James Bagshaw discusses the recording of Temples’ forthcoming album Volcano

Read and listen to JON ‘MOJO’ MILLS’ interview with the TEMPLES main man


Listen to the full 45 min interview below

“It’s been about a year in the making.

“We have recorded it ourselves again, but have moved up in the world. This one wasn’t recorded in the tiny box room at my parent’s house. I’ve converted a couple of the upstairs rooms into my studio. It’s a lot more extensive now. I am in the process of building a studio in the back garden, in what used to be the old dairy hundreds of years ago, but at the moment upstairs works fine. Like on the first album I’m making the most of what space there is in a house, like Les Paul & Mary Ford or Joe Meek would… it’s just I have more of it now…

“Yes, we have fully produced the album ourselves again. I wouldn’t rule out working with anyone, but nobody within ‘indie means’ has appealed to me. The people who I regard as very, very good we just wouldn’t be able to afford to pay them to do it. Also when you produce a record yourselves you get exactly what you want. It can be a struggle, but when it works out and pays off it’s well worth it. An achievement. No one else can run a marathon for you.”

“Within reason you can take as long as you want, but we have had a bit of a rush over the last month. It’s great that we have been left to get on with what we do. Heavenly really get it and they give you the time and the breathing space, but sometimes you panic and think ‘Do they want us to make this record? Do they know we’re making this record?’ They do, but they stand back and let us do what we have to do. Then suddenly you get the due date out of the blue. ‘The album needs to be delivered by such and such.’ And then it’s… ‘Ahhhhh.’ That pushes you on. The good thing is we have just been ironing things out and you need closure. Otherwise we could easily overdo things.

“‘Certainty’ started off as a melodic exploration. The sounds I got up in the studio were very instinctively made. The synth bass on the beginning was used as I couldn’t be bothered to go and get my bass out of the case. So it stuck. Once I’d shown everybody they liked it, but you never know what your band mates or the general public will think of an idea that’s a bit different. That bass line was meant to be a bassline, but it ended up staying a synth line. The sound had a certain quality to it as it sounds like an analogue Moog fuzz bass. I was channeling a bit of Air into the song too. ‘Sexy Boy’ has the same kind of fuzzy feel. Air, on the earlier records, were certainly pioneers of just understanding sound in a really creative way.”

“There’s been a lot of writing from Adam on this record too – everyone’s really written for this record, well the three of us, Tom, Adam and myself ­ – and there’s a song that Adam’s written called ‘How Would You Like To Go’ and it’s incredibly unique. There’s nothing really quite like it.

“What era does it sound like? 2017!

“It’s a full steam ahead record. We’ve gone all out with the production and trying to create the songs within the environment of an album, so it sounds continuous. We have Side One and Side Two programmed: two intros, and two outros.


“On the first album I buried the vocals more, because I wasn’t as confident as a singer. It’s amazing how much you improve from touring. A lot of the songs on this record had three or four vocal takes, with the exception of a few songs where I wrote in a key that was bit too high, but I liked. So I probably did 20 takes, just because I don’t want to drop the key for the sake of it. I like to push myself and always know it’s doable. I’ve taken that from the live environment.

“When recording I use a mix of everything. From the first record there’s a lot more stuff in the studio now: guitars, amps, out boards. A big thing that changed on this record was the mic that I was using. On the first I purely used rhythm mics because any condenser mics I had used were horribly harsh and sounded like a T’Pau record, and on this new record I have been using a Telefunken U47 Valve Condenser. It’s been a huge part of the sound. Every vocal was recorded using this beauty. The amount of records that have been made using this is incredible. I just plugged it and could see why. I was a bit against the snobbery that goes with gear. There are no rules. But this microphone I have never known anything you can gain up so high and get no noise. It’s like silent. It captures charisma in your vocal. With a rhythm mic you end up adding stuff back in as you are losing the top end. I still to this day adore rhythm mics as I feel it makes you approach the singing in a softer way, but the U47 has been a huge part of the album.

“Well ‘Oh The Saviour’ (originally called ‘Volcano’, which is now the album title) was the first track we recorded vocals with this mic and the approach in the verses is very dry; there’s very little reverb, if any. It just sounded so good by itself. Anything else was like taking the focus of the vocals.

Desert Daze Festival - Institute of Mentalphysics, Joshua Tree, CA 10/14-15/16 | Photo by Erika Reinsel

“Gear wise we used: an MS20 synth, a 1952 Selmer Clavioline , WEM copycat, Space Echo (the real deal, not software), some ’70s DBX compressors, I have a prototype of the Ted Fletcher stereo compressor  EQ(he built the range of Joe Meek things). I use a front end of an old ’60s valve reel to reel which I use for DI’ing things. I’ve distorted a lot of things using that as it has a beautiful harmonic valve distortion. It’s ridiculous the amount of gear I now have. The Gretsch is still king, but I have been using a lot of things. On ‘Born Into The Sunset’ I use a 1966 Gibson Firebird non-reverse 12-string, which I bought when I was in Portland, Oregon. It’s an amazing guitar. I was touring it for a bit but stopped as there are only about 300 in the world. They were made for one year. Over the years of touring I bought quite a few bits. I got a Chandler tube driver and a ’67 Coronado 12 string in the Antigua finish.

“I still use plug ins too as there’s no way I could afford some of the things I want. There’s a difference, but it’s slim. With the analogue thing when you go directly into your computer once you get a good audio interface you really notice what all your gear is doing.

“The new album is Temples but Temples rediscovering things. You can listen to both records and it’ll work. We haven’t got lazy with it though and just made a follow-up. It should be an interesting record. We wanted to create songs that were interesting but at the same time are doused in pop sensibilities.

“We listen to music a lot in the van on tour. Things that stick out to me are Iggy Pop, there’s always a lot of Bowie, Eno as well… some Nick Nicely… some classical stuff… some Gusta Holtz. It’s an individual thing. I’d definitely say I consume the least music out of everybody. Thomas is the vinyl junkie. He really is. He’s constantly searching. I’m not. If I’m writing songs I don’t listen to music: that’s just how I work. I end up inadvertently ripping something off and I don’t wanna do that! Music fasting.”

“The art is currently being designed by Jonathan Zawada who did the great cover for ‘Certainty’.”

Volcano will be released on Heavenly Recordings, March 3rd 2017


Nick Waterhouse on Allah-Las

THOMAS PATTERSON has just interviewed NICK WATERHOUSE for issue #63. Here’s what he had to say about his pals ALLAH-LAS


“I produced the Allah-Las’ first 45 whilst I was making my first 45 because Matt the drummer and I were very close. We met the first day of college at San Francisco State when we were 18. I saw him at orientation and I thought “There’s a black guy in an Iggy Pop shirt, we’re going to get along well!” (laughs) And of course we really hit it off. We had this shared sensibility. When Domenic Priore’s book All Summer Long came out, we were both 18 and that was the first published representation of the LA that we both knew that we were trying to explain to people that were friends of ours. It was just this deeply shared sensibility. The thing I love about Matt is that we’re both such different people and we have different broad tastes but we have a shared baseline and a spiritual connection. So once he started the Las with those guys, he was telling me about it and I was out of town. And I remember, he was like “You’ve got to come see this band we’re working on.” I had met Pedrum, and I was sitting in a booth in Footsie’s in Highland Park and they were playing in a tiny little corner to 40 people, and they played the electric version of ‘Early Morning Rain’ the way the Dead demos were and that was just the thing that made me realise that Matt knew how to play the proper way. That was a big thing. Just finding a drummer who could play the things on the records we liked. It was that thing when you’re a kid, you don’t how this magic happens. But you’re always playing with people and you’re like “I don’t know why but this doesn’t feel right.” But everyone in that band was playing right. We all knew we were on the same page, and I thought, “We’re fucking going to do this.”  It was a total moment of clarity, and I was talking to Matt about the recordings they were doing on some guy’s Pro-Tools setup and I was like “Guys, that’s total bullshit, let’s go cut this at the studio on tape.” It was a distillery where I grew up hanging around a lot in Costa Mesa and it was funny because the guys in the band who didn’t know me were like “Yeah, but this cool guy in LA wants to record us on Pro-Tools.” And I said “Look, just trust me, we’re going to do this and it’s going to be great.” And normally I don’t oversell things but I said, “We have to do this!” And we cut ‘Catamaran’ and ‘Long Journey’ and that was the 45 I put out on my own label Pres. And that relayed into making the whole album. And we made the album piecemeal over a couple of months whenever I’d come into town and I still have such strong memories. I played organ on two of those songs. And the sound of it was exactly the sound and feel that I saw from conception, knowing that there’s such a tiny window for me to find any artists that I would be empathetic to and I’d really get the sound, but that was one of those where it was a deeply spiritual thing. I’ll still put that record on and listen to it.”



Those Pretty Wrongs

Post-Big Star project with the band’s Jody Stephens and a guy that knows what it’s all about (Luther Russell). CARL TWEED meets THOSE PRETTY WRONGS

As the world reflects, 400 years after his passing, upon the achievements and continuing relevance of William Shakespeare, it feels opportune that Jody Stephens and Luther Russell have borrowed from the opening line of Shakespeare’s 41st Sonnet when naming their new project Those Pretty Wrongs.

Jody Stephens surely needs no introduction to Shindig! readers. He was of course the drummer with Big Star on the timeless classics #1 Record, Radio City and Third / Sister Lovers. Until now Stephens’ song-writing has been restricted to the occasional co-writer credit (most notably on ‘Daisy Glaze’) and a solo credit for the innocent, beautifully fragile ballad ‘For You’. That song, one of the highlights from Third / Sister Lovers, had a big impact on the overall feel of the album, as Alex Chilton was so moved by Carl Marsh’s string arrangement he asked him to do the same on some of his own contributions.

Luther Russell also has an impressive musical CV. Back in the early ’90s he was the lead singer with The Freewheelers, a band that harked back nostalgically to the warm, analogue, “Let’s just get together in the studio and bash it out” sound of musical touchstones such as The Band and The Faces. They released a couple of albums on Geffen and American Recordings. Since then he’s worked as a solo artist and also as a producer. Repair, from 2007, is a good entry point. It’s sympathetically produced by Ethan Johns, a man who knows a thing or two about letting songs breathe and resisting the temptation to throw in the kitchen sink.

Stephens and Russell go back a long way. Breaking off from band practice in LA to answer a few questions, Luther explains. “We were introduced back in 1991 or so by Gary Gersh I believe. Gary also introduced Jody to The Posies. We actually never played music together until about three years ago. Until then we were just old friends. That’s probably why it works.”

The catalyst that turned their long-standing friendship into a song-writing partnership was the Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me documentary. Stephens was asked to sing at some promotional events and turned to his friend for support. The musical rapport was self-evident to both of them, so they decided to start writing together. This turned out to be quite a logistical exercise, as Stephens resides in Memphis and Russell is in LA. However, new technology came to the rescue.

Asked whether it was an easy process writing the songs, Luther reflects, “I wouldn’t say it was easy, but it was definitely not stressful and not difficult from my standpoint. We wrote long-distance, so to speak. So, as an example, Jody would leave a melody on my voice-mail. This might end up as a chorus. I also kept the key he sang them in because I figured it was comfortable for him in the first place. What was interesting is that you’d think some of the melodies would end up kind of ‘blah’ or something; but they always seemed to ‘pop’. They were really great with chords behind them! Then once Jody approved it, he’d take a stab at lyrics. On and on it would go until a song was completed. We had to set up a weekly phone meeting – Mondays usually – in order to stay on course for the eight months it took to write these songs.”

Shindig! caught up with Jody Stephens a few days later at Ardent Studios in Memphis. Reiterating how smoothly the songs came together, despite that looming deadline, Jody says, “I would share lyrics and melody lines via voice mails on Luther’s cell. He would fill in pretty, colourful chord arrangements and then contribute lyrics and melodies when needed. It was a true collaboration. Luther is multi-talented. One of those great talents is that of being a cheerleader. He was so enthusiastic about our writing songs together that he made sharing song ideas completely comfortable; well, that, his musical talents and our sharing many of the same influences made it an easy adventure.” Read more Those Pretty Wrongs