James Templeton is the driving force behind Houston’s LIMB, a band that escapes any kind of conventional labeling or shortcuts to thinking. His music utilizes both modern and traditional means, and this highly thoughtful, complex, and often times disorienting concoction makes use of sampled sounds through Ableton, live drumming, and probably more than you could imagine in terms of creativity. LIMB is about to release a new record, called But Rage At What, and to get things started, James starred in a video for the title track, which was produced by Jeromy.tv and Ella Egg Films. The video is a perfect opportunity to get involved with the mind behind the music of LIMB. If you aren’t slightly uncomfortable watching it, you might be dead already.
We had a chance to catch up with Templeton, and learn a little bit about the history of LIMB, what drives his creativity, where he wants to go from here, and a lot more…
How did LIMB come about? How long have you been doing LIMB, and what is the history of LIMB?
I had been playing with this band By The End of Tonight for a long time and very seriously. For, something like, 6 or 7 years that band consumed my life. When we stopped playing music together there was a void I needed to fill, and desperately. I started LIMB to keep myself occupied. Technically, I had been working on LIMB since 2006 I think. At the time I hadn’t planned on sharing it with anyone but close friends. I had no idea how I was supposed to perform the stuff I was making and so it just seemed a bit pointless to take it any further. Little did I know people were ok watching someone stare at their laptop screen on stage. But, that wasn’t enough for me.
In 2008 I suppose I started playing out. A friend Lance Higdon and I worked on some weirdo improvisational stuff. We really tried focusing on how to do this electronic thing without twiddling our thumbs behind a little glowing apple. Nothing really panned out, but it was good practice. In 2009ish I stared playing with Casey Berridge and Joshua Cordova. We put out a record together called “The Shape of Punk For Some”. This might have been the coolest thing I had been apart of musically, and definitely one of the funnest collaborations so far. It just felt so uninhibited…like ANY idea was up for grabs. We wrote those four songs very fast, split for tour, and then never did anything together again.
It was a real drag to see it go, but then I started trying to write by myself again. I wanted to maintain that real cathartic experience LIMB had as a three piece. Pushing buttons and spinning knobs just didn’t cut it anymore, but I remembered this drummer from France I had known about named Andre Durracell. His drums would trigger these really epic 8-bit sounds. Really really cool stuff, but I thought I could take it a new direction. I had always wanted to play drums, so in 2010ish I stared learning to play drums and figure out how this “triggering” thing worked. It was for sure one of the biggest musical challenges I had faced.
What has been your greatest achievement so far, in terms of music?
That I can still do this with little to no success (Financially I mean). Putting everything on hold in my life to shape my art has been the only thing I know how to do and I don’t regret it a bit, but money is king and when the king isn’t on your side you, kinda, feel like fool.
A lot of what you do is all you, but you’ve worked with a lot of great local musicians. Do you feel like collaborating with anyone, on a local level, any time soon?
I really love working alone. It just fits my particular temperament and I manage to get WAY more accomplished. That said, there are other artist I would love to work with and am currently working with
Your music utilizes programs like Ableton, which some people feel is extremely difficult to use; what was the hardest thing about learning to Ableton, if anything?
I enjoy watching a song grow by virtue of it’s individual parts changing one another. I like to mold and manipulate and really fuck up a sample until the song is inspired from it. One song can sonically come from a single sound bite and I normally push for that approach. I think the perfect sounds are closer than we think. Ableton is pretty genius for all of this this. And it is really tactile, which was my draw to it in the beginning. It never struck me as difficult to learn, but I am a very visual and kinesthetic learner and Ableton was a lot of fun to figure out because of that. though, to this day, I am still learning how to use it.
What do you feel is the hardest thing about being a musician in Houston?
Luckily, I don’t think there is anything hard about making music in Houston except the sound ordinance. It is easy here. Everything is chill. Everyone is chill. You can go out every night of the week, pay your bills, and still find the time and extra money to make music. I guess another down side is that, for such a large city, it doesn’t feel like the rest of the world is watching. Houston is rich with really smart, creative and hard working people, but SCREW, cool as it maybe be, seems to hog the spot light. Whatever…Houston is awesome.
“But Rage At What” will be available on June 1st, so enjoy the video for now, and prepare yourself for the rest!