By Luke Buckler
Unbelievably Bad Contributor
Melbourne’s Holy Serpent have gained some weight for the release of their second LP, Temples. Dirtying up the shine of their first record, Temples is, by their own admission, ‘more Sabotage than Sabbath Bloody Sabbath‘. It’s a slight shift in focus that marks movement in a slightly new direction for the band. Subtle, for sure, but it’s an effective re-consideration of an already measured and realised sound that takes Holy Serpent somewhat closer to the holy mountain’s summit.
Don’t call them psych, or stoner, or doom though – the term being bandied about is skate rock. We caught up with Scott Penberthy (guitar/vocals) and Dave Bartlett (bass) to see what the go with that was.
Do you think the tags of ‘stoner’, ‘doom’, and ‘psych’ are too binding? Is that why Temples is being referred to as ‘skate rock’?
Yeah I guess you gotta make it sound interesting somehow and those genre tags have been used to death. Someone else came up with the ‘skate rock’ tag as a way to describe the flow of the music. Manic here and slow there, much like the flow of skating a bowl or something.
How do you think your sound has changed between the first record and Temples?
There are more tempo changes, more riffs and more overall energy to the songs.
Tell us about the recording process for Temples. Did we spot on that you build your own studio?
We demoed the album in our own studio that we built. We recorded it for real at Goatsound studios with Jason Fuller, of Blood Duster fame.
How’d you hook up the orchestral section at the end of ‘Sativan Harvest’?
That was done first before anything. We hired a friend of a friend who played violin and viola. Scott taught him the melody lines and it was done in an hour. Scott had originally written strings for the entire album during the demo/ pre-production process but felt that it changed the album too much in terms of feel/vibe. Made it sound too gothic. We opted for just using them right at the end of the album as a nice suprise for everyone.
Are you gear nerds? What’s your set up?
As much as anyone else in this genre of music. Guitarist Nick and Bassist Dave are the real gear nerds in the band, scott not so much. Dave runs a Ampeg SVT Classic, Nick runs a Musicman 130HD and Scott uses whatever is available. But he is slowly starting to realise the importance of having a powerful amp head for maximum tone.
How did Holy Serpent start? Had you done bands together before?
We had all been in bands previously of varying genres/styles. Nick and Scott met at a bar they were working at and started writing the tunes for Holy Serpent.
Have you done much touring prior to this one? Reckon you’ll consider heading overseas with this record?
We have toured the east coast of Australia a few times before, and hit up Adelaide a few times as well. We would like to hit up Europe next year. USA tour still seems a while away as its super expensive to tour there with visas.
Was there a record that particular record that turned you on to rock’n’roll as a kid?
Machine Head by Deep Purple got me interested as a kid as i was learning guitar – Dave.
Take a listen to Temples: