The Temper Trap interview

We speak to Joseph Greer of Australia’s radio-friendly rock outfit The Temper Trap prior to their gig at Good Vibes Festival 2016

The Temper Trap is back. ‘Conditions’, the band’s debut full-length album released in 2009, started the Melbourne pop-rockers off on the right foot and shot for the heights of Coldplay or U2 – thanks to the success of single ‘Sweet Disposition’.

On their third and latest record ‘Thick as Thieves’, they return to their roots: big, bright alt-rock anthems powered by stadium-sized ambitions and a sheen of electronics and synths.

'I feel like we’re quite unique and I think we just try to keep it that way'

‘Sweet Disposition’ was huge for The Temper Trap; it almost outgrew the album and the band, as [frontman] Dougy Mandagi said. Is it strange to know that one song is responsible for your success?
We hope that people recognise us for other things too, you know. ‘Sweet Disposition’ is always going to be a part of our identity and who we are, but we hope that that song can be the catalyst to bring people to the rest of our music as well, which we feel is equally as special.

It’s been four years since your last album ‘The Temper Trap’, and now you’ve released ‘Thick as Thieves’. That’s three albums in eight or nine years. Some would say you got complacent.
I think we just wanted to get this one right even if we took longer than we would have liked. ‘Thick as Thieves’ was going to be an important album for us and so, you know, we took the time. We’re happy that we spent the time on it; we made sure we got it right. Now we’re proud of it. Now we’re ready to present it to the world.

A first for the band this time around, with ‘Thick As Thieves’, is that you collaborated with outside writers: Ben Allen, Justin Parker, Malay. How did the band arrive at that decision?
We’ve been doing things the same way for quite a while now, and early on in the process Dougy presented a demo of one of our songs, ‘Summer’s Almost Gone’ (track eight on ‘Thick as Thieves’), to Malay, who had worked with Frank Ocean on his album ‘channel ORANGE’. Malay did something special to it production-wise; he took the ending and changed it up, and Dougy brought it back and he was like, ‘Look at this’. From that point on, we were open to the possibility of working with other people.

At the end of the day, it’s about the song. I feel like if we could introduce something that could make us better songwriters, hence make better songs, then it could only be a positive thing for us. As time went on, more opportunities arose and we thought, ‘Let’s just give it a go’, you know. If it works, it works.


What other firsts were there with ‘Thick As Thieves’?
It’s our first time as a four-piece again. It made us re-evaluate how we were going to approach things. We wanted the album to be very cathartic, very guitar-based, and we wanted to sound really big, and we wanted to feel big but also with less people. We had to look at how we were going to shed the fat and focus on making and having really good melodies that are guitar-based. There are a lot of up-tempo songs in it. I think people will fi nd there’re a lot of similarities with our fi rst album, ‘Conditions’.

Back then you drew a ton of comparisons with Coldplay and U2.
There would still be those comparisons, yeah; Coldplay, U2, The Temper Trap [laughs]. It’s hard for me to think of other bands that we sound like. I feel like we’re quite unique and I think we just try to keep it that way. We don’t try to sound like anyone else, we never have; we just want to make music that we love.

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