote the start of one of the songs that's on the new album,” James recalls. “There was something about that place - Mount Fuji in Japan - that was quite inspiring. The fact that we were there to play music, and have thousands of people at a gig that knew all the songs…” He trails off in awe.
This worldwide influence might’ve defined a lot of the past two years for the band, but when it comes to writing, Temples chose to stick to their roots. “We wanted to write on tour – we took laptops and things to record on,” James states. “But we try and get into a different mind space when it comes to writing. I think in the studio is where we write our best.”
Returning home to record on their own terms, the band worked towards creating the very best representation of themselves. “You have grand ideas of what you want a record to be, but the only thing you really can do is just always try and write better songs,” James conveys, “whether that's melodically or whether that's painting with sounds, so to speak.”
Striving to write “an album that's better than the first record,” Temples’ second full-length release is – much like their first – entirely self-produced in James’ own home. “We had to be very careful not to just repeat what we've done previously,” the frontman mulls. “We were in exactly the same environment.”
Half-jokily stating that “at this stage we can't afford to get Tony Visconti and Brian Eno to co-produce a record with us,” Temples’ decision to self-produce gave them full creative control over every step of the writing and recording process. “There's no reason to go with anybody else,” James shrugs. Obvious though the choice might be to them, it’s a balancing act to maintain.
“If you think of it as a see-saw, imagine having twenty see-saws and you're trying to balance all of them,” James laughs. “It's very hard. Some things you want to be off balance – you don't want it to be too perfect. Other things you want perfect.” Immersed in the music they’re creating, perspective was a hard thing to maintain.
“It's always a bit of a struggle,” the frontman discloses. “You're so close to the music. You're not writing a song, recording it on a tape recorder, then going into a studio where a producer's going to reimagine it. You're reimagining it as you're making it.” Producing this way it can be all too easy to get lost. But for Temples, refining their work is something that happens naturally.
“I think one thing we can do is we know when to stop,” James deliberates. “It's not calculated. We don't say things like 'when we've added those three guitar parts this song is done.' It's kind of never done. But the unsaid thing happens. No one will be talking about what needs adding anymore, so we're there. Then it might be a case of taking it away and seeing what happens.”
The first taste of this album arrived in the form of ‘Certainty’, a spirited, synth driven venture tinged with an undercurrent of something more mischievous. “There's nothing like 'Certainty' on the rest of the album,” the frontman states. “But then, other tracks on there, there's nothing else like them either.” Their songs might be vastly different, but the record bears a strong sense of cohesion.
“On [‘Certainty’] there's a lot of synth and there's a lot of guitar that's manipulated to sound like a synth,” he portrays. “You'll hear things like that mirrored on other songs on the record.” Describing the release as “higher fidelity,” the group have poured all they know into creating something “more refined” and – as they’re quick to describe – “less sixties.”
“I'm just really excited for people to hear the music that we've been working on,” James enthuses. “It's felt like so long for us.” A year in the making, it’s certainly been a long road that’s brought Temples to where they stand today. “I'm sure it's felt like a long time for other people as well,” he continues. “Hopefully they're eager to hear it.”
Taken from the November issue of Dork, out now - order your copy here. Temples’ album ‘Volcano’ is out 3rd March.