Thomas Walmsley of Temples – COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Thomas Walmsley of Temples – COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In

“Always listen to science, lives always should come before economy.”

Jun 04, 2020 COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In
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We are checking in with musicians during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to see how they are dealing with everything. What has their home quarantine experience been like so far and how is the crisis impacting both their career and art? Here we check in with Thomas Walmsley of Temples.

We’re living in future history right now, unprecedented times that will define our era. At some point we will be living in a forever-changed post-COVID-19 timeline, but right now we’re deep in it. Many have had their livelihood interrupted by the pandemic and included are most musicians, who make a lot of their money by touring and performing, two things they can’t do right now. Most record stores are closed and vinyl factories are shut down, so album sales are depressed too. Our intention with this series is to highlight the challenges musicians are going through right now to hopefully encourage our readers and their fans to rally around and support each musician (financially if you can, but we know it’s tough out there for many people).

We’re all in this together, a whole planet united in this fight, and we hope these interviews will help illustrate that. We put together the same set of questions about the current crisis and emailed them to several musicians and will be posting their responses as they come in.

British psychedelic pop trio Temples released a new album, Hot Motion, in September 2019 via ATO (their first for the label). Hot Motion was the band’s third album and followed 2014’s debut album, Sun Structures, and 2017’s sophomore album, Volcano. The band now consists of James Bagshaw (lead vocals/guitar), Thomas Walmsley (bass/vocals), and Adam Smith (keyboards/guitar/vocals). The album was recorded in a studio set up in an outbuilding of Bagshaw’s house in the midlands of England.

“We’ve gone from bedroom to living room to a dedicated space. We could all set up in the same room and allow things to play out a lot more like a band. That played a huge part in the sound of the record,” said Walmsley in a press release announcing the album.

In terms of Hot Motion’s sound, Walmsley had this to say: “It felt like there was a darker edge to what we were coming up with and we wanted to make sure that carried through the whole record. It’s not a 10 track, relentless rock record from start to finish, it’s got a lot of light and shade and more tender moments, but that heavier, darker sound is something we wanted to explore further.”

Read on as Walmsley reflects on his COVID-19 experience so far. Walmsley also submitted a photo of himself under quarantine. (Note: This interview was conducted just before the massive and vital protests across America in response to the death of George Floyd began, which is why that isn’t addressed in any of the answers.)

Where are spending the quarantine and who are you spending it with? If you’re spending it with other people, have you found that the quarantine has brought you closer together or caused tension?

I’m spending quarantine with family back in the East Midlands. I’m only ever here to rehearse or visit parents, so it’s taken time to adjust to being back. I can assure you it’s very much the same as it ever was, that’s what is so great about Kettering.

Is everyone in your family safe and healthy so far?

Everyone is safe and healthy. I’ll take this opportunity to thank the NHS and all the key workers in making sure we can be.

What’s your daily routine been like? Have you spent much time outdoors? And since musicians spend so much time on the road, have you found it hard adjusting to so much time at home?

Yeah, we were very much in the middle of touring Hot Motion in March and five shows into our European tour we were left with no option but to turn back around and head home. They shut the French and Spanish borders the next day or so. The choice was ours, but it seemed best for everyone’s safety. One of our last shows was at Cabaret Sauvage in Paris, it seems unbelievable that we went ahead with those shows, looking back from where we are now and what we’ve all dealt with. I remember seeing shows still happening the week after we returned home, and it just felt wrong to witness.

It’s always a bit of a jolt when you’re mentally adjusted for touring. But I think we’ve all been keeping a strong routine to wean ourselves off gigging every week since last September.

What financial impact has COVID-19 had on you and your band? Have you had to cancel or postpone any tours or festival appearances or postpone an album release because of COVID-19 and how will that affect you in the long term?

It’s a constantly evolving situation that’s having an impact on everyone across the industry. No one really knows what’s going on, or what the fate will be for a lot of jobs and the future of everything. We’ve had to cancel the rest of our tour, and obviously festivals won’t be happening this summer, so we’ve shut up shop and have been busy working on our next step in the studio (remotely of course). It’s going to have a lasting impact whatever the outcome. The biggest concern of course is the venues; all the roadies, sound engineers, and promoters who will undoubtedly be hit hardest. They have to be looked after or there won’t be any industry left by the time we’re out the other side.

Do you trust the government and our leaders (such as President Trump) to effectively deal with the pandemic? What most concerns you about the response of elected leaders at home and abroad?

It’s very troubling. You see other countries in Europe and the rest of the world dealing with the pandemic in a very different way, and it working successfully. Then you see what a mess the government is making of our country [the UK], and you wonder how could they possibly get it this wrong. At a time like this you really need confidence in leadership, and it’s clear trust levels are at absolute zero. Always listen to science, lives always should come before economy.

Which sources of news have you been turning to most during COVID-19 and which social media platform have you found most useful?

Again, I think it’s most important to draw towards the science and the actual figures that are available, social media really brings out the dark side of news, and it’s a breeding ground for misinformation. For self-preservation, I think it’s wise to avoid reading too much into what the broadcasters or print are saying. I’ve been avoiding my phone as much as possible.

What do you think will be the lasting effects on society of all this isolated time at home?

The whole situation will undoubtedly put people through a lot of pain mentally. It’s a horrific time, without precedent, for the majority of people. Everyone I’ve spoken to seems to have both good and bad days, including myself. I’ve started meditating twice a day, which seems to numb the inevitability. Now, more than ever, I think it’s important to focus on our mental wellbeing, and staying connected in positive ways. Having awareness and anticipation of what effect it’s having on us is so important, at least then we can start giving ourselves a head start on how to deal with it.

What other steps should record labels, music streaming platforms, and other music industry entities be taking to help struggling musicians through this time?

I think the government has a lot to answer for with conserving our futures. The self employment grant is a bit of a grey area when it comes to musicians, which I think is where they need to step in. If things continue the way they are there will be no new bands and no venues left for them to play in.

What is the best way fans can support you financially right now? Buying vinyl and CDs, downloading and streaming your music, buying merch, supporting your Patreon page or other crowd sourcing platform (if you use one), or some other means? Is there a particularly cool piece of merch you’d like to highlight?

I think the most important way is to keep listening to the bands you support. Whatever they’ve got going on, try and get involved with it. Buy their merch, CDs, vinyl, and support them directly if you’re able to. We’ve been busy working on something that we can’t wait to share with you all in the coming weeks.

Which albums, songs, films, TV shows, books, podcasts, live streams, video games, board games, etc, have been helping you get through the quarantine?

Jarvis Cocker’s Domestic Disco the past few Saturdays has been a good laugh and Tim Burgess’ listening parties on Twitter has been great to get involved with. I’ve revisited a lot of Italian giallo movies, the soundtracks to them are sublime. Cat O’ Nine Tails, Tenebrae, Deep Red. I implore you to watch them all.

Have you been doing any live-streamed concerts during COVID-19 or do you plan to? A lot of artists have been doing them, do you think it’s a challenge to make them original and interesting?

James did a live thing a month or so ago, which was really great. We tend to not get involved with breaking the fourth wall too often on social media, so it was a special thing for him to do. I think they’re great to bring people together, but there’s so many of them now they’ve lost a bit of their charm.

Is there something you’ve been putting off for a long time, but are now doing with this time at home?

Yeah, unusual as it might sound, but really learning to sing properly, breathing, meditating. Seven years of being in a band I wouldn’t have thought the three were ever connected.

Has the quarantine been a fertile creative time (are you writing or recording new music, for example) or have you found it hard to focus on creative endeavors?

Being in Kettering feels like you’re marooned on a faraway island at the best of times, so it’s easy to get thrown into feeling isolated. It didn’t really take me long to get into recording again, so I’m thankful I’ve had that to focus on while being here. I think we’ve all written a lot of the next record already. You’re going to hear a lot of “quarantine” albums in 2021, we’ll make sure ours transcends that.

Beyond the obvious items (such as toilet paper), what things have you made sure to get from the grocery store when stocking up? And, also, do you have any toilet paper?

Shocking isn’t it? There’s still pasta shortages in Kettering. The main thing was making sure you have plenty of stimulants to kick off the day, and then something nice and mellow to have at night. Sitting on your arse for most of the day can make you a bit restless, so it’s important to use what you can to help. Stock up on strong coffee, beer, red wine, valerian tea, CBD oil, and reishi. Support your local shops.

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