Nepalese Temple Ball are one of the most fascinating propositions in doom-mongering UK noise. The south coast four piece’s curious genre-fusion has captured the UK doom scene with the ponderous melodicism of their recorded material and the fuzzing walls of noise of their live performances.
In the wake of the acclaim surrounding 2015’s Arbor and their storming tour across the UK, alongside the sadly departed Grindhouse in 2015 – and a 2016 spent hibernating and writing – 2017 is set to be a huge year for The Nepalese Temple Ball.
We caught up with Lee and Stitch of The Nepalese Temple ball to discuss hash, trout, and genre-based lasagna:
Your name comes from a particularly potent strain of has – what’s your favourite strain of weed?
Stitch: Anything that gets me stoned, I did have a 2-year sesh where I just smoked squidgie Black.
Lee: I am a sober boy these days but back when I used to partake it would be whatever you could find, even used to be partial to some dirty old plastic bag-ridden solid, old school filth. I don’t think there was so much choice 10 years ago though where we lived. I love the smell of it still, I definitely miss it.
There seems to be a plethora of influences running through your music, why the fusion of genres? Who/what are your top influences?
Stitch: We all have such a wide range of taste in music, and have been involved loads of different bands of varying genre. Neurosis and the wider Post-Metal scene are a strong influence for us all. Bands like Bronze Chariot, Young Widows and noise rock as a genre have had a huge influence on our sound since Lee started playing guitar – which has allowed Tim to experiment and make sexy noises with his guitar.
How would you describe Nepalese Temple Ball’s sound?
Stitch: A musical Lasagna.
Lee: Like a gentle stroke on the face then a smash in the balls.
There is a thickly layered aesthetic behind your music, what’s the creative process for the walls of sound you create?
Stitch: Some of our songs have been kicking about since 2008 and started off more basic, but would be harsh from start to finish… we only had one sound and it was nasty, but over time with line-up changes and a multitude of other obstacles we’ve added a touch more emotion. Arbor is like a musical diary of the band.
Lee: It’s definitely been a process of refining these songs, like Stitch said some of them are years old and have mellowed slightly with age, that said some of them have been beefed up in places as well.
From a noisescape point of view, I end up obsessing over layers of sound, I generally record samples of anything I hear that I like when I am out and about out then run them through effects, splitting out frequencies, layering up and more processing and obsessing, I like the process of sound creation, I kind of get lost in it.
We saw you play on tour and you got a couple of other members of other bands up on stage to create a wall of pure noise, what’s the philosophy behind this?
Stitch: All the guy’s that have been in this band past/present have all jammed with Nudga which is a live jam band and it’s just an awesome feeling playing alongside friends even it’s just for a riff or 2. also watch KNUT play H/armless with Isis on YouTube and you’ll understand.
Lee: Indeed, being on tour with the boys from Grindhouse (RIP) was excellent, we had not met them before and we all just gelled really well. I think after the first show we taught them the guitar and vocal parts, having the option to play as a six piece with three guitars, bass, drums and three or four vocals was brutal, we come from a background of improvisation and collaboration so this is kind of thing is right up our street.
When we were doing Nudga last we played a show at my house where we had more members in the band than people watching us, like 10 members revolving over about an hour and a half. Messy night that.
Do you feel your music is better appreciated live or on record?
Stitch: I think the record gives a good indication of what to expect live, but live we get to add more feeling as we can play heavier or softer, slower or faster depending on the show or our mood.
Lee: I love the record but it’s best played live, you can get the emotion behind it across to people better when you are right in front of them rocking out and screaming as hard as you can. Not sure what Stitch means about playing softer, that never happens.
The doom scene seems to have moved into somewhat more forward thinking territory in the last few years, including yourselves. How do you feel about a lot of Doom bands from the UK moving outside of the box?
Stitch: It’s great, Doom has become a very popular genre and with popularity comes a lot of generic bands and can get a bit boring. So hearing or seeing something different within the genre can only help the doom scene be more vibrant and not so one dimensional. Doom to me is not just playing low and slow with a fuzz pedal.
Lee: As long as it doesn’t end up being diluted and fucked the way Nu-Metal did to metal I am a happy boy.
What was it that made you want to implement post rock/prog influence?
Stitch: Truth is The Nepalese Temple Ball was initially going to be a grind band but me and Tim got wasted and pressed record button and jammed for a few hours. Got a bit more wasted listened to it back and liked what we heard, so we went down that route and ditched the idea of trying to write Grindcore and instead we played stuff that came out naturally.
Lee: It has kind of evolved over time really, I think the way we’re going with the new stuff we are writing is heavier again, but like with Arbor, you can start with the idea of doing something one way and it can go almost the opposite way, we’ll see what happens for the next one I guess.
What is a Mongolian Terror Trout?
Stitch: It’s a Taimen, a species of fish in the Salmon family, but whilst watching National Geographic they referred to the fish as Mongolian Terror Trout.
The influence of Eastern Mysticism seems to be prevalent in the doom scene in the UK, would you say it’s just an aesthetic or is it something more?
Lee: I don’t know really, I am not too up on what a lot of other bands are doing, I don’t want that to sound like I am not interested but I have just kind of moved away from the internet these days.
With Arbor the songs ended up being about (amongst other things) Medusa, Frankenstein’s monster, the band made monstrous flesh and some kind of mental old trout – it definitely wasn’t the goal at the start, it just kind of happened that way.
The Nepalese Temple Ball are currently composing new material, keep an eye on their Facebook for more developments.
You can find an extended version of this interview in the first issue of Astral Noize.