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The Temper Trap gets lean and mean
THE Temper Trap may be a man down after its long-time lead guitarist Lorenzo Sillitto left the indie outfit but that has also brought its remaining members closer.
The title of their new album, Thick As Thieves, is testament to their bond as the Australian group, formed in 2005, is now reduced to a quartet comprising Dougy Mandagi (vocals, guitar), Joseph Greer (guitar, keyboard), Jonathon Aherne (bass) and Toby Dundas (drums).
They maintain an amicable relationship with Sillitto, who left in late 2013, and have since found ways to work around his absence.
"We were definitely shocked when Lorenzo told us he was leaving; I guess we were forced to make an album that is a lot leaner with just the four of us," admits Mandagi, who was in town with Greer in May to promote the release of Thick As Thieves.
The Indonesian-born, Australia-raised frontman adds: "We had to cut out the fat sonically which is what we should have done as a five-piece but I'm also playing more guitar nowadays which I enjoy anyway."
Interestingly, Ordinary World, one of the new tracks off the album, features no vocals in the chorus - a first for The Temper Trap and possibly in the history of music, since that is where most bands will put the all-essential singalong hook.
"We just felt it was good enough on its own and speaking of keeping things lean, sometimes the vocals itself can be the fat," explains Mandagi.
But Thick As Thieves also finds The Temper Trap collaborating with external songwriters like Justin Parker (Lana Del Rey, Sia, Bat For Lashes), Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Deerhunter) and Pascal Gabriel (Ladyhawke, Goldfrapp) for the first time.
This has allowed the band to explore new musical grounds while maintaining their signature lush anthemic rock sound which has helped them sell over a million albums to date.
Their songs have been streamed more than 200 million times on Spotify and 20 million times on YouTube.
The Temper Trap shot to international fame when the track Sweet Disposition off their debut album Conditions (2008) was featured in the Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel Hollywood rom-com 500 Days of Summer (2009).
They relocated from Melbourne to London where their self-titled sophomore album (2012) spawned more hits like Trembling Hands and Need Your Love.
That led to opening gigs for Coldplay and The Rolling Stones, and spots on major music festivals like Glastonbury in the UK, and Lollapalooza and Coachella in the US.
Till today, The Temper Trap still gets offers everyday for Sweet Disposition to soundtrack commercials. Besides appearing on TV shows like The Good Wife and 90210, it has also been used to hawk everything from cars to soft drinks and donuts.
Mandagi, who wrote the track with Sillitto, is not worried about the soaring ballad being overplayed or overused.
"In the past, it was kind of taboo for indie bands to sell their songs to brands but nowadays, no one is buying records and I think we won't have to do this if people were still buying music," he says, while adding that for every offer they accept, they also turn down 10 others.
Greer quips: "The fact that people are still hearing the song is a positive thing for us especially if that becomes an access point to the band and for them to come check out the other songs and albums we've made."
- The Temper Trap's Thick As Thieves is out now on all formats.