Temples on “Hot Motion” | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019  

Temples on “Hot Motion”

All Change

Nov 06, 2019 Photography by Matt Clarke Web Exclusive
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After a two-and-a-half year gap between albums, Temples returned in late September with Hot Motion, their third full-length album. They were armed with a new label, America's ATO after two albums on England's Heavenly (which were released by Fat Possum in U.S.), and a slimmed down line-up, with lead singer/guitarist James Bagshaw, bassist Thomas Walmsley, and keyboardist/guitarist Adam Smith remaining after the departure of drummer Samuel Toms.

The Kettering, England-formed band burst onto the pysch-rock scene with their 2014-released debut album, Sun Structures, which made it to #7 on the British album charts and was one of the most talked about UK debuts of the year. It was followed by 2017's sophomore album, Volcano, which put the emphasis back on pop, albeit with a perverse and intelligent twist.

Hot Motion is arguably the band's most ambitious statement of intent to date. It's a sprawling, at times mesmeric, Technicolor fusion of styles and ideas that transcends any pre-conceived expectations. The album was recorded in a studio set up in an outbuilding of Bagshaw's house in the midlands of England. We sat down with Bagshaw to discuss the album, as well as their new line-up and label.

Dom Gourlay (Under the Radar): How long have you been working on Hot Motion?

James Bagshaw: It was recorded over the period of a year, but then if you were to add up all the days we were actually recording it would probably be a total of about four weeks. In between, we were writing as we went along so new songs would pop up from time to time. Basically, once we stopped touring Volcano we started writing again.

Which is the oldest song on the record?

Probably the title track, "Hot Motion." I already had the guitar intro but it wasn't in the same rhythm that it is now on the record. Although we do pay homage to the original idea at the end of the song because it goes to a straight rhythm, which is how it went in the first instance. So that's probably the oldest thing on the album. It was the one that came together first and was the catalyst for the other ideas that came to be on the album.

There's been a couple of notable changes since Volcano, the first one being drummer Samuel Toms leaving the band. Did that have an impact on how you approached writing and recording Hot Motion?

Not really. Sam didn't leave the band. I just want to make that clear. It was a decision that was made on a whole because that wasn't working. As far as recording goes, Sam wasn't hugely involved in the previous two records anyway so that didn't really change much. Obviously it's hard when your best mate isn't in the band any more. You miss the things that they bring as well as the friendship. But then you just have to carry on. You can't let these things stop us in our tracks. We were thrown into making the new album knowing that we didn't have a drummer, but that didn't make any difference to the writing.

The other significant change was parting with Heavenly Recordings and signing to ATO Records. How did that come about? 

It's one of those things. We saw ourselves as a band that was going to be one Heavenly forever. There's no animosity or anything like that. The friendship is still there between us and Danny [Mitchell], Jeff [Barrett], and the rest of the Heavenly team. But we just couldn't get it to work with the way that we tour. A lot of the bands on Heavenly primarily tour around Europe, whereas we aim to play worldwide and it all got a bit complicated. We have a different label in America, so as far as moving forward was concerned we just couldn't strike up the right kind of deal with Heavenly to make it work for us worldwide. It was our choice to see what the new American label could do for us, and just by meeting them it felt like they had a very similar mindset as a label to Heavenly. That indie mindset. It's no like we jumped ship and decided we wanted to go mainstream and get on a huge record label. We certainly wouldn't sign to a major, but it was still one of those decisions we had to make. Just so we could carry on touring, because that's a large part of what we do. We had to change labels to make it viable; otherwise we wouldn't be doing the tour we have lined up throughout October, November, and December.

Hot Motion appears to be your most ambitious record to date, and possibly most experimental album too in terms of different sounds and ideas. Is that something you were conscious of while making it?

We don't ever really think about that to be honest. Maybe afterwards you can look at it and think we really went outside the box with that one, but when we're writing and recording we just tend to follow our instincts. There are definitely experimental parts but it's still more about honouring melody and composition and the sound palette really.

Were there any songs left over from the recording sessions that might resurface again in the future?

There might be. We recorded around 18 tracks for this record with the idea of whittling them down, which we'd never done before. So there are extra songs, which will probably come out as B-sides as we haven't done that in a while. Previously, our B-sides have mostly been remixes that no one ever listens to apart from when we did it the first time round with Sun Structures [Sun Restructured] which was a very new approach to having a remixed version of an entire album in not a classic dance style. Which was what everyone seemed to do by the time we released Volcano, have their album remixed by some hot dance music producer. We're putting out some seven-inches and the B-sides will only be on the records. There won't be any exclusive tracks for Spotify or Apple Music. They're just for the physical releases.

Do you envisage every song off Hot Motion appearing in the band's live set? 

I think so. They're all definitely achievable, certainly more than Volcano. Some of the songs we tried live but it soon turned out we probably needed more members to really do them justice. Also, it was very hard logistically to be taking extra amps and keyboards on tour with us. We've very much slimmed it down, what we take on tour with us now. So I think at some point we'll play every single song from the new record. It's designed that way as well. We had that in mind when we were producing the album, the idea Hot Motion is fathomable for us to play live but also bring something new to it as well.

Looking back at Volcano if you had the benefit of hindsight, is there anything you'd change or do differently?

I think so, yeah. But there are things I'd change about Sun Structures as well. That's just the nature of it, but we had to make that album, and if you're lucky enough to still be on the same label after your first album to make a second record you'll always end up being judged harshly because people don't like change. They want you to stay the same, so we made that record very much as a reaction to all the labels we got from the first album. I think we're label free now as far as genres go. People always used to say we were psych rock and stuff like that yet with this album there didn't seem to be any prejudgment of what genre we were going to do. It was very much how I remember making the first album where you just think about making something you want to listen to. Whereas maybe on the second record we were worried about people actually listening to the songs a little bit, and I think that ruined a lot of things. You hear artists talk about that all the time. When you start catering your songs for what you think the listener wants to hear, you end up not being truly creative within yourself. You're second-guessing people and I don't think that ever works.

www.templestheband.com

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