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The Peep Tempel
The Peep Tempel

Touring in support of their second album, Tales, The Peep Tempel play Jimmy’s Den on Thursday, May 7; the Prince Of Wales, Bunbury,  on Friday, May 8, Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, on Saturday, May 9, and Mojos on Sunday, May 10. MATTHEW TOMICH reports.

Blake Scott, vocalist/guitarist of Melbourne’s The Peep Tempel, has fond memories of the band’s origins.

“It sounds a bit cheesy but when we started as a two-piece, the main thing was if you can’t dance to it, we don’t want to play it,” he says. “It’s basically like, wanting to have a good time.”

Though their music has since involved in the six-plus years since their formation, that danceable, celebratory feel still underpins the songs on The Peep Tempel’s second long-player, Tales. But this is not party rock; beneath all those good vibes and grooving hooks sits a tension that bubbles beneath the surface. It rears its ugly head only in the smallest of cathartic bursts, but that tension, says Scott, is a necessary product of the band’s recording process, where the mixture of nerves, pressure and limited studio time produce the restless energy that makes the songs so compelling.

“I think the nervousness is just us in the studio,” he says. “You get in there and you really want to do your absolute best and I can only speak for myself personally but I get as nervous in the studio – especially for the first couple of days – as I do doing a live show. And I think those nerves are good for you. And then you might do a couple of takes where you feel like you might be letting the other guys down. So you know, if you’re getting to the end of a lot of takes and fucking them up just before you finish, it does create a lot of tension. And that did happen a few times on the album with certain songs. But I think it’s a healthy tension. I don’t think you can manufacture that. I think that’s just what happens with the way we interact with each other in the studio.”

There’s a subtle brilliance to The Peep Tempel’s second album that becomes apparent with repeat listens. Judge them on their simpler, rocky fare like Tales’ opener, Gettin’ On By, and you’ll mistake them for an energetic but merely adequate power trio. But pay close attention to Scott’s diverse vocal delivery and the detailed portraits of characters – and caricatures – he paints in his lyrics and you’ll find a microcosm of modern Australiana sung by one man in half a different voices. Take the morose Waystone King’s Men’s Home, he channels Mark Lanegan as he waxes on the seeming inevitability of emasculation, while on the aforementioned Carol he narrates a bitter tale of unrequited love over a rhythm that’s part pub rock, part Factory Record post-punk.

Most of the songs on Tales are about specific people, be they real, fiction or composite, but Scott plays them all like a method actor in an impressive display of just how diverse you can be with drums, guitars, bass and a sardonic but charismatic frontman.

These upcoming WA shows – which come on the heels of a supporting tour that saw the band open for Mariachi El Bronx around the country – mark something of a homecoming for Scott, having grown up southeast of Perth in the small town of Narrogin before moving to Melbourne around a decade ago. Though he’s been back since, his band mates have never visited the state, and these shows will be the first The Peep Tempel play to Scott’s hometown crowd.

As for what follows, the trio are in no rush to produce a follow up to Tales, though they’re already seven songs into their next release. Now that they’ve figured out what kind of a band they are, Scott seems eager to build on the momentum of the last half-year.

“We don’t have to force anything. We’re an independent band and we don’t owe anyone anything. It’s been a really good six months since the record came out. You know, people are coming to the shows and it’s been a real spark, a real creative spark. I think the band’s playing well now, we’re interacting with each other as people better. Everything’s just better. We’re really starting to hit our stride as a band and that takes a really long time.”

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