The Temper Trap have been looking out for each other since their wayward early teens, a bond that keeps them together today, writes KRISTY SYMONDS
THE foundations of The Temper Trap brotherhood were firmly cemented by the age of 13 for bassist Jonathon Aherne. The self- described wanderer, who grew up around Melbourne, first met and formed a friendship with Indonesian- born frontman Dougy Mandagi during his early teens.
“I grew up in, like, a missionary organisation,” Aherne says.
“It’s like a church and lots of people came to volunteer, and Dougy was one of the people who volunteered.
“There were always a lot of people who had guitars and I was always going ‘ Someone give me a lesson,’ and Dougy was one of the first people I asked.”
Mandagi, who was five years older, soon become a brotherly figure to Aherne, teaching him how to pluck (“very badly”) a few chords on the guitar.
“Not to get all super Oprah, but I dropped out of school when I was 14 and he was like a big brother to me,” Aherne says. “So there was definitely a bond between me and Dougy.
“Dougy looked out for me when I was pretty young, in a nice way … I never thought I would play in a band with him.”
Years later, when the pair were working in the same shopping mall, Mandagi approached Aherne, telling him his band needed a bassist for practice that night.
“I’m like, ‘ Dude, you know how bad I am – you taught me’,” Aherne says.
“He knew my ability was lousy, at best, so he just went, ‘ Just come and I will tell you what to play and it will be fine’.”
After rehearsing their “butts off”, Aherne says he pretty quickly began to pick it up and seven months later the band were ready to start gigging.
“The band’s mentality was that we needed to be sharp before we ever performed in front of
THE TEMPER TRAP play Groovin The Moo, May 11, Hay Park, Bunbury. Tickets $ 99.90 plus booking fee from Moshtix anyone,” he says. “For a band just kicking about Melbourne, we already had quite a professional mentality, so we were pretty tight.”
According to Aherne, their first show was at a mate’s 21st – a little less glamorous on the scale of the now London- based band’s current concert resume, which includes their celebrated half- time performance at last year’s AFL grand final.
“It’s hard to get people in the industry to notice you, so we played a lot of gigs,” he says, adding they would often drive to Sydney for shows.
Aherne says while working at St Jerome’s Bar he used to frequently pester his boss, Jerome Borazio, who ran St Jerome’s Laneway Festival with Danny Rogers, to give the band a break.
Rogers, who now manages Gotye and The Temper Trap, agreed to give the band a slot on the festival bill because Aherne and drummer Toby Dundas knew of some cool spaces around town and were “pretty inventive with putting on silly gigs in car parks”.
“That was the first time we ever had anyone throw us a bone,” Aherne says. “There were people there [ at the show] that had never heard us or seen us and then people started to act interested.”
According to Aherne, friendships between the five piece, which includes Lorenzo Sillitto, who went to school with Dundas, on lead guitar and Joseph Greer on keyboards, remain a strong foundation.
“No one wants to hear people talk about music as work,” Aherne says. “But occasionally times can get tough and so many bands break up because of stupid things, but [ not] if you have a friendship and a brotherhood.
“Your ability to get along with one another is equally as important as your musical ability – it’s not separate to me.
“A lot of people don’t see that but that’s key for us.”