By Dan Rankin
After nine months practising together, writing and honing their material, the new St. Marys rock group We Are The Temple is “just about ready to be born,” said drummer Keegan Omel. “It’s time to come out of the womb.”
Their debut concert is scheduled for the evening of Saturday, Sept. 19 at the St. Marys Army, Navy and Air Force veteran’s hall at 23 Wellington Street. The age of majority event begins at 10:00 pm and admission is $7.50. Singer Luke Graff will open with an acoustic set.
While the three-piece group composed of Omel, bassist Joe Mills and singer/guitarist Wes Murray have only played together under the moniker of “We Are The Temple” for the calendar year of 2015, they’ve been bandmates before in years past.
Omel, 27, has been playing drums since he was an eighth grader, meaning he has almost as much experience with his instrument as Mills, also 27, who began thumping the bass just before his 12th birthday. In their high school days, both were founding members of the progressive rock quartet Shady Thickets, which was well-known in the halls of DCVI around the time of the release of 2005′s “Lucid EP.” After the departure of one of that band’s founding members, Murray was sought as a new member.
“I’ve been playing guitar for over 20 years, and writing music for about 15 or 16,” he said Sunday, prior to a band practice in the basement of Omel’s St. Marys home.
While that band eventually dissolved sometime around 2008, the love of making music lived on in its members. Mills played bass alongside his older brother Cody in several projects including Esplanade and Vinylview, while Murray self-produced and recorded the ambitious solo EP “Dear Elliott…” in 2011.
The story of We Are The Temple begins last summer, when Murray and Mills had reconnected and were writing songs together with another drummer. When their percussionist moved to Hamilton, however, they were in need of a new member to fill out the rhythm section. Luckily, they both knew a great one – and Mills was his co-worker at Veterinary Purchasing. “I asked Joe to ask Keegan if he would be into it, and he was,” Murray said.
“I was on music hiatus for a few years,” Omel admits. “I wasn’t really playing the drums too much. But I’m back on the skins.”
They taught Keegan the series of post-rock, psychedelic pop, and grunge-inspired tunes they’d composed and let him bring in his own style to complement the tracks. “That’s my mindset going into it with these songs,” he said. “To try to be a solid backbone.”
They’ve since written a few new songs as a trio, with some of the results of those sessions available to be heard online at SoundCloud.com/we-are-the-temple.
“It’s fairly eclectic, but nothing outside the rock genre,” Murray said.
“The chemistry is all here already and we’re able to make what we all want to listen to,” Mills said. “It’s going really well.”
Regarding the upcoming show, fans can expect to see a full-band re-working of one of Murray’s own solo songs (“State of Grace”), but apart from that, a full-slate of new originals from the group.
“We’re anti-cover,” Omel said. “We’re all about original art.”
Murray said he’s continuing to acquire professional recording gear “bit by bit,” so the band can do more self-producing and self-recording in the future without needing to rely on a studio.
As many of their songs feature a complex, dreamy, multi-layered sound, producing We Are The Temple songs will involve a good deal of time and patience to make sure the sounds are mixed just right. But that doesn’t deter them.
“I’d say that’s the fun part,” said Omel. “The tedious part is playing in time.”