NSFWknd: Desert Daze Caravan ft. Temples
Night Beats, Deap Vally, Froth, JJUUJJUU
Fri, March 17, 2017
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pmTrees
This event is all ageshttp://www.treesdallas.com/event/1399937/
Looking like a West Coast psych band, Temples bear all the hallmarks of cosmic travellers. There's the band name, for starters, there are track titles that sound like JG Ballard novels (Prisms, The Golden Throne, Sun Structures) and there's the fact that they take incense sticks on the road with them. But if all of the above suggests Temples are backwards-looking, think again. The Kettering four-piece's music is a mix of scuzzy glam stomp, dreamy, 12-string-drenched folk-rock, droning psych and more – all given a 2013 spin. Retro is a dirty word.
"Psychedelic music has always been forward thinking," says Tom. "|t's so easy to fall into that kind of revival band thing, but our aim is to reference these things and bring something completely new to it. A song like Sun Structures talks about something contemporary using old imagery and eastern religion. It isn't a fictional work that people won't be able to find anything in. And the fidelity of the sound alone says we're doing something that couldn't really be done before."
Temples did, in fact, begin with a mutual love of music and mysticism. The four bonded over the writing of Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary, the films of Kenneth Anger, and the music of The Byrds rather than The Beatles ("They're hazier and more interesting," reasons Tom. "The Beatles give too much away; the Byrds make you work hard. It's that quest to learn more and discover more.").
Arriving back in Northamptonshire from their respective university cities, the band members' far-out pursuits provided escape from life in a grey, English market town. "We were writing, recording, looking for work, not really knowing what to do," says Tom. And the relative lack of excitement gives them more time to focus on the music. "It's such an odd town really for the arts, because there's nothing here," says James. "There are artists in Kettering, but there's no outlet for them."
Made in Kettering, Temples's first recording arrived in one technicolour burst in July 2012. The band recorded Shelter Song, put it on the internet, and set into motion an unstoppable chain of events that eventually saw them signed to Heavenly Records. That same track, a bouncy, psychedelic romp, was issued as their debut single – and quickly became as sought after as any of the vintage vinyl they individually lusted over. The 7" now regularly fetches upwards of £100 on eBay.
One of the more surprising things about the track is the fact that, like all of Temples' music, it was recorded at home, in the box-room of James's house in Kettering, an end terrace with a blessedly forgiving neighbour. "I'm always apologising to him for the noise, but he says, 'It's not noise, it's music,'" says James. The band aim for Jack Nietzche production on a DIY budget – and succeed. "It's similar to Joe Meek – he used to record vocals in his bathroom in his flat on Holloway Road," says Tom. "The way I see it, there aren't any limitations any more," says James. "If you know what you want to achieve, there's always a way around it. With technology today there's ways of emulating things that would have cost an arm and a leg years ago."
The response to Shelter Song confirmed this. But there was a problem with the wave of interest it set in motion. The band were, technically, not yet a band, and they were being offered gigs before they even had a full line-up in place. So James and Tom recruited drummer Sam Toms and keyboard player Adam Smith, Kettering men both, and worked on making the intangible tangible. Quickly, they became an accomplished live prospect, playing gigs up and down the UK, hitting the festival circuit and even sharing a bill with The Rolling Stones at London's Hyde Park in July 2013. For Record Store Day this year, they joined their Heavenly stable-mates for a memorable trip across the channel to Paris. Toy, Stealing Sheep and Charlie Boyer and The Voyeurs were on board. "It was amazing. It was like a school trip of a different kind," says James.
As well as The Stones, the band have caught the attention of a number of music's biggest names. Johnny Marr has declared himself a fan ("And he's obviously a huge ambassador of the 12-string, so it's nice he's picked up on us," says Tom), Robert Wyatt professed his interest in a letter to the band's management, Suede invited them on tour and Noel Gallagher came to see them perform in London. Some pressure for a new band, no? "Not really," says James. "I'm quite confident about it – there's not going to be any filler and no track's going to sound similar to the next.”
Right now, the focus is on knuckling down and polishing off that debut album. Mixed by Claudius Mittendorfer (previous credits include The Mars Volta, Muse & Franz Ferdinand) in New York, it is nearly complete and set for release early in the February 2014. The band have high hopes for 2014. "I'm looking forward to people hearing some of the songs we've not played live," says Tom. "Move With The Season is covered in 12-string but with this almost '90s-like looped beat in the background going on, and three-part harmonies on a huge scale. It's The Byrds via baggy."
It's a record that's destined to set out the band's stall as Britain's premier retro-futurists, with influences ranging from '60s psychedelia to Motown, glam, Krautrock and baggy, all viewed through a very modern kaleidoscope – and always keeping the song at the heart of it all. "We still want songs to be songs.” The key, says James, is innovation. "We never want to re-do the same thing, use the same formula as a previous song. We're always looking hard to better ourselves."
Make no mistake: their new album Who Sold My Generation sounds like it has been created against a backdrop of burning Stars and Stripes flags and with the whiff of napalm hanging in the air — an alternative universe where ‘Helter Skelter’ is the national anthem and Charlie Manson is still on the loose. Acid-test heaviness is Night Beats’ currency, but this is no out-right nostalgia trip either. Instead of Nixon and Vietnam, Night Beats have their own epoch of God and guns and bombs and drones to rail against…or flee from. Besides, bad vibrations, blues jams and id-shattering explorations are timeless pursuits – why shouldn’t today’s young generation be allowed to take a ride down the slippery spiral that sits within the centre of each of us?
On their third album – and first for Heavenly Recordings — Night Beats perhaps most recall their Texan forefathers and psyche-rock originators 13th Floor Elevators at their ‘69 peak, just before The Man busted young Roky Erickson and dragged him to the psyche ward for barbaric doses of shock treatment. These boys represent the best of the Lone Star State’s flipside – that vast dusty hinterland of the soul where it’s easy to drift off the map and reinvent yourself as part of the long lineage of creative cowboys who prefer psychotropics to rodeo riding, guitars rather than firearms.
“Old cowboy culture is alive and well in Texas,” says frontman Danny Lee Blackwell. “I grew up with Texan mythology all around us, so as a band its instilled in our blood. My Dad didn’t wrangle steers but he did pick cotton when he was young. But then cities like Austin and Dallas, where we spent most of our time growing up, have a real sense of musical history that runs deep, so we feed off legacy that too.”
From the Elevators and The Red Krayola on to pre-ZZ Top band The Moving Sidewalks, Butthole Surfers and The Black Angels – whose record label Reverb Appreciation Society have released Night Beats — and a clutch of other early cult bands besides (Bubble Puppy, Shiva’s Headband and the Golden Dawn, anyone?), Texas has always been a prime breeding ground for such outlaw music. “The Elevators were one of the reasons I decided to become a singer and form the group,” says Blackwell. “I loved their attempt to play R ‘n’ B music, but from a distinctly Texan approach. I’d say they have profoundly influenced the group, but it’s now our job to take it to another level in a new age.”
It took a cross-country relocation to instigate their formation. Night Beats were born when frontman Danny Lee Blackwell upped stick from Dallas to Seattle, Washington and was soon joined by childhood friend James Traeger. “James got me a copy of Ginsberg’s Howl when I was around 15 and it changed everything,” remembers Blackwell of his old friend. “We grew up together and once he moved up to Seattle we did everything together there too. I wanted to try out a different place, a new city, where no one knew my music and there wasn’t anything remotely similar going on. Coming from Dallas, Austin seemed like the obvious choice but I needed something more. Seattle was at one time the home to people we love like Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix and Quincy Jones so I didn’t feel too disconnected.”
The two existed initially as a guitar and drums duo, named in honour of Sam Cooke’s 1963 album Night Beat, before fellow Jakob Bowden Dallas resident joined on bass after a stint in Austin. Filtering a collective love of pioneering artists as disparate as Buddy Holly, Fela Kuti, Etta James, James Brown and Leonard Cohen, Night Beats dropped a clutch of singles, split-singles, cassette release and two albums – their self-titled debut in 2011 followed by Sonic Bloom in 2013 – as well as featuring on all manner of compilation albums that document the cutting edge of the head-bending, modern counter-cultural US underground.
Night Beats hit the road too, touring extensively with Roky Erickson, The Zombies, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Strange Boys, Black Lips, The Growlers and The Black Angels in North America, Europe, Israel, South Africa and Australia.
Recorded on old two-inch tape in Echo Park, Los Angeles at the home of producer Nic Jodoin and featuring co-production and guess bass playing from Robert Levon Been of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, new album Who Sold My Generation goes beyond merely being a retreading of well-worn garage / R&B path. Instead it offers a contemporary take on the psychedelic experience, a heady set of hoodoo voodoo songs. Mordant and corrosive opener ‘Celebration #1’ sets the tone with its wailing guitar jams and Messiah-like monologue, while ‘No Cops’ makes like the imaginary soundtrack to an orgiastic party somewhere in the LA hills as the summer of love gave way to an era of greed and paranoia. ‘Sunday Mourning’ is the sound of blood dripping on the twitching remains of a generation’s super ego and with a rockabilly strut, ‘Egypt Berry’ chases the White Rabbit down into a cosmic underworld while shaking its burning tail feathers
With new Who Sold My Generation, Night Beats have not only painted it black, they’ve torched the fucker and driven it off the cliff, crashing and burning into the arid canyon below.
In its afterglow only the lone howl of a solitary coyote remains.
2015 saw the release of the band’s sophomore album, “Bleak.” A more dynamic, adventurous effort, the record matches lush shoegaze soundscapes with driving krautrock beats. Froth toured extensively across the U.S. and Europe in support of the album, opening for acts such as The Drums, Tamaryn, Pond and Craft Spells.
After signing with Wichita Records in 2016, Froth is set to share their third album, “Outside (briefly),” on 2/10/2017. This time around, the band has dialed back the noise, revealing delicately beautiful melodies, intricately arranged instrumentals and some of their most experimental songwriting to date.
2709 Elm Street
Dallas, TX, 75226