The faces of The Temperance Movement may look familiar. Prior to forming their own band, the members played with many big-name acts, such as Deep Purple, Jamiroquai, Ray Davies, The Waterboys, Jack Bruce and James Brown. Since 2011, the band, based out of London and Glasgow, UK have been jamming together, releasing an EP Pride in 2012. Their self-titled debut album, released in 2014, featured the hit single Take It Back, which reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks. Having opened for the iconic Rolling Stones in Europe in 2014, The Temperance Movement played their first shows in America in early 2015 and they will be heading back this way soon with their soulful rock ‘n roll. Their latest album, White Bear will be released in the states on July 15 and guitarist Paul Sayer took some time to speak with Screamer as they prep for the tour.
As mentioned, there is quite a musical resume among the members of the band. So how did they all come together? “We were kind of all based in and around London, and all of us were kind of doing things with music, one way or another,” said Sayer. “A few of us had been playing for different artists, and Phil [Campbell, vocalist] had been a solo artist for a few years. I think we kind of just almost simultaneously all started having the idea that we would like to do something that was our own, more on our own terms. And then I hooked up with Luke [Potashnick], who was the other guitar player in the band until last year when he left. Luke had been on a tour with Phil singing a couple years before that and the three of us just got together and started writing, really more than necessary. We weren’t really a band at that point. We just kind of were writing songs. And then as that progressed and we realized that we were becoming a band and we would need a rhythm section, we spoke to Nick [Fyffe,bass] and Damon [Wilson, drums]…. It wasn’t like there was an audition process or anything like that. It was just a few phone calls between people that already knew each other.”
The group of three that had initially gotten together wrote the majority of the first album but while on tour, the songwriting actually happened mostly during soundchecks and those soundcheck tunes are what make up the majority of White Bear. According to Sayer, “I think that doing that kind of lead this album to sound the way it does. It had a big effect on the sound of the record. One thing about The Temperance Movement is that we don’t really feel like we want to make the same records over again. We didn’t want to repeat the first record with the second one and I doubt we’re gonna want to repeat the second one with the third one. So the way we approach the writing obviously is almost the biggest shaping factor of the sound of the record. So, we’ll still jam in soundchecks, but maybe for the next one we might kind of return to coming at things from more of a song point of view than kind of a jam band. I don’t know. When we sit down to write it, I might change my mind again.”
Since the content of the album was written on the road, it seems almost fitting that the album itself was recording in multiple locations. “The first record, we kind of almost recorded by accident to be honest you,” Sayer said. “We’d booked ourselves some studio time and we’d only booked four days and when we came out of the studio, we’d made a record. Whereas the second one, we kind of knew we wanted it to be a real development and a different sound for us, but before going in, we didn’t quite know exactly what that meant and exactly how we were gonna do it. So the first couple of days that we did was more just a kind of experiment really, and to kind of work out how we were going to move forward with the record, so we did that at Fish Factory, where we made the first one. And that really informed what we were doing next. So then I think we did five days at Rockfield. After that, that was the bulk of the record. And then we kind of went away and listened to everything and we felt like the record maybe needed a couple of more songs, or a couple of different songs. So we did a little bit more writing and then went back into a different studio again for two days, just to do the last couple of tunes.” The final song recorded was Hope I’m Not Losing My Mind, which Sayer feels was exactly the tune they needed to wrap everything up. “That’s actually the very last thing for the album that we recorded and it really felt like we were wrapping the album up by recording that song. And it’s the last thing on the record and it kind of has that effect when you listen to the the album I think, and that’s kind of what it was written for. And it felt like that in the studio. It felt like it was sort of the last three minutes of a year of work.”
Both the cover art and video for the title track White Bear are the work of photographer Steven Sebring, who also directed the Patti Smith documentary Dream of Life. Sayer explained the revolutionary photography system that Sebring has developed: “ One of the things that he’s best known for is recently he’s invented a thing called “Sebring Revolution”. It’s like a dome within his studio and there are a hundred cameras all around the dome. They’re all hooked up to computer so he can put them all together or in a sequence or whatever he wants to do with it really. So you get these 360 degree images which can also move and spin and then if you move while the cameras are moving you get some really strange effects… It’s funny. Although it’s quite a technical thing, the end result is actually quite unpredictable, because you have cameras going off in kind of a strange order- within milliseconds of each other but all the shutters are firing off and the person inside the dome moves and you end up with something which is a photo of the person in the dome, but it’s almost in another dimension… And it’s weird. Even though he’s a genius and has developed all this technology, it’s almost like even he doesn’t know what you’re gonna get from it until you do it. And then you just kind of do with it… but because of the album title, we felt that it was pretty fitting to have some imagery which is almost like a photograph but almost kind of with a slightly spiritual element to it and almost like you could see the soul of something coming out or something like that.”
Speaking of the album, what DOES that actually mean? Well, as Sayer shared, “The White Bear Experiment-it was a psychological experiment, and the white bear was just used as an example but the crux of it is to do with unwanted thoughts and the notion that if you tell somebody not to think about something, they can’t help but think about it. And when the study was done, they would say to somebody, ‘Whatever you do, don’t think about a white bear’ and then obviously the first thing you think of is a white bear…We thought it was a pretty apt title for our second album because often for bands and everyone involved with them, the second album is almost like the elephant in the room…And I think people are often quite worried about it and they often deal with it by not talking about it or just trying not to think about it or pushing it to the back of your head… So this idea of unwanted thoughts and having something that you can’t help but think about even though maybe you don’t want to is really fitting for the title of the second record I think.”
The Temperance Movement is most definitely excited to get back to the States, as they felt a real connection with the fans when they toured last year. Of course, they love playing anywhere and everywhere, but as Sayer shared, “I’m really looking forward to Detroit and Chicago. When we were touring there, that part of the States really felt like the people got into us there before anybody else. It seemed like a pretty good fit for us…They just seemed to understand the music that we’re making and they seemed to be from kind of a similar place as us, despite the 4000 miles between us. We seemed to kind of identify with them and them with us really easily.” The band will be hitting the States briefly in July, but will be back over for two months in September and October, when they will be able to reach many more locations. In addition, stay tuned to the band’s website and social media to read their tour diary as they go along.