The common thread that runs through
Temple's mostly acoustic music is his lonely high-octave voice.
Not a falsetto, his breathy voice has a pitch and delivery that
falls somewhere in a territory bordered by Elliott Smith and The
Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne. It's a quiet, almost restrained tone
from a singer/songwriter who, at age 30, is coming to the rock-n-roll
party a little later than usual.
Born in Salem, Mass., Temple has bounced between the east and west
coasts his whole life, moving from Mendocino to Boston to study
for five years at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Then it
was off to New York City. "I had a trajectory to become a painter
and show my work there," he said. "I didn't take music
seriously until I was 25 or 26, though I'd already been playing
around town for years."
Eventually some of Temple's recordings made it to Seattle and tiny
Mill Pond Records. The label wanted to sign him, but despite eking
out a living doing menial chores like house painting and parking
cars, Temple was reticent about leaving the Big Apple. When his
girlfriend was offered a spot at a Seattle dance company, Temple
moved with her and signed a contract. "It's been the best move
I've made so far in my career," he said, adding that it was
time to get out of NYC. "Seattle is the antidote for New York,
just like New York is the antidote for Seattle. The scene there
is pretty rock and roll. It's not like my music isn't a natural
sound for Seattle, but they've been really welcoming. Everyone knows
each other and hangs out, from top tier to lowest tier. It doesn't
seem as exclusive as New York."
With his debut full-length slated for release April 19, Temple
is hitting the road for the first time in his life, traveling with
his pals from New York band The End of the World, who not only share
the double bill (and the van), but also play alongside Temple on
a few numbers.
As any first-time touring act would expect, the draw to his shows
so far has been somewhat limited, ranging from as few as three people
at one gig to a full house in Austin, where he played as part of
the South by Southwest festival.
Is performing to a small crowd discouraging? "Honestly, it's
not," Temple said. "I've learned playing all these shows
that if only two people are there, it's better than nobody. Our
record isn't even out yet. People will start coming out for us eventually;
I'm not concerned about it. We just keep getting better as a band,
and the rest will work itself out."
Published in The Omaha Reader March 30, 2005.
Copyright © 2006 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
"Seattle is the antidote for New
York, just like New York is the antidote for Seattle."