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But what was three gradually become four, and now for its sixth album, it has flourished into a mighty six-piece with the addition of Richard Ley-Hamilton (Males) on guitar, Steve Marshall (Left or Right) on bass and Logan Hampton (Alizarin Lizard) on keys.
"I've always kind of had this vision that we'd just grow and grow and grow, start off as solo, then a duo, then a trio, quartet and just keep going until we have a horns section and an orchestra," Julian explained.
"It gave it way more texture. And actually it got harder to record because everyone has so many parts, but it's definitely worth it because live it's just way bigger you know, it's way huger and it's the best thing we've ever done."
Originally from San Francisco, Temple came to New Zealand as a teenager keen for a surf with no intention of staying. But after he accidentally got into music school and fell in love with Flying Nun (Graeme Downes was his lecturer) he had no choice.
"It was the best thing I ever did, moving to New Zealand."
And over the past 14 years, he has quietly become a staple of the scene. There are not many music fans in Dunedin who haven't been to a JTB gig, and even fewer who haven't at least heard of them. Their drummer, Paul McLennan-Kissel, taught many of Dunedin's up and coming drummers, and their classically-trained violinist Alex Vaatstra used to play in the Southern Sinfonia.
With Ley-Hamilton and Hampton in the mix, I'm tempted to call them a supergroup.
"I was thinking about it on the way over here, how egocentric Julian Temple Band sounds," Temple said, with a laugh. "It should be called the Julian Temple Sham because I'm like the worst musician out of the lot. I've got this amazing high calibre of musicians in the band and here I am kind of twiddling away on my guitar ...
"I've gotta say, I pinch myself going, `I don't know why these musicians in my band are playing with me'. I mean, they are next level."
It could be because of his unique songwriting skills. It's bluesy, folksy, a little dark and dirty but with a bouncy groove. But when you throw in an indie guitarist and a psychedelic keyboardist who knows what you'll get? The songs are the template but he trusts his bandmates to interpret it as they will, and the results are electrifying.
"It's funny with the two soloists of the band, the keyboardist and the violinist and Richard as well, they all have real respect for each other so they actually kind of want to hold each other up in a way.
"So it works out great; it's a nice, beautiful kind of circle and they all have their moments to shine."
The new album, Antarctica, releases on Friday with a gig at the Captain Cook with support from Anna Moser (of Spinster), The Patsys (Matt Langley/Graeme Peters) and Koizilla to close it out, explosively I expect.
Julian Temple Band Album Release, Friday, June 1, 8.30pm, The Captain Cook Hotel. Tickets: $10 advanced tickets from undertheradar.co.nz, $15 on the door or $20 with album.
For more from Fraser Thompson go to dunedinsound.com.