Eskimo Joe’s new album, Ghosts of The Past, finds the band returning the more stripped back feel of four-times-platinum Black Fingernails, Red Wine (2006), after the more elaborate orchestration and experimentation of 2009’s Inshalla. Produced by Matt Lovell, who produced Black Fingernails, the first single is “When We Were Kids.” I spoke with bass player/vocalist Kav Temperley a few days after the band returned from what was, by all accounts, a pretty kickass set that the Splendour In The Grass festival.
You just played Splendour. That must have been cool.
It was amazing. We were really lucky to play from about six to seven, so we played just as the sun set. You play to this amphitheatre and you can see it filling up with people… Kanye West got helicoptered in, Kate Moss was hanging backstage…
You’ve travelled such a long distance since I first saw you guys at the bar at the University of Canberra in the late 90s.
Yeah. We’ll probably be back at the uni bar one day.
The press release for the new album says this album is a return to your rock roots.
It’s definitely a rock and roll record. We had an idea of going into the studio with two people on guitar, bass, upright piano and drums, and to just have that treatment. If you listen to The Pixies’ Doolittle, they can make everything work on those instruments. They can make everything work, and they don’t need anything else. It’s all there. And that was our intent. And when you start doing that, you end up having a much more rock and roll-sounding record. That’s just the nature of it. The last record had all these moments which were kind of almost like Toto’s “Africa” or something like that, whereas this is much more down to The Police and The Pixies again.
Or at least Toto’s later, post-Africa stuff!
Yeah! There ya go!
So it was a conscious decision to do something different to the previous one?
Yeah. For us it’s always about kicking against whatever we did before, and the last record was eclectic. You had Led Zeppelin rock things but there was also Peter Gabriel kind of moments on it. It was going all over the place, and we just really wanted to make a very uniform-sounding record, where if you press play you know exactly what record you’re listening to. That’s kind of what happened with Black Fingernails, Red Wine. There was nothing premeditated about it. The album before it, Songs Of The City, was kind of eclectic and we just wanted a very uniform-sounding record, and that’s what we’ve done again, and this is what it sounds like. All of my favourite records, like Harvest by Neil Young, it doesn’t matter what’s on the record, it sounds like the same session. The same musicians in the same room, performing a different song. That, to me, is what always works best. But then, the ‘white’ album by The Beatles has always been one of my favourite records, and even though that sounds like the same band playing a bunch of different styles, it’s still a very eclectic album, and at the end of the day it still sounds like the white album.