Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

The perils of a hit song

SINGAPORE — For Australian indie rock band The Temper Trap, success can be something of a double-edged sword. Take the group’s hit song Sweet Disposition, which was featured in the Hollywood film (500) Days Of Summer and which catapulted the band into international spotlight in 2009.

SINGAPORE — For Australian indie rock band The Temper Trap, success can be something of a double-edged sword. Take the group’s hit song Sweet Disposition, which was featured in the Hollywood film (500) Days Of Summer and which catapulted the band into international spotlight in 2009.

Pressure to top the success of that song, vocalist-guitarist Dougy Mandagi told TODAY, is “constant”.

“I don’t think we put that kind of pressure on ourselves, but I think other people put that pressure on us, for sure,” he explained. “And I guess that’s part and parcel of having a successful song ... we have the awesome job of trying to navigate being four guys who want to be creative and make music, and living up to the expectations. It’s not an easy thing.”

Indonesian-born Mandagi added with a laugh: “Obviously, we can’t be mad at Sweet Disposition, because the reason you’re here right now interviewing us is that song.”

Indeed, plenty has changed for the outfit — formed in Melbourne in 2005 — since it was signed to a record label, Infectious, and moved to London in 2009 to pursue its music.

Bandmate Joseph Greer, who plays the keyboard and guitar and provides backing vocals in the band, said of the transition: “As soon as the first album was released and we were introduced to the business side of things, that’s when there was pressure, because suddenly now you’ve got other people’s opinions involved.

“Suddenly the spontaneity and innocence of what the band is in the first place, a little bit of that gets lost, and the tricky thing is trying to create music that is as close to the kind of music you made (before being signed) ... when you just made music that you loved.”

Mandagi and Greer were in town earlier last month to promote their highly anticipated third album Thick As Thieves, which will be launched June 10.

Having released their eponymous second album, some four years ago, the guys admit that the latest offering took “longer than we would have liked”, according to Greer.

But members of the band, which also includes drummer Toby Dundas and bassist Jonathon Aherne, are confident that the music will be worth the wait.

For one, they’ve enlisted the help of several external collaborators for the first time, including Justin Parker, who has written for artists such as Lana Del Rey and Sia, and Grammy-winning producer Malay, who co-wrote and produced American singer-songwriter Frank Ocean’s highly-acclaimed album Channel Orange (2012). “When (the opportunity for collaboration) arose, we jumped at it because we’d been writing records the same way,” Mandagi said simply. “It’s good to mix things up and rattle the cage a little bit.”

Another key difference to the creative process this time around? The absence of lead guitarist Lorenzo Sillitto, who left the band in 2013 to “try new things”, according to a statement released then.

Although his departure was amicable, it was “a shock to the system”, Mandagi admitted. “But it made us re-evaluate ourselves as a unit, and at the end of the day helped us solidify who we are as a band and who we are to each other,” he added.

Having four members instead of five also helped rather than hindered the making of the album.

“I think in the past we’ve sort of had a bad habit of just coming up with parts for the sake of having certain parts in songs, that may or may not have been necessary,” he continued.

With fewer hands to play instruments, the band approached song-writing in a different way. “In the end (it) made for a much leaner record, which is a good thing ... we cut out the fat (while) still trying to be impactful and have that expansive, big Temper Trap sound.”

One thing’s for sure — international recognition or no — the guys plan to keep their feet planted firmly on the ground.

Said Mandagi: “It’s flattering that many people like us and that we’ve been able to affect so many people through our music. There have been so many moments where we have had to pinch ourselves to believe that it’s all real.

“But we take everything in stride. We’re level-headed guys and will never let ourselves or each other get too big for our shoes.”

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.