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redeyechicago.com

Q&A: Temples

By Andy Downing

RedEye special contributor

10:55 AM CDT, April 12, 2014

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The first time Temples visited Chicago in November 2013, the city's red-meat-and-potatoes reputation made the British psych-rock crew a bit anxious.
 
“We thought it would be really hard to find food without meat in it,” said singer/guitarist/vegetarian James Bagshaw. “I don't know why we thought that. There was actually really great vegan and vegetarian food.”
 
It's a good thing, too. Between Temples' April 26 concert at Lincoln Hall and its scheduled appearance at this summer's Lollapalooza, the band, which has been championed by everyone from Oasis’ Noel Gallagher to ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr since releasing its debut full-length “Sun Structures” earlier this year, will be spending a fair amount of time in our city over the coming months.
 
Reached on the road in early April, Bagshaw eagerly discussed his fondness for the music of the 1960s--but ask the 27-year-old singer about “Game of Thrones” and the conversation will die a swift [SPOILER ALERT], Ned Stark-like death.
 
You guys strike me as fans of the nighttime, so I'm guessing it'll feel odd playing in the sun at Lollapalooza.
 
Yeah, playing shows in daylight is a funny one. When you're at a festival and there are so many things going on and so many bands to see, you kind of forget about that. But we'd much rather play when it's night, or at least when the sun is setting. For sure we'll [be] playing in the baking heat in the afternoon come Lollapalooza.
 
That has to be rough since you all have fair complexions.
 
[Laughs] We'll have to crack the 50 SPF suntan lotion.
 
So “Keep in the Dark” isn't just a song title then. It's almost a way of life.
 
I think so, yeah. You have to look after your skin, haven't you? There's no such thing as a healthy tan.
 
You've previously mentioned a fondness for artists like the Byrds and T. Rex. What is it about that era that really speaks to you?
 
The way it comes across is like no other kind of era of music. I think it's got a rawness to it and an atmosphere around it in the way it's recorded. It's hard to put it into words. Those bands just connect with me, and all of us, really.
 
Do you ever get the sense you were born in the wrong decade?
 
No, 'cause I think we'd view music in a different way if we had been. If we were around in the '60s that music wouldn't be as inspiring to us. There's nothing worse than being inspired by another thing that's already going on because you're just a part of that rush. If we were around [then] I probably wouldn't have played a 12-string because [The Byrds’] Roger McGuinn and George Harrison and loads of other people were already playing them. I'd want to try and go against that.
 
With psychedelic music there's always that question about the influence of drugs. Do they play any role in that creative process for you?
 
I couldn't possibly say, really. Yes and no and also maybe. When it comes down to recording you need to have a clear head. I think it's important to be able to think with your own mind because otherwise you're watering down your real outlook.
 
You've received praise from Noel Gallagher and Johnny Marr, but I was more intrigued hearing you received a letter from the influential Robert Wyatt of Soft Machine.
 
Yeah, he sent us a letter through the post. I think at the time we had maybe four tracks, and he said how much he enjoyed [the music]. I can't remember it well enough to quote it, but it was nice to receive it and see what he thought about it in his otherworld way. He's such a great person and musician and ideas man, and it's nice to hear that from someone we grew up listening to, especially after we got into the psychedelic thing.
 
When's the last time you received a handwritten letter through the post?
 
Oof. I don't know, really. It was probably one from the bank saying I've gone into my overdraft, but that one wouldn't have been handwritten [laughs].
 
Have you been at all tempted to re-record “The Golden Throne” as “The Iron Throne” to win over the “Game of Thrones” crowd?
 
No. I've never watched “Game of Thrones.” I don't know what it is.
 
Really? I assumed most people from England were already in the cast.
 
[The song] has nothing to do with “Game of Thrones.” It's not about a TV series. It's actually about ... You know, I'm not going to tell you, because it doesn't matter anyway.
 
Temples, 10 p.m. Saturday, April 26. $15.