On Thursday, Philly-based metal trio Heavy Temple join Columbia stoner rock stalwarts Space Coke and doomgaze band Garrow at the Art Bar. With Tempest on drums, Thunderhouse on guitar, and Nighthawk on bass vocals, the band conjures a heavy, doom-laden, psyche-rock metal, with a deep nod to the late-60s/early-70s metal of their forebears. In anticipation of their Columbia debut, we asked bassist and lead singer Nighthawk a few questions about the band, the Philly music scene, and their upcoming tour.
Where are you from?
The band started in Delaware, but our original drummer was from Philly so we just rolled with that. I (Nighthawk) moved up to Philly a couple years ago, so we’re legit now.
Tell me about the music you make.
I started the band back in 2012, and wrote the whole first album before finding people to play with. I just wrote a couple riffs and then fleshed them out in the basement. Really I just make songs that I’d like to listen to, and it’s a fortunate coincidence that other people seem to enjoy them as well. I’m also beyond lucky to have two other band members that feel the same, and they really help fill out my vision of what Heavy Temple is.
Where does metal fit into today’s music, in your opinion?
I’d say, by and large, that “real” metal (whatever that means) is still flying under the mainstream radar. Still a lot of butt rock out there. But with bands like Judas Priest and Motorhead (up until recently, and sadly no more) putting out records over the past couple of decades, I think more people will start to join the community. It’s been a treat watching the scene grow over the years, and it’s all totally DIY. From venues to bands to labels, everyone has a very real and very deep appreciation for riffery and just wants to promote the things they’re passionate about.
Does your Philadelphia’s music scene support metal/your music? How?
Philly has and continues to treat us really well. There’s a lot going on right now, really friggin’ heavy, and it’s a nice break from the sad guy stuff that proliferated the city for years and years.
I would definitely consider the Philly music scene to be a family. A bunch of bands share members and everyone is really supportive of each other. I haven’t noticed that it’s particularly male-dominated; there are a lot of women out here doing the damn thing and doing it well. It used to be a little tougher to break into but that’s changed a lot. People are just really hype on having a good time, and there’s no shortage of places to do it.
What are your hopes for your music?
Ultimately just to be able to play it for as many people as possible. Naturally there’s a selfish element to any artistry, because you’re basically saying, “hey look at this thing I created and like it”. Really it’s the thing I’m best at. I’m the most honest version of myself when I’m writing or playing, and let’s be real, it’s fucking fun as hell.
Where are you headed on tour?
After SC, we’re headed down to Houston to meet up with another Philly band, Ruby the Hatchet, to do the last leg of their tour. We’ll head up the east coast and wind things up with a home show opening for Anvil (a great example of a band that refuses to let their metal die, and an unrelenting positive attitude *Metal on Metal*)
Who inspires you? Who do you listen to?
We all have pretty diverse tastes. Our drummer was in drumline and band, our guitarist is self taught and was in an all-female Metallica cover band called Misstallica. I was a classical orchestra nerd with a penchant for the minor keys. If you mean specifically songwriting, I’d say everything from Black Sabbath to Tchaikovsky to Queens of the Stone Age, with a heavy dose of the more psychedelic part of my parents’ record collection. It just makes me feel the feels, the intangible plucking of the heart strings, or that mind-bending riff that metal heads tend to look for in their music.
Photos by Mark Brown @murder.basement at FireBreather Fest in Indiana