Luke Temple (Photo: Michael Leviton)

Luke Temple (Photo: Michael Leviton)

Shortly after touring the Nigel Godrich-produced album A Different Ship, Here We Go Magic front man Luke Temple spent the winter working on his forthcoming solo record, Good Mood Fool. The album’s first single, “Katie,” is being released today (we’ve got your first listen below) and combines Temple’s classic falsetto vocals with R&B-inspired dance beats.

We recently ran into the singer-songwriter in McCarren Park where he agreed to join us for a drink at the Williamsburg dive bar, Clem’s. Over a couple of Tecates, he opened up about HWGM’s bass player quitting, the dark narrative on Good Mood Fool, and the defunct Jewish summer camp where he’s been living. Read the q&a, listen to the single, and if you like what you hear, see him on Thursday.

BB_QAre you going to make another Here We Go Magic record?


BB_QHave you started working on it yet?

BB_ANo. I’m always writing, but we’re in limbo in a number of ways. No bad ways, just some things have to be figured out before we can mix another record and we also needed a break because we had a hellish year.

BB_QHow so?

BB_AA lot of unfortunate things happened: We lost a lot of money and had a member [Jen Turner] quit at the airport.

BB_QWhy did she quit?

BB_AIt was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Everyone was frustrated and we were really tired; it was a tour of all flights, crossing time zones, so everyone was really frazzled and at their wit’s end. We were flying from Austin to Berlin and she had made sausages for the flight. She had them open in aluminum foil on the counter, in the place we were staying at in Austin. I came home drunk and, like an asshole, I ate them. I woke up to her standing over my bed seething. Fair enough, it was a shitty thing for me to do. So, we got to New York for our connecting flight and she asked if I would buy her lunch. I gave her some money and she was upset because she figured I should have went and picked something out for her, and it just escalated from there.

BB_QWould you know what she would want you to buy?

BB_AI would know what she would want because we were up each other’s asses for four years straight. She would have wanted, in the best possible world, a kombucha with some quinoa with brewer’s yeast on top, but you can’t get that in an airport.

BB_QSo she walked out of JFK?

BB_AYeah, not exactly walked — she sprinted out of JFK, screaming. It was quite a scene.

BB_QSo, who does the band consist of now?

BB_AEliot Krimsky [Glass Ghost] and Brian Betancourt [White Rabbits, Hospitality] and it’s the best band we’ve ever had. Everything’s ironed out. [Mike Bloch and Peter Hale also continue to play in the band.]

BB_QI saw you guys play Music Hall of Williamsburg with that lineup and Alex Reeves did projections for it. It was amazing!

BB_AYeah, that was the first show with them.

(Photo: Michael Leviton)

(Photo: Michael Leviton)

BB_QWho plays on Good Mood Fool?

BB_AEliot actually plays on it. And Mike Johnson, who plays in Dirty Projectors, plays drums on it. [Aerial East sings on two songs, as well]

BB_QWhere did you record it?

BB_AWoodridge, New York. Sullivan County.

BB_QThere’s a studio there?

BB_AWell, I just recorded it myself. I randomly got in touch with some guy who had a little cottage for rent. My idea was: I just wanted to live in the middle of the woods, bring my computer and some microphones and make it myself. It turned out he actually had a recording studio on the property, which was serendipitous. And it’s an old Jewish summer camp that is defunct.

BB_QWhen was it a summer camp?

BB_AProbably in the ‘50s. That part of Sullivan County was called the Borscht Belt. In the ‘40s and ‘50s, it was a big summer resort spot for wealthy Jewish people from the city. The interesting thing about that town is its economy fell through the floor with the invention of air conditioning because people didn’t need to leave the city anymore. That was the only economy it had; people didn’t live out there year round, only in the summer. Now it’s all people with diabetic amputations and crystal meth labs, it’s really Appalachian. I mean, it’s perfect for me, just the country, but the community’s really depressing up there.

BB_QWhat a weird world. And you’re staying in a trailer there for the summer, right?

BB_AYeah, I moved from the cottage to an Airstream trailer and I’ll be there for two months. I’m going to continue recording and this guy Josh, who owns the place, is trying to get this studio off the ground, so I’m going to try and get bands to come up and play and have parties and stuff. It’s a really amazing spot. They have all these different little houses on the property that people can stay in and a bio-dome, an animal farm, a studio, and a lake house. It’s really nice.

BB_QSounds amazing. So what’s the new album like?

BB_ANot to pat myself on the back, but I did a good job. It’s a good record. I’m really proud of it and I normally don’t say that. A lot of times, I don’t like listening to my own music, but the stars really aligned with this one. It’s very different and it’s dance music in a weird way, as far as I can tell.

BB_QIs there a reoccurring theme to the songs on the record?

BB_AThey’re all very specific within themselves.

(Photo: Michael Leviton)

(Photo: Michael Leviton)

BB_QCan you give me an example?

BB_AThe lead single that comes out this summer is about internet porn; a guy who fools himself into thinking that he’s actually having a relationship through pornography, and trying to find some sort of satisfaction within, from his loneliness.

BB_QDo you feel lonely?

BB_ANo. I mean, it’s somewhat autobiographical, but any guy who says he never looked at porn is lying. I don’t have a porn addiction.

BB_QHa, I wasn’t insinuating that you did.

BB_AYou want to talk about that more? [Laughs.] it’s a dance song and to know it’s about pornography might be elusive, but I know it is. It’s a guy talking to a girl, asking her why she doesn’t satisfy him and his frustration with that. Like, “You don’t have what I need. I can’t depend on you.” He’s talking to her in the song. Singing. Then there’s one song about Mexican immigration — Mexicans who risk their lives to come over here and work all the shitty jobs no one wants and then they send half their paychecks back home. It’s a compassionate nod to them.

I have a song called “Florida,” which is about a girl I know whose father passed away unexpectedly and then she developed a cocaine problem and had to move back in with her mom because her mom was grieving. She was living with her mom, keeping this cocaine problem a secret, and her dad had just died, just trying to keep it together and it was really sad, so I wrote a song about that.

BB_AHas she heard it?

BB_AYeah, she loved it. I wrote a song about the Newtown massacre, and a song about Hiroshima.

BB_ASounds like a pretty deep record.

BB_AIt’s light, though. There’s an R&B thing with it. It’s like Curtis Mayfield, but maybe a bit more modern. There are samples and maybe a hip-hop element. I know that sounds really cheesy, but it’s not. I’m not into the post modernists: “Just put everything in a pot and stir it up and see what happens.” I don’t like that. I like more conscious, single visions and I think this record has that.

It’s a pretty strong nod to a lot of Black American music, which is my favorite music. You’re not just going to try to cover a D’Angelo song or a Marvin Gaye tune; the performances and the depth of that music is so deep and connected to a specific community, and a language has developed in that community that — for me, as a white guy who grew up upper middle class — it’d be misappropriated. I’ve always not allowed myself to go there. It can become like Maroon 5 — the worst music in the world — or Hall & Oates, which is not so bad, but is a pale version of the real thing. This record, I indulge myself in it and let myself go there a little bit, and I think it is legitimately soulful. I think I got away with it.