Kav Temperley - Foreign Land

Kav Temperley, songwriter, singer and guitarist in Eskimo Joe chose the song Foreign Land as some of his best work.

Foreign Land  is from Eskimo Joe’s 2009 album Inshalla 

This is an edited transcript from Kav Temperley’s interview on Some Of My Best Work.

Some Of My Best Work is hosted by Jane Rocca, music and culture journalist.

We had been touring an album called Black Fingernails Red Wine, and it was a big album for us.

It just had legs, we toured it for about three years.

Then at a certain point in time, it kicked off in The States.

We started touring America as well, we were kind of getting to the point where we had to follow up this behemoth of an album.

After touring it for a really long time, we had one last gig to do.

We were going to go over to America and play this thing called G’day USA, which is a pretty funny, original title. But strangely enough, (G’day USA) worked on the Americans.

It was going to be a really big deal, because we were playing at the Lincoln Memorial Centre.

 

We have very Beatles like songwriting approach where we like we make sure the chords are perfect, and the vocals are perfect.

And then we start to record it and turn it into a big song.

I was actually pretty bored of doing that.

Every time I sat down and acoustic guitar, I was like, this is boring.

I was listening to a song by Echo and the Bunnymen , and they had this this song called The Cutter.

It’s kind of this like Middle Eastern kind of string section going on and jamming over the top and being all angular and Echo and the Bunnymen, I was like, this is a cool idea. I really like this.

I went down to my local CD Shop, and I found this CD called The Sounds of Turkey.

I found this one part in the middle, which was this kind of de-little-der-der-der, and I was like, “that’s cool.” I got that and made a little loop out of it.

Then I put one microphone for the drums, and I did my best like John Bonham, you know, Led Zeppelin kind of impression.

 

Then it was time to get on a plane and go to America and do this thing.

And you know, it’s like 12 hour’s time difference between Fremantle and New York. So, we’re pretty jet lagged.

I did this big, long walk, down through East Village, and it was really cold, and it started to snow.

I remember being really touched by all these hardcore, New York store holders who were thinking was quite magical as well.

They were like coming out of their shop fronts and catching snowflakes on their hands. And I could see the magic in their face as well.

We got to the gig at the Lincoln Memorial Centre.

We were just about to walk down the red carpet when this very official looking man came up to me and said, just to let you know, Heath Ledger’s has just passed away.

We were obviously pretty taken a back because he was this, you know, very young, very talented guy from Perth, Western Australia, who had died it turned out, streets away from where I was walking at about 3:30pm in the afternoon as it started to snow.

We did the show, did the whole gala event and the next day we packed up shop and went to a less romantic city of the world, which was Dallas, Texas.

I was sitting there in my hotel room and looking out over this big metallic, shiny city, and the TV was on.

The news was just talking about Heath, who was he, you know, picking apart this guy’s life.

I felt that loneliness for him.

I just picked up my guitar and I started to kind of do this very sad acoustic song, about dying in a foreign land.

We got home from this whole experience and the guys were like, “so what are we writing Kav, what song you got?” and I was like, “I’ve got this song.”

I pressed play on my Turkish delittle-dee-dee-dee-dee with me playing drums and they were like, “Cool, but where’s the song.”

I was like, “ah, it goes like this” and I just started to just play the acoustic song, but I sung it to this big rock and roll drum beat that we had going on.

 

The two just kind of work together.

By the end of kind of a week, we had put this demo of Foreign Land together.

Because that song was so well received, yes, we did start to win some awards around it.

I think that was also an acknowledgement of the work we’d done on the previous records leading up to it, it’s kind of how it works in Australia, you’ve got to earn your stripes.

We went to the APRA Awards (Australasian Performing Right Association,) and we won an APRA Award for the most played Australian song on radio that year, which blew my mind because we don’t really over analyse that stuff while it’s happening.

To look back at it now, I’m like, “Wow, that’s, that’s actually a huge achievement.”

We got the kind of tick of approval from the industry, everyone was like, “Yeah, you did it again. Well done. You can continue to be Eskimo Joe.”

This story continues below.

“The first time we played it live was at this huge show called Sound Relief “

Kav Temperley, Eskimo Joe

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Listen to this story on Some of My Best Work, a free weekly podcast hosted by music journalist Jane Rocca.

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It was a really full on experience.

And for the first song, like the guy who was doing our, our foldback, he hadn’t plugged in a cord properly.

So we didn’t have a click track.

And we’re all kind of playing in front of 80,000 people looking each other going, what’s gonna go on here?

Luckily, with the first song we started with was From The Sea that the backing track is a click track. It’s a metronome going.

We were like, okay, and then halfway through, obviously, the fallback guy goes, “Oh what does this do?”

And plugs it in, and suddenly the click comes in, and you can see our faces go, oh, my god that clicks in.

This is gonna work.

And then yeah, then we played Foreign Land, and for the first time in front of people.

We were just so excited about playing this behemoth, like the most rockin’ song we’ve ever written, you know, in front of a big stadium audience, that’s like, what teenage dreams are made of.

It was a pretty special moment.

I consider this, some of my best work because I like the fact that this song stepped outside of the formula for the first time.

Black Fingernails Red Wine, it was so fast and so easy, we were really working, everyone was on the same page about what we’re doing.

But as an artist, you’re like, it’s too easy.

I need to make it hard for myself, and you do this to make it interesting.

What I’m really proud of about this song is that we stepped outside of the formula.

It worked, even from its origins, which is starting with this Turkish sample and a drumbeat.

It’s still a surprised to me when I hear this song. I’m like, “Wow, we wrote that. That’s cool.”

It didn’t feel preconceived it just kind of it came together with all these elements that I could have never planned.

And now we have this amazing song that’s you know, that’s there forever in history.

It’s great.

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