So, a couple of weeks back I got to talk with
Doogie Howser MD Dougy Mandagi; singer from The Temper Trap ahead of the release of their self titled sophomore record – at the time of speaking; I had no idea that they were to be going on tour with Coldplay and he gave us no hints. In fact, at the time of the phone call they had just been announced as playing Lollapalooza – Dougy was talking it in his stride, though, perhaps it was that he had just got up from an afternoon nap, but he seemed almost non·plussed “It feels like I’ve been doing this forever” he wearily remarks.
I asked him if there was a moment, though, as a band when he realized that this was the thing he was supposed to be doing – “The first time we played to a decent (sized) crowd. The influence you have on people; on their mood; what they feel – even if it’s just for 45 minutes – or sometimes it’s a longer lasting impact – those moments remind me of why I do what I do.” he responds with an air of wist.
There’s a recurring theme in Dougy’s songs of displacement – rooted in his youth, he tells me – “I’ve always felt that way” explaining that he moved around lots as a child, “I’m always trying to find home, wherever that is” he reveals; and more tellingly perhaps when I ask him where home is for him now – “I dunno… I live in London.. I’ve got a bed there that’s waiting for me…”
While much of the new record talks about a relationship turned sour – there’s one song; London’s Burning which Dougy wrote when he was living in Hackney during the London riots last year – the song feels impartial and observatory; like its a news report, almost and I ask him about that – “I was just an observer, man” he remarks, telling me how he finds it interesting that some of us are privileged while others are not – he wonders if it is about choices – but then wonders if people really would make those choices themselves; it feels like he’s being particularly careful to not express an opinion either way – “I see both sides of the argument” he diplomatically avoids the question. Perhaps, in hindsight now, he was being careful to not upset too many rich Coldplay fans.
We talked about the bulk of the bulk of the record being about the relationship that turned sour – and the process of singing about heartbreak. “I had stuff to say about it – to get off my chest; I was kind of like talking myself through the experience again.” I wondered if it was hard to perform the songs night after night if they are so deeply personal; “I find the best performances are where I close my eyes and transport myself back to the that place or person again…”
The Temper Trap’s 2009 debut Conditions has been massive – propelled, in no small part, by the omnipresence of ‘Sweet Disposition’, the album sold nearly a million copies worldwide. I cheekily wondered if Dougie had become sick and tired of the track?
“I’m sick of hearing it on TV or the radio – or when I go to someone’s house they think it’s funny to put it on and I just leave” he laughs, “But what I never get tired of is seeing the reaction that that song gets (when we play it live)”
You can listen to the interview here:
THE TEMPER TRAP is out this Friday – 18 May
In addition to this interview, they have put together this Making Of EPK to watch…