Caught up in the Temper Trap
by Larry Bartleet
Hey Toby, how’s it going? Whereabouts are you at the moment?
We’re in London. The weather’s been pretty rubbish in this last week since we’ve been back from tour, but we’ve been living here for about three years now, so we’re used to it!
What have you been up to recently in the build-up to your album release?
Since we finished recording in February, we’ve been back in London, we did about a month’s rehearsal to get songs ready for the road, and a month’s tour to America, played at SXSW and a bunch of other shows around America. Then we went to Australia, to do some promo and stuff like that, and we’re now back in London, doing more rehearsals, shooting a video and the UK tour starts in a couple of weeks.
It’s been a long time since Conditions – it seems like you toured for about two years! What’s happened to you as a band since your debut and how has that affected you?
Our lives have completely changed. When we were writing Conditions we were working jobs and going to university, living in the city where we grew up.
When we were working on the second album, it was a lot different, there was a lot less time, we had a lot more focus.
We had a rehearsal studio here, and we’d just go in for five/six days a week, just writing and recording demos. We spent about 8 months doing that, and then a couple of months recording. That took us through to February, and then we turned our attention to working out how to play the new songs and remembering how to play all the old songs, getting back into the touring side of things.
You’ve got a new band member, Joseph Greer? How has that changed the band?
Joseph has been playing with us since the Conditions days, he came in just before we recorded the album.
Since then he’s been a touring member, so he’s been in the band for about three years now. To us he’s always felt like a permanent member, but obviously we’ve gone through the writing stage of this album with him in the band this time.
He’s a really good keyboard player so we’ve had a lot more synths and keys on this record. Having his skills definitely helped a lot.
From your new single Need Your Love it seems like you’ve got a heavier sound. Is that indicative of album?
Need Your Love is definitely a big jump. Between Rabbit Hole and Need your Love is a pretty broad gap and most of the rest of the album sits between those two songs.
What kind of things influenced this album?
Often it’s just what equipment we have. We bought a few synths while we were touring, so just having those in the room was definitely a big influence.
Musically we’ve played some shows with Yeasayer, we’ve been listening to Zola Jesus a lot, so just listening to things with keyboard and having keyboards around meant that we got excited about the new sound.
Tony the producer is really into that sound too and he had a pretty good arsenal of synths, so it was really coming from all directions.
My favourite track is on the deluxe version, it’s called The Trouble with Pain. It’s got more sparse beats, I really like that kind of stuff, and with Dougy’s lyrics and vocal melodies, it’s a really powerful song.
The Karate Kid takeoff in the Need Your Love video is great – do you get much artistic input for music videos?
We had a director, Dugan O’Neal, and that was his idea. We thought it suited the song, giving the reverse perspective of the bully in The Karate Kid, having him be a guy that needed a little love.
It was fun to film, we spent one day shooting our little bits in the background, and watching those guys doing the martial arts was pretty intense! We’re all really happy with how it’s turned out.
Are you excited for touring the new album in the UK?
Yeah, we’re doing a 10-show run in May, so that’ll be great, and maybe in November and December we’ll be back again. We’re also playing the Truck Festival and T in the Park.
Is there any music you’re excited about at the moment?
At SXSW my favourite person was an Aussie, Chet Faker, soulful vocals and good beats. I saw Blood Orange playing, that was a great show, and there’s another Australian band called the Twerps, they were pretty cool as well.
Do you have any words of wisdom for young bands looking to make it big?
When we started out we just practiced our arses off, played as many shows as we could.
You need a lot of luck but if you work hard you can put yourself in the right place at the right time, and take advantage of any opportunities that you come across along the road.
The Temper Trap is released on the 21st May. The band plays Northumbria University on 13th May, T in the Park on 6th July, and Somerset House on 11th July.
Photographs: Ian Cheek Press