Temples: Psych Analysis
It only takes a quick glance at UK four-piece Temples to kick-start a time-travelling experience. Syd Barrett curls, tasselled Hendrix outfits and faraway eyes make the group’s psychedelic focus immediately apparent. And it doesn’t end there. Released earlier this month, the band’s debut LP Sun Structures is an immersive trip through the history of psychedelic guitar music. Yet as bass player and founding member Thomas Warmsley points out, it’s not simply an homage.
“Our whole process in the studio was experimenting and trying to replicate and renovate sounds that we really liked,” he explains. “Atmospheres from records that we liked; we wanted to do our own version and then take it some place completely new. We consciously wanted the music not to be an exact replica or a pastiche of a ‘retro’ sound.”
Temples sprung to attention in late 2012 with the single ‘Shelter Song’. The track illustrates their aim to advance, rather than imitate, the music they love; channelling the likes of Donovan and The Yardbirds while including an atmospheric breadth that positions it firmly in the now.Fittingly, ‘Shelter Song’opens Sun Structures, which was recorded entirely in vocalist/guitarist James Bagshaw’s home studio.
“Production is such an important thing to us,” Warmsley says, “almost as significant to us as songwriting. So it’s something that we had a strong idea of and wanted to maintain control of throughout the process.”
Thanks to immediate acclaim for ‘Shelter Song’,and follow-up singles ‘Keep In The Dark’and ‘Colours To Life’,the band spent the majority of 2013 on tour with the likes of Suede, Kasabian and The Vaccines. Warmsley explains that album recording sessions took place whenever there was a gap in their demanding gig schedule. “We spent all last year recording the album. Any free day we had we’d be in the studio recording. Sometimes when we were touring we thought, ‘Wow, how are we ever going to finish this in time?’ because of how sparse some of the recording time we had was.”
Warmsley and Bagshaw formed the band (initially a studio-based project) in the obscure Northamptonshire town of Kettering. These might read as humble origins, but their aesthetic intentions have never been meek. “I’d probably say from our very first recordings we’ve always had quite a strong idea and vivid sense of direction – what we wanted the record to sound like, or at least what we wanted Temples to sound like as a whole. I think in many ways that idea of having a sound has led the record and hopefully brought it all together as one, even though it was recorded over the course of a year and a half.”
Temples aren’t even yet two years old, but attracting an eager following so early on forced the band to grow up very quickly. Sun Structures essentially documents everything they’ve creatively achieved up until this point. “There’s songs on the record which were written when the band started and there’s songs which were finished a couple of weeks before handing the album over to our label,” Warmsley says. “There’s a real scope of experience on there.”
In addition to consistent blog hype and a number of sold-out headline shows towards the end of 2013, Temples’ four pre-album singles caught the attention of British guitar luminaries Johnny Marr and Noel Gallagher. Although the band was deprived of the anonymity that can be beneficial when sculpting and refining a debut record, Warmsley says this didn’t inhibit them – at the time.
“The process has been quite natural and we’ve been allowed to figure stuff out and grow in front of everyone. I think there’s an integrity in that; it almost lifts some of the pressure you’d otherwise have. More than anything we were looking forward to people discovering more about us. Maybe the pressure’s on a little more now that the album’s there for everyone to hear.”