A global hit gave Aussie rockers the Temper Trap a flying start – all they have to do now is top that on their second album, as Cameron Adams reports
Rockers fi nd sweet spot
LIVING in London’s grim- but- affordable Hackney placed Melbourne band the Temper Trap in a good geographical position for their global assault.
It also placed them in a risky geographical position.
Frontman Dougy Mandagi was confronted by a notorious local gang of hooded youths last year.
‘‘ They’re quite intimidating and scary when they travel in packs,’’ Mandagi says.
Luckily the savage thugs had been soothed by the Temper Trap’s worldwide hit Sweet Disposition.
When they recognised Mandagi, the situation turned from a mugging opportunity to a photo opportunity.
‘‘ They asked for a photo. I obliged,’’ Mandagi says. ‘‘ I always make time for the fans. And ‘ no’ was not an option.’’
Avoiding imminent danger is one of the many things for which the Temper Trap can thank Sweet Disposition.
The song peaked at No. 6 in Britain, went double platinum in Australia and was so popular in America it contributed heavily to the nearly one million sales of their 2009 debut album Conditions.
Aside from relocating to London, the band followed the song, and the album, around the world. Several times. But as with any band that has major success off one song, the Temper Trap has had an interesting relationship with Sweet Disposition.
The song helped them live the dream very few Australian bands get to experience – they can pull an audience almost anywhere in the world.
‘‘ I wouldn’t be here now if that song wasn’t as successful as it has been,’’ Mandagi says.
‘‘ I won’t lie, I enjoy the comfort in being able to go where I want and do what I want.
‘‘ There’s a lot of perks that come with success, the moderate success we’ve had.’’
Sweet Disposition was used in movies ( most notably 500 Days of Summer) and, more lucratively, in American television advertisements.
‘‘ For every ad we said ‘ yes’ to, we said ‘ no’ to another 20 ads,’’ Mandagi says.
‘‘ I’m over trying to be idealistic and cool. People don’t buy records any more. If they did, I wouldn’t put my songs in Coke and Chrysler ads.’’
The unavoidable Sweet Disposition cast a shadow of expectation over the band’s self- titled second album, which was a year in the making.
Mandagi admits that, towards the end, record company representatives started to hover, eager for another major hit.
‘‘ It rubs off on you. We got worried by the end. But they’re just doing their job,’’ he says.
Luckily they had an ace up their sleeve. Live keyboardist Joseph Greer, now an official fifth member, had played a riff during soundchecks, which Mandagi hummed over.
It turned into Trembling Hands, one of the first songs finished for the new album and their most heartfelt to date.
Veering into emotional rock territory, it’s being earmarked as the song to seduce American radio once again.
‘‘ I always thought it had a Coldplay tinge to it,’’ Mandagi says. ‘‘ Coldplay slash Snow Patrol. Not a bad thing.’’
However insiders suggested Trembling Hands was too Coldplay for Mandagi’s liking, especially when it was mentioned as their comeback single.
‘‘ I played it to friends. They liked it. They said it sounded like Coldplay. My worry was I didn’t want to come back with a song that sounded like Coldplay,’’ he says. ‘‘ Even if people don’t like Need Your Love, at least it sounds like us. A lot of people don’t like Need Your Love, to be honest. Some people do. You’ve got to be brave.’’
SECOND TIME AROUND: The Temper Trap are back with a new album out soon.