The Temper Trap: Their Own Sound

A successful debut album is an impossible feat for most bands. Following it up with an acclaimed second album is even harder.

As The Temper Trap make their way home from London to support Coldplay on their tour down under, guitarist Lorenzo Sillitto takes time to talk about the band’s new sound, about being in love, and Bono.

A dream run for a band looks a little like this: Start recording debut album, and relocate from Melbourne to London. Release a single called 'Sweet Disposition' and watch as it lodges itself in the UK and Irish top 10 charts, and scores you a worldwide record deal with Infectious Records. Finish and release debut, Conditions, and sell almost a million copies of the album worldwide. Oh, and while you’re at it, engage in a widely publicised war of words with a famous guitarist, but still count his bandmate - he’s a guy called Bono - as a huge fan.

Since forming in 2005, that’s been the stock of a group of lads known as The Temper Trap. The band’s guitarist Lorenzo Sillitto still finds it all a little hard to believe.

“Being a full time professional musician seems absurd. You have to pinch yourself sometimes. The first time I came back into Australia, and on my passport, I wrote musician - that was the moment where I was like, ‘this is my job now'.”

As many of their contemporaries fall prey to the deadly second album syndrome, The Temper Trap’s focused approach proved the perfect antidote to being lunked with a ‘one hit wonders’ tag.

“There’s that classic saying: you’ve got your entire life to write your first and you’ve got six months to write your second,” muses Lorenzo. “That’s a big challenge. We went in with an open slate and as time went on, and on, and on, the pressure started to sink a little bit. You’ve just got to push through it and just go ‘no, this is where we’re at and this is where we’re going. I think [it was] a really important album for us to make.”

With frontman Dougy Mandagi’s soaring vocals in pitch perfect tow, the album is a soundtrack for the broken hearted; those who have loved and lost, whose wounds ache openly with emotion. The lyrics are solely Mandagi’s, with the band giving him that reign.

“It’s about a time he was going through during the last album cycle and some of the experiences he had. A relationship...” says Lorenzo of his bandmate, before pondering the trials of a musician in love.

“When you’re on the road, it’s hard to maintain relationships and be a good boyfriend because you spend so much time away from each other, and it takes a lot of work to get those things right. We’re really lucky that we have partners and girlfriends that were there before it all began for us, so they saw the work that was put in, and how much it means to us. It’s a testament to them, to be able to stick by us.”

Though Lorenzo says the band values the success of 'Sweet Disposition', they weren’t prepared to write an entire record as a reaction to one song’s success, or chase the next big hit.

“We all come from a place where ‘the album’ is the thing. It’s not so much about the song. The songs have to be really good, but you want to make an album that’s really concise, and that has ebbs and flows.”

Some of those “ebbs” might sound unfamiliar to fans of their earlier work. Though much of the album lives up to The Temper Trap’s melancholic and mesmerising balladry, there are new synth-driven sounds in the mix.

“This album is another stepping stone to getting towards a place where we’ve defined our sound. The incorporation of synths is something we wanted to explore. It’d be interesting to see how we bring the two albums together on the next one which we’ve started writing,” Lorenzo reveals.

That the band will continually seek new directions for their sound might be music to the ears of fans, though it’s possibly even sweeter news to [b]U2[/b] guitarist, 'The Edge'. At the height of their hit single's success, he famously suggested that 'Sweet Disposition' sounded very similar to the U2 classic hit, 'Where The Streets Have No Name'. His views weren’t shared by bandmate Bono however, who has long been a fan of The Temper Trap. So much so, that earlier this year, via a U2 fan-site interview, he said that the band’s use of synthesizers and experimental sounds was 'exciting' and 'a new hybrid'.

In the world of rock, whatever Bono says, goes. The Temper Trap, with the help of their two albums, are carving out their own unique sound.

[b]The Temper Trap will be joining the Future Music Festival line-up next year, stopping off in Brisbane, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide from March 2 - 11.[/b]
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