This summer marks the glorious return of Australian-based indie quartet, The Temper Trap, who are set to release their third studio effort, Thick As Thieves—the long-awaited follow-up to their 2012 self-titled electronic-driven entity, The Temper Trap. While leading singles like “Fall Together” and “Thick As Thieves” are currently receiving extensive radio airplay as we speak, one of the most exciting qualities that this record invokes is the band’s natural, guitar-based sound that The Temper Trap revisits for the first time since their enticing 2009 debut, Conditions.
Not only was the band content with returning to a direction that is true to their humble beginnings, The Temper Trap also branched out on Thick As Thieves to collaborate with multiple songwriters and producers including the likes of Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Deerhunter), Malay (Frank Ocean) and Justin Parker (Lana Del Rey, Sia).
At this time, The Temper Trap only have three United States-based album release dates lined up, which includes one special Tri-State appearance at Webster Hall in Manhattan. However, be on the lookout for The Temper Trap to return to America to properly tour in support of Thick As Thieves later this year.
A few weeks before Thick As Thieves hit the shelves, I had the chance to sit down with The Temper Trap bassist Jonathon “Johnny” Aherne to discuss the writing and collaboration process of the record, The Temper Trap’s upcoming U.S. dates to celebrate Thick As Thieves’ official release, and the impact of discovering new music through the avenues of movie soundtracks.
Well, we’re pretty close to the official release of your third studio record, Thick As Thieves. What are you looking forward to the most about having this record see the light of day?
I mean, we were just looking at the release dates, and all of the records have been released four years apart. I thought that we could have gotten this record [Thick As Thieves] out ages ago, but for us, there’s been a lot of writing and a lot of trying to get it right, and it just feels really good, you know? I’m just excited that people can actually hear it finally.
Considering that this will be the first record out since your 2012 self-titled release, what was the most rewarding experience of crafting this record together with the group?
I think the band took on new ways of writing, you know? It’s always been quite a process between the four of us, but we decided to branch out, and just work with a bunch of people that we have respect for. That’s always a neat thing, but I think the most rewarding experience was to see how other people write and being in a bunch of different studios.
One of the highlights, I think, was working with an artist named Malay [songwriter/producer], who writes a lot for Frank Ocean and produces his records. He comes from that hip-hop context, and every time you work with someone, you see how they think about music and you kind of get to learn a lot more. So, that was the most stretching and most rewarding part of the process—just to branch out, and seeing how that process could work for a rock band like us.
What was the inspiration behind wanting to team up with different songwriters and producers throughout the writing process? How did that opportunity come about?
It turned out that Malay had been a fan of us, and we’ve been a fan of him, so it was kind of a mutual respect thing. When we got to write with him, we invited him to come to Australia in Byron Bay, and he was really excited about that because we were on the beach, and we got to write together.
Some of it happened more naturally like that, and some of it was like… you look at someone like Ben Allen [producer], for example, and you look at his resume and the bands that he has worked with sort of speak for themselves. When he came out, we had a studio in London, and we worked with him there. You think about and be like, “Yeah, that guy could be rad,” so he worked for a couple of tracks for us.
We worked with all of these different people and then we had to it tie together and sort of amplify it and make it sound like The Temper Trap. In that process, a bunch of songs got thrown out, but then the ones that made it were the honest DNA of the band, and we took to this producer named Damian Taylor. He was a guy who played in a band with Björk for a long time, and he produced some of her records.
I’ve read that this record is more guitar-based than your last record, and is reminiscent to the style of your hit debut, Conditions. Do you feel that the direction on Thick As Thieves in particular brought to life a rejuvenating spark in the band’s writing process?
Personally, for me, I’ve always been a bigger fan of the first record [Conditions], than the second record [The Temper Trap], and I’ve always liked those aspects of the band. So, it felt more true, and it felt more natural to sort of be more guitar focused. Capturing that energy where you’re sort of putting microphones in front amplifiers versus building a song up from a computer, and using more “trickery,” or things like that, I think it’s definitely what The Temper Trap does better, you know?
I think we always struggled to capture what we do live. Live always shows the most natural, but then recording it has just been… I don’t know, there’s something about that process. It’s kind of like talking to you on the phone—it’s like, we can chat, but I’ll never really know you until I see you face-to-face. And I think that’s like the recording process of this kind of strange not quite meeting each other live, where you really get the experience from it. I feel like the band is in its best element there [in a live setting].
I remember first hearing about The Temper Trap through the movie (500) Days Of Summer, when the song “Sweet Disposition” was featured on the movie’s soundtrack. With that being said, I am very excited that Thick As Thieves will be revisiting that guitar-driven sound from the old days.
Oh, that’s cool. That movie did so much for the band. We haven’t even played a show outside of Australia when we were first asked to put the song into the movie, and man it’s done a lot for us.
We played in Mexico City once, and a bunch of bands that played on that festival were people that were featured in the movie, (500) Days Of Summer. We had no idea that we had fans in Mexico—it was a crazy moment for The Temper Trap. There were like 30,000 people for us singing all of the songs, and that’s the power of that sort of that sort of thing.
It really goes to show how people really take certain songs to heart, especially ones from movie soundtracks. There are a lot of bands that I’ve discovered from listening to movie soundtracks over the years as well.
Yeah, totally. The first time I ever heard of Radiohead was because of Romeo + Juliet (1996)—you know, where he starts reading all of that poetry. It’s like, I had no idea who Radiohead was, and that was the first introduction that style of music—I must have been 12 years old or something. It depends, you know—some people come to our shows and they’ve heard our songs through commercials. Honestly, that’s just another radio station for us, for the fans and the people that we’ve met, and to do that, it’s been a positive experience for us.
Since premiering “Fall Together,” how has the general response and support been like so far?
Yeah, I really like the song, “Fall Together.” We’re about to put out a video for that hopefully in the next week. That’s starting the to be released to radio, and people are just sort of coming back on board. There are a lot of acoustic versions of it up at the moment because we just started touring on it. We did a little tour through Australia, and if you take away the bells and whistles you can hear it. It’s just a real stripped back acoustic song, and it stands up as well that way.
“Fall Together” is a number of songs on the record that I feel like it’s got a lot of chances to connect with people through radio and all of those sorts of avenues where a lot more people get to hear your music.
For your album release shows, you will be playing two dates in California, and one show in New York City. Would you say that these areas are the most popular cities that you’ve played in the United States over the years?
Both of our labels [Glassnote Records and Liberation Records] that we’ve signed to have offices in New York City and Los Angeles, and it’s just kind of a hot spot, isn’t it? You can’t come to the United States without going to one of them at least. I’m actually living in Brooklyn these days, and I get to experience what New York City and this state has to offer. It’s such a great place for music, and it’s such a beautiful place. Yeah, I don’t know… it’s a treat to be able to come here and play music, honestly.
Coming from Australia, if I think about the early days, where you dream about going to the States and playing music, and how the two cities [New York City and Los Angeles] are so diverse, it is quite surreal every time we play in the United States.
Definitely! I can imagine that a lot of international-based acts are very well received in the America, especially when they hit up those two major areas.
Yeah, I feel you’ve accomplished something if you’ve done a good show in New York City or Los Angeles. It’s in all of the movies you watch growing up, and all of the bands that you loved growing up are from here—it’s quite an achievement. That’s not so say that the rest of the world isn’t, but when you talk about the films, or you talk about (500) Days Of Summer, or you talk about the movie industry and all of those different things that come out of America, and it’s just a cool thing.
With that being said, what are you looking forward to the most about performing the new material live for these special dates?
I always get a little bit bored watching bands play new songs when I haven’t heard them. So, I’m really looking forward for the album being out so people can kind of sing along to them because sometimes, when you play live, and you’re just testing these songs out, people haven’t had much time to get to know them.
Playing live, we always give it our all. If doesn’t move the people performing the music, it doesn’t move me, so no matter what, we’ll just try to do the best show that we can do, and fight for that.
After the album release dates in the States, The Temper Trap will be embarking on a lot of extensive international-based touring throughout the summer. On one final note, what’s the rest of the year looking like for the band? Will there be any future plans to come back to America to support this upcoming album cycle?
So, as we speak, a couple of the boys are going around Asia doing some acoustic sessions to plug the record. There will definitely be an Asian run—Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, and all of those places. We’ll see where else we’ll get to around Asia, so that will be exciting. We’ve always sort of skimmed by Indonesia, but we’re really hoping to get back in there.
We’re going to be playing a lot of European festivals as you’ve said, and I guess we’ll be touring the States in September—I think that’s about to be announced. We’re doing a month of proper touring throughout the United States, and then we’re heading back to Australia. After that, I’m not sure what else we’re doing just yet
The Temper Trap will be celebrating the release of their third studio album, Thick As Thieves, at Webster Hall in Manhattan on June 9. The record will officially be available on June 10 through Glassnote Records. For more information, go to thetempertrap.com.