In the spotlight: Temper Row

Temper Row is the alternative music project of British songwriter, Bill Randall. His first EP is available now. Bill grew up in Aylesbury, a small market town in south-east England.

“There was a club called Friars in the 70s, that attracted well-known artists from that era. It was before my time, but it was fun talking to people who put on the shows where David Bowie debuted ‘Hunky Dory’ and ‘…Ziggy Stardust’.  They said the first line of the song ‘Five Years’ is about Aylesbury’s Market Square.”

I played most of my live gigs in London, but I’m back in Aylesbury now.

You are a multi-instrumentalist. How did you get into music, and what is your musical background?

“I’ve been writing songs since I was eight or nine years old. I saw a news article on TV about a family who’d formed a band. I went and told my friend next door, who was sitting in his apple tree, that we would form a band of our own. We had an upturned laundry basket as a drum, but things improved a bit when my parents bought an organ. When my friend moved away, a guitar teacher moved in, so I took lessons from him.” 

“Around 2009, I played in a London post-punk band called Black Poets. That was my musical education really, experiencing proper recording studios and touring in a splitter van – Good times! I’ve played guitar, bass, and drums in bands since then, filling in for whatever’s missing. That eventually led to me starting my own solo project as Temper Row.”

What’s the story about your band name?

“The name of my band came from a book I was writing about a handful of interesting characters living in a little enclave called Temper Row – a nod to John Steinbeck, I think. I’ve always written stories, but this one just seemed to naturally turn into a music project. Most of the characters’ story songs eventually fell away and were replaced by the four tracks that ended up on the EP.”

What did you listen to growing up? Who are your main musical influences these days?

“Growing up I listened to whatever was on the radio or lying around the house. Then I got into the grunge bands, which is when I started playing more guitar.”

“As far as lyrical inspiration and emotional intensity go, Nick Cave and Morrissey are firm favourites.”

“Neil Young and Radiohead are artists I turn to when the headphones are on and I want to wallow a bit. But I draw from lots of different genres; anything can move me if it’s honest, or even just a bit hooky or different.”

If you could be a fly on the wall for the recording of any album in history, what album would it be?

“If I could be a fly on the wall for the recording of any album in history, it would be ‘Appetite for Destruction’. That was the first album I wore out, so I know every little detail of it and would like to see those decisions being made by the band and producer. This was pre-digital and they got so much right, comping every part by splicing tape with a razor blade, and having the confidence to know it was going to work.”

What is your creative process like?

“My creative process always starts with something on the guitar, or a melody I hear in my head. Then I’ll grab my phone and pull out some of the lyrics I keep on there. I try to type a few lines whenever something appears. If I sat down specifically to write, it wouldn’t work for me. Once there’s a rough arrangement, I start sketching out some ideas in my DAW.”

“Usually the best ideas are accidents. The song ‘Murder Clothes‘ only came together when I unplugged my guitar and the pop and note it gave out sounded good. I ran it through some delays and it ended up as the unsettling backdrop to the song. My friend and ex-bandmate, Stephen Good, mixed that track and played tambourine and shaker. He puts out fantastic music under the name Mere Martyr.”

Your first single ‘Show Yourself’ was about the quarantine of mental disorder. What social issues are you most passionate about?

“‘Show Yourself’ was my first release as Temper Row. This song is about someone very close to me, who had Parkinson’s and dementia. I could sense the same personality trying to express himself, but not finding the power to do it. It was a very difficult time, so I try to support anyone living or working in that area. The second verse is as personal and vulnerable as I’ve been in my writing and talks about noticing the change in our relationship. The song evolved a bit and went on to try and empower everybody to be their true selves.”

Your latest single ‘Even Ever So’ is in our chart. What inspired that song?

“The latest single, ‘Even Ever So’ started with the guitar riff, which naturally called for a few different ethereal reverbs. What started as a bridge turned into a long outro section, which seemed to flow quite well and fitted with the lyric “promise me someday is tonight”. It was urging the subject of the song to escape from a controlling situation.”

What do you enjoy most as a musician? Is there anything you dislike about being a musician?

“The thing I most enjoy as a musician is the moment when an idea comes to mind and I try and play what I’m hearing on the guitar. Then I try humming other parts over it, and that becomes the most satisfying part of the whole thing for me. Or when I’m inspired by another artist to try something new. After seeing Nick Cave holding it down live with simple piano and voice, I tried the same with my song ‘Delilah’. I can’t get near to what Nick Cave does, of course, but what came out was true to me. I left all the warts and imperfections in that recording.”

“The only thing I dislike about being a musician is marketing myself. However, I well remember writing songs on a four-track cassette machine, with no way of ever getting them heard outside my bedroom, so I do appreciate the current music scene and social media. But I’m not good at promotion, which is why I really appreciate amazing people like you guys at Cool top 20, offering me a platform like this. There’s a fantastic community and some great music in the current scene, but if I could change anything it would unsurprisingly be the poor revenue the artists make through streaming.”

What are you working on right now? What’s next?  

“Right now I’m writing songs for a possible new album – or maybe another EP, I’ll see how it goes. I’m also lining up some live gigs for later in the year with a band I formed with local friends called The Drop Downs.”

Imagine you’d been given € 5.000 to spend on anything music-related. How would you spend it?

“If I was given € 5.000 to spend on anything music-related, it would be proper soundproofing for my room. I could record guitar amps at high volume and play my drums more without upsetting the street; so maybe they could club together and make that happen?!”

What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20?

“My favourite song from the Cool Top 20 is ‘Fruit-Loops’ by Kromatix. You can’t help but smile through it, and I think we all like to look back to when “things were breezy”.”

What song would you like to add as a bonus track to our chart and why? 

“The song I’d like to add to your chart as a bonus track would be ‘Play Dead’ by Undersky. They’re a young band from my area, incredible musicians, and great people. I think they’ll do really well.”

Follow Temper Row:

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Published by leancool20

Drinks tea, not coffee. Usually dressed in black.

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