Luke Temple makes you think about people - those you've known in the past, those that are still with you and whom you know better than you can imagine knowing anyone (without it having been required reading) and those who got away, but still stick to your underbelly like a cocklebur or a thistle.
The Brooklyner makes you think about them, commiserate with them, drown with them and rejoice with them as if you were going to war with them - where living and dying requires the help of others, an understanding of the boundaries of faith and reality, and the innate ability to be invisible and delicate. He makes you think about people - and specific, long-gone details about them - that you hadn't thought about in decades, for the metaphorical connecting piece that clips everything together into a seamless scroll of thought.
Growing up, there was a neighbor to the east who had a beautiful lawn, a high-powered job and a subscription to Playboy - the first person that I'd ever met with one. It was in their living room, during a dinner party, that a few stolen flips of a page made Vanna White seem infinitely cooler than the mute she plays on a television game show. Well, next to the magazine rack was a shelf full of decorative statues and nick-nacks, which also earned a perusal, though one of slightly less interest. Upon this shelf was a Russian nesting doll, which I've since learned in the national souvenir of the particular country. It very well could have been an imitation, but it was indeed a wooden version of the Matryoshka, which contained littler and littler people inside each and every new piece of hollowed out wood that you extracted from the insides of the bigger version of itself, like Things A, B, C...X, Y, Z who cleaned up the pink stain in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.
These deviations of each other - the different people all coming from the same largest body - are exactly where Temple's coming from with his breathtaking first full-length Hold A Match For A Gasoline World and his stunningly exquisite one-upper Snowbeast, which was released last week on Mill Pond Records. It's not a schizophrenic sort of undertaking, his lithe sight-seeing of all of the crooked, crying and touching corners of the souls within the souls - not the ones that are readily snapped by a photograph or a pinch. To every person, there is a dichotomy - an ample supply of absolute and doubtful, that dishes up the savory parts of life, that keeps one on his or her toes when passing time or passing life. Throughout Snowbeast, Temple comes upon certain minuscule examples of the powdery, vapored segments of what we throw our cares and concerns into that usually get away like feathers in a wind storm. The complexities of all of us pop out like high beams on "People Do," which is made, reinforced and solidified by one tiny word: mean. The lyrics are sent out mellow and definitively, smacking like an oar to a wet cheek.
Temple sings, "People do what they don't mean to do...People live how they don't mean to live." He passes the milk that he'd rather throw in that song and in others, there's a wistful, waning optimism to many of the subjects that he cuts into with a steady, operating table hand. There are halos on maniacs, though they're bent out of shape and there's love that's serious and damning and beautiful all in one gorgeous, scary ball. Temple brings all of the complexities to the surface, removing one wooden head at its wooden waistline and pulling another fully grown wooden body from it, only to find that it too can be dissected and divided into more precise portions, easy for more bewilderment. If we learn nothing more from the wild and naked trappings of Temple's Snowbeast, we should at least learn that it's the bottomless wells of spirit and layered dilemma that make us attractive. When you can drop a coin into someone and never hear it splash or thump into any bottom, that's when you've found a keeper. A coin dropped into Temple would fall endlessly and aimlessly.
The Daytrotter interview:
*The release of Snowbeast has been a long process, hasn't it?*
Luke Temple: Sure has. I guess I had to get all my ducks in a row, as many as possible so when they start getting picked off I have plenty of back up.
*Why did you name the album as you did?*
LT: My friend had a dream about a cult named "Love and the snowbeast." Love was the cult leader and the snowbeast was his devotee. I liked the secret mystery that the word snowbeast conjures, He's wandering alone, so alone that people aren't even sure that he exists.
*Were there any celebrities at your release party? Did Matty Pickles (of The Subjects) hit on any of the female celebrities? Did Cobra (of The Subjects) cause a stir?*
LT: Matty Pickles likes really old women, I mean really old and the audience was generally in the 20-30 year old bracket so he was pretty bored the whole time. Cobra has a thing for real stiff media types so he would have been in heaven, but alas he wasn't there.
*Besides spiders, what else have you learned an abnormal amount of information about?*
LT: I just learned that after chipmunks store their nuts, they usually forget 75 percent of where they hid them. There is a parasite that crawls into a snail and makes its way to the snail"s brain, it then clips some fuse making the snail brain dead, the parasite is then captain, it tells the snail to climb a high leaf, when in the brain the parasite becomes phosphorescent making the snails head a glowing bulb, a bird see's this beacon, swoops down and eats the snail, the parasite is now in the bird, it then kills the bird, leaves the carcass and the process begins all over again.
*Does spiritual or religious thought seep into your writing quite often? It seems to in a beautiful, unobtrusive way -- perhaps the way it's intended to be used.*
LT: Certainly. I don't pertain to have any answers but I like questions and mystery
*Why would a clown ever sell blood on the beach?*
LT: Because we have lost some of our human blood in the process of modernization, humor is a powerful and excepted tool to remind us of our contradictions and recklessness.
*Does painting help fuel the songwriter in you? Give us a virtual tour of the murals you've been cranking out?*
LT: My music is visual to me, it's composition, it's tension and release, it's give and take and knowing when to stop, it's everything to do with my visual process.
*What were the last three books you read?*
LT: Blue Beard by Kurt Vonnegut, Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
*What makes you content? What makes you writhe?*
LT: Sleep and desperate nervous energy
*I saw some bees the other day and I got happy. I thought of you. Have you had any more spottings?*
LT: Yes! Thank God! Actually, today I had to move from an outside table to an inside one because there were so many honey bees. My co-worker is allergic