In 2013, after releasing their sixth studio album Wastelands, Australian rock band Eskimo Joe went on hiatus. Following this, lead-singer Kav Temperley underwent a journey of personal and artistic self-discovery that led him to a national tour in October and the debut of his first solo record, All Your Devotion, out tomorrow. Since the release of Black Fingernails, Red Wine in 2006, the name Eskimo Joe has resonated among the Australian audience and with Kav as their front man, it is hard to imagine one without the other. Breaking out on his own, Eskimo Joe’s lead singer has to not only had to define who he is to fans, but also to himself.
While the past five years have lead Kav to the release of All Your Devotion, they have been emotionally turbulent, forcing him to step outside of his comfort zone and open himself up. The debut single ‘Pollyanna’, which we gave a spin back in August, details this period of his life as he writes, “no-one really knows you, when you’re out there on your own”. With Eskimo Joe on temporary hiatus and his marriage breaking down, the newly independent singer-songwriter stepped out onto the street and realised that everything that had defined him was gone.
“My marriage and my band and being part of that gang of dudes, none of that existed anymore. So I had this deep sense of feeling like a stranger for the first time,” said Temperley.
However, while “wallowing in the mire”, as he puts it, Temperley met his current wife and, together, they pieced everything back together, leading to a discovery of the newly independent Kav Temperley. This heavily impacted his music, moving away from the dark, lost in the night, tales of Eskimo Joe and moving towards genuine, heartfelt love songs. As tracks like ‘Queen of My Heart’ and ‘This is The Love’ detail, Temperley didn’t just discover who he was through his new wife, but also found a romanticised and fictitious love that he had believed could not actually exist.
“Somewhere in your 20s, you start having these relationships where you’re like ‘yeah this is as good as its going to get.’ But for me I really did meet my soulmate” said Temperley. “I found myself actually starting to write pure proper love songs again.”
Coming out of this period with a renewed lease on life, Temperley has channelled his personal journey into All Your Devotion. While his manager wanted him to go the modern production route of releasing his songs in a series of EPs, Temperley’s devotion to old records and in particular the pop concept albums of the 70s drove him to take a more traditional approach. Mixing songs to fade into one another, he describes All Your Devotion as piece of vinyl to sit down and listen to with a glass of wine.
“I’m such a Beatles fan and I just think every record needs to sound like Sgt Peppers,” Temperley said.
As such, he draws inspiration from albums like Neil Young’s Harvest, Lou Reed’s Transformer and of course, David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Grounding the album in this pop heritage, the somewhat autobiographical record is a modern take on the 70s-singer songwriter sound, using acoustic guitars and his smooth vocals to tell a story, while layering drum machines and synths to give it some excitement and energy. This all filters into his live performances, with a national tour running from October 5 – November 3. While he is bringing a big band along for the ride, he hopes to use his vocals and guitar to strip back all the layers and engage the crowd in a smaller intimate setting.
Having been in Eskimo Joe for the better part of a decade, stepping out on his own was a daunting task for Temperley, but the structure of working as a solo artist has defined this release.
“To me, doing this record is an opportunity and a chance for me to write from a much more singular place,” Temperley said.
Without his bandmates to bounce ideas back and forth from, all moments of brilliance would suddenly shift into self-doubt. It was these moments that he found mentally challenging, comparing the constant mental endurance required to keep his body and mind on the task to that of a long-distance runner. Pushing through those difficulties, Temperley believes he has produced a record that is self-reflexive and he is now ready to show the world who the lead singer of Eskimo Joe is, without Eskimo Joe.
“I love Eskimo Joe and everything about it, and I love the dudes as well. But this record is really just a very authentic version of me,” Temperley said.
All Your Devotion is out September 28. Details of his national tour can be found on his website, but he comes to Sydney on Friday 19 October at Leadbelly in Newtown.