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Luke Temple

Breaking All the Rules

Dec 23, 2013 Issue #48 - November/December 2013 - HAIM Photography by Tommy Kearns Bookmark and Share

Upon hearing Luke Temple‘s ridiculously ambitious new solo album Good Mood Fool, light years removed from his Here We Go Magic oeuvre, the first question popping into many minds is likely to be, “What did the record company think?” Temple grins wryly and replies, “They love it. Specifically Chris Swanson at Jagjaguwar. He has an affinity for soul and gospel…. I recorded it all winter and I didn’t play it for anyone until I was finished, which is unlike me.”

The lithe, soul-funk workouts often belie the downright dour and at times sepulchral themes addressed on the record. “A lot of the narratives of the songs on this record are very dark, but they’re treated in a very light, dancey way,” says Temple. “Playing with that tension is something that I was interested in. And the first half of the record is lighter, while in the second half the themes become literally dark. There’s one about Hiroshima, there’s one about the Newtown massacre, there’s one about Mexican immigration. I feel like people now give such tertiary listens to things that I wonder if they even make it to the second side. That’s where all the weight is.”

It’s a risky move for Temple in a sense, as the album turns its back on the trademark sounds that have endeared Here We Go Magic to a fairly sizable audienceKraut-esque jams, knotty guitar chords, and percussion at times bordering on motorik. “I think that it’ll grab new fans, because people expecting something are gonna have a harder time swallowing it,” he says. “Just hitting people fresh it might be a more palatable sound than Here We Go Magic even, just not knowing my previous work. It’s danceable, and there’s not a lot esoteric about it. It’s very easy to enjoy at a melodic and rhythmic level. It might not appeal to people that only listen to rock music.” He pauses, and adds with a bemused smile, “Those stupid rules.”

The genesis of the record stemmed from Temple’s affinity for dense harmonies, crossed with a rediscovery of the music he’s always held close to his heart, including Miles Davis, Curtis Mayfield, Gil Evans, and The Bulgarian Women’s Choir. Temple is keenly aware that he’s created an album that is traversing one of the myriad roads paved by his idols, and was careful to treat the material in a decidedly reverent manner.

It kind of felt like this was this sacred ground that I dare not tread being a white boy having not grown up in the church and not having the real context for that sort of music,” he says. “But I kind of indulged myself because I realized that my part of that family is my love for that music. That music is all about its lineage. It’s community. The community is what gives it its power. If you have this rogue white kid sort of appropriating it, and it’s not done in a pure way, it can come across as the worst, cheesiest shit in the world, à la Maroon 5. But I wanted to find sincerity in my approach to it because I love it so much. Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye, there’s something about that music that touches me. Even as I’ve gotten into obscure bands, it’s the music that hits me the hardest. My concern is that it would come across as insincere, but I realized that it was the most sincere thing I could do because it’s the music that moves me on an emotional level more than anything. I tried to find my way of communicating that.”


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January 4th 2014

Newtown massacre,

January 4th 2014

That’s where all the weight is.”