Tempertwig
(Originally appeared in Probemusic, September 2001)

Love, yes. Girls, yes. Boys, yes. High, yes. Cry, yes. Sky, yes. Et cetera.. err, no. Like unilateral disarmament, pineapples and angle grinders, &c does not spring to mind when the chorus is being written. Not unless you're Tempertwig, that is. Ben, guitar and singing: "Et cetera is used to complete the lyrics to Love Will Tear Us Apart in a self-consciously off-hand sort of way -Why is the bedroom so cold? et cetera." As he turns his head away and mumbles the lyrics into the space behind him, the rest of the band - brother Adam and his friend Dan - make an off-hand and ragged noise not unlike a self-conscious Joy Division.

Tempertwig have been together for a couple of years. "Adam was in this incredibly fast punk band that played a few gigs and then collapsed. We'd go to London gigs quite a lot at the time, and nothing seemed to be particularly creative or inspirational or worth persevering with. It seemed natural to rope Dan in and play some gigs and things, do it ourselves. Fast forward about two years of quietly playing in the back rooms of small London pubs and people seem to be getting into it more now, including me."

It's a slow-burn strategy, but then this is a slow-burning band. Often quiet, always introspective and unusually wordy. "Writing stuff is a really self-conscious thing for me. I write lyrics that I like to think are worth writing... trying to write stuff that doesn't make me cringe. I'm also trying to avoid writing generic crap that means nothing; I try to tie the lyrics to specifics and details that mean something." The vibe is of empty whisky bottles and 4am but they're "not heavy drinkers by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe we're living proof that you don't have to have a drink problem to seem unhappy. Sad songs are always the ones that can change your life anyway."

How about sad stories half-sung and half dribbled out, like Arab Strap, or Tindersticks on a serious downer? "I write a lot of prose, but am probably too lazy to finish a book or even a short story. The words end up in songs because you can get the point across without any limitations of effort. The stories are kind of exaggerations of reality." Like the idea that you might turn into U2 (from their first demo)? "There is something absurd about being in a band and performing the same songs night after night, something distasteful in the way 'fans' will put up with, and massage, the ego in front of them. But at the same time it's like the singer becomes part of the fans, or they take a piece of his cliché away and manipulate it into their lives ("the song that got me through the storm of '87"). Bono always reminds me of this for some reason."

Don't expect to see Tempertwig at Wembley any time soon, then, but do look out for gigs in and around London in September and October and perhaps a double A-side 7" single later in the year.www.tempertwig.co.uk, tempertwig@yahoo.com


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