TEMPLE RENEGADE – A Talk With SVEN MUNDORF (Vocals/Guitar)

Posted on March 11 th. 2020

Questionnaire by Stefan on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM


A while back I made the review for the debut album “The All Is None” of the Dutch Temple Renegade, according to my own musical preferences it couldn’t really convince me. Previously described by me as an alternative rock band, a genre with which I have absolutely no connection. Still, I want to give the band the opportunity to tell their story, everyone could use some extra support.

Stefan: When and by whom was the band formed ?

Sven: The band was called into life by Sven and Jerome in 2014 and was dabbling with heavy rock sounds in its fledgling days. Drum reinforcement was soon to be found in the likes of Sander, who has since been spearheading the band’s rhythmic adventures. The hunt for a bassist went through a few iterations and Angel turned out to be a keeper. Since then, the band’s sound started moving away from its rock roots and started to lean more toward Metal.

 

Stefan: Recurring question, what ambitions did you start with ?

Sven: We initially just wanted to play music, especially play said music live. We’ve all been in other bands prior and it was something that, at that point anyway, was missing from our lives. So, as the story goes, Temple Renegade was called into life.

 

Stefan: Who is who in the band and what does their curriculum vitae look like ?

Sven: Temple Renegade is:

*Sven Mundorf – Vocals, Guitar: Sven has a rich history playing in bands, from punk bands, to brit pop, death metal and others. Temple Renegade is really a natural evolution from those bands.

*Jerome Huss – Guitar: Jerome comes to us from more of a stoner-rock type background, he has also had some band exposure in the past and brings that to the table with TR.

*Angel Lopez – Bass: Angel was the latest addition in the band and completes the rhythm section lineup, he had been playing in Curacao of all places and got lost somewhere in Holland, so we figures, yep, we’ll take it.

*Sander van Elferen – Drums: Sander has also got a pretty big portfolio of bands and artists he has played with on drums and other instruments. From Zappa cover bands to psych rock, metal and so on.

 

Stefan: Not counting your latest album, have any other efforts been released ?

Sven: We have released two EPs prior: Blacked Out Ocean and Void Machine. Lie the album, those releases are available on online retailers and streaming services. If you haven’t checked them out, go for it.

Stefan: How did the outside world react to this ?

Sven: When the two EPs were released we were really just starting out and trying to find our feet sound and performance wise. Given that we were a starting band the EPs were well received and we also managed to go touring off the back of those.

 

Stefan: In what way is promotion done in the camp of Temple Renegade and by the way, what’s the name of the band based on ?

Sven: Promotion, up until the newest release of the All is None, is and was all done in house. Meaning I’d sit the guys around the table and we’d start to contact venues, student radio stations, online radios, festivals, record stores, heck, you name it, anything goes. The name of the band hails back to an early concept idea for the first musical releases we did. We tried to have something hinting at counter culture, challenging establishments of sorts without being in your face with it. Temple Renegade fits that bill, and as far as we are concerned, has a cool ring to it.

 

Stefan: What can you tell me about the current status regarding live performances  ? Mention a few interesting bands you’ve already shared the stage with.

Sven: Whist we were writing the new album gigging was a little bit on the back burner but we’re looking to get back into it of course. Prior to the album release we’ve played together with “Kamchatka”, which I guess you could call a known psych-blues-rock type band featuring Opeth’s old bassist. We’ve got two shows coming up, one with Koen Herfst’s “Vodoo Chambers”, he’s a known Dutch drummer and our friends from I saw The Deep. We’re looking forward to those shows.

 

Stefan: Some time ago your first full length was released, let the readers of this interview know what “The All Is None” have to offer ?

Sven: “The All Is Non” is really a bland of genres and styles, it doesn’t neatly fit into one box and certainly doesn’t follow and classically established genres. The best way to figure it out is to listen to it, we usually say, if you like Karnivool, Tool, Mastodon or stuff that could go into a similar direction but don’t sound like that, give it a shot.

Stefan: The information sheet I received to create the review indicated that you also have Progressive Metal on offer. As far as I’m concerned this has little or nothing to do with this genre, do you share my opinion or do you disagree at all ?

Sven: Depends on your definition of progressive metal. As far as we’re concerned we don’t really label it as such, sure, there are progressive elements in the music that you could find in Dream Theater, hell, Meshuggah even, but we’re a far cry from those bands. There’s also stuff from Yes and Pink Floyd. There’s certainly some of that in there, if you’re thinking symphonic metal, then no, of course not.

 

Stefan:  How do you define the style of Temple Renegade and which bands do you want to be compared to ?

Sven: I think that’s a tough question for us, you’ve probably gathered as much from my prior answers. Whilst we of course don’t mind namedropping and comparisons, in an ideal world, you’d say: hey, this sounds like Temple Renegade. Now, we’re certainly not reinventing the metal-wheel here in terms of sound and music but I do thing we combine a few elements. I for one really like Leprous, Gojira and Karnivool and think our sound sort of leans that way, of course we’re not quite as mad on the time signatures as the Leprous guys.

 

Stefan: I’d like to ask for your opinion on what I’ve written down about “The All Is None”, I expect a straight answer so feel free.

Sven: Well, thanks first off for taking the time to write something about us, even if it isn’t your cup of tea, I guess that shows some dedication.

As far as the production is concerned, I do actually agree with you, now having said that, most of it was done by the band with very limited budget and availability to experienced engineers, especially in our genre. For what we had available I do think it sounds quite good, better than we expected initially, and the highlight are the drums, for sure. We had some friends of our from Australian Coremetal band In Hearts Wake do the mixing and production for us and I think it leans a bit more into their genre the way the guitars and vocals sound. Comparing it to the “raw” tracks I have, I think the raw stuff sounds a lot more in your face and open. Well, outsourcing production is a risk and of course you’re also outsourcing the sound scaping, all in all though, for what we had available we’re pretty happy.

As far as the genre discussion goes, oh man, let’s not even get into that, I have no clue myself.

Stefan: How did you experience other reviews ?

Sven: Reviews are an interesting creature. We’ve had some reviews of our work releasing the two EPs but nothing to this level as is happening for The All Is None.

Some are great and praise the whole thing from sound to songs, others are more clinical and look at details whilst others just can’t make anything of it at all.

In the end, you don’t even know what to think anymore, opinions are so all over the place, who’s right? who should you listen to. That’s the artistic journey though. I guess it comes down to something very simple, music tastes are subjective and as long as people come down to our shows and we get to play, what more can we ask for. Talking about the band good or bad, that’s all positive to me.

 

Stefan: Honestly, do you care what others say ?

Sven: Hah, well, yes and no, the clue is figuring out who to listen to and that’s really quite difficult. Some people do have quite useful things to say, whilst other comments fall into the category: ok, so, that’s a thing.

In the end you need to figure out your own musical path and for alternative bands that’s just that bit harder than an indie or pop band, we can’t and don’t want to fall back on ABABCA type of songwriting or lyrics. It’s what we do.

 

Stefan: Can I assume that the whole band feels satisfied with the release of the new album or do you want to do things differently in the future ?

Sven: In short I think we do feel satisfied, it is a step up from where we were and that was the target all along. Is there room for improvement? yes, of course there is. There’s a whole list of things I could note down to be fair, but really, its not about what could’ve gone better it’s about the band being able to pull together to release what is now the All is None, that’s worth something. Hey, maybe for the next album I’ll get the chance to do those things I didn’t get to do, who knows?!

 

Stefan: Can you tell a bit more about the content of the texts? Accompany me by a few songs.

Sven: The all in none is theme based, it is about the rise and fall of human ambitions and the repetition of experience. Call it rebirth, karma, yin yang, life and death and they’d all be valid comments.

Track 01 – Enter Illusion: The cycle commences. A previous story came to an end and our journey begins with enter illusion. Here we reflect on the futility of what lies before us, can we grasp the reality of it. We give search for our sense of self and are yet unaware of the cycle. The cycle that has just ended for someone else and laid everything bare, its secrets are still hidden to us.

Track 03 – Somewhere The Vulture: Somewhere the vulture takes us back into the theme of the Ouroboros once more. As we reflect on the rise and fall of one’s own ambitions and how our actions propel us forward in this cycle, the vulture, keeps a watchful eye on us and represents both the grim reaper, who is waiting for us when we fail, as much as the next person wanting to break free from our tyranny. The tail is being eaten so to speak.

Track 08 – Voynich’s Last Dream: Voynich’s Last Dream has a much more positive outlook than the rest of the album. In this track we’re still hopeful as we’re embarking on our grand plans of personal liberation, we seek righteousness and the willpower to act decisively. The aforementioned state can also be interpreted as positive obsession. Like the Voynich manuscript that was obsessed over by its owner and saw him dedicate his life in a personal quest to unlock its mysteries. Voynich died without getting closer to his dream. The futile obsession to overcome the cycle, faith alone won’t suffice.

That’s just to give a bit of a flavour on the theme.

Stefan: Temple Renegade has been an unsigned band so far, but is it still possible for you to have to finance everything yourselves ?

Sven: Indeed, we’re unsigned to date and literally finance and do everything ourselves. It is quite tough work and keeping everyone motivated to keep on going as it can be challenging at times. People have other commitments and sometimes life just happens, if you know what I mean. That’s no reason to quit or give up though, we’ve managed to pull through so far and we’re hoping to do so in future. We’ll never say no to a helping hand though *wink wink to any readers out there.

 

Stefan: Have there been any approaches to collaborate with a label ?

Sven: We have had some opportunities to collaborate with certain labels but we did not feel we were a right fit for each other at that stage. I think the new album brings the band into a better perspective in a view to label collab and such, so if things were to go that way now, or if we were to discuss possibilities, we’d get a much clearer picture i.e. we’d probably see merit in that.

 

Stefan: Running outta questions, still I’d like to hear an honest answer about your opinion on the contemporary rock and metal scene, both national and international wise.

Sven: Loaded question there (commencing drum-roll). First off, I think the scene has been struggling for a while. I’ve lived in a few countries apart from NL and have seen venues shut down that host upcoming bands and less and less people willing to go out and support the artists they listen to. I’m not talking about downloading or anything like that, I mean going to shows, hanging out at a venue even if the first band is kinda not your thing, maybe the second one is! that sort of stuff. You need venues for that though and if no one supports those, they close, it is pretty simple. Government regulations have also not been helping either, so there’s that too.

We’ve also changed the way we consume music, all you have to do is look around you and its pretty obvious, not only in metal, especially not in metal. That being said, I do think there are some great new-ish metal artists out there that deserve more attention than they get but I guess they hey-day of band driven music, when you could fly your own jet-liner around the world, those are coming to and end. Its more about being clever yourself, joining the right collaborations, finding something that works for you.

 

Stefan: Then I wish you the best of luck with Temple Renegade, that the future may bring what you have in mind. Thank you for being here and willing to provide me with the answers. Any last comments ?

Sven: Thanks for your work and time doing this, if not for people like you, we’d not even get to talk about this stuff in public. We’re all a community of sorts and whilst times are tough, if we all take that bit of care and help each other out where we can, maybe that can make a difference to someone out there. Sounds very “Jerry Springer” this…haha, heck, why not then, be good and take care of each-other.

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