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Temple

Fans of fast, well-written death metal can’t ignore Temple. Here at Lords Of Metal we were quite impressed by the recently released second album ’Design In Creation’. So we contacted mastermind A.J. van Drenth. He told us about the way the album came together and if we can actually consider Temple as a real band.

By: Pim B. | Archive under death metal / grindcore

Hey A.J., it’s been six years since we last talked about Temple. So, let’s catch up a bit now the new album ‘Design In Creation’ has been released. First thing I’d like to address is performing live. In that earlier interview you mentioned you were getting a line-up together to play live. I’m not too sure how many times you did perform live. I did see you on Stonehenge in 2013. That line-up differed from the line-up you mentioned in the interview. And it’s also a different line-up that helped you record the new album. Now, here’s the question: Will you perform live again now the new album is out or is Temple now strictly a studio band?
Correct, that long ago already. First of all, Temple was a studio project from the start. I never really meant to perform live. So no, I won't be playing live with Temple, that Stonehenge show was an exception, who can say no to that fest. At that time I had some cool musicians ready to go. But doing shows on a regular base you need band rehearsals at least once a week I think. When members live across the country, it’s not easy to arrange.

In my previous question I specifically said that you were helped with the recordings. Is it fair to say that Temple is your project and that the guys who helped you record it can be seen as session musicians?
It's my solo/ studio project totally! It’s just me writing the music and lyrics and coming up with the whole concept. It's also my job to arrange the studios, the whole nine yards of recording an album, which includes paying the bill for mixing and mastering out of my pocket. So yeah, you can see them as session musicians who did all a very good job.

On your debut you still handled the vocals yourself and I think I remember you expressed that you really weren’t interested in doing vocals anymore. When you performed live you got Kevin Quilligan of Apophys handling the vocals. He now also recorded vocals for ‘Design In Creation’. Was it clear to you that he had to do the vocals? And did Kevin have any influence in the lyrical content or vocal patterns or did he simply record what you composed?
Since I started writing this album it was clear, I wasn't going to do vocals anymore. My vocals don't fit the music. Don't get me wrong I love writing vocal pattern and record them for demo recordings, but there are better vocalists out there. Especially for this album, I needed a singer who could turn my lyrics into something that sounds alive. Back in 2015 I was in contact with Steve Tucker (vocalist in Morbid Angel) who was struggling with line-up changes with his band Warfather. Of course I did ask him to do vocals for the Temple album, because I know he was crushed by the first album, ‘Structures In Chaos’. And yes he was interested if it wasn't Morbid Angel asking him at the same time! It was a bit of a bummer, I think he's one of the best death metal vocalists around. But, so is Kevin, I asked Kevin to record one song to check out how he would sound on the new Temple. The moment Kevin sent me the track it was clear he should do the vocals. I gave Kevin all freedom to do whatever he came up with. I gave him a ton of lyrics and he worked them out fitting them to the music, I know this kid for some years now so I trusted him to come up with some excellent vocal patterns I couldn't write myself. I took him to a studio and recorded all songs in one day, went very smooth and easy. The only song I did a vocal pattern for was ‘Tower of Defiance’.

On drums you once again have Eric de Windt (Neocaesar, Omnious, ex-Destroyer 666). He also recorded the debut and played live with Temple. I guess he is the “to go to guy” when it comes to this kind of extreme death metal?
He sure is, Eric is one of the most dedicated death metal artists around and a hell of a drummer. But this guy needs to show his ability live, which I couldn't promise him. In the meantime he did a lot of progression in his drumming. Maybe we'll record a 3rd album in the far future again.
He's doing cool right now in Neocaesar.

band imageSo, what about the bass recordings? The debut was recorded by your friend Michiel Dekker, who this time lend a hand by the editing the drums. Later on I think Bas van den Bogaard (ex-Sinister, ex-Pleurisy) was part of the band. But the new album was recorded by Apophys guitarist Sanne van Dijk. Can you tell us a bit more how this all came together?
Since Bas was part of the live line-up, it was no question he would do the album, but at the time bass recordings were planned, he couldn't find time because of a new job. I knew that Sanne was an excellent bass player back in Toxocara and he delivered some tight bass lines to fill up my sloppy guitars.

You have some guest guitarists performing leads on ‘Design In Creation’. Sonny Lambordozzi (Incantation), Shaune Kelley (Hate Eternal, Dim Mak) and Frank Schiphorst (Mayan) all delivered solos. How did you get these guys to add solos? And did you give them total freedom to come up with their parts?
Hell yes, still damn proud having these guys’ leads on the album. Just listen to Shaune's leads in ‘Saints & Relics’. I gave them a timetable where to do leads. I knew Sonny from an Incantation tour I was on. Sonny sent me a lead, which I had to split in two, because it was too long, which turned out well. Frank, he's one of my best friends, we're involved in total complete different music scenes, but we're getting along as friends for a long time. Frank is a professional, genius guitar player. He's in Mayan. But his leads are sick as fuck on Temple.

The album was mixed at the Toneshed Studio by Erwin Hermsen. Can you tell a bit more about the complete recording process and how you ended up working with Erwin?
I was looking for a Belphegor kind of sound. I had some e-mail contact with Mana Recordings, you know, Eric Rutan’s studio. I was looking for mix and mastering but I didn't have the budget they asked for and Eric was booked full for this year. I knew Erwin from his latest Dead Head production, so I asked him to do a one song test mix. So I went for Toneshed studio, which I can recommend to bands.

Your debut was released by Non Serviam Records. I assume that was a single album deal as ‘Design In Creation’ has been released by the fairly new Off The Record Label. Can you tell a bit more about this label change and how you ended up working with Off The Record?
I was cool working with Non Serviam, we indeed did sign for one album. And it's been six years since the debut so things change. Off The Record Label is based in my hometown, which is cool, of course I had contact with other bigger labels but those labels want you to do tours, which I understand. I was pretty much on the road last few years myself but mostly as driver and roadie for other bands. I don't have the urge to play live myself. Who knows what label I end up whenever I do a 3rd Temple album.

Can you tell a bit more about the lyrics? Is there a red thread? And what about the inclusion of some verses from the book of Romans in the booklet?
Yeah sure, since I started studying the bible, it was clear to me that all things were created by an intelligent cause. Last few years I started studying biblical prophecies and the book of Genesis. But without getting soft and spiritual, I thought it would be interesting to write some lyrics on this topic.
It is also that I carry this with me since childhood, my mother taught me a lot about Israel and the Jewish traditions. That Romans verse just explains it all, one can see intelligent design all around, just think about your DNA. There are a lot of cool dark stories in the bible, take Genesis 6, which talks about fallen angels having offspring with earthly woman.

The cover art fits really well also considering the art you used on the debut. But I think there’s a cool story to tell how you got hold of the art, right?
It wasn't that cool earlier, I found this art on the internet under "works" by some guy. I tried to contact him but this fuck never responded. Long story short, I did a search for an alternative cover and came across a making of video of this same Temple cover art done by somebody completely else who turned out the be the true creator of the art, Jacek Irzykowski. This other guy pretended he made this art. I contacted Jacek and he was okay me using this art. The moment Jacek said: go ahead I was like hell yes!

I think I have covered everything. Anything else to add? Be our guest!
Now this Temple is out I can say 1 down, 2 albums, 2 projects to go! Preparing vocal and mixing stages for Extreme Cold Winter's full length album. And recording John McEntee's vocals (Incantation) and my guitars for the Beast of Revelation debut album. After that, selling my guitars and retire. (But what about that 3rd Temple album? – PB)

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