A few weeks ago the Holy Roar signed band OHHMS made their inaugural appearance at Temples Festival. We spoke to the band about it in an interview we ran just prior to their set during which the band’s Paul Waller (second from left in the image above) offered to write us an account of his experiences of Temples Festival. Naturally we said yes please – and it turned out his experiences were ran quite a gamut from the surreal to the sublime. Find out why below.
Initially we were going to run the piece straight after the festival but we were then offered a first listen stream of the band’s brilliant new EP, titled Cold, a towering pair of tracks lending from the more progressive end of the doom / stoner / post-metal end of the genre spectrum, to accompany it if we waited till today – a week before release proper – to run it.
This, you can find below … enjoy, we have been doing.
Day 1: I had everything planned out; a strict timetable to adhere to so I could watch all my favourite bands and on Saturday I even had time to get some food. I thought I had it down, but alas, as festivals do these plans were soon shot to buggery thanks to alcohol abuse and hanging out with old friends and new.
We turned up pretty early and were one of the first 20 punters in so we had a look around and me and our drummer Max pretty much shat ourselves looking at the size of the main stage that OHHMS were going to be performing on in a couple of days. That’s a big damn stage.
Two drinks into our day and we caught Teef and Throats kick off the musical mayhem on the main stage. I already knew of both bands previously having played a show in Bournemouth with Teef a couple of months back and being on the same record label as Throats I knew what to expect from them also. I don’t think either of them could have wanted more from their respective performances as Teeth almost breezed through what seemed like 30 songs in as many minutes and the recently resurrected Throats if anything, appeared to be much more at ease with what they were doing. When I saw them first at Tunbridge Wells Forum I remember the show was so intense I thought the band may just spontaneously combust there and then. They were properly fierce.
On the second stage I wanted to catch Oblivionised as I loved the artwork on their recent album so much I thought it best to hear what the actual music sounds like too. As it turns out I am still none the wiser… Sammy’s guitar sound was way too quiet in the mix so I left to find a veggie burger for lunch instead. Turns out that if I’d stuck around for another 5 minutes then the technical issues got themselves sorted and they played an absolute blinder. Plus, a veggie burger stall was nowhere to be seen either. Not the best start.
Another band that I missed that EVERYONE I spoke to was raving about was The Afternoon Gentlemen. If I had a penny for every person that told me that they were amazing and that I had missed a treat then I’d have at least 15p more than I do now. So it was up to Sea Bastard on the third stage to pull me out of the shit heap and boy did they work their doom laden black magic upon my very soul. The key to this band is the guitar player Oliver. He appeared to be more superhuman than us mere mortals. You could literally watch the snail paced riffs flow from his fingers through his heavily tattooed chest and then belch out of his mouth. It was menacing to behold in the flesh, that’s for sure.
Oddly the bands singer didn’t move from his position on the stage for a full 4 minutes at one point, by which time the band had played through like half a damn riff or something. He hadn’t moved an inch. He just stood their frozen during a guitar break. I’ve never seen anything like it… Well weird. But good weird.
Whilst Young And In The Way are totally my thing on record, watching them live wasn’t much fun for me, I think the singer put me off a bit – maybe his hair was too curly and I’m curlist or summin’ so I made my way over to the second stage to get in a prime position for Leng T’che who had been labelled to me as a grind band by my mates but I saw much more hardcore and metalcore influences sprouting up during their set than grind if I am being honest. Also Sammy from Oblivionised was filling in on guitar for them. This time I could hear him perfectly and boy what a difference it made. That lad can shred!
For the climax of my day I positioned myself at the front of the third stage to watch the sludged out doomy treat that was Slabdragger, Weedeater and Bongzilla, all of which I had never seen before.
First up were Slabdragger and well, what can I say, I was utterly floored. I know the 2011 LP, Regress back to front. But the new stuff was simply mind blowing. The riffs were just as deliciously heavy and tripped out as they used to be but the song structures are cleverer and the vocals were the best of the day for me. They were on fire from beginning to end and a massive crowd turned out to watch ‘em too. They deserved it for sure.
A massive credit has to go out to the sound guys working the third stage too. I would say they achieved the best sound of all three stages in that weird old cattle shed for the whole weekend.
Next up were Weedeater and boy did they stink. Like, physically stink. Since when does a band smell worse than the audience at a festival? Seriously. Take a shower you greebo stinky fucks.
BUT. Musically they killed it. One of the tightest bands I’ve ever seen, how they did it when Dave “Dixie” Collins had necked ¾ of a bottle of JD before they even played I’ll never know. Stand out for me though was the drummer Travis Owen. Holy Moley can that guy play. He has some funny ass drumming tricks up his sleeve too. It was magical. I loved them so much I rushed off the second they finished and bought their latest album on vinyl (even though I already have a digital copy).
A bit of a mistake that as I didn’t wanna damage it so I hung at the back for Bongzilla and found myself standing behind the 7 foot 5 inch man mountain that is Oliver from Sea Bastard. Wherever I moved I saw the back of that guy’s head. Didn’t really matter tho. They were never gonna top what I’d just seen in Weedeater, I was done.
Overall I reckon that the best band was Slabdragger today but Weedeater were a close second, I simply preferred Slabdragger’s songs.
I walked the 30 minutes or so back to the hotel and realised that my feet were killing me. The whole festival takes place on concrete and compared to a festival that takes place on grass you really feel it at the end of the day. Still it was worth it. Day one done.
Day 2: Today’s plan involved watching just about everything on the main stage and trying to get prime positions on the balcony so I could see everything going on there. I knew I might have to sacrifice Mantar and Triptykon on the second stage (both bands I love) in order to achieve my goal but looking at the line up on the first stage and knowing that I am a 5ft 7inch short arse in order to get good views I couldn’t mess about.
Starting the day wandering around Bristol 3/5 of the OHHMS crew discovered a bagel shop called Bagel Boy. Wow. The veggie options were amazing and pretty much filled me up for the whole day and I only had one of them. Nice one Bristol. In fact it has to be said that on this, my first visit to the city, I found it to be one of the most pleasant in the country, walking around it late at night and early in the morning I came across zero agro, even a group of drunk chavs made way for me as I crossed the road on a mission back to the hotel one night. If I tried that sort of thing during the day at home I wouldn’t fancy my chances. Maybe I was just lucky but my first impressions of the place have been great and I can’t wait to come back when we tour later this year in August.
So we arrived at Temples and let’s face it Saturday was all about Sunn O))), they were the reason I bought my ticket before we were asked to play, their shows are legendary and I wanted to experience it myself. Arriving a little later at the festival today I noticed that the Sunn O))) merch stall was doing a roaring trade, I was there what, maybe 10 minutes looking at stuff and they must have taken around a grand in that time. It was mad. They had this shirt with the band logo on front with Toni Iommi on the back and the slogan ‘PRAISE IOMMI’ across the bottom of it. I made a mental note to buy me one of those bad boys on my way out.
First band up on the main stage were Caina, I know I caught half of their set but I can’t remember it at all, I know I enjoyed it too because we were talking about it after when we made our way to the balcony but all I could think about was this spacey feeling washing over me, my eyes were itchy and my throat was getting a little sore…
Next up was French oddballs Celeste and I really love their recent album Animale(s) so I was looking forward to their live set. They opened up proceedings by popping on red lights to the front of their heads and filling the stage with frankly ludicrous amounts of dry ice. The stage show worked really well for at least 1 song. All you could see were these red lights bopping about whilst flawless riffing and tight, pummelling drumming spewed forth onto the audience. Unfortunately for them by the second song the trick got old and by the third song I and a fair few of those around me declared themselves a bit bored. This is NEVER okay you French nut bags. Still, we were definitely in the minority as the crowed lapped it up. I know this because I spent the rest of the band’s set people watching from the balcony. This one guy with really long hair was really headbangin’ like a mad case of spanners in a tool box (that’s a saying, right?) and all those around him were getting more and more annoyed with him as the set went on. My thoughts on this are to let the guy bang his head, freak flags must be flown you dorks, simply move to a different spot. That bloke was getting his money’s worth and then some. Nice one long haired Pantene Pro-V dude!
Even though I could feel myself getting ill by this point I was sticking to the plan. Next up was Sonance who were so good it was silly, again after their set I bought a copy of the album. It’s a pretty hippy way of describing them but I would have to say they were painting pictures using their instruments, sometimes with delicate paint brush strokes and at other times bludgeoning the canvas with buckets of paint Pollock style. Some may have found it messy, like a Pollock, but on a personal level they really connected with me. My bandmates enjoyed them also and I made a mental note to go say hi to them later and demand we play a show or two together at some point. This never happened though. Shame.
Torche (photo right) came and went, they were just as I expected them to be, pretty solid, bangin’ tunes the whole way through their set… For a lot of it though I was wondering how Svalbard were getting on over on stage three as they had a timing clash from hell, from what I heard they killed it (they totally were / did – ed) but having seen them a month before in Canterbury I decided on Torche. It didn’t matter though; I was so spaced out nothing mattered much anymore…
I left towards the end of Torche and sat outside in the sun with a bottle of water, wondering if it was worth my while to just cut my losses and go back to the hotel when so many amazing people came over and said hi to me, people I know off of facebook but have never met and loads of members of other bands came to say hi, it really was what I needed to get me pumped for Goatsnake so I returned to the balcony and I am glad I did.
They were musically as killer as I hoped they would be and just the oddest looking band to watch, looking at their get up today was funny though. If you didn’t know the members on stage were actually doom metal legends and you met them outside you would never think they had actually met before. But as Suicidal Tendencies once said “It’s the size of your heart and not the length of your hair” that counts and they had heart all over the place. It felt good to have a band deliver crystal clear clean vocals too after all the guttural male and female belching that had taken place so far over the festival.
But after 40 minutes of an admittedly incredible performance I had to go back to the hotel. I was getting to the point where it hurt to swallow and I felt weak. I was gonna have to miss Pig Destroyer’s doom set but more importantly the band I had initially bought my ticket for I was going to miss. Sunn O))) is now officially back on the bands I must see list… Still I thought I could cheer myself up a bit by buying that Sunn O))) shirt and a Goatnake vinyl on my way out.
Nope. That didn’t happen either. I was told the T shirt that i wanted had sold out and Goatsnake wanted £35 for a coloured version of their new album on vinyl or £30 for black copy. I thought to myself I don’t care if you are legends or not mate, you can go jump. So I left with my Sonance record (£10 and amazing i might add) and bumped into Harrowed’s drummer Jason on the way out. He told me that I looked like I was fucked out of my face on drugs…
When I got back to the hotel I had a bath and fell straight asleep. At about 2am our Max burst into the place saying that Sunn0))) had changed his life. He felt that he was a different person now that he had seen them; like they had re arranged his insides and then released him a new man onto the world. I was proper gutted.
An hour later I coughed up a load of horrible stuff, there was a bit of blood in there and my throat was so sore… I hoped it was just Psychosomatic and when OHHMS took the main stage in 12 hours’ time or whatever I would be fine.
I put a post on Facebook asking for some advice and tried to catch a little sleep.
Day 3: I woke a couple of hours later with so many messages and so much advice that it was overwhelming, really sweet to know people wanted to help me out. And they really came through too. Turns out that even though my voice was but a whimper that by taking the right steps I could probably get through a half hour set without sounding like a cat that was dying slowly… and in pain.
They key to recovery was manuka honey, lemon and a bottle of medicine supplied by our guitarists girlfriend Natalie that started to ease the irritating pain and open up my voice a little. By the time we left the hotel I could give directions in the car so you could at least now hear my voice and we still had a few hours left before we hit the stage. I still had no idea if I was going to play though and no one spoke about doing it as an instrumental set although I reckon the rest of the band must have thought about it. I gotta give ‘em their due they were all really supportive…
In the green room at Temples bands were filing in looking at me like “Who the hell is this freak?” I spent most of the morning in the corner with my head over the top of a stolen Travelodge bathroom bin with boiling water poured into it so the steam would soothe my vocal chords. Oddly I could feel it working. Every deep breath I took eased the tight grip around my throat.
Funniest moment at this point for me was seeing a heavily face painted member of Swedish progressive death metallers Tribulation walk past me at first shaking his head probably thinking I was huffin’ glue or something then as he got closer he realised what was going on and just nodded and smiled as he perused the food platter on the table. It was then I realised I was in my very own Spinal Tap parody.
By the time we got on stage to line check I thought I’d be okay, turns out I was right. Dylan from Earth and his wife gave me a load of their honey and lemon to help out too. With this kind of support how could it go bad? Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t want to hear back the soundboard recordings EVER as I was clearly running on empty but the feeling of relief when we finished was massive.
I don’t remember much about the gig itself. I do remember looking over the faces at the crowd and on the balcony with about 10 minutes to go and realising we were playing to a full house and that old cliché of “It really pushed me through, man, feeling the energy from the crowd” turned out to be true after all.
I spent the rest of the day speaking to people at the merch desk and selling shirts and hoodies. It was great fun being able to chat with people and not giving a shit about losing my voice, plus I could drink beer again which was triple ace. All the kind words that people were saying about OHHMS were truly humbling. So if you are reading this and we spoke over the weekend thank you for making us feel so welcome.
Ghold photo © Emily Power
I caught a song or two of a few bands after us that I wanted to see. Each band being as good as I had hoped. Monarch! were playing so slow it was almost hilarious to watch the crowd trying to find the rhythm to head bang in time. Year of No Light were pretty good but I found that I enjoyed Ghold a lot more, which of course led to me buying more vinyl. I missed a few bands I really wanted to see and as usual when my bandmates came back from watching the likes of Krokodil, Vallenfyre and Tribulation the reports were all amazing. The double whammy finale on the main stage of Pallbearer and Earth was nothing short of a genius booking on behalf of the Temples crew. Sunday’s line up on the main stage felt to me very much like a gentle come down of what had gone before. There were moments of pure bliss to be found amongst the snail paced riffs and heartfelt vocals.
Highlight for me was watching Voivod on the third stage playing their Pink Floyd cover Astronomy Domine. It took me back to being a kid and playing my records repeatedly in my room, me jumping on and off the bed with my tennis racket guitar, pretending I was Piggy and just killing it on the imaginary stage in my head. A couple of decades later and I see them for the first time. Another dream come true. Another box ticked.
And that’s it. If you love your music heavy then you have to tick the Temples Festival box. The list of bands playing was amazing. No sponsors and no bullshit from any of the staff or security that I met. The punters were the most chilled bunch I have ever seen at any festival I’ve ever been to and Bristol on first glance seems a beautiful city. I couldn’t have asked for more.
All words by Paul Waller, all photos (bar the one at the head of the article of OHHMS.