Here We Go Magic

Homespun Alchemy

Jan 07, 2016 Photography by Shawn Brackbill Issue #55 - November/December 2015 - EL VY
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Despite being an avowed favorite of acts ranging from Thom Yorke to Death Cab for Cutie to Grizzly Bear, mainstream success has thus far eluded Here We Go Magic. Sadly, most of the world overlooked 2012's phenomenal Ships, despite its high profile production credit from Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich. Frontman Luke Temple says with palpable frustration, "You and I know who Nigel is, but most people just don't care." Hopefully, the populace at large will warm to the act's fourth album, Be Small, perhaps their most lyrically evocative and melodically ebullient to date.

Without Godrich available, due to the logistics of being one of the most in-demand producers in the world, Temple, with his home studio he'd put together for 2013's solo album Good Mood Fool in Hudson, NY, holed up there with longtime bandmate Mike Bloch and drummer Austin Vaughn.

The results are often astounding, as on the millipede undulations of "Stella," and the stuttery, glitchy "Falling," both of which have a common thread, according to Temple. "They were influenced by Brian Eno and John Cale's album Wrong Way Up, which has this optimistic feel to it," he says. "They go from the one to the four. It's an overused key change, which I normally avoid, but since it's Brian Eno, it's used in a very conscious way on their album. I don't usually employ things that simple."

His relocation from New York City to Hudson has also provided a degree of stability to his life, but he still has NYC on his mind a lot, which is crystallized on the fuzz-driven psychedelic pop number "Candy Apple."

"I moved to New York in 1999, and I've seen it change so much, since the beginning of the whole boom," he says of the song. "The Internet's getting rid of regionality, since everyone gets their cultural cues from there. They're not beholden to the limitations of where they live. Those limitations create regionality and specificity to places. And that's disappearing, even in New York, which had always been such a specific place."

Temple has revealed in past interviews that he had downsized his life, and was haunted by apocalyptic visions. In contrast to prior discussions, he's optimistic, although cautiously so.

"I'm in a better frame of mind," he says. "I changed a lot of bad habits from being on the road. I had my own crises as I approached turning 40, and I realized there were certain paths I was going down that were going to hit me hard." More specifically, he's referring to an escalating drinking problem that he's since gotten in check.

But in a broader sense, there's still an ambivalence within Temple, and a lingering dread that an end may be nigh. "I'm much more relaxed these days to an extent, but there's a weird sense with me that there's an obsession with our own demise, and we don't seem willing to change the things that are causing harm to ourselves and our planet," he says. "Maybe it's like the dinosaurs and Neanderthals, and you're only allowed a certain amount of time. The title of the record is based on the idea that everything in our culture is telling us to be bigger and faster and more powerful. But it's the thing that's gonna be our ruin. No one's ever telling kids to live more communally and reducing their impact. I think the idea of being small is a better thing to embrace now."

[Note: This article first appeared in Under the Radar's November/December Issue, which is still on newsstands. This is its debut online.]

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