What is it about the '60s? Why does that decade still seem to affect music more than any other? Guitarist and keyboardist Adam Smith believes he has the answer.
"There was an evolution of thinking and freedom of expression that I and many people are obsessed with. Also, technology was developing so fast; music was trying to keep up with that, which made for a great time for the development of pop music," Smith says.
He and his Temples bandmates are especially enamored with the Age of Aquarius. Their two records are a blast of psychedelic sounds that would make Syd Barrett proud. Their latest album, Volcano, released earlier this year, continues a dreamy, lysergic journey into listeners' ear canals.
Temples was formed in Kettering, England, in 2012 by singer and guitarist James Bagshaw and bassist Thomas Walmsley. Smith immediately fell in love with the sound the pair put together. "I had completed a master's in music. Like every student, I was jobless," Smith says. "James and Thomas played me 'The Golden Throne,' and I loved it. I joined, and we started doing gigs."
Smith wasn't the only one who adored Temples' retro sound. Their debut album, Sun Structures, became a Top 10 hit on the UK charts.
Volcano, Smith believes, is even groovier; he and drummer Samuel Toms contributed to the songwriting process. "The first record was mostly James and Thomas," he says. "Naturally, with more people writing, you get more scope and inspiration. Each of our songwriting methods is different. The sound is also different. The bass has changed, so it's more of a high-fidelity album."
Asked whether he takes a more academic approach to making music than his bandmates because he holds a master's degree, Smith responds, "It's not like I sit in my tweed jacket and give critiques. For the master's, I wrote an album, but I'm not showing anyone it. Maybe one day I'll put it out there for people to hear."
For now, he'll join Temples on the road for an American tour that will include the band's first Florida show, scheduled for Monday, May 8, at Gramps. "We're not too good in the sun, but I'd love to see the swamps and the alligators. We might be the pale English guys you see out there wearing big hats," Smith laughs.
As for the Temples show, Smith describes it as a departure from the album. "We play half the songs off the new album. Some songs adhere to how they sound on the record; some are changed to be louder and heavier. There's more energy than on the recording, and there's a light show."
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Smith thinks Temples will begin to work on a third album in the very near future because the bandmates enjoyed taking trips from their homes in London to the recording studio Bagshaw had set up for them. "We're going to write again soon. We toured the first album extensively for over two years. This time we're eager not to tour that long and to start working again."
But though much of the great music of the '60s was influenced by tumultuous times, Smith isn't sure if Temples will turn to the headlines to find inspiration for their next album.
"There's quite a lot of stuff to write about the way the world is going," he says, "but I don't know if that won't just make us sad or angry."