Temples–Creating a Cinematic Sound

Their first two albums were recorded in a small living room and an even smaller bedroom in England. Their third and most recent release was recorded in an actual recording studio. No matter where they were working on music and regardless of what influenced their style, Temples has created a sound that is uniquely theirs, genre-bending, and loved by fans across the globe. The trio are passionate about their art and what listeners get out of it. Old school melodies and concise storytelling are intermingled with memorable neo-psychedelic guitar riffs and harmonies that are to die for. To bassist Tom Warmsley, the collection of songs that they put out into the world is what sounds good, looks good, and feels good to them. It’s music that is thoughtful, eclectic, visual, and wholeheartedly their own.

Although only released in September 2019, your latest release, Hot Motion, topped quite a few year-end lists. From music publications to fans across the world, Hot Motion really made some people’s years. Did you all expect such a reaction going into this record?

Not at all, really. There was a lot of change between our second record and the next one. We had to start everything from the ground up. I mean, if we were doing good, we would have no idea. When the record came out, we had been touring non-stop around Europe and did a short run in the U.S. It is kind of hard to tell how it’s been received when you’re kind of in the midst of it all. So to see it in anyone’s year-end list is almost surprising, but very humbling. 

Absolutely. I can imagine that. And it’s very well-deserved. I found that this album had a very strong, cohesive theme throughout ,and it was actually a little bit darker than some of your previous work. Was that something that you had all set up to do when writing and recording it?

I feel like we wanted to make sure that there was a really concise, water-pipe atmosphere in this record. And bring back a little ambiance to the feel of the album. I love it when a record has a real feel to it; beyond like musical themes. Something you can listen to but can see the place it is set in; songs that have a visual element. This is the first music that was done in quite a few years which really holds together, and I think there’s something visual to it. It is also a little more sort of dramatic with both light and shade. I feel like it instills a little more mystery to our sound, which is exciting for us and to everyone who has listened to it.

I do agree that while listening to your music, both this album and your first two albums, that it’s more of an experience while listening to it than it is for any song you may hear on the radio. There are immersive and clear soundscapes. Do you hear that while writing the music itself? Or do you find yourself noticing that when do you listen to it back? 

Usually we don’t stop working on something until we are sort of feeling that. It’s kind of like a marker…. An unsaid marker that allows us to feel, you know, encapsulated in a world when listening to it, then it’s hitting the right mark. So I think for the most part that on this record, we really tried to search for that feeling again, rather than just writing a collection of songs to simply put out. There were also more songs recorded than we included on the record, which we don’t normally do. We normally write until we have enough, but we really tried to find the right songs for this record. We tried to make sure that each track we included was part of the same element.

Right. You want to keep that concise factor. So if you have this big collection of songs, how do you decide which ones made this album? Is it simply the cohesiveness or is it just something that you guys personally like, that you really want people to hear around the world?

Yes, certainly a mix of both. I mean, always the strongest songs sort of swim the farthest and to the top. Then you have the luxury of choosing other tracks, which can be exactly towards what you want the album to be. I feel like Hot Motion is our most energetic record yet and it’s almost our most dynamic, as well. So it is important that when you choose tracks that not every song sort of sounds the same. We wanted it to have a breath of intensity across it and I think it achieved that.

Definitely! There is a lot of truth, as well as intensity, in these songs. I think that they’re going to come to life on this tour and on stage. Do you agree that these songs are very live show-worthy?

I think they are more suited to playing live and I think that was sort of a natural thing we did… where we stripped away a lot of layers, which you can get tied up in when songwriting. You just orchestrate and put so many different sounds on top of each other. We wanted it to be stripped down to the guide points of what we liked and made them sound as big and grand as possible–while still creating that imagery and atmosphere. So, yeah, each song is very out front and there’s less to hide behind things, like being bad and adding overly psychedelic effects to disguise it.

Would you ever think about releasing a live album with some of these songs specifically?

We have done live EPs and stuff before from various shows. So I don’t know, I think it would do well with these tracks. I think we were talking about maybe playing in the theater where we shot the album cover, which is in a neighboring town to where we are from, Northampton. The Royal Theater, it’s called. And that might be sort of quite a full cycle moment to play there and experience the visual element of the record with a logical conclusion.

Where do you guys find your inspiration for your sound? Because there are strong elements of synth pop, psychedelia, even classic rock. Do you guys go back to the same bands or albums to find this inspiration or do you grasp onto new influences just when they appear in front of you?

I mean, sort of whatever is drifting through the airwaves and what we are looking for style and inspiration-wise. Pop often has good imagery and is put into our sound at the time. We always try to add something different to what we do, but while still maintaining our identity. We are the music. There is a harder rock influence on this record and a lot of seventies British guitar groups are included on there. There is a little bit more artful and spirited space rock on there, like an early seventies influences. We have always been very influenced by soundtracks, as well, so that can be found on there. We like to have a grander scale than just a basic band with one backing track, so even if that is all that there is on there, we like it to be on a more cinematic level that it is worked on. Blending those all together is what makes our sound ours, but still evolving over time.

There is a clear blending of music and influences, which is what allows your music to transcend eras and genres. Like you said, it’s making your music yours… something you can be proud of.

Yeah, I think so. I think you can never sort of limit yourself to one influence and not really abandon who you are.  We are all-encompassing when it comes to our sounds. We don’t immerse ourselves into one particular decade or anything. Across the records we’ll have different approaches and influences on different songs and then work with the music so that it relates to us.

And then you have a personal connection to these songs and you’re not just making it to make music, you’re making it because you’re enjoying it yourself, right?

Absolutely. At the end of the day it is art and us being very happy with it is the most important thing. 

Oh, of course! And I know that you guys are coming to New York’s iconic Webster Hall on January 21. What about touring around the world is special to you? Do you get a lot of influence for your music while traveling and seeing new places and meeting these new people?

Absolutely. We are so inspired by that. Getting to play anywhere out of the country that you’re from, becoming more involved with that culture, going halfway around the world, in various towns… It’s unheard of. It still baffles us. It is a very surreal experience. You enjoy every minute of it. And every time you play songs that you’ve written after you’ve been hiding in the studio writing for a couple of years, and finally get to play them live, they kind of become different beings. Then they go on to inspire what you do next. I think through playing songs, even our own, that it can kind of lead you in a different direction. We love performing live for that reason and touring, especially so in the U.S. It is very exciting to tour. We’re incredibly excited to be coming back to New York. New York crowds have always been very open and kind to us.

I’m glad that we are able to make you all feel so welcome. Do you find that putting on shows in the U.S. is different than putting on shows in Europe? Do they react to different songs in different ways?

I mean it’s different everywhere, especially city to city. London, Paris, New York, Los Angeles…. These big cities have such a grandness to them before you even arrive. You have some expectations of how it should be, but it’s different every time, everywhere. Yeah, I feel like it’s quite a pretty rewarding to come there for people to respond to what you do–what we do. Especially in those cities, it’s an incredible thing to be a part of. We’re very thankful that we get to keep coming back to do it. 

Be sure to catch Temples at Webster Hall in NYC on January 21!