By Adam McGrath
They have the look. They have the sound. The four gents from Kettering, England who make up the band Temples are bringing youthful exuberance to a classic style on their first North American tour, stopping in Philadelphia at Kung Fu Necktie on Saturday, November 23.
You might think at first blush that Temples have traveled from the ’60s in a Dr. Who TARDIS, but their take on English psych-rock bears out a distinctly modern sound. Bassist and backing vocalist Tom Warmsley recently took some time to discuss with That Mag how Temples blends classic rock influences with modern production standards.
“We definitely embrace both [analog and digital] equipment,” Warmsley explains. “We love splashy warm sounds as much as full-spectrum, high-fidelity sounds. It can be restrictive just to limit yourself to analog, but when you mix the two together, that’s when things get interesting.”
Temples’ approach comes from embracing cultural history as much as musical history, with influences ranging from religious iconography and consciousness-seeking authors to bands like The Byrds and Oasis. The mixture of the symbolic and the personal lead them to produce music that is expansive yet accessible.
Unlike many bands that get their start in the garage or on the road, Temples really began as a studio project.
“James, our singer, the studio is basically in his bedroom in our home town of Kettering,” Warmsley recalls. “That’s kind of where all the ideas started. Since we uploaded some demos onto the internet [including the smash single “Shelter Song”], we’ve just been playing live shows nonstop. It’s interesting, because we’ve kind of done it backwards, in a way.”
He continues, “Playing live is a completely different art, because there are less rules. We’ve been learning a lot, and then finishing tracks in between tours.”
These tracks would come together as Sun Structures, the band’s debut full-length, to be released in the U.S. February 11th on Fat Possum. The first single, “Mesmerise”, is up now on Soundcloud.
“It’s a huge relief, and we’re all really excited to have it finished. Now we get to focus on the live show and work on all these new songs,” Warmsley says.
Kettering is about an hour and a half outside of London, and I asked Warmsley about the music scene there.
“There’s a small scene,” he admits. “It used to be bigger. A lot of our friends are in bands, and they mostly left Kettering. So did we at one point. It took all of us to move back home by coincidence for Temples to start.”
On coming to North America, Warmsley is eager to take it all in. “We’re looking forward to the different landscapes, and cities, just the general climate and atmosphere,” he expresses. “It will be great to see how different it is. None of us has played in America before, so we’re looking forward to see how it goes. I know we’re playing some great venues on the tour, so it’s great.”
One of those venues is Kung Fu Necktie, located on Front St. in the Fishtown section of the city. It’s a good room to pack into and get a close look and listen to emerging bands. I was curious if Warmsley had any preconceptions of Philadelphia.
“I generally think that it’s a big college town,” Warmsley first came up with. “I remember things from certain films.” After a brief pause: “Is Todd Rundgren from Philadelphia? I’m pretty sure he is. We’re huge Todd Rundgren fans.”
He is indeed, Tom. It makes sense that someone as interested in the production of records as Warmsley would connect Philly with Rundgren, and hopefully he’ll have a few new associations after experiencing our town this weekend.