When you're a hot band with a growing reputation on both sides of the Atlantic, who’ve slaved away on the ‘difficult’ second album for months, you don’t expect your founding guitarist to turn around and quit out of the blue after the record’s in the can.
But that’s what happened to British bluesrockers The Temperance Movement, as Luke Potashnick decided he wanted to focus on his production and songwriting career instead. It leaves the band in an awkward position, as remaining six-stringer Paul Sayer confirms Potashnick was a key component of new long-player, White Bear, which is out in January.
“By the time Luke had decided that he wanted to leave, the album had been made, so he was involved in it in the same way everybody else was,” confirms Paul. “It was a good thing – it would have been pretty weird if we’d have known! I don’t think we could have done it if we’d known he was leaving.”
Embracing the studio
But done it they have, and if lead single Three Bullets is anything to go by, the band have embraced the studio somewhat after the stripped-down vibe of their self-titled 2013 debut.
“I guess the first record was maybe a slight rebellion against what a lot of us had been doing musically up until then, which was a fair bit of session work and stuff like that,” Paul observes.
“When we made the first record we wanted an antithesis of that I suppose. So we wanted bare bones, minimal gear, no overdubs. But then, having toured that record, I guess we were ready to get a bit more involved in sounds and stuff – we were searching for something a bit different again. That doesn’t mean that the band have broken out the AutoTune and gated snares, however – White Bear is still an old-school record.
All together now
“Everything was tracked together all in the same room,” says Paul. “But then we’d go back and do guitar overdubs or other parts if we wanted to add to it. We didn’t really fix anything.
“The way we record, there’s often a lot of spill from one thing to another – so there’d be loads of guitar in the drum overheads, for example. So, if you need to change the guitar track, you’re going to have to lose the drum track as well – so there’s kind of a real reliance on each other, and it has to be in one take, really.”
Speaking of reliance, Paul turned to his trusty Teles and ES-335s for much of White Bear, though a 60s Gibson Melody Maker and his old Strat were also frequent collaborators, while “the sound of the record” came from some vintage EHX Memory Man delay units.
“There’s something about a Memory Man that sparks a bit of creativity in me,” enthuses Paul. “They seem almost unpredictable in some ways.”
Intricate guitar interplay has always been a key part of TTM’s sound, and rather than try to muddle by, the band got ringer Jacob Hildebrand to fill in for recent gigs – so is he likely to become a permanent feature?
“The thing with Jacob is, he’s great… but he lives in Austin!” Paul explains. “When you’re touring, it’s fine, but when it comes to writing and all that kind of stuff, it is going to be a little bit difficult. So… we’re looking!” Better get those CVs in…
White Bear is released on 15 January 2016 on Earache Records