The Temper Trap: The Melbourne Supremacy

Published in Billboard Magazine


Outstanding frontman? Check. Great songs? Check. Formidable label support? Check. All the vital elements are in place to suggest Australian alt-rock group the Temper Trap is shaping up to be the next big thing from Down Under.

“We’re an ambitious band,” lead singer Dougie Mandagi says. “The world has always been our goal, even in the early stages. Some of us dare to dream bigger than others, and here we are.”

During the last several weeks, the group’s debut album, “Conditions” (Liberation/Glassnote/Columbia), became a fixture in the top 10 of Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart, paced by the single “Sweet Disposition.” Peaking at No. 4 thus far on the tally, the album has sold 21,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

New York-based indie Glassnote, which released “Conditions” stateside last October, is confident the Temper Trap—Mandagi, guitarist Lorenzo Sillitto, bassist Jonathon Aherne and drummer Toby Dundas—will ultimately achieve the same success the label is having with another project, Phoenix’s “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” (see chart, below). “We’ll certainly have a gold record-plus for Phoenix, and we’re going to do the same type of sales with Temper Trap,” Glassnote founder Daniel Glass says.

To that end, Glassnote has partnered with Columbia Records, which will assist with marketing, promotion, publicity and artist development. A key element in the Temper Trap’s bid for world domination is an upcoming series of U.S. concerts. The first run of U.S. dates, booked by High Road Touring, starts March 10 at Los Angeles’ Henry Fonda Theater, followed by summer festival performances planned for Bonnaroo, Sasquatch and Coachella.

“This will be a long effort,” says Mushroom Group chairman Michael Gudinski, whose Liberation Music label discovered and signed the band. “They’re going to stay over there and keep at it for a long time.”

Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, and now calling London home, the Temper Trap earned four nominations at the 2009 Australian Recording Industry Assn. Awards after “Conditions” became a sleeper hit Down Under. Following its U.K. release last year (Aug. 10) through indie Infectious Records, the album peaked at No. 25 and has sold 123,000 copies, according to the Official Charts Co. (OCC).

Musically, “Conditions” sits comfortably between Arcade Fire and TV on the Radio. But it’s Mandagi’s soaring, soulful vocals on album standouts “Love Lost,” “Fader” and “Sweet Disposition” that set the band apart from its peers.

“Sweet Disposition” has already proved popular with synch programmers on both sides of the Atlantic. Stateside, it’s been featured in TV ads for Chrysler and Rhapsody and in more than 20 TV shows around the world, according to Glass, including the United Kingdom’s “Big Brother” and Australian drama “Underbelly.” It can also be heard in the trailer and on the soundtrack to the film “(500) Days of Summer.”

The track is breaking at rock radio, climbing this week to No. 25 on the Alternative chart and No. 38 on Rock Songs. It has sold 117,000 downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and a further 247,000 in the United Kingdom, according to the OCC. Glass says the label also plans to work the track to hot AC and top 40 radio. TV appearances are slated for “Late Show With David Letterman” and “The Late, Late Show With Craig Ferguson.”

“We’ve still got a long way to go to prove that we’re not just a flash in the pan,” Mandagi says. “But we’re determined and committed to get better at what we do.”