U-turns, Psych and Perfectionism – Pink Teens Interview

Temple Songs are Jolan Lewis, Andrew Richardson, Jean Hughes and Dave Hardy. At last month’s Beacons Festival, following a transformative, and slightly bizarre, set, (our review of which is now below) we caught up with the Mancunian four-piece to talk about their new direction and some other bits: Temple Songs slink onto the Argyll stage at 1:30, a triangle of shadow cast by the stage’s canopy marking out a no man’s land between the majority of the crowd, who have opted to squat and sprawl in the sunlight outside of this shade, and the band. Jolan Lewis, the lead man, is squinting out towards the masses. Our photographer, in a rare moment of self-propulsion, has left the light and walked the lonely twenty yards towards the stage. He looks back, unsure now of whether to stay at the front, alone and dedicated, or to return to the sun. His decision is made for him as a crouching Lewis, adjusting some unseen pedal or inspecting the tread on his boots, stands, frowns, and lurches into his first track. The exodus is slow but steady and, as the four-piece reach the mid way part of their set, a sizeable chunk of the crowd have slunk forward. So many in fact that, as the swaggering chords of Passed Caring chug into life, the photographer is lost to a wriggling pool of middle aged women who have materialised, and seem set to swamp the stage. ‘One more song?’ Lewis is looking back now, talking to the stage manager who lurks somewhere in the far recesses of the canvas, ‘Two?’, ‘ok one’. Temple Songs, it seems important to note, are best known for three, maybe three-and a half, minute ‘pop’ songs. A verse, chorus, verse, chorus kind of deal. What they’re not known for is seven minute, ‘for the purist’, epics of atonality and amp-busting reverb. But this is what they choose to close with. The middle-aged dancers are gone now. Washed back by the fourth minute of a five minute solo that follows no known scale, and obeys few tonal formalities. It’s Parquet Courts and then some. It’s the death of order, it’s some sort of breakdown, it’s the shedding of a skin… When we talk to the band later that afternoon Jolan confirms the latter point. Parquet Courts is a good comparison and one which, when raised, prompts the band to lock eyes, raise eyebrows and laugh. Temple Songs have moved on from the simple pop sound of their early recordings, and are experimenting with free flowing compositions and open ended grooves. Having reached the fourth incarnation of their debut album without satisfaction, a long purgatorial period in the wilderness of abstract post-punk seems like the caustic required to free them from their doldrums… How have you been finding Beacons? Jolan: Apart from the rain last night it was great, we wanted to try and get here to see East India Youth and Kult Country yesterday but we were too late. We got here just as it started really pissing it down but it’s nice that it’s nice, [looking up] now… You’re always described as psych, and lo-fi and all this kind of stuff, do you like those terms? Jolan: We all kind of grew up listening to psych when we were teenagers, and then just as we got bored of it became sort of a hip new thing. There are some psych bands now that are ok, like its fine… Who do you like, or who do you not like? Jolan: [Laughs] I don’t want to say. Who do we like? You like Tame Impala. Andrew: Yeah, I love Tame Impala, and I guess you could lump Ty Segall under it too, that kind of thing, White Fence Mikal Cronin those guys are also under that psych label, but er, it’s not really…. Psych’s kind of turned into this pastiche thing at the moment and I never thought that we sounded like that, there are elements for sure… Jolan: We just kind of came along at the same time. Andrew: And everyone was always putting us in that bracket but… It’s fine, it’s just not really what we’re trying to do. I don’t know if it’s a new song, the one you played at the end, but you seem to have a few more longer, less structured tracks, is that what you’re going for, a kind of Parquet Courts sound? [Knowing laughs.] Jolan: I kind of realised that we hadn’t really been doing the kind of things that we wanted to do. We had been, to a certain extent, but I think now, with the stuff that we’re doing at the moment, it’s a lot more in tune with what we always wanted to be doing, a lot more like The Red Krayola, taking influences from that without actually sounding anything like it, hopefully. But I guess that gets channelled into Parquet Courts and a band called The Stevens… But I mean yeah, stuff like Mac Demarco and Conan [Mockasin]… Andrew: Just people who are noticeably doing something quite different from a lot of other bands. It’s hard to do something that stands out. So everyone that’s a little bit weird, I dunno… Do you have an album coming out soon? I’ve seen a bit of chat about one? Jolan: Yeah, we were kind of half way through an album and then I realised, because I record and produce all the stuff, I realised that the album that I wanted to make, I wasn’t quite ready to do it. So we’re doing an Ep at the moment which is going to be like 9 tracks, which is more like the stuff we played today… Andrew: There are certainly two tracks that we did today that are on that Ep, but yeah, there’s like 9 kind of brand new things, but yeah, more in, as you were saying, towards the end of the set how we were sounding is where we’re going I guess. Is that something you’ve all been keen to do [as a band] move away from the choruses? Andrew: It’s not trying to stick the finger up at anyone, but that’s where we were tending to be anyway, so I think now it’s kind of more… Jolan: It’s like we kind of woke up and went: ‘shit!’, we’re not doing what we meant to be doing. So I think we’re now trying to force ourselves to do it. When you hear the singles you’ve released to date, there’s a change between tracks, styles and sounds but nothing too dramatic. Do you think you’re now going to release something and people are going to be like ‘what the fuck is this?’ Jolan: Hopefully. Hopefully every single one we release from now on. After the first single got on Radio 1, entirely by accident, we didn’t know it was going to happen and I guess there was some kind of unconscious thing like “shit,” now if the next single doesn’t get on Radio 1 then it’s not as good… But we’d never wanted it to get on Radio 1, that’s totally away from what we ever wanted to be doing… Andrew: It’s not the driving force. What is the driving force? Andrew: I think as you said before, just making music that people aren’t going to expect, that would be ideal. But it’s not a million miles from what people would listen to… Jolan: I’d rather make records that only a handful of people like, but that doesn’t really sound like anyone else, than make music that sounds like a bunch of people that everyone loves. And what do you have planned for the next few weeks, or months, when’s this Ep, for example, scheduled to come out? Jolan: Well we’re doing a tour for it in October, so we’ve got to get it finished before then, we’re doing a lot of recording before then. So the recording, and then the tour. Andrew: And then the album, I guess. We need to finish that. We’ve recorded that album about three, four times but… Is it going to be the one that never gets released? Who’s the perfectionist in the group? [Laughs as eyes turn to Jolan.] Jolan: This is our Smile… Andrew: Jolan records it and produces it so it has to be right, sometimes we don’t have the right equipment and it takes time to get that, it takes time… Any last, optimistic soundbites you want to throw into this… Jolan: Not from me… Anyone? Any specifics about the tour etc? Jolan: It starts October the 8th, in London, Shapes, we’ve got Tangerines coming on tour with us, you must know them, and our friend Sad Eyes, for the London date, who’s unbelievable. Ok, thanks. Looking forward to the Ep. Cheers.

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