Temple Fang from The Netherlands is slowly but certainly becoming an undeniable force in heavy space rock worldwide. And yet, they have not recorded a single studio album to this day. They did do two amazing live albums (Live at Merleyn from 2022, and Fang Temple from 2021) but this EP is actually their fist attempt at some studio magic. And magical it is! There are two longform songs on here, Jerusalem, and The Bridge.
Jerusalem is a strong song with huge vocal choruses and deep noodling valleys. It soars epically, combining elements of space rock, stoner, and more progressive elements , ultimately building their own house that is not linked to any other. The Bridge opens up a completely different side of the band, a much calmer version of Temple Fang with a vibe that reminds of Black Sabbath‘s Planet Caravan. Together they show two faces of a band that has in fact many more in them. Just visit one of their live shows to see those. I for one, would welcome a full studio album of their musical prowess like the force they show on display here. Until then, this EP will have to make do.
I talked to bass guitarist and vocalist Dennis Duijnhouwer, who introduces the band and carefully explains their story. A story that might have just begun…
How are you? How has the pandemic period and its aftermath
been for Temple Fang?
Many bands will tell you a similar story, it’s really hard to keep a band together when the thing that bonds you, playing your music for a live audience, falls away for that long. We tried everything we could to stay active and keep the feeling of a band as a gang, but we still ended up losing a member and almost breaking up. When we found our current drummer Egon, we decided to ditch all we had done before, create some new jams and when things opened back up, we hit the road as hard as we could. Since then we’ve played a zillion shows and have really found a new commitment to doing Temple Fang. We are very grateful for this amazing tour season, everyone was so starving for live-music it made for an intense shared experience.
Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?
Jevin de Groot (vox, guitar) and me met when I was doing a barshift and was playing this CD-R from a band called Slint, an album called Spiderland, something I had then recently
discovered and was obsessed with. It was kind of my own private secret this record as I didn’t really know anyone who was into this. Jevin walked in the place and immediately came up to the counter and yelled “Spiderland!” at me, we struck up a conversation about this masterpiece and I ended up giving him the CD when he left. Some time later I walked into a rock bar in Amsterdam called the Pits and saw him fronting a band called The Felchers, I had an overwhelming sense of needing to connect with him and do music together, and that just so happened not long after when one of the bands he played in, a punk band named Brezhnev, needed a bass player and we went on our first tour together. (Interesting side note, my former bandmate Oeds Beydals (Iron Jinn) had also walked into that same bar, saw Jevin and decided to dedicate himself to electric guitar.).
Ivy van der Veer (guitar) was a kid I had heard about around town, he was in a whole bunch of bands either playing guitar or drums, and when a friend played me some recordings he was on I made a mental note that if I ever needed a guitar player he would be the guy I’d call first, very musical dude.
Egon Loosveldt (drums) we met through our drum auditions when we lost our first drummer. We were already kind of done with the auditions when Egon send us a very sincere and interesting email, saying he saw us play Sonic Whip festival in Nijmegen in 2019 and he imagined himself to be our drummer. It took one jam with him to realize he was indeed our guy, we took that jam and basically turned it into the set we’ve been playing on this tour.
What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?
Oh, that’s a complicated subject. I guess we all have very seemingly contradictory backgrounds. For example, Jevin is the biggest Grateful Deadhead I know, but the first band we played in together was a punk band so besides being a ’70s psychnoodler, he’s also an amazing Ramones style, punk-rock downstroker. Also, listening to him playing Willy Nelson songs in soundcheck is a real treat. Ivy’s first band was a Poison Idea cover-band and he still plays drums in a punk band with his dad called Teenage Tits but is also probably the biggest Yes fan in the band, he might be the most prog guy in Temple Fang. And he has an Opeth tattoo… Egon’s background is still a bit of a mystery to us, he’s definitely the most musically trained person in the band, he’s a jazz guy but he’s always had a thing for loud, underground
guitar music. Egon loves Norwegian jazz-rock, Motorpsycho, Elephant 9, Needlepoint and such. But he’s also spend a lot of time in South America and has strong connections with that scene. As for me, I’ve always kind of been all over the place musically. I was into terrible guitar-shredding when I was a kid and things like Zappa. Since then I’ve expanded my influences to include everything from John Coltrane, Bad Brains, Mahavisnu Orchestra. And Hendrix of course. I have to mention one album in particular that changed the course of my personal musical journey, when I heard Tool-Undertow I got so obsessed with the
bass sound on that record I ended up trading my strat in for a Rickenbacker bass.
Furthermore, the past few years I’ve been really tryin to focus on songwriting and trying to learn from the greats, so I take a lot of influence from Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and such. And contemporary artists like Weyes Blood.
What does a regular day in your life look like?
For me right now, TF is pretty much a full time job. I get up in the morning, do some yoga, then start answering emails, checking mixes, collecting artwork ideas from Jevin, uploading
rehearsal recordings, working on new music ideas etc. Lately it’s been hard to find, but I’ll try to get some ‘me’ time in later in the evening, to get in my creative zone, which could consist of me playing bass along to dub records, writing ‘poetry’, listening to records, just anything that has no real purpose behind it other than just being in the moment. Or just getting lost in youtube rabbit holes and feeling really dirty after that.
What can you tell me about the way you have released albums so far? It’s far from the conventional “studio album cycle” right?
Jevin says it best, we work with what’s in front of us. Because our creative process is so collective, it’s difficult to make a solid plan and stick to it. So we just kind of wander in the dark until we find something. Now our band is becoming a bit more of a ‘career’, there’s a bit more pressure to follow ‘album cycles’ but we try to work with labels that understand our way of working and respect it. We try not to make much of a difference between live albums, studio albums, EP’s or whatever, there all just things that we do that capture us wherever we are at a particular moment.
Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?
We live and operate from Amsterdam, Holland. Ivy grew up here and me and Jevin have lived here for a long time. To say there’s a ‘scene’ here for what we do would be lying, we’ve got a network of friends who are all involved in music and art but everyone is operating in different ‘scenes’. Amsterdam is a difficult city for bands, it’s expensive and crowded and being dominated by money and the people involved in that. We’re lucky to have a great studio now, after having been pushed around by gentrification for years. We’ll just have to wait til the neo-liberal system eats itself and collapses and then artists can move back to this beautiful city and create something new from the rubble.
What are your favorite contemporary bands and albums right now?
We’ve played a ton of ’stoner’ festivals this year which made us pretty weary of downtuned Kyuss/Sleep influenced bands, but there’s been a handful of bands we’ve seen and played with that blew us away, Elder, Yob, Ecstatic Vision, Spill Gold, Neptunian Maximalism to name a few. We’re always curious to see what Motorpsycho and King Gizzard put out, or guitar pickers like Steve Gunn or Ryley Walker. Daniel Romano I’ve been obsessing over lately and also, this 2019 record by Dutch singer Eefje de Visser called Bitterzoet has been on repeat. And I’ve been deep diving in the new Richard Dawson record, the ambition he displays on a songwriting level is something I take a lot of inspiration from.
And because of my friend Abel from Hang Youth, I’ve been deep-diving into a lot of modern Dutch hiphop, the grimier, the better. I bet no one expects someone in TF to be influenced by Mula B, but I am.
Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?
Also in Jevin’s words, we work in layers. So a song that may be birthed as a riff or chord progression one of us has, gets taken to rehearsal, jammed on, rewritten, tried live a couple times, rewritten again etc. Sometimes there’s themes that keep coming back in jams that eventually become songs of their own. It rarely works if one of us brings a complete song in, I wish it was that easy, but it’s not. And songs keep changing after they’re recorded too, that’s why a song might be on multiple albums we do. Also lately we’ve been embracing riffs or melodies being in different songs, we’ve stopped resisting such things, it’s just
how it works for us.
What is “the dream” when it comes to being an artist?
We’re sort of constantly in a creative zone, our music is in a constant state of flux and there’s always new things happening. If my biggest nightmare is playing in a band doing the same set over and over or having to play the ‘hits’, then this must be the dream!
What are your upcoming plans, and what are you looking
forward to most? We’re putting a new EP out on 29-11 and have a new release after that already in the works, more on that soon. Most looking forward to the next rehearsal, we’re working on a bunch of new music that’s starting to take shape so I’m always excited to see what’s gonna happen to these pieces.
What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?
Take a moment to count your blessings that there’s bands out there really going for it, putting in the time and the miles on the road. We’ve all missed it so much, we should never take it for granted! Peace, XO DD/TF