ATH Interviews: Here We Go Magic
Before their sold out show at the Parish, ATH stopped by End of an Ear in Austin on Tuesday for an intimate in-store performance by Brooklyn band Here we go Magic. Shortly after the set, we had the chance to sit down with founding member Luke Temple to ask him a few questions about his newly formed band. We talk about what it’s been like touring with Grizzly Bear, the future of his band, and tons more interesting tidbits. Follow the jump to read our full interview with Luke Temple.
ATH: You guys are obviously getting a lot of exposure touring with Grizzly Bear. How’s the tour going so far?
LT: It’s going really well. It was an adjustment at first because the first few shows were really nerve racking. The first two shows were a little bit scary but after about the third show we found our groove. We were more relaxed and started playing good shows. The luxury of playing with them is that we have sold out crowds everywhere. I think we also have a pretty good crossover with their audience. Their crowd is usually pretty interested in listening to music if you know what I mean.
ATH: You say it’s scary. Is it scary just opening for such a big name or are the huge crowds intimidating?
LT: First it was just playing Town Hall because myself and the rest of the band put a lot of pressure on ourselves for that. When you have really high expectations, usually you’re let down. We also just came into the tour taking the whole thing way too seriously and we realized not to take it so seriously and started having better shows. I don’t feel like threatened by them or anything. We definitely have a great comradere with those guys. It’s just great to see them play every night.
ATH: Prior to this band you were primarily a solo artist. What made you want to put a band together?
LT: I don’t know, I just kind of wanted to be a part of something.
ATH: Well how did you end up getting together?
LT: The guitar player (Michael Bloch) was my roommate and I had played with him on many other different projects. The drummer Peter I knew in New York for years and we’d always see each other at parties and flirted with the idea of playing together. Jennifer the bass player actually was a fan and was coming to shows. When we first started playing shows we actually had a different bass player. Jennifer would talk to us after shows and she just loved the music. Before anyone really liked it, we were really really bad and she heard where we were trying to go at first. Then this one time I ran into her at this party and she said if we ever needed a bass player to please let her know. It turned out that we had just let our other bass player go so I said well actually tomorrow you can come try out. So she came and it was a really perfect fit. Kristina was in this band Amazing Baby in New York and someone referred me to her just as a singer but then I found out that she played keys. So we all kind of jammed it together last minute. We had these Department of Eagles shows so we had to get a band together in 2 weeks.
ATH: So do you think you’ll go back to being solo or is this band a permanent thing for a while?
LT: Well this band’s just going to be around as long as we can stand each other (laughs)… Hopefully we’ll be together for the unforeseeable future. No question we’ll have another album finished by early fall actually.
ATH: Will that include unreleased track “The Collector” that you played on Daytrotter? We love that one.
LT: Yeah it’s gonna be on there. I have so far 9 tunes that are done. Not really flushed out with the band yet but we’re going to take all of September and record.
ATH: So are you still the primary song writer or is the band included in that process?
LT: Yeah, this music is a little bit more linear than the music I had written before. It has more harmonic complexities and more dense forms. I’m trying to keep this stuff really simple so I write just really simple structures. I’m not stressing too much about a specific narrative or a specific story, I’m just keeping it with an open imagery and kind of psychedelic. So I am writing the songs but it also has a lot of parts so it’s sort of inter-dependent on what they bring to it when we record. Like “Tunnelvision” would’ve sounded really boring with just and acoustic guitar.
ATH: In that same area, how have the songs changed live as opposed to when you record the album on your own?
LT: Well it’s gotten a lot louder. We’ve become more of a rock band. The Here we go Magic record was made kind of with pots and pans, not literally, but you know what I mean. I just had one tom, one microphone, a synth and an acoustic guitar. I didn’t have a full drum kit or normal bass, it was just all synth stuff that I did myself. Now we have a full band and it’s electrified music. We can’t help ourselves from making it more rock and roll. The live show is going to translate really well onto the next record I think.
ATH: How does a Brooklyn band end up on our very own label Western Vinyl?
LT: I have friends in this band Callers that are on that label and they’re from Brooklyn. Ryan, the guitar player for that band, was a fan of my music and gave Brian at Western Vinyl the record. He got in touch with me after that. I didn’t really send it around to anybody. I actually have a solo Luke Temple sort of country record and of course this Here we go Magic record. Originally he was just going to put out my solo record but I felt like the Here we go Magic record would be much better received if we struck with it now. So he just put it out after that.
ATH: Will the Luke Temple one be put out on WV?
LT: Yeah we’re probably going to do that after the next Here we go Magic record comes out. The next Here we go Magic record is going to come out on Secretly Canadian and they are a much bigger label with a lot more muscle. So when they put out that record and it sort of bolsters my name, then Brian will have an easier time putting out the Luke Temple record.
ATH: Do you play a lot of shows by yourself? Just wondering if it’s frustrating having to postpone that solo stuff for a year or so.
LT: I used to yeah. No because right now I’m just so invested in this really. I just want to make another record with this and keep touring because it’s really exciting. I’ve never had a band that feels like a band before. I’ve played in groups in like high school and I’ve put bands together for my own stuff. The psychology with that stuff was just always hired guns and wanting to get paid at the end of the show even if they were my friends. This feels like we’re in it together. Everybody is willing to take a hit if we have to because we really believe in it. More and more I feel myself becoming a part of it. It’s really nice.
ATH: Reading a review of the new record online from Pitchfork, they said one of your songs sounded like “a field recording of a 1971 Paul Simon acid trip”. Do you feel like that’s accurate?
LT: I guess the field recording probably comes from the fact that it was done on 4-track so a lot of hiss comes out. On the Paul Simon thing, I don’t really have any overt problem with Paul Simon, I just feel like it’s a really lazy comparison. I guess the first song “Pieces” has some African polyrhythm in there but I wasn’t really thinking about African music per se, I was just trying to fuck around with rhythms. Once it’s a non-traditional drum kit and polyrhythm, I guess people call that African for some reason. Then I have a high tenor voice so I guess they get Paul Simon from that too. I even got Vampire Weekend one time…
ATH: That’s the new thing right now. People are just getting really lazy with every African influenced artists out there being labeled as sounding like Paul Simon.
LT: Yeah it’s like he is somehow the godfather of thousands of years of music…(laughs)
ATH: Can you think of a better comparison or description?
LT: The influence come through in a subconscious means probably because I try to be as open as possible. When I’m making a record I usually don’t listen to music because I don’t want to dilute things. I like to keep it as pure as possible. I don’t really think in those terms. I could tell you when I was making it I was listening to Arthur Russell, this rural Ethiopian music, and some Ariel Pink. That was all months before I started recording and I stop listening to music when I record. I wouldn’t really know what to specifically compare it to. Not to say that it’s completely unique, I just have so many influences.
ATH: You used to be a painter before you were a musician. Do you still take time for that outlet?
LT: I mean I draw and fuck around with a sketch book and stuff and I made the record cover. I don’t do it as a sincere effort like it used to be. Painting was something that I too very seriously for a long time and I went to school for it. That was what I was going to do when I grew up ya know? I think a part of me is a little heart broken that I stopped so I don’t even want to look at it. Music creatively is the same. My brain doesn’t know the difference. I’m just doing the same thing as far as it’s concerned. Sometimes the solitary process of painting is really nice and I miss that. I don’t want to do it part time. I like to fully emerse myself into what I’m doing. I have fantasies that maybe when I’m old I’ll have a barn in the south of France or something like that.
ATH: Brooklyn seems like it’s hot for new artists right now. Do you have any that you are a fan of?
LT: Yeah! Grizzly Bear and Dirty Projectors are pretty ferocious. I like Animal Collective even though they’re barely New York now. This band Flying are friends of mine and they are a duo with just a keyboard player and a drummer. Another girl duo called Talk Normal is really great with just a girl on drums and a girl on guitar. They’re really great. Yeasayer is cool. We actually just signed on the same label as them so they may pair us together. It’s a market with bands who have a very specific aesthetic. Their are so many, I just kind of check out my friends bands and just stay at home. If you’re checking out bands all the time, you’re not going to have time to make your own band. Know what I mean?
ATH: You guys were in town for SXSW. What’s your take on the festival and Austin in genera?
LT: Oh it’s great. I love it. It makes me not want to live in New York speaking of. Like we went to Barton Springs this morning and that place is awesome.