Templeton Pek (The VH Interview)

How many bands can boast supporting the likes of Bad Religion, The Offspring, NOFX and Alkaline Trio in their home town, as well as supporting bands like Millencolin and Zebrahead across Europe?

Tonight is the beginning on one of those tours that come around once in a blue moon, two legendary bands and you are the opening act, and not only that the first night of the tour is your home town.

Neal – It’s really bizarre, especially a band the size of The Offspring, the biggest band we’ve toured with. It is weird to start it here in Birmingham, I was thinking about it last time we played, I think we are the only band to have played all three stages in this Academy and the old one, I’m going to continue to make that claim unless anyone corrects me.

How do you feel about playing a home town crowd, because when Birmingham bands play in Birmingham everyone seems to make sure they get out for them.

Kev – Hopefully, we’ll find out at half past seven!

Neal – It’s a weird one, because you can never really predict it because sometimes when you think loads of people are going to be there, they are slow to come through the door, it’s bizarre. NOFX was great for us, so if it’s half as good as that then I’ll be happy.

Kev – It’s a real privilege to play with bands like this, it doesn’t happen to many bands and we’ve been lucky over the years to play with some really cool bands. Call it luck or timing, but they must like what we do.

It’s all legendary modern day Punk bands that you have supported, NOFX, Offspring, you were out with Millencolin…

Neal – We’re working our way through the Fat Wreck roster I think, that’s the thing though, once you are in with a few of them, they know of you and know your name, so if there are slots going, then you get asked.

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The album came our last year, and I know you obviously recorded it prior to that, but what was the recording process on that like out in California?

Kev – Another connection there, Fletcher from Pennywise helped me out with all his guitar stuff. Our manager has been amazing for us, at the point that we made that album we didn’t know what we were going to be doing, a few things happened with the last release, but he kind of gave us a lifeline, he gave us an opportunity to go out there for not a lot of money, Fletcher would pop by most days, we were really looked after.

Neal – The whole area of Hermosa Beach, it’s where Black Flag came from, it’s where the Descendants came from, Pennywise as well, and like Kev said Fletcher lent us his entire rig of amps to use, it was really like “this is bizarre” and all of those guys have got connections with these kinds of bands, which helps us out. For me it was the best recording experience just because it was so laid back.

Kev – You get to go to the beach everyday.

I was going to ask, do you record and then just go out and chill in the sun?

Jon – We finished about four o’clock everyday and went down the beach.

Kev – Start at ten, finish at four and head to the beach, then meet everyone for dinner in the evening. It was just perfect!

Jon – We expected it to be a hard slog, but it was easy. I’d never recorded so easy in my life, it was brilliant

Kev – We finished early as well, we were there technically for a month but we finished about two and a half weeks in so we had some time to travel and see a bit of California as well.

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The album before that, you recorded in New York didn’t you? You are one of the lucky ones in that you get to ship off to record.

Neal – Bizarrely it was actually cheaper to record in LA, than it was to record in England which is a ridiculous state of affairs considering how much it costs to fly out there and everything.

Is that just the state of recording studios in the UK, that they are in short supply?

Neal – Yeah, for a decent level! We had Cameron Webb mix it, he mixed Sum 41, Motorhead, Pennywise some massive albums and he mixed our album. It’s ridiculous!

Surreal moments, when you realise who you are working with?

Neal – Definitely, very bizarre!

It came out a year ago, and with the UK industry the album cycle is a bit shorter than for American bands. Have you started thinking about new music, and heading to the studio?

Neal – We are always thinking about what we are going to do next, because a lot of times when we are recording, we end up having to sit on it for like six months whilst waiting for labels to do all their stuff with releasing it, so we are always looking ahead to what we are going to do next.

Kev – When the Millencolin tour finished, we started writing from then and that was March. We’re just demoing and working stuff out, we’ve actually been revolutionised to the iRig thing- when you can plug your guitar straight into you phone, because we don’t actually all live in Birmingham any more so it is an easy way to send stuff.

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A lot of people are doing that, I’ve heard of bands writing a whole album in that way.

Neal – It is amazing that you can do it, just sending a rough track to each other, that’s as easy as it gets. We still all rehearse together and stuff, but when it comes to recording demos we do it as quick and as fast as we can.

In August you’ve got the headline show downstairs in the 02. With headline Birmingham shows, are they something you try and do few and far between, so that you don’t saturate yourselves to the local audience?

Kev – When we had shows in the past in Birmingham, we’ve done them free at a venue called the Flapper, but they’ve never really been pushed that much, it is more just for our mates because we don’t play that much in England. But this one is our first proper published show, and hopefully it’ll go all right. We’ve put out for local bands to support us, and I think they are getting us a list together.

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So you’re heavily involved in the booking?

Kev – Yeah, we want some good Birmingham bands to support us.

Neal – That’s one thing we do like to do when we are headlining, we like to get involved with who is supporting us rather than just leaving it to the promoters. We’ve had bad experience were it ends up being a Death Metal band, or a Jazz trio.

That could really ruin a show.

Jon – When you are trying to create an atmosphere absolutely.

Neal – We aren’t looking for people who play exactly the same music, but we want bands that we like and we want to support, give them a leg up.

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When I was doing research leading into this interview, I could only find one Wikipedia page which is in German. What is it about UK Punk bands over in Europe?

Kev – Because over here American bands are more popular!

Neal – That’s exactly how it is, you get treated over there like American bands do in the UK. They appreciate that you’ve traveled such a long distance, but European audiences in general are a lot more welcoming I’ve found.

Jon – They give themselves to you!

Neal – They don’t know any of our songs, they don’t know who we are, but they still go mental!

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Following the interview, the guys took to the stage to open for Bad Religion and The Offspring and it was as one would expect, full of energy and spunk, and thankfully the locals turned up to see their home town boys. If you happen to be a Birmingham native, you can check Templeton Pek out 20th August at the O2 Academy 3, tickets available here and if you head down come say “hi” as having seen them once, we wouldn’t dare miss them.