Talking to Julian Temple of Julian Temple Band

31 May 2018 by Fraser Thompson

interview julian_temple_band

In 2004 Julian Temple Band slipped quietly into the Dunedin music scene as a humble 3-piece.

But what was three gradually become four, and now for their sixth album 14 years later they’ve flourished into a mighty six piece with the addition of Richard Ley-Hamilton of Males (and more) on guitar, Steve Marshall of Left or Right on bass and Logan Hampton of Alizarin Lizard on keys.

I caught up with Julian to discuss the new album ahead of the release gig this Friday.

So you’ve added some people to your lineup for this album like Richard Ley Hamilton… How did that happen?

He’s played some shows with us in the past and it just gelled really well so we thought especially on some of the new stuff, before we left he was jamming the new stuff and he had these amazing parts he’d come up with out of the ether and we wanted to capture that on the album. And I knew that I certainly couldn’t play the electric guitar that well so I thought let’s give it to him.

We also added Steve Marshall who’s the bass player out of Left or Right he’s been the main bass player for us for about a year and a half.

With so many people from other well-known bands do you think you’re a supergroup now?

A Dunedin supergroup, yeah laughs. Yeah well, I mean Dunedin’s kind of like that, and a lot of music scenes are I think.

I was thinking about it the way over here how ego-centric Julian Temple Band sounds. It should be called the Julian Temple Sham because I’m like the worst musician out of the lot. I’ve got this amazing high calibre of musicians in the band and here I am kind of twiddling away on my guitar…

Yeah, I was going to ask about whether the name still fits the band…

It just kind of developed that way. I was a solo kind of singer songwriter for years and I still am… I’d love to change the name at some stage

How did all these new additions to the band change the sound?

It gave it way more texture… And actually it got harder to record because everyone has so many parts. We have a violinist, Alex, as well. So it’s actually harder to mix and to get sitting right.

But it’s definitely worth it because live it’s just way bigger you know, it’s way huger and it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. I’ve always kind of had this vision that we’d just grow and grow and grow, start of as solo, then a duo, then a trio, quartet and just keep going until we have a horns section and an orchestra.

Do you think there could be a point of diminishing returns with adding people where it just becomes a mess?

It can be, you’ve got to watch out. Like I said the musicians I tend to surround myself with are the bees knees so I never really have to worry about it. We’re all very respectful of space, we all have this kind of… Or I do anyway and I think I try to communicate that in the band every time someone joins the band or if we jam with someone new I’ll say first thing less is more, play less and let the space be a big part of the band you know? Mozart said it’s not actually the notes, it’s the silence between the notes, and I’m a big believer in that, leaving heaps of space.

It’s funny with the two soloists of the band the keyboardist and the violinist and I suppose richard as well, they all have real respect for each other so they actually kind of want to hold each other up in a way. You know you take them in private and they always say that, I just want to let Alex and Alex will say I just want to let Logan and Richard will say I just want to stay back here and let those guys… So it works out great, it’s a nice beautiful kind of circle and they all have their moments to shine.

But it’s definitely the most… I think it’s my favorite album so far. The keys are such a new dimension for us, we’ve had electric guitars before and we’ve had alex for the last two or three albums, but the keys add that extra hammond organ and rhodes and all those beautiful bells and kind of whistles…

How many albums does this make?

We’ve done six now, this is our sixth.

Over how long?

We kind of spawned in 2004, but we were only a four piece. We had a percussionist, a drummer a bass player and me. We kind of stayed that way for quite a long time and then we added Alex on violin and now we’ve doubled since we started. Horns is the next big thing to tackle.

You go to see these really good bands that have heaps of people and you never feel like it’s too much, the good ones anyway. If you have good musicians I think having all those different dynamics is what it’s all about. I mean that’s where we’re going, I’m kind of getting a bit bored of myself, I just kind of want to have more stuff to listen to when I listen back to our songs.

Do you write the songs?

Pretty much yeah, I write all the lyrics and the chords, I write the real gritty fundamentals but the guys have free reign on how they interpret it and what they kind of add to it.

Everybody’s giving the band kind of a little bit of themselves which is really nice.

And you recorded the new album with Tom Bell out at Chicks. What was that like?

It was awesome. We’ve known Tom heaps and he’s helped with a few of our albums and we’d heard such good things about Chicks, I already knew it was going to be awesome but we’d also heard even before we went out there how awesome it was. You just kind of hunker down at Chicks Hotel, it’s got such a good vibe.

It’s on CD?

Yeah we couldn’t afford vinyl, I’d love to do vinyl…

What about cassette?

I’d love to do cassette too because Richard’s involved with trace/untrace and I don’t know why but I didn’t think to ask him until the last minute and it was too late but we should have done a run of cassettes because I actually have a cassette player in my car, I listen to Koizilla on a day to day basis in my car.

Love trace/untrace. Have you heard the new Rothmans release?

I’ve been hiding out a little bit, I’ve got this funky hip you know so I’m waiting, right after the tour I go in for a hip replacement so I don’t get out much really and I’ve kinda missed a lot of…. All of a sudden there’s all these new bands and it’s pretty amazing to see happening. I’d love to get caught up on that when I get better.

Yeah I feel like there’s a lot going on, like being in a band is cool again. Like gigs at the student bar are selling out?

Yeah which didn’t really happen when I got here, so it’s great that live music is coming back. When I got here it was all about dnb and dubstep and clubbing, dj’s and stuff. There weren’t many live bands, I mean there were but they weren’t attended very well. We’d have these silly little gigs at arc cafe down on high street.

So yeah it’s good to see that live music is sort of coming back.

What’ll the gig be like?

You’re going to get a wide variety. You’ve got Ana opening the show, from Spinster, Ana Moser, and she’s never really done any solo stuff but she’s got this beautiful voice and she wants to kind of take it to the next level so I’m kind of trying to push her to do it.

And then we’ve got old school Dunedin busking duo called The Patsys and that is Matt Langley and Graham Peters. He’s won the APRA country awards, he’s a songwriter from years back.

And then Koizilla’s going to close it out, so it’s a wide variety of music. Some folky soloey stuff and then the full noise. We’ll probably play all the songs off our new album plus a few oldies. Pretty high energy but pretty accessible for all kinds and once again I’ve gotta say I pinch myself going I don’t know why these musicians in my band are playing with me I mean they are next level. The violinist is an insane concert violinist, classically trained, he used to play with the southern symphonia. He’s a next level violinist, everyone who ever sees him goes wow what the hell is that and it’s not what you expect, he abuses the thing. Just dirty bluesy but insane, it’s kind of avant garde.

And then obviously the keyboard is kind of Doorsey, real soulful beautiful kind of rhythm and blues.

Paul one of those drummers… He’s actually taught all the drummers who are coming up now, like Josh Nicholls is his students. He’s one of those drummers who you always get these drummers coming to the show and just watching Paul because he’s a wizard.

So it’s really their show, it shouldn’t even be named after me

I mean I guess you write all of the songs at least?

Yeah I guess I facilitate these awesome guys coming together and playing which, I’ll take credit for that. I’m just lucky, I’m really lucky.

This is a real turning point for us because this is the first album we’ve done with all these guys and things are changing, people are getting older, Paul the drummer is having a baby, I’m going to get this surgery… So this is a nice kind of, I dunno, we’re going to put this out there and then maybe we’ll take a little bit of a break.

Yeah because you’ve been doing this for 14 years…

And still struggling to make a buck out of it yeah. Nah, I mean we never got into it for the money.

You’re not originally from here right?

I’m not. I was born in San Francisco and I came over here when I was a teenager and ended up going to uni here. I wasn’t even really planning to stay, I came here on a surf trip. My father remarried a kiwi and so I came to visit him and I came on a little surf trip tour around the country and I was here with my dad and he woke me up because he knew I wasn’t doing anything back home and said you’ve got 45 minutes to prepare for an audition down at the music school and I was like screw you man but I’ll keep you happy and go do it. I didn’t think I’d get in because I have no music background at all and I got back to california and got the letter saying you were accepted and I was sitting there doing nothing and I thought might as well give it a hoon, then I fell in love with the whole flying nun thing because we had Graeme Downes teaching us… It was the best thing I ever did, moving to New Zealand.

I’d never go back now, jesus… We tried to go back a few years ago, moved the whole family over to see how the music career went over there and it was really good for the music career, I was playing heaps of shows and making pretty good money as a full time musician, but the healthcare system was fucked, and the education system for my little kids was fucked. They were all born here so I thought I’ll raise them kiwis, they’re first generation kiwi, they’re going to be kiwi.

Do you feel like there’s a limit to how far you can go in Dunedin?

This is the weird thing, I went back and you’d think in the epicenter of the entertainment industry, L.A and all that, I could not find a music scene like this. This is so amazing how there’s all these amazing bands, and we take it for granted, but every weekend there’s a really good band playing that you’ve never even heard of. And I couldn’t find that over there, and so I think sure maybe industry wise and monetarily wise yes, but for the soul and to raise the calibre of your own musicianship I think being here is better for my music anyway.

And the funding, there’s no funding over there. I’ve never heard of government funding in the states for music, there probably is some sort of scheme but I’ve never heard of it like you have it here. Every two months people are getting thousands of dollars to record, I mean that’s unheard of.

So in a way I think we’ve got it great here. And I think it’s because they embrace music in the education system more here, when I was in high school music class was like the time where you go and just kind of screw around, nobody took it seriously Here it’s quite important I find, it seems anyway. There’s rockquest and you know, I dunno it just seems like there’s a lot more to do with the arts in schools here.