I had the pleasure of chatting to Alfie Templeman following the UK part of his tour, before he travelled across the English Channel to perform to his European fanbase. The discussion went by quickly, but as they say time flies when you’re having fun, and it was a really interesting exchange. We covered the likes of the tour so far, the upcoming album, some of the new tracks, artists he’s listening to, Ariel Days II, and the rest of 2022 just to name a few topics… Read the full interview below:
Serena: How’s the tour been so far!?
Alfie: It’s been really good. We’re 11 shows down now, we’ve done 11 shows in two weeks which was a lot of work. I’ve never done that amount of gigs back-to-back really, so its been pretty intense and there’s been many times where I’ve lost my voice and thought holy shit how am I supposed to manage to do another gig tomorrow but we somehow got through it, as a collective and as a crew, we’ve all pushed through and had the time of our lives, so it’s been really good. And when you go on stage and play to people you realise it’s all worth it. All the stress of setting up in the day and stuff, and you’re like running on empty basically, but it’s been really good.
What have been some of the best shows on the tour so far?
Some that stick out to me are… Glasgow was really fun. That was a really, really nice gig. It wasn’t too energetic, but everyone was really going at the same time, like singing along and stuff, so it was a nice kind of balance. Manchester was amazing, at Gorilla. That was a really, really great gig, people were going nuts. Same as Leeds. Leeds is the only gig where I’ve crowd surfed this tour, so that was pretty nuts. And also, London as well! Shepherd’s Bush was really cool, that was the biggest gig we’ve done, so it was really surreal playing to that many people and just being on that stage. It’s a bit of an iconic venue.
Before the tour what were you most excited for? Was it playing in a specific city or just to see the fans again? What was the biggest factor?
There were a lot of things I was really excited about. Like one of them was the fact that for a while I could just turn off and focus on this thing, you know, just tour. It’s the same as when we rehearse and stuff – you can almost just shut off for a bit and focus on just making bomb music, really good music, bomb ass music, and have a fun time on stage. So, I was obviously really excited to just play every night knowing that it was actually happening this time made me really excited. And yeah just getting to meet the fans and see people again. For a lot of the gigs, I went out and met everyone afterwards. For some of them, I was pretty much virtually dead afterwards and just couldn’t move. But for the ones that I could, I’d just go out and talk to everyone, and it was really nice to see how they got into my music and what made them a fan in the first place.
You know some people just brought their mate along who didn’t know who I was before, and then watched us and said how great we were. So, it’s things like that are really exciting, and every night we get to play. But, also just the fact that yeah I can just zone out for a bit, and not worry too much about anything except just doing the gig, and pulling it off and stuff, and it’s kind of just a really nice distraction for my mental health in a way.
Could you expand on that? What are a few examples of how people got into your music that are a bit funky?
A lot of people surprisingly heard me through Tesco, like shopping in Tesco, which is absolutely nuts to me.
So what I’m hearing is an Alfie Templeman x Tesco collab!
Yeah, we’re the next Primark and Greggs! [laughs] What would Alfie Templeman and Tesco even consist of? But yeah that was a good one, what else? That was the first one that comes to mind, but people have heard me in all sorts of places that are probably quite weird, I know I get played in H&M and McDonalds. It’s just really weird that people find me in those places.
Do you have a pre-gig ritual or a pair of lucky socks, etc?
[laughs] Yeah there’s things that we do before a gig. Like as a band we play some trash metal to get really pumped, and then before we go on we huddle together and have a big hug, which is cute. And, recently I’ve been drinking this drink called Dragon Soup. Yeah… you shouldn’t be drinking those things really, no one should drink those things because they’re terrible for you. But they wake you up, and get you half hanging by the time you go on stage, which is kind of helpful on tour – but it’s literally the same as doing coke really, not a good idea.
What does it mean to you that you can see your fans again in person? COVID is often brushed over… so what’s it like having your fans sing your songs back to you, or gig again, or actually be able to meet your fans?
Yeah, it’s pretty cool because the only way these people have been able to learn my lyrics, and know the melodies off by heart, is just listening to them online because we haven’t gigged or anything. So, the fact that people are into my music just at home, like doing everyday tasks, just the fact my music has been sound tracked in their lives, and then they come to a gig and tell me this. They tell me everything that they’ve felt through my music, and it’s a really, really surreal thing to hear. People will tell me that after a gig and there’s only so much I can actually take in, because it’s crazy that THAT many people come to a gig and they’re all singing the lyrics because it means something to them. So, it’s really special definitely.
And what’s it like now being able to promote the album in person, as well as online?
Yeah! Yeah, it’s cool actually. It’s nice to see, because sometimes I’ll give a little shoutout and be like “My albums coming out soon”, and people will go “wooo”, and I’ll be like yay I’m not irrelevant yet! It’s like real life people do wanna hear my music, so that’s pretty cool.
What would you say is the best part about being an artist or musician?
I mean you just have, not complete creativity because if you’re on a label there’s always going to be some degree of that stuff, but like we’re a lot more free than most people – in a way, we can completely express ourselves how we want to, and because I just do everything by myself for the most part, so I get to decide where to go with it. It’s really cool that I’m in the position that I get to do that. There’s nothing I’d really trade it for to be honest. Because I can literally sit at home and make music, which is all I’ve been wanting to do, and that’s my job, and it has worked out the way I wanted it to.
Slightly moving onto the album… what would you say makes a good album, just in general?
Good question! I think it’s got to have some versatility to it. If I’m listening to a record, I don’t want to hear the same 12 songs about the same thing. There’s got to be different things that have happened that in the year to five years or whatever, that they spent making the record. You want to hear what’s been going on in their lives, why these songs are on the record, why they have a meaning and a place to be there. Also, it depends on what the record is but the albums that really catch my attention are ones that do something a little bit unconventionally and a little bit different, a bit backwards thinking. I think that comes through blending different types of music and trying things that haven’t been done before. There’s still tons of bands who will incorporate basic features into their music, but also do new things with it. For example, the band Turnstile who are part of the hardcore scene, but they’ve just got a really good different sounds that I haven’t heard before in hardcore punk bands, and the messages they spread are really peaceful and positive. Certain things catch me… but you’ve got to blend to make something interesting.
I always say cohesive but not the same, that’s my number 1 criteria… I hope I can say that when I listen to Mellow Moon in May!!
Yeah totally [laughs], fingers crossed! I hope you like it! There’s a bit of everything in it, and I’m happy about that. It’s got the pop-y songs and obviously the singles but there’s a lot more to it; a lot of experimenting I did when I was about 17 kind of landed on it, so I think it will be pretty good.
This leads perfectly onto my next question, what can and should we expect from and in Mellow Moon?
It’s just me finding my comfort space. Like in a lot of the EPs I did, I was finding out where I wanted to be and this album is the same. I’m still figuring it out but I’m getting closer, and this is unlocking a lot of new territories that I’ve always wanted to expand on and look around, but I’ve never really managed to before. And it’s just a really interesting record because so much changed from starting it to finishing it. Like when I started it, I was in a lockdown with absolutely FA and struggling a lot, but by the end of it I was struggling just as much but in a completely different way. I was free again, but the anxieties of being out and doing things as a person again were a big struggle for me. I think there are a lot of different topics that come up on the record and sounds, but for the most part yeah, I think it’s interesting
I saw that you wrote ‘Broken’ in Suffolk, were a lot of the tracks for this album written there?
Yeah, I’d say about four or five; I mean I actually started off ‘Broken’ when I was about 14, and I did it at home. But I went up to Suffolk with this guy called Will Bloomfield, and we just did some extra work on it. And then we started writing some other songs, putting these feelings together. I don’t normally do that with too many people, but I really liked how he worked. He works with a guy called Justin Young from The Vaccines, so it was really cool. There’s a few collabs on the record in general, but what I like about the people I work with on the record is they all respected my ideas, and I still had the final say, of course, because it’s my record, so they completely understood that.
Do you think, in a way, because a lot of these songs are about mental health and your emotions, that it was quite a validating experience being able to put that down, and then also seeing other people relate to it by singing it back to you etc…?
Yeah, yeah definitely. It’s validating in a way that’s like yeah you know you’re making sense because people are getting what you’re saying, but it’s also nice to see that people take the meaning as you did and that these people really care for what you’re singing about. It makes you realise that there’s a lot of love out there, and people who come to the gigs bring that love, and are sharing it, and they’re doing it all together. They want to be part of the bigger picture by being part of the gig, so it’s really nice.
That also comes with an almost anxiety to release a song because they are so personal right?
Yeah, and they take different meanings before and afterwards. So, a song can take a completely different meaning after you release it, compared to what it started off as. A lot of the time the songs that I write they’ll have whatever meaning I assign to them before I put them out, and then afterwards literally one person can hear it and say what they think, and then for the rest of my life I can literally assign it to that. So, it’s quite interesting seeing different peoples perspectives on songs, it’s like watching the film before you read the book.
Out of the 14 songs on the album, how many will be pre-released before the record comes out?
I don’t think that many, I mean we’ve released two songs from it now. If I’m going to release anymore before it will only be a couple more, because I want to keep it pretty fresh, and wow people, and leave it the way it is so for the most part people can really listen to the album and be surprised, because I wanted to release it as an album not as individual singles. So, they’ll be a couple extra songs I guess, but for the most part I want people to be wowed on the day, not beforehand.
What tracks are you most excited to release? What are your favourite songs you wrote that are on the album?
There’s quite a few, I mean I really like the second half of the record. There’s a song on it called ‘Just Below the Above’ which finishes the record; that’s a really cool song to me, it’s got lots of different changes on it, lots of different musical passages, so I’m really excited for people to hear that one. But also, the title track ‘Mellow Moon’ is really cool, and there’s a song called ‘Leaving Today’. So yeah, they’re all like pretty cool tracks, I’m really happy with them, definitely my favourites that I’ve done so far!
How would you define your genre?
Ooo, I don’t know! A lot of people just put me under Alternative Pop, but I don’t know, it sounds so lame, but it is genre-less in a lot of ways, because I’m constantly changing and a lot of artists are like this nowadays. Like you look at Frank Ocean…
I mean everything is becoming less binary and boxed in nowadays, and that’s a great thing – but it’s really interesting, because even on your Spotify wrapped it goes you listened to 500+ genres and I didn’t even realise that many existed…
Yeah, it’s a pretty amazing thing isn’t it! People don’t have to put a label on anything nowadays, on like music and film and stuff, it’s like the world’s your oyster, do what you want and that’s really cool!
So the album’s being released in May, what are your plans for 2022?
Just play the album as much as possible, go out and tour it, and have fun with it. And then I’m just constantly writing and recording more music, so that’s never going to change… I love doing that.
Is there a certain festival or tour that you’re especially looking forward to?
There’s a few, there’s Dot to Dot festival, which I’m really looking forward to, I think that’s going to be really cool. Sound City in Liverpool is going to be good, yeah that’s gonna be a really good gig. 110 Above, that will be really cool. Yeah, there’s a few I’m really looking forward to.
Who are some of the artists that you’re listening to at the moment?
I never know where to start with this question, I get a bit carried away with it! So, there’s this really cool band that I’ve been really into recently, called Palm, and there kind of like backwards rock music, its really, really interesting. Also black midi and Black Country, New Road; all of those kind of bands – I really like that kind of sound. Matilda Mann, she’s really, really cool, amazing singer. I’ve been listening to a lot of older stuff as well, like Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Boys Age, just a bunch of really cool different artists I suppose.
Let’s briefly talk Ariel Days, where did that come from and why is it completely separate to Alfie Templeman?
I started it in 2018 and it’s named after, before I found out he’s a massive prick, an Ariel Pink song, because he mentioned ‘ariel day’ in one of his lyrics. So, I just put an S on the end of it, and bang there we go. But I put out a single in 2018 called ‘You Love Me in My Dreams’, and it got bigger than I ever really expected, so I just kept on putting demos on SoundCloud. And then I got signed under the Alfie thing, so I didn’t know what to do really. So, I stopped it for a while and then I started making albums under Ariel Days, and yeah, I just put out another one this year. But it’s kinda just separate because I guess it kinda has a certain sound; it’s quite funky and, as of recently, more progressive and stuff, so I’ve kinda left it to be a separate kind of thing.
But I think the first song I ever did with it, I did feature myself on it, because I didn’t think it would get any listens. So, I put Ariel Days featuring Alfie Templeman, but it’s so funny because one [Ariel Days] song ended up getting more streams than a lot of my other [Alfie] songs. I’m glad that people like it!
It’s rare releasing two albums in the space of months, very impressive! What’s it like?
Thanks! I don’t know, I just put that one up and left it to the world, I didn’t really know whether to release it or not. I was a bit like no, I can’t, because I’ve got another record to put out… but I was like, well I don’t like sitting on music, because I’m probably going to make another Ariel Days album pretty soon; so there’s no point in really holding back with it. So, I just kinda put it out into the world, and people liked it, and people probably moved on and forgot it existed, but I’ve got the Mellow Moon thing on top of it now as well.
Finally, I wrote an article on how and why it’s also an artist’s responsibility to ensure your gigs are accessible and inclusive. Have you got measures in place, is it something you’ve considered?
It’s something we’ve considered and it’s something we are always trying to get better at all the time. Yeah, like for me going to gigs as well, I have really bad anxiety – so for bigger venues I’ve always been a bit nervous about going to them, but I think what artists can do is ensure on social media, at the very least, mention that this is only a safe space and if we see anything happening instantly those people will get thrown out of the gig, because we are not for it. Me and my band had a conversation about this a while ago, and that if we saw anything happening at a gig, we would call it out instantly, and the gig would be stopped, and we’d ensure there were precautions to it in the future. So, it’s something we’re trying to get better at, and I agree that it isn’t just down to the venue, it isn’t just down to the crew, it’s also down to us, and we can do things to help, and I’m still learning about that.
I joked that I could send my article, to which Alfie replied “Yeah, Please do!”
Ending on this optimistic tone, I can truly say this was an enjoyable interview, and if anything, Alfie is a really modest and humble man who seems really down to earth. It’s encouraging that he’s stayed true to himself, just wants to make more new music, and play to his fans.
Mellow Moon is due to be released on 27th May and you can pre-order it here!
Serena is a national shortlisted Arts and Culture writer (SPA2022) with key interests in music, women’s rights, accessibility and politic’s influence in culture.
With a passion to make social issues more accessible and digestible for the wider public, Serena’s broadcast talk show (Sez Says) on Fuse FM discusses a variety of topics from political matters, to fashion, to interviews with musicians. Check it out on instagram: @sezsays_radio; You can contact Serena on twitter @serenajemmett or instagram @serenaj69