INTERVIEW: Kav Temperley

For the past 21 years Kav Temperley has fronted the iconic Australian rock band Eskimo Joe. The Perth three piece had massive success with their singles ‘Black Fingernails Red Wine’, ‘From The Sea’ and ‘Foreign Land’ as well as had four Top 3 albums on the Aria Charts. But whilst the band are currently in-between projects Kav has taken the time to work on his highly anticipated solo project. His debut album ‘All Your Devotion’ will be released on September 28 and hears him finding his own voice with a collection of intimate and vulnerable alternative rock songs. His lead single ‘Pollyanna’ hears him exploring happiness and trying to maintain a Pollyanna-ish attitude whilst things aren’t looking so great. The relatable and catchy track will immediately resonate with listeners and take them on a reflective journey. To celebrate the release of the album Kav will also be hitting the road this October and November for a national run of intimate dates. 

I recently chatted to Kav Temperley about distinguishing his solo sound from Eskimo Joe, the times he’s had to have a pollyanna-ish attitude in his career and found out where he’s displayed his Aria Awards. Check it out; 

TB: Your debut single ‘Pollyanna’ hears you exploring happiness and trying to maintain a Pollyanna-ish attitude whilst things aren’t looking so great. So has there been a time in your career where you’ve had to force yourself to have an pollyanna outlook even when you just felt like giving up? 

KT: No one really wants to give up but it’s more that you look at the mountain in front of you and you’re like “how the fuck am I going to climb that” *laughs*. But I guess everyone has those moments in their week, their day or their year that the bills pile up or you’re just dealing with crap and sometimes you just have to say the mantra out loud to yourself in the mirror. “You can do this man, I believe in you”. And really that is what the song was about. I sing the line “Come on Pollyanna, I’m going to give you everything”. That’s basically me singing to myself and giving myself a pep talk. 

TB: Your debut solo album ‘All Your Devotion’ will be released on September 28 and hears you delivering a very honest sound. What was inspiring you whilst you were in the studio?

KT: Im always listening to a lot of music but when you get the chance to create a solo record and you’ve been lucky enough like I have to be apart of a great band with great people it’s kind of like that kid in the candy store mentality where you just want to try and touch everything. The mistakes some people make is go down the path of doing something completely radical and different to anything they’ve done before and it’s got electro beats and they are trying to make it really modern. Where as what I think making music should be about is kinda the opposite. You should walk into the candy store and pick one candy and be like “I fucking love this candy” *laughs* and really that is what the journey was for me. 

I had to find the aesthetic of the record and the perimeters that I could work within. I was trying to write a classic singer-songwriter record because that is just me. My favourite era of that sound is Neil Young ‘Harvest’ and Van Morrison ‘Moondance’ and even early David Bowie with ‘Hunky Dory’. So once I kind of had that vibe, it was really easy to put my songs into that format. Again it was really tempting to add in all those electronic beats but I had to stop and think “what sort of album do you want to listen to?” and I wanted to a great sounding early 70’s record that sounded like it was made yesterday.  

TB: How did you distinguish your solo sound from Eskimo Joe?

KT: It took a while. I wrote a bunch of songs to start with and they sounded like they could’ve been on a Eskimo Joe album. So what I did was put out a EP called ‘Hope Street’ and on that there was four very different songs and there were your electronic beats, your modern sounding songwriting, an Eskimo Joe sounding hook and then there were these two very unique songs that came very naturally. One was called ‘Dancing’ and the other was called ‘Hope Street’ and in those songs was the embryo for what this record would be. So by the time I sat down to write the record I already had an idea of what I wanted which was to strip things back and be genuine. And with a solo album you can be a lot more personal as you’re writing about yourself and your own experiences. Where as when you’re in a band you have to represent two other people so you make your themes a lot more universal. 

TB: What would you say is the albums most vulnerable or strongest moment or lyric? 

KT: Probably a song called ‘Queen Of My Heart’. It’s the most direct and it’s the opening song on the record. A lot of the songs came easy and with others I had to go through every chord and lyric until I got it right. But ‘Queen Of My Heart’ was one of those moments where lightning struck me and I just had this complete song ready to go. I also realised that it was the first since the first Eskimo Joe album that I had actually written an uplifting, hopeful love song *laughs*. Everything from ‘A Song Is A City’ onwards were all these really dark stories and when we started writing that stuff it felt potent. We were like “oh yeah, this is great” and we really felt the power in it but that’s where we were at that time in our lives. Towards the end of the last couple of records of Eskimo Joe I really had to dig for dark stories and I started questioning if I actually wanted to write dark stories anymore. But I was happy doing it. Where as when I started writing this song I was like “fuck it, I’m going to write a happy love song”.

TB: In October and November you will be conducting a massive solo tour to celebrate the release of the album. But In 2014 you did a solo acoustic tour in celebration of the tenth anniversary of Eskimo Joe’s album ‘A Song Is A City’. So what is one thing you learnt about yourself from that tour that you will use in preparation for these upcoming solo shows? 

KT: Well firstly, standing up and playing kick drum is not much fun and a lot of work so I’m going to bring a stool with me and sit down every once in a while *laughs*. But I did that tour as a bit of fun during some time off from Eskimo Joe but I also felt straight away how cool it would be if I could do this with a bunch of new songs. What was great about that tour was that people had known that record and taken it into their lives. But what I saw people get out of that tour was that real “fly on the wall” moment of just you and a guitar without all the bells and the whistles. They were hearing all the stories behind the songs for the first time and thats what sparked the idea for the first tour of this album cycle. Because the album has a lot of drums and production I thought it would be cool to strip it back, play the songs in their raw format and tell the stories before doing a massive full bells and whistles show. So it’s going to be great but kind of intimidating as it’s just me on stage *laughs*. 

TB: What song from the new record are you most excited or nervous to perform live? 

KT: For this tour I’m going to play around 6 or 7 songs from the record and then also play some Eskimo Joe tracks. But songs like ‘Queen Of My Heart’ are quite special. It’s hard to explain but when you have a song that you’ve written that you feel the power of it in you but when you do perform it you actually feel the truth inside of you. I don’t know if I’m just spitting some hippy nonsense right now but in that moment you can feel the electricity in the room and that’s why performers come back to doing it over and over again. 

TB: I was actually going to ask if you were going to play some old Eskimo Joe songs. So are you planning on reimagining them acoustically?

KT: Yeah! I’m going to bring the Eskimo Joe sound back down to the subtle sound I’ve created for this record. Songs like ‘From The Sea’ won’t be super rocking and instead will be super stripped back and almost Jeff Buckley esq. 

TB: From all your touring experiences what is one memory that stands out to you as one of the wildest or craziest experiences?

KT: There have been a lot of stories that I could tell you but they shall remain in the vault until we do the biography *laughs*. But there have been some pretty amazing and bizarre moments. Like, we were on the Big Day Out tour and we were playing Sydney and they were doing it out at the Olympic Stadium and the whole thing is this big concrete block and it was so fricken hot. They clocked it at 57 degrees when were on stage because of the combination of heat, concrete, people and structure. So we of course went on stage with our full rock-n-roll leather boots and outfits and we got to the final song which was ‘Black Fingernails, Red Wine’  and we were all dying of heat and ready to pass out. Stu yelled into the microphone “Sydney” and kicked off the song but as he’s done that he’s given out too much air and passed out. But his body has gone into fight or flight brain because he’s still playing and all I can hear from the other side of the stage are these random guitar chords and it sounds awful. So basically he lost consciousness but he came back around halfway into the song like a champion and finished it. It was amazing! Me and Joel had to go and approve the footage recorded by Channel V and they were like, are you sure you want to put this out and we were like “YES”. Basically you can see Stu’s eyes rolled back and he’s playing awfully and it pans out to the crowd and they all look so confused. It’s hilarious! The next day I did something I am still embarrassed of but I went on stage with shorts and to be honest I don’t really regret it because I was felt a lot cooler than the day before *laughs*. 

TB: Eskimo Joe have some very iconic songs like ‘Black Fingernails, Red Wine’ and ‘From The Sea’ that have been played almost everywhere. But where is the weirdest place you’ve ever heard one of your songs played?

KT: That’s a good question! I would say the weirdest experience is always coming home from a tour and having to go to the supermarket to get something really uncool like tinned tomatoes and as you walk into the store your song starts playing. And I always find myself trying to hide in the aisles as if people are going to recognise me and then I remember that it’s ridiculous and completely irrational. 

TB: Over the years, Eskimo Joe have won 8 Aria Awards! So where have you displayed these awards? Do you all have one in a personal space? 

KT: I’m not quite sure because there are 8 Aria Awards and I only seem to have 3 of them but I’ve noticed that Joel has quite a lot more at his house so I might need to go talk to him about that *laughs*. But for a long time I was quite embarrassed to have them and my gold records displayed because I thought it was a bit showy. But now as there is some water under the bridge and we’ve been doing it for a couple of years I feel like I can own it a bit more and I’ve got them around my house. I have the Aria Awards on my bookshelf and I’ve learnt to take myself less seriously as an artist which is cool. 

TB: So lets play a little game where I am just going to say a couple of sentences and you just reply with the first thing that comes to your mind.

KT: Okay!

TB: Most mornings I…

KT: Have coffee in bed with my wife.

TB: The weirdest thing on the Eskimo Joe rider is…

KT: Board games!

TB: No way! That’s so cool! What was your favourite game to play pre-show?

KT: Probably Uno! We had a lot of fun with that one. 

TB: If I could form a supergroup with any other band or artist it would be…

KT: Right now probably Ainslie Wills who is pretty new. But I love her song ‘Society’. 

TB: The emoji that best describes me is…

KT: The dancing lady! I mean, we all want to dance with a big red dress on don’t we? *laughs*. 

TB: Most people think I….

KT: Am a lot more serious than I actually am *laughs*. 


All Your Devotion National Tour

Fri 5 Oct – The Milk Factory, Brisbane

Sat 6 Oct – Villa Noosa Hotel, Sunshine Coast

Sun 7 Oct – Public Bar Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast 

Thur 11 Oct – Grace Emily, Adelaide 

Fri 12 Oct – Sooki Lounge, Belgrave

Sat 13 Oct – The Toff In Town, Melbourne 

Fri 19 Oct – Leadbelly, Sydney

Sat 20 Oct – Lizottes, Newcastle

Sat 27 Oct – Mojos, Fremantle

Fri 2 Nov – River Hotel, Margaret River

Sat 3 Nov – Prince Of Wales, Bunbury 



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