Here’s a word to add to your vocabulary: kenopsia. You may not know exactly what it is, but you’ve felt it. Kenopsia describes the eerie, uncanny feeling of empty spaces that once were crowded. Returning to a place of business after hours, exploring abandoned buildings, visiting an old school long after you’ve graduated, or just driving around a sleeping city in the wee hours: all of these might engender a powerful feeling of longing and loss.
As the places we know best have been evacuated and reimagined to enforce distancing regulations, the pandemic has plunged us all into kenopsia. John Templeman of J Temp 13 acknowledges that the rules have changed, and he’s done his part to accommodate and adjust to the new world we’ve had to invent on the fly. But he’s a rocker to the core, and he misses clubs and concert halls — and on “Kenopsia,” his latest single, he pledges his allegiance to live music and the togetherness it engenders. He’s determined to beat the sense of alienation that has overcome live music scenes and get back on stage where he belongs.
With a song like “Kenopsia,” you’ll know why immediately. This is a four-alarm fire of a track: a relentless rocker with lacerating, overdriven guitar, pounding drums, and a committed, full-throated, impassioned lead vocal by Templeman. Everything about the song is meant for the club. From the very first downstroke to the final ringing cymbal crash, you can feel the press of bodies, the heat of the stage lights, the shouting and the laughter and the sweat. It’s everything we’ve been missing for the past two years, summed up in three minutes of incendiary rock. The good news — with case numbers coming down all over the country, there’s reason to believe we won’t be waiting very much longer.
But for the moment, kenopsia still reigns across America. Tarana Parekh’s beautiful lyric video for the song captures the haunting quality of silent places and makes the concept of kenopsia manifest in every ghostly shot. J Temp 13 takes us inside the concrete halls of disused factories and lets the camera linger on cavernous, quiet interiors, riddled with graffiti and other evidence of human habitation – but utterly empty. Yet as spectacular as those shots are, there’s nothing in the clip quite as wrenching as the images of the empty chairs at concert halls. “Where do we play?,” Templeman roars, his pain and frustration evident. That wild and unquenchable desire to connect makes it clear that we’ll all be back soon enough.
When did you first know you wanted to become a musical artist? What was the first song you ever wrote?
I would say that I’ve wanted to be a musical artist ever since I could comprehend music. My parents were in a band together (that’s how they met) so some of my earliest memories are going to band practice with them and just taking it all in. I was always enamored with the whole process of working on and practicing a song until it was ready for public consumption.
The first song I ever remember writing was one called “Truckstop”. I think I was eight years old?
Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?
This is always a tough question to answer, but I’ll go with Queen, The Beatles, Motley Crue, Black Sabbath and the Dead Kennedys.
What’s in your IPOD this week?
This week, I’ve been listening to Tool – Fear Inoculum, The Police – Synchronicity, The Adolescents (self-titled Blue Album) and a Slipknot playlist I put together that contains stuff from Iowa through their latest single, The Chapelton Rag.
How’s the music scene in your locale?
I think it depends on the type of music you play. Some genres are really thriving while others are having difficulty finding an audience. Actually, I’ve only played live once since my previous band’s (Hot Ham & Cheese) final show in November 2019 and COVID hit so I’m probably not the best person to answer this question at the moment.
What do you like most about playing live?
I really like the feedback and energy that you get back from the crowd…especially when they’re really into what you’re doing. Honestly though, I’m more of a studio rat these days and have always preferred the creation process vs. the live performance. Plus, I’ve played enough shows at this point to last a few lifetimes.
Is there a song on your latest CD release here that stands out as your personal favorite, and why?
Yes, my personal favorite song on my new album, America Or Bust, is the latest single/video, “Kenopsia”. It was basically the last song that was finished for the album and it came together rather organically. When I record J TEMP 13 tracks, I play most of the instruments, but “Kenopsia” has the most guests of any song on the CD including labelmate and blues guitar legend, Mike Onesko, Michael Webb (B3 Organ) who has worked with Chris Stapleton and Hank Williams, Jr. to name a few and lastly bassist, Al Collins from Jason and the Scorchers, Stacie Collins and the Al-mighty Three and Slammin’ Gladys. Sadly, Al passed away a few months after recording his part so this song has extra special meaning to me because he is on it. He was a good friend and I really miss him.
What’s the best concert you’ve been to?
Wow…I’ve been to hundreds of shows so this is another tough question. A couple that really stick out are Motley Crue, Theatre of Pain tour in 1985 (I was 11 years old) and Pink Floyd, The Division Bell tour in 1993. The first time I saw Phish (Starlake 1997) was a bit of a religious experience as well.
If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, have a drink with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be?
Again, another difficult question. It would be pretty cool to co-write a song with John Lennon and Paul McCartney, but it also would’ve been a blast to party with Led Zeppelin in the early 70s or Motley Crue in the early days of the Sunset Strip. Can I do all three?
What are your goals for the future?
Honestly, at this point, my goal is to keep writing and recording music until I can’t do it anymore or I’m not around to do it. It’s cliché, but life really is too short, and music is one of the only things that I consider to be real on this earth. So, I want to keep doing that and retire to the beach as soon as possible 😊