Call it a rare feat or beginner’s luck, but The Temper Trap have managed to find their musical footing just one album in. On their debut disk, Conditions, the Australian-born quartet meld symphonic guitar rock with soaring vocals and reverberating percussion to dizzying effect, and the impact it’s had has been mighty far reaching.
Even if you’ve never heard of the album—or the band—chances are you’d recognize “Sweet Disposition,” the Temper Trap’s almost inescapable contribution to the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack. Thanks to a series of subsequent, well-placed musical cameos (a Chrysler commercial, a spot on the WB’s 90210), the foursome is fast becoming the next big thing to hit U.S. airwaves, and their Sunday night stop at SOhO is just one in a series of intimate club dates their using to seal the deal.
I recently spoke with lead guitarist Lorenzo Sillitto about touring, recording, and what fans should expect from the live show.
The album has become hit worldwide. Did you have any thought while you guys were recording that you were on to something big? Not at all. [Laughs.] When we were in the studio, we were kind of just concentrating on getting as much stuff done as we could. We had a few mishaps in the studio that put us behind, so it was kind of a race to catch up most of the time. We were just concentrating on getting everything that we wanted down on tape so that we could go to the next phase. It wasn’t until we first heard [“Sweet Disposition”] on the radio in Australia that we maybe thought things might start happening.
What was your reaction upon hearing Conditions in its finished form? I think we all did it individually. The first time I listened to the album from start to finish was when we were doing track placement, and it definitely sounded more coherent than what I imagined it to. We kind of picked the best songs that we had that would best represent us at that point, and at the time, it kind of felt that maybe they’d be disjointed in a way. But then listening to it as an entire album, it definitely felt a little bit more coherent. It was a pretty good thing, especially being the first album we’ve ever done. Having the finished product there was a pretty good feeling.
Are there songs that didn’t make it on there that you guys are still holding on to? Um, I think there’s some that some people are holding on to. [Laughs.] I kind of just think about moving forward. I think we’ve developed a lot since we wrote the last batch of songs, and I think it would be good to start afresh with a clean slate; just start writing new material, which is what we’re kind of doing.
Are there any specific sounds or techniques you guys have heard and thought about incorporating on future albums? Yeah, definitely. We’re all fairly different in terms of our musical taste, so I think we’re all probably getting inspired by different acts and different types of music, which I think will come through and influence the way we play our instruments. Then it’s just a matter of bringing it all together as a band and making it coherent. Just recently in America we toured with a band called The Kissaway Trail, and I think they definitely had an influence on the way we play live.
Do you get to check out other bands when you’re playing the larger festivals? I guess last year we didn’t get time to really stick around and see much music. We were really lucky at Coachella to be able to stay around and see the major acts. I saw Thom Yorke play, and I thought that was pretty amazing; watching him play with Flea and to see him do his album from start to finish—it was really good. And I saw Gil Scott-Heron, and I’d never thought I’d get to see him play live. That was a really inspiring moment. It was so powerful just watching him play with his pianos. Then Gorillaz and Pavement and Phoenix and lots of other bands that were just insane.
Is there a difference between U.S. crowds and European crowds and Australian crowds? We just finished a U.K. tour here, and it was the biggest tour we’ve done to date, and the U.K. crowds were amazing. They’re a little bit more rowdy and a little bit more ravish in parts, depending where you are, but the English crowds are kind of like Australian crowds to me because they were the first people to really embrace us and project us into the world. If it wasn’t for them, then we wouldn’t have the success in the U.S. I think in America, the audiences are a bit more free. They’re there to have a good time and listen to music, where sometimes in Australia—especially in Melbourne—you get a lot of fans who kind of stand there with their arms crossed. It’s not a really exciting environment. But that happens a lot of places around the world.
How would you describe a Temper Trap show in two sentences or less? A lot of energy. I would say it’s a lot heavier than our record. There’s a lot more distortion, a lot more noise, so, “heavy,” “distortion,” “energetic.”
The Temper Trap play a sold-out show at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) this Thursday, June 3, at 9 p.m. Call 962-7776 or visit clubmercy.com for info.