Music Notes

The Temperance Movement conquers its White Bear

// Rob Blackham
// Rob Blackham

What do rock ’n’ roll and psychology have in common? In this case, they form the backbone of the new album by the Temperance Movement.

The record in question is the band’s sophomore release, White Bear, which borrows its name from a study by psychologist David Wegner. More specifically, Wegner’s work focused on ironic process theory—also known as the “white bear problem”—whereby the more a person tries to stifle and suppress certain thoughts, the more likely they are to be prevalent in their mind. In this instance, participants were instructed not to think of a white bear, which of course would immediately conjure images of the creature.

“The whole thing was about trying to strengthen your mind and get yourself out of habits,” says vocalist Phil Campbell, over the phone from a hotel in Hamburg, Germany.

For the Temperance Movement, the album was its own hypothetical white bear.

“It was this sort of obsession that we couldn’t stop thinking about until it was finished, until it was completely recorded and in the bag,” Campbell adds. “And now we can let go of it. The day it was released was very much, for me, a day that I let it all go and began to enjoy it and see it really for the first time out. We all feel that now that it’s out.”

Creating the album was an all-consuming task that Campbell calls a “valiant effort” from all five band members. Everyone works hard to advance the group’s music while balancing other jobs in order to take care of their families, the sum total of which can leave little time for much else. Plus, Campbell lives in Glasgow while the rest of his bandmates are located in London.

“They would jam on their own and then come up with some stuff and send it to me, and then I would send it back to them with some vocals and a melody,” Campbell says. “It was very much a collaborative effort. We decided it was going to be a five-way split and everyone was going to be counted as a writer.”

The bluesy rock songs were crafted over the past three years the band spent on the road supporting its self-titled debut, which Campbell cites as a means of creative expression for this new batch of tracks. That time also allowed he and his bandmates to learn who they were as musicians.

“Just confidence in terms of standing at a microphone and being able to handle a crowd … or to perform a song well that everybody understands what kind of song it is,” he explains. “That’s what I developed through the touring, and the second album probably shows that. The lyrics are a bit funnier and less personal and a bit more word-play and fun.”

Tue, Mar 1 (9 pm)
With Monster Truck
Union Hall, $29.50

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