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I'm Indonesian, not Filipino

Frontman of The Temper Trap, Dougy Mandagi (centre), says the lyrics for their latest self-titled album are affected by his break-up. (PHOTO: UNIVERSAL MUSIC SINGAPORE)

Publication Date : 25-06-2012


Australian indie rockers The Temper Trap are back with a new album that offers a mix of amped-up rock songs and contemplative emotional ballads.

Following the success of their debut album "Conditions" (2009), which spawned the international hit Sweet Disposition, the London-based quintet have just released a new self-titled sophomore album.

The band's frontman, Indonesian- born and Melbourne-raised Dougy Mandagi, in his 20s, told Life! in a telephone interview from Portland, Oregon, where they were touring with Californian noise-pop band Crocodiles: "It takes a while for people to get used to the new stuff. Hopefully in a couple of months' time, people will well and truly be familiar with all the songs."

Formed in 2005, the band shot to fame with the single "Sweet Disposition", a catchy, melodic piece paired with Mandagi's sweet falsetto, which was used in the hit indie movie "500 Days Of Summer" (2009). They were the headline act for the Singapore Laneway Festival last year.

The Temper Trap have so far released two new singles: the anthemic arena-rock epic, "Need Your Love", and the melancholia-tinged ballad, "Trembling Hands".

1: Did you feel any pressure making the new record, seeing how Conditions was a whirlwind success of sorts?

There was not really much pressure in the beginning but there definitely was at the end, when we started handing out demos of songs that we had written.

Obviously it was a departure from what we did the last time, musically and vocally, and I think that kind of scared a few people because what we had done in the past was a winning formula. It kind of surprised some people.

2: One of your new songs, "London's Burning", was inspired by the Hackney riots in the United Kingdom last year. What was it like being there? Were you safe at home?

There was definitely a sense of fear in the air. We were practising and we were warned to go home early, so we did. I remember biking home and seeing all the businesses shutting early, and all the shop windows boarded up for fear of kids breaking windows, throwing bricks and then breaking in and stealing stuff and setting things on fire.

The music had already been written but I was looking for something to write about. This was my third try... I guess the riots sparked my imagination.

3: I understand there are two personalities on the new album, one melancholic and one upbeat. How did that come about?

Towards the end of the writing process, you end up with a whole batch of songs... we ended up with about 30 songs, and it came down to what kind of album we wanted to make. What we wanted to do was to have an album that kept people on the journey, sometimes slow and sometimes fast, sometimes it goes up and sometimes it goes down.

4: The video for your single, "Need Your Love", is like a mini-version of "The Karate Kid" (1984). Are you a fan of that movie?

Yeah, who isn't? (laughs) I think every boy my age would have grown up watching it, just thinking it was the best thing ever and probably took up karate lessons after watching that movie. It was fun to make.

5: You went through a bad break-up while writing and recording this album. Is that why the lyrics are emotionally heavy? And are you dating again?

No, I went through the break-up halfway touring the last album, so it's been a while. Yes, I'm dating someone now. I suppose it was sort of the first thing that came through my mind when I started writing - my past relationship. Maybe one way or another, without realising it, I needed to get rid of some demons that were still living inside in my head. Maybe that's the reason.

6: Can you tell us something that people don't really know about you, or would be shocked to find out?

I'm Indonesian, not Filipino. Everyone thinks I'm Filipino. But I've had it all, I've been called Filipino, Aboriginal, Hawaiian. Some newspaper said I was Mongolian, maybe it was the Mongolian Times.

7: Can you converse in Bahasa Indonesia and do you have family in Indonesia that you visit often?

Of course, it's my first language. Yeah I have relatives.

I visit but not often enough.

8: How would you like to be remembered?

As someone who somehow made the world bettter in some way.


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