Surely, Temples

Temples’ music appropriates sacrosanct ‘60s pop elements for today

by Grant Tillery

Evasiveness isn’t part of that equation, though. Guitarist Thomas Warmsley explained that music is the psych-rock quartet’s reason for living, as well as their sustenance.

The luscious-locked British quartet even listens to music during interviews — Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness” was audible in the background of Warmsley’s phone. But the distraction wasn’t pretentious or rude. Instead, it is a testimony to the power of constant immersion, stemming from the band’s work-horse ethos.

Their debut album, “Sun Structures,” was self-produced and released by Heavenly Recordings this February. 

“From the very beginning, we had a strong idea of how we wanted it to sound and what we wanted to achieve with it,” Warmsely said. “The whole time we were focusing on that. How we were being received — we weren’t really conscious of that.  The fact that people became so familiar with us is incredibly strange and wonderful to be a part of.”

The psychedelic indie rockers from Kettering, U.K., came together in 2012, aiming to merge the sounds of ‘60s Brit-pop and the warm, West Coast production of the same era. If given the chance, Warmsley could go on for hours about arranging.

“We’re big fans of Jack Nitzsche,” Warmsely said. 

Nitzsche, who was famous for slick, jangly pop conducting, led legendary Los Angeles session musicians the Wrecking Crew and worked closely with Phil Spector. This influence initially seems at odds with Temples’ sound, which is more reminiscent of the Zombies’ “Odessey and Oracle” than the Byrds or Buffalo Springfield. But Warmsley acknowledged parallels between the two.

“We’re really big fans of ‘60s pop — not necessarily just British ‘60s pop,” Warmsley said.  “It has an intricate and fantastical [sound] to it, and quite whimsical.” 

Warmsley mentioned Gary Usher’s production on the Byrds’ “The Notorious Byrd Brothers” as his favorite of all time, citing the band’s Celtic and British folk influences and their production trickery. 

“They discovered synthesizers, samples and tape loops, which is always interesting in a pop group,” he said. 

Taking a closer listen to “Sun Structures,” it’s obvious where these influences come into play. The minor, Eastern-influenced harmonies pay homage to the Byrds-styled spooky strumming but electrify it and take the tempo up a couple notches.  Tambourine jangles pulled straight from “Mr. Tambourine Man” are front and center on several of the tracks.

The Zombies’ influence is most evident in vocalist James Bagshaw. His timbre channels Zombies frontman Rod Argent’s with its haunting, breathy mysticism.

Bagshaw’s phrasing is similar, too. Legato and languorous, it’s the sonic equivalent of tripping.

Despite these influences, Warmsley made it clear that they’re not aiming to replicate one sound or the other. In the future, they want to continue the bright, sonic warmth prominent in “Sun Structures.” Temples plans to release another album in the near future, but there’s no set timeline for release and no new tracks have been written yet. 

“We’re enjoying touring — it’s a luxury,” Warmsley said.