THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT are:
Phil Campbell | Paul Sayer | Nick Fyffe | Matt White | Simon Lea
Sometimes you have to go right to the edge to survive. To move forward. To realize you’re alive.
For The Temperance Movement, the last few years have been the most turbulent and tumultuous of their career. Following two acclaimed albums, the British five-piece found themselves plunged into a period of personal turmoil and existential crisis that threatened to destroy everything they’d built up.
But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – and The Temperance Movement have emerged stronger than ever.
The band’s stunning third album, A Deeper Cut, is simultaneously anthemic, defiant and cathartic. It bears echoes of the great rock n’ roll icons of the 60s and 70s – The Faces, Led Zeppelin, Free and The Rolling Stones (Mick Jagger, gave them the ultimate accolade when he hand-picked The Temperance Movement to support the Stones in Europe in 2014 and in the U.S. in 2015).
A Deeper Cut is no period piece, though. Instead, it crackles with the sort of modern energy you’d expect from a band equally at home covering Oasis’ "Up In The Sky" or Blur’s "Tender" as they are Led Zeppelin's "Houses Of The Holy" or David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust". New songs, such as the electrifying first radio single, "Caught In The Middle", are clearly the sound of a band reborn.
“As the name suggests, A Deeper Cut is a deeper album, a more honest album,” says singer Phil Campbell. “It’s not us hiding, or pretending to be something we’re not. It’s us saying, 'This is what the band is.’” “The overwhelming feeling was that we’d been through this period of turmoil in the band,” says guitarist Paul Sayer. “Our belief in what we were doing had been challenged. It would have been very easy to walk away from it all.”
He isn’t exaggerating. The Temperance Movement’s early years were a rocket ride. Following a 'Best New Band' Award from Classic Rock magazine in 2013, their first two albums, 2013’s self-titled debut album and its follow-up, 2016’s White Bear both smashed into the UK Top 20, while they scored a #1 Canadian Rock Radio with their 2015 single, "Oh Lorraine".
But despite the critical and commercial success, all wasn’t well within the band’s ranks. Founding guitarist Luke Potashnick quit the band before White Bear was released, while drummer Damon Wilson followed him in 2016. “Luke took the band to a certain point, but I don’t think he was very comfortable with it getting any bigger,” says Phil. “He didn’t really enjoy the experience of touring America, and I could see that was the case. It was kind of soul-destroying to see someone quite actively pulling away.”
Paul added, “People don’t just wake up and go, ‘I’m leaving.’ You have six months of weird vibes which kind of makes everyone else want to leave, as well. It’s hard.”
The core trio of Campbell, Sayer and bassist Nick Fyffe enlisted guitarist Matt White and drummer Simon Lea to replace the departed musicians, a move Paul describes as “reinvigorating – those guys brought fresh energy and new blood to it.”...but The Temperance Movement’s problems were far from over.
While his band were in turmoil around him, Phil Campbell was battling his own personal demons. The singer had successfully conquered drug and alcohol problems in the past – hence the band’s name, a reference to a 19th century abstinence movement. But he was beginning to slip back into his bad old ways. “I’d had my booze and drug experiences, and now I was supposed to be straight,” he says. “But the experience of singing in The Temperance Movement was physically demanding, and I used that as an excuse to start smoking weed again. I had this thing of always being high onstage, or at least having something afterwards, and I became someone who was like a child, just getting carried by the rest of the band.” Although The Temperance Movement were still playing brilliant shows, it was painful and frustrating for the singer’s bandmates to see him heading down the slippery slope once more. Paul said, “I realized pretty early on with Phil that I couldn’t do anything about it. If you try to get involved, you drive yourself further apart. It’s basically down to him and his realization of where he’s at with it.“
It was a period of gradual realization rather than a single lightbulb moment that saved the singer from descending further into his personal hell. Envisioning a future without the band was enough to pull him out of his stupor. “That lifestyle and this band just do not go together,” he says. “I saw a future where it all just went wrong because of it, where the band broke down and we ended up nowhere. We’ve all put in too much time and emotion for that to happen. I got to a place where I was just so angry at myself for having wasted so much time with that stuff. I was relying on something to make me feel alive, when in reality I can do that on my own.”
Refocused and rejuvenated, The Temperance Movement started work on what would become A Deeper Cut. Even then, it wasn’t a smooth process. The band’s growing success in the UK and America had opened up different avenues and new possibilities. There was the temptation to jettison everything they had built so far, to compromise their sound and integrity for a short-cut to superstardom.
“We had conversations about making the music more ‘mainstream’, bringing in outside songwriters, because that’s the vibe around rock n’ roll at the moment,” says Paul. “We were being told that rock is dying, that mainstream media outlets aren’t supporting it, bands are only releasing singles and not albums. Put that on top of two people leaving and Phil’s problems, and it was all a giant head-fuck.”
It took a collective moment of clarity for the band to realise that all that was just an unnecessary distraction. The Temperance Movement had achieved the success they had because of what they stood for: great songwriting, stellar performances, heart-on-sleeve honesty, bulletproof integrity. “We got to the point eventually where we were, like, ‘No this is what we are, this is why we started this,” says Paul. “If we change it, we lose essence of what the band is.’ So the approach for the record really was, ‘Go and do what the Temperance Movement does best.’” “The plan was always to make a rock n' roll record with heart and soul,” says Phil. “That’s what we do. It was that simple.”
All the pain they’ve been through to get here has been worth it. Recorded with longtime producer Sam Miller, A Deeper Cut is the sound of a band with a new lease on life, and playing with more passion and honesty than ever before. Phil put it best, “It's about human performances. It's about that thing you can only get from people playing together. I firmly believe in bands playing music that speeds up and slows down, where you can see the flaws in it.”
For The Temperance Movement, all the pain and turmoil of recent times have made them a stronger, bolder and better band. The past is important...but, the future is everything.
THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT are: