ESKIMO JOE frontman KAV TEMPERLEY tells RACHEL BARNESabout finally accepting and endorsing the notion of a trademark sound.
With huge hits throughout Eskimo Joe’s career, it might be surprising to find out that the band’s frontman, Kav Temperley, considers Ghosts Of The Past’s number three debut in the album charts their best debut yet. “We got a number one with Inshalla but I think we were … I don’t know, maybe full of our own selves at that point in time. We were just like, ‘Uh, of course we got number one,’” Temperley says mockingly. “But this time round Jay Z and Adele were in front of us and it just felt really, really positive to get number three. I think it was the most excited we’ve been.”
When the band produced Black Fingernails Red Wine it was the culmination of three albums’ worth of ideas and experience – but despite it being their biggest commercial success, they were hesitant with the statement it was making. “For us it felt dangerous to step out there and go, ‘Fuck you, we’re going to do a big rock & roll record and we’re gonna make the claim that it is a big rock & roll record.’ We didn’t really know how that was going to go down, but it worked,” Temperley says.
When it came to writing Inshalla, Temperley wanted to experiment and “keep the danger” – although in retrospect he thinks the album should perhaps have been ‘Black Fingernails Part Two’. But … “We just can’t do that, we’re not that band. We always have to kick against what we did before,” he says. And kick against it they did, with Inshalla going places the band had never been before. Plus the decision to bring in a big time producer had noticeably changed the band’s dynamic. “We did that record and it just felt quite kind of bloated, overproduced, over-thought, ‘cause we’d been thinking about it for years,” Temperley recalls.
Staying true to themselves, the boys changed tack again from the Inshalla experience and dove head first into Ghosts Of The Past. Recording the album in just three months, the trio wanted to put out a record that felt like a moment in time. Relaxing into the idea of simply being Eskimo Joe, they finally accepted sounding like Eskimo Joe. “What I’m really proud of about this record is that if your press play at any part of the record you know exactly what record you’re listening to, and it sounds like an Eskimo Joe record.
Temperley laughs. “And we’re probably the most qualified people to make an Eskimo Joe record.”
Though Ghosts Of The Past has been received very positively, the real test is yet to come. Taking the new songs on tour, Temperley is excited to see if the songs connect with fans. “People can write great reviews about it and stuff, which is lovely, but at the end of the day it’s really all about how the greater audience who listen to your music actually connect with it,” he says.
No matter what happens during the tour, Eskimo Joe are now equipped with their own studio (The Wasteland) and will head straight back inside after the tour and hope to produce a follow-up album – another moment in time – by November next year. Or as Temperley jokes, “Ghosts Of The Past Part 2 or Eskimo Joe Reloaded.”
ESKIMO JOE play the Caloundra Music Festival on Friday Oct 7, Toowoomba’s Full Noise Festival on Saturday Oct 8 and The Tivoli on Sunday Oct 9 (supported by Bonjah). GHOSTS OF THE PAST is out now through Dirt Diamond/Warner. Visit www.eskimojoe.net for more.