A Song in Kav s heart

Recorded a decade ago, sophomore album A Song is a City was an important release for Eskimo Joe. The classic, Freo-centric 2004 LP was a breakthrough success for the WA rockers. It took out two ARIA awards and by 2006 had achieved double-platinum status.

It also marked a significant turning point, both musically and personally, for lead vocalist and songwriter Kav Temperley.

"It was a really personal album for me and even in the press I was pretty happy to talk quite openly about what I went through and all the rest of it because it was a break-up album," says Temperley, currently on an extensive solo tour of the country to celebrate A Song is a City's 10th anniversary.

"After that we started to get a bit of success. I think by the time I did (third album) Black Fingernails, Red Wine I kind of wanted to inject a bit more smoke and mirrors in there so people weren't so focused on my private life.

"There was a kind of meeting of the end of innocence with A Song is a City. It really took it to the next level for us."

Interestingly, Temperley reveals the album almost didn't come out. At the end of touring debut LP Girl, the Eskies naively approached their record company and told them they were doing "a really crap job" and requested they be released from their contract.

"And, of course, the guy at the record company turned around and said 'That's not how record contracts work and now you guys are just f…ed'," Temperley recalls.

"They informed us there was a high chance that we'd never release an Eskimo Joe record again."

The three-piece returned to Perth with their tails between their legs and began work on a second album they had no idea would ever be released. Luckily, after two years in limbo, another record label bought the contract off their former label and they were eventually able to put out A Song is a City.

"We were kind of musical orphans in Fremantle," Temperley recalls. "But in that time all of this amazing stuff happened. We had this jam room and we had bands like End of Fashion, Little Birdy and the Sleepy Jackson doing their first demos there and it was really just a special moment in time."

On the current retrospective tour, which hits WA tonight, Temperley plays A Song is a City from start to finish between sharing stories from the album, as well as a few covers of songs that inspired it.

He says there are many stories that, from the safe distance of time, he's prepared to share with his audiences. Hindsight has also given him a new perspective on the personal matters of the heart that shaped the album.

"I can kind of look back with a bit of maturity now and see how I was as a young guy and how I handled breaking up with a girl who I was really in love with at the time. I just kind of did what a lot of 24-year-olds do and just slashed and burned," he chuckles.

"It was very dramatic."

Once this tour is over Temperley says he's keen to release a solo album this year and perhaps work on putting out Eskimo Joe's seventh record next year. He's also eager to get back in the studio with Steve Parkin, Kevin Mitchell and Josh Pyke to work on a sophomore LP for Basement Birds when the indie supergroup's busy members have the time.

"Every two albums I like to go off and do something, usually collaborative . . . a bit of an excursion from Eskimo Joe to keep it entertaining for myself."

'I just kind of did what a lot of 24-year-olds do and just slashed and burned.'

Kav Temperley plays Fly by Night Musicians Club on Friday (Aug 29); Settlers Tavern, Margaret River on Saturday; Players Bar, Mandurah on September 5; Prince of Wales, Bunbury on September 6; White Star Hotel, Albany on September 7; and Divers Tavern, Broome on September 12.

See kavtemperley.com.au for tickets.

The West Australian

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