Let's get some cliché at the beginning, can you introduce yourselves? Who are Ryan and Rich? After all, the general awareness about your band isn't the biggest in our country.
We are just two guys that really enjoy music, especially metal. I'm Ryan Wenzel and I play guitar, keys and engineer the recordings. Rich Corle is the drummer and I'd say the major producer of the band. We've been best friends for a very long time and have connected greatly through our appreciation for music and movies. As our friendship developed over time, we decided to start creating music that we would not only enjoy creating, but listening to from a fans perspective as well. Tempel has been a creative outlet for us, we are very fortunate to share it with other people.
Tempel is a two people project, why is that? Is it, you couldn't find more people oriented the same way, or you're loners, who don't want to have too many people around themselves?
Tempel's early incarnation was a full fledged band with 5 members. As time went on the other members moved away from the band and it was just Rich and myself. We never originally intended to be an instrumental band, we just didn't want to find another singer. That's basically been our reason why we don't seek out band members now. What we have going for us works really well, we don't want to change that dynamic by adding new members right now. We got a little tired of the traditional band dynamic and pulling weight of other people around. When Rich and myself work on the music, we don't have to worry about other opinions and compromising with other people. We're really headstrong individuals, and have a hard time dealing with other people. Luckily we both respect each other's opinions, and always seems to agree on where the direction of the music needs to go.
Metal Archives says, that Tempel is active from 2003, but so far you have released only two records and your debut – On the Steps of the Temple – was released in 2012. The long time span is a little strange, but if the data are correct, how come your album was released after nearly ten years?
Technically we've been active since 2003, but we went through a lot of changes. Losing the other members put us in a different direction. We never have been a full time band, meaning we focus on our jobs and families first. We work at a little different pace then a full time touring and recording band would. The majority of "On The Steps Of The Temple" was written off and on from 2005 - 2009. It took us 3 years to demo and record the album after that. It was all a learning process for us and we're perfectionists. We ended up going back and forth to revise that album, re-record, re-mix, etc until we were content with it. Honestly by the time we self released it in 2012, we were so tired of the music on that album that we were ready to create our follow up right away.
Is Tempel studio only project, or have you ever done some live shows? And do you plan some in the future?
We're a studio only project and have no ambitions to play live. We get asked this a lot, but it boils down to the fact that we have full time jobs and families to provide for. There's just not enough time in the day to keep focus on that, rehearse, play and tour.
The reason we decided to get in touch with you is your latest album „The Moon Lit Our Path“. I have to admit, I'm not a big fan of instrumental music and if so, then from a different spectrum, but your production impressed me a lot. One can hear various influences from many genres and yet, your music combines that in a way that makes perfect sense. It's diverse and doesn't suffer from issues, I don't like - for example, you're not getting into technical orgies. I feel you're more interested in making a good song and not in showing off your skills. Is my thought correct in some way? How do you approach composing?
We're glad that you enjoy the album and understand the approach we take for our music. On a technical musicianship level, Rich and myself are not up there with a lot of the super virtuoso players in the metal scene. We've always been more attracted to the emotive and song writing side of music. When we're creating our songs, we try to make it interesting from a song writing and dynamics stand point. We like to make songs that play to our strengths, which is not our technical ability.
Your songs are composed of many different parts, which often differ in dynamics. How long, if there is an estimate, does composing of one song take? My personal feeling is, there are various riffs written in different time, which you take afterward, find a common element and then combine them together into one solid piece. Am I right, or are you able to compose more surreally, like your mind flows?
Usually a song starts from a single riff or idea, then I try to complete the song around that first idea. Sometimes it just flows out as I'm playing the riff, other times I'll take riffs from a collection I have and try to make it work. It's a long process, I'd say collectively a song takes at least a few months to write. Then from there we demo the song with drums and tweak the music from there. It was a good two year process of pre-production for "The Moon Lit Our Path" before we started recording the final album.
During recording, do you focus more on projection of emotions (including hitting harder your instruments) or playing the parts more soft and precisely?
We definitely tend to play our instruments very hard. Rich cracked two cymbals, and had drops of blood on his snare head after he finished recording drums for "The Moon Lit Our Path". My bass guitar has a lot of shredded string fragments all over the body from picking it to death. We play heavy music so we feel like we have to portray that heaviness by playing hard. Even during the acoustic sections I strum and pick very hard, I like to control the dynamics myself in the mixing process.
Haven't you ever thought about adding vocals? Is it that you wanted to make only instrumental music, or none of you feel like being a vocalist and searching for one was out of the question?
After our vocalist left the band we had no desire to find another one. We've always enjoyed instrumental bands, so creating the music instrumentally is exciting and challenging for us.
Aren't you interested in trying some song with vocals?
I think we'd be open to a guest vocalist if it was the right feel for a song.
Could you tell us your musical influences? Personally, I like the combination of many themes when you sound modern, but are not afraid of including black metal elements as well. That way, I feel black metal from Norway, post-metal, progressive stuff, but even modern djent bands from your sound. I guess, you're pretty open to listening various kinds of music, or am I wrong?
You definitely picked out the styles that influence us heavily for the band. We're not big fans of the Djent scene. We love Meshuggah but we wouldn't even consider them Djent. Other bands that really influence us are Drudkh, Deathspell Omega, Opeth, Pig Destroyer, Rotten Sound, Genesis, Pink Floyd.
Both your albums have beautiful artworks. How important is the graphic art for you?
Since we don't have a vocalist, using artwork to tell a story without lyrics is really crucial to us. We really enjoy a lot of the hand painted classic metal and prog album covers. With both albums, we felt like the artwork should reflect the song titles, and whatever narrative we were trying to tell. For "The Moon Lit Our Path" we were able to collaborate with the amazing artist Lucas Ruggeri. He spent a lot of grueling hours hand drawing that artwork. It still blows us away every time we look at the cover art.
You're an instrumental band, but your songs have classic titles (instead of numbers etc.). How do you create names for songs and albums?
Song naming is the last step of the process for us. Once we have the songs finished, we really brainstorm on what the names should be. Both albums tell a narrative story within the order of the titles, so we base them around that. We go through many titles before we settle on the final track list.
Your album was released on many formats, including vinyl. What format do you personally prefer? And how do you feel about the vinyl itself, the nearly dead format for many years, being currently widely accepted and almost reborn?
I think it's great that vinyl has resurged again in this digital dominant age. We try to make sure the artwork is up to par for a vinyl release, so that would be the ideal format for us. I love collecting vinyl not only for the aesthetic reasons, but I love to sit down and listen to an album on my record player. Sound quality for vinyl is always debatable, but it's great to be able to listen to something on a tangible physical format. We had a lot of manufacturing issues with the vinyl release of "The Moon Lit Our Path". The record wasn't ready for 6 months after our release date. Without going into a lot of detail, that seems to be a big issue with the format currently since it's so popular. There's a big supply and demand issue causing the plants to be backed up, and quality control is going downhill. The cost of vinyl is also through the roof, hopefully these issues will eventually resolve themselves if more plants open.
Could you tell us a little bit about your equipment? Do you prefer analogue or digital effects and software adjustments, or you take whatever you like more?
In a perfect world where analogue didn't cost a fortune, I'd love to have an analogue setup. I run an all digital studio though. It's way more convenient and the price is right. I have the mindset that you use what you have available and if you can make it sound great use it! I'm not a gear snob at all. For both albums, I used an old Pro Tools TDM rig to record everything. I mixed Steps on that rig as well. For Moon I used Logic X to mix the album. I've since been able to upgrade my entire rig, so I'm hoping for a great outcome whenever we start working on album 3.
If I'm not mistaken, you have your own studio. How much time do you spend there as musicians? And what's the primary genre aim of your studio? Do various bands and performers from various music genres record there?
I run a recording studio in Phoenix as my full time job. We're very fortunate to have such a great resource available to demo and record our albums. I don't limit myself to genres that I'll record at the studio, I'm open to all kinds of music. Whatever pays the bills gets to record!
You're both quite avid movie fans. What kinds of movies do you like? Do you take motives from movies, which you later use in your music?
Yeah we're huge movie buffs, Rich especially. He's got a massive collection and knows more about film than anyone I know. We're into all genres of film. Rich's collection has movies from every era of film. Silent films, Noir, Westerns, Horror to name a few. He actually introduced me to an amazing film called "The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre" and we used dialogue samples in sections of the original version of our song "Avaritia". Unfortunately we couldn't get them cleared for the label re-release so we took them out. You can still find the original out there somewhere I'm sure. We're really into Westerns and Ennio Morricone's incredible soundtracks, which you can probably hear that influence on various songs from "The Moon Lit Our Path".
Your bio says you're from Phoenix. How's life there? Are you active on the local music scene in some way? Do you attend shows? Could you recommend some local bands?
Life in Phoenix is great. It gets unbearably hot 5 months out of the year, but it's beautiful the rest of the time. I wouldn't say we're very active in the local live music scene, I do record a lot of local artists at the studio though. Our record label Prosthetic Records has recently picked up Take Over And Destroy and North (both from Phoenix). They are worth checking out!