Hot Motion: The Return of Temples

Temples by Nathan McLaren-Stewart. All photos by the author.

Temples by Nathan McLaren-Stewart. All photos by the author.

This article is in collaboration with Everyday Hero shoes. The band wear Everyday Hero boots in every photo. For the full set of images, head to their website.

It feels like a long time ago that I first heard a selection of songs from Hot Motion in an East London sushi restaurant, where the band sat in the corner observing record label execs and whoever else was stroking their chin to the band’s third album. It’s now late September, and opposite me James Bagshaw, the guitarist and singer in Temples, is sitting away from the hustle of Rough Trade. It’s album release day and there’s an ecstatic feeling in the air. “It feels good,” James tells me. “It feels like that gap between the wedding and the honeymoon, we can now hear what people actually think about it. It’s a happy day, but it’s been a long time in the making.” Temples completed Hot Motion at the beginning of 2019 and now James feels satisfaction as the gateway vinyl sits proudly on record store shelves. 

In 2012 James formed the band with bassist Tom Walmsley, who had known each other in their hometown of Kettering. Both had been in bands growing up, but joined forces in a project titled The Moons. This went on for a couple of years before Temples. “I showed Tom a couple of songs I had been working on and he had been working on stuff, so we thought maybe it’s time to just do our own thing,” James says. “It just felt like the right time. It was the best decision we ever made.”

Kettering isn’t the kind of town you might expect a psych-infused rock band to come from. As of the release of Hot Motion, the band have only ever done one gig in Kettering. “It’s a weird place to be in a band,” James tells me. He recalls going out drinking at the weekend and it being mostly indie music in the clubs. “There’s not really a venue,” he laughs. In the 1960s, with the rise of psychedelia, underground clubs and parties became vital to creating the scene. One was London’s UFO Club, started by Joe Boyd and John Hopkins, which hosted performances from the likes of Jimi Hendrix and house bands included Pink Floyd and Soft Machine. This formed as an outlet for young people in the city to freak-out. Being young and living in Kettering, James created an outlet himself. “I remember putting on a night called Flesh Pop, which was basically post punk, quite angular, and also the psych stuff and soul. It was the only night I had really done it but it was really good, people weren’t able to hear that sort of music in the indie clubs,” he recalls.

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Temples released Shelter Song online along with Keep In The Dark and Golden Throne. Shortly after James and Tom began collaborating. Quite suddenly they found their email inbox being taken over by emails from labels showing interest, some being majors and some being independents. None of the songs had even been played by a full band. “I remember we went to Latitude Festival in 2013, we all went in Tom’s Beatle, and that weekend we couldn’t enjoy the festival because all of a sudden labels wanted to meet, and for us it was a huge blur. Suddenly we were being offered things, where in our old band we were chasing things,” James tells. Temples’ first single, Shelter Song, was released by Heavenly Records in November 2012.

The band’s debut record, Sun Structures, came out in February 2014. A snow ball effect started. Suddenly the band were touring the world. Headline shows across the UK and Europe, and further afield in North America and Australia. July that year saw the band performing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and September they found themselves on the Ellen Degeneres Show. James smiles recalling the crazy year. “At the time you don’t really take it in,” he tells me. “You’re a touring mechanism, you just take each day as it comes.” There was a shock to the system when the band returned to Kettering in the new found state of being a global rock group. “When we got home we just thought, ‘what the fuck has just happened over the last two years?’”, James laughs. “It was an absolute comedown, and a bit of a struggle really. It was strange going into supermarkets in our hometown, but you just learn to see that they are two different ways of life. In a way a tour is like a holiday. People go on holiday in regular jobs and come home with the same feeling, but I think when you’re away you crave home and when you’re home you crave being away.”

The band set to work on a new record and in March 2017, the sophomore full length, Volcano, was presented. Sonically there’s a noticeable difference between Sun Structures and Volcano. The band started experimenting with various synths and were beginning to create a much bolder sound. “It was a revolt, we didn’t want to repeat what we had done,” James tells. “In my mind it was the case of just getting the second record out the way, it’s always the hardest one.” Pressure was something that James, Tom, guitarist Adam Smith and then drummer Sam Toms felt resting on their shoulders. “After you’ve had the first album’s success you become aware that you have a fan base and you start thinking about what they want.” The change in sound was a natural progression for Temples, James felt that they had to get away from what they were doing with the debut. 

Shortly after the release of Volcano, the band saw some change in their dynamic. It was kept in the dark from the press, pun intended, when Temples ended working with Heavenly Records and parted ways with their drummer. “I do love Sam, but the truth was we told him to leave. He missed so many start of shows and sound checks. He didn’t show up for the last gig of the year with The Charlatans, and a week later we just had to tell him sort his shit out.” It clearly wasn’t an easy decision for the band, and James admits that it was open for him returning to Temples. With the forthcoming release of Hot Motion the trio signed to ATO Records and now have a new powerhouse of a drummer, Rens Ottink, who seems to fit with the band’s chemistry with no hiccups. “It’s been a positive step for us,” James tells us. “It feels reinvigorated having new people. ATO are great, and we have a new booking agent. But we have kept everything under our control. For example, the latest video for You’re Either On Something was my idea. It’s actually really DIY - we made the props for it, and the same with the artwork; it’s a friend from Kettering, along with the photos. We tried to keep it close to home.”

James wears the    Manero Boot    by Everyday Hero.

James wears the Manero Boot by Everyday Hero.

Temples have a strong visual identity that keeps with them throughout artwork, videos and their live performances. The band have created a brand, if you want to call it that, that certainly sets them apart in the current climate, which is oversaturated with alternative music. If Temples walk down the street you know who it is, you see the logo from the cover of Hot Motion and you know it’s related to Temples. “It’s secondary to the music, but our visual identity is certainly up there,” James admits. “You’re making stylistic choices when you’re recording and you make stylistic choices in how you present yourself.” Clothed in velvet, glitter, heeled boots and 70s collars, Temples live and breathe these choices. “The only time I wear clothes that aren’t representing my creative side is if I’m decorating or something… I don’t wear a leather jacket when I’m painting,” James laughs. 

With Hot Motion James admits that the band really just didn’t care what people wanted and wrote a record that they wanted to write and one they enjoyed writing. “I think it will show. I think people will like it more because it’s more us. We aren’t second guessing what people want to hear.” The record does sound like a progression from Volcano but this wasn’t necessarily thought out by Temples. James admits that they didn’t really know what to do. “The relationship with the guitar in Hot Motion is a strong bond and that’s what inspired the record. Personally I was playing the guitar again in a way that I felt was creative and not trying to be virtuoso. We weren’t trying to overcomplicated things, it was trying to be more pure or characterful. I wasn’t trying to cover it in effects just to try and make it sound interesting.” The band went back to their roots in a sense when it came to looking at more lo-fi recording options to make the guitar sound how they want it to instead of coating it in gigantic pedal board. “I was falling in love with the guitar a lot more,” James says.

The future for Temples is not mapped out. The band have a heavy touring schedule ahead of them but, with Hot Motion, James, Tom, Adam and Rens are within their comfort zone and exactly where they are meant to be. It’s a wonderful record that holds a lot of ethereal power within the songwriting and melodies. Temples are well and truly back and it feels like nothing can get in their way. James stands up, brushes his hands and smiles. “That’s it, back to work.”

Temples Hot Motion is out now on ATO Records. The band are touring Mexico, North America, Europe and the UK before the end of the year. Keep up to date with Temples on their website here.

Interview by Nathan McLaren-Stewart.