I'm telling you, nostalgia ain't what it used to be. Playing "Remember When" is a waste of air. Pining for long gone bands is futile. So let's squash the commiserating so we can rave about The Temptators. Shout Bama Lama!
For those of you who like classic transistor pop and rock, The Temptators is your band. If you like the yesterday intensity of The Sonics married to the nascent blast of The Mooney Suzuki, The Temptators is your band. If you like musicians with an eye for Beefheart ingenuity and Zappa–esque hairpin time signatures ... well, you get the picture.
This band will blow your head off, live or on cassette. That's right: The Temptators' debut release, "Welcome Home," is on cassette tape. So if you're driving an '83 Caprice POS, you're golden. But they weren't trying to be obtuse or old school or chap anybody's ass; this was a budgetary decision.
"We're minimum wage slaves," says guitarist Bob Marshall. "We're chumps."
The Temptators, ranging in age from 18 to 23 — Marshall; guitarist Austin Lake; bassist Brendan Lake; lead vocalist Cougar; and drummer Beefus D'Aurelio — is the perfect twisting teeter-totter between classic throwback garage rock and the forward thinking chaos of those who approach the rules with a volume knob and a sledgehammer. The band is candid — if not a little vague — about its influences.
"I just like things that are good," Cougar says. "For as long as I can remember, I've always liked songs like 'My Girl.'" He also cites The Beach Boys, Devo, The Kinks, soul singers, and girl doo wop groups in the same breath.
"Just rock n roll," Brendan Lake says.
Austin Lake offers up Sabbath, while stressing that The Temptators don't do covers or imitate. "I think our better material is when we don't try to sound like any other band," he says. "The easier stuff, the less influenced stuff, is better."
Marshall's response is the only curveball after citing The Mothers and Beefheart.
"Classical, jazz," he says. "I used to play in the jazz band at school. I learned to play chords on the upright."
Guitar players Marshall and Austin Lake founded The Temptators a little over a year ago to fill a void that hasn't been filled honestly since the Garage-Pop Records/Trashcan Records dynasty in the 1990's.
"We'd like to think it hasn't been filled in a long time," Austin Lake says. "But there are other bands that carry their own unique attributes, very unique to their own sound. Like Triglactagon."
Marshall seconds that emotion. "Triglactagon is a huge influence," he says.
For Austin Lake, there's a right way and a wrong way.
"I think a lot of bands are doing what's good for their own band and not what's good for the song. Which is ironic because we're dressed the same," he says. "It's just about a good song, not so much advancing the band name."
This may not be entirely true. At a recent Temptators thrilling throw-down at Skylark Lounge, the songs were the sizzle, but the band — in matching yellow pullovers — was the steak. They were loud, brash and menacing, barely rooted on the stage with Cougar offering the audience a mouthful of loose teeth if anyone hassled his mom, who was there to enjoy the show. He was reminiscent of Peter Wolf.
The band waxes tres cool on and off stage and genuinely like what they do. And they care what you think.
"Any perception of us is better than what we think of ourselves," Austin Lake says. "Because I think what we think is way off. I think we see ourselves as a hearty group of normal rock 'n' roll, but it's clear we're entering the weird time signature, Zappa realm."
The band is constantly busy writing. The majority of The Temptators live together, each with an 8-track recorder set up in their room.
"We want to record as much as we can," Cougar adds. "Because there are certain things we can't do on stage, like we don't have a piano player and all those crazy sounds — 'Pet Sounds.' We like to record what we can't do live."
"This is an outlet to make something real and validate it," Austin Lake says.
The band members seem game for anything ... almost. They won't play disco or cheat on their girlfriends. Or the true indication of a great band as Austin Lake sees it: "We probably won't make any money, either" he says.
Depending on who you ask — or when you ask the question — you'll get a variety of explanations of what the Sound ExChange Project really is: A local contemporary classical ensemble; a chamber group; an artist collective; composers; curators; educators; community-investors.