(Liverpool Sound City 2012 TGTF stage flavoured!) Interview: Lorenzo Sillitto of the Temper Trap

By on Tuesday, 15th May 2012 at 11:00 am

Ahead of their appearance at TGTF’s stage at the Liverpool Academy of Arts this Friday night (18/5), the man behind the lead guitar for the Temper Trap, Lorenzo Sillitto, was kind enough to answer my questions about their hotly anticipated second album ‘The Temper Trap’, which will be released in the UK on the 4th of June on Infectious Records. We also talk about the interesting production team they used on this go-around and how they feel about playing in the city of the Beatles.

The phrase “difficult second album” comes up a lot when bands with really outstanding debut albums with related outstanding sales and touring success try and come out with their second efforts. How did you approach writing ‘The Temper Trap’? And why did you choose to self title it?
I guess the approach was to go in and just start to write what came naturally. It had been a long time since we had been in that type of environment and with the inclusion of Joseph the dynamic was obviously going to be a little different since the last writing process. It was pretty amazing after the first week we had a few songs written and everything just seem natural and that pretty much set up the rest of our time writing. We tried not over think what we were doing and treated the writing process as a new chapter and think about what had happened with the last record. The name basically came from us not being able to agree on one. There where a few ideas floating around but none that we could all agree on. It’s funny because some people have asked if its making the statement that we have arrived as a band but really it was us not arriving on a name.

I’ve read that ‘The Temper Trap’ was produced by Beck, as well as Phoenix collaborator Tony Hoffer (Phoenix being your American labelmates on Glassnote). How did this partnering up come about? When I think of the Temper Trap, I don’t immediately associate your music with the anti-folk of Beck. Had you been fans of his for years?
Tony’s name had been appearing over the years in conversations and it wasn’t until the very end of the process that it appeared again. He had been to our one our first SXSW shows way back in 2009 and we had met him at our last L.A. show. He was a fan of the band and when we had the conversation about recording he said some things that just resonated with us. We were fans of things that he had done in the past but it was really just some of the things he said to us that made it clear that he would be the right person to record with. He has a love of music and is also a musician, which was very helpful once we were in the studio. Not only that he is a big kid and likes to joke around, which was a great attribute. The recording process can sometimes be quite stressful and it’s good to inject some humour.

Going on with the album, you recorded ‘The Temper Trap’ in America. Do you think it has an obvious “American sound” and has been affected by the surroundings and recording conditions? Arctic Monkeys and Noah and the Whale were much maligned last year for making albums that sounded too “American”.
I don’t think that it is obvious, but having been recorded in America by an American you can’t help but think that it is going to have that kind of vibe. I like to think that there is a little bit of sunshine that was sprinkled over top of the record. The songs were predominately written in a dark cold environment (the London winter) and some of them needed a little light. As for the Monkeys and the Whale, music is so universal thee days with the internet that I don’t think we can really say that there is as bigger distinction in sound like there was in the ’60s and ’70s.

You’ve added on Joseph Greer, known to those of us who have been seeing you live the last couple years as your fab touring keyboardist and guitarist, as a full member of the band. How did his input as the fifth member of Temper Trap influence the new album? It was really great having another person to come with ideas and a different kind of writing style. I think that one of the unique things with our band is that all five of us have very varying taste and influences and when we come together that is how we create our sound. By adding Joseph, we where able to explore more keyboard driven songs which is a path that we all have been keen to explore and he has the skill that enabled us to venture down that path. He also is a very quirky person and is probably the funniest person in the band, which makes for some great interband banter.

Similarly, is there a different ethos to the band now that you’ve expanded to a five-piece? Do you approach songwriting any differently? Dougy was quoted in an Rolling Stone article as saying: “Joseph is our secret weapon. He’s a really good piano player, so any sappy piano ballad that we may potentially write from this point on will totally be his fault.” Yep, this is true as I mentioned previously, he has the skills that we don’t possess. Well, yet that is! LOL. The song writing process has basically stayed the same as it always has. we may try some different approaches on the next record but as they say, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

In this NME interview, Lorenzo talked about the conscious decision to add more synths to this record compared to the amount present on ‘Conditions’, and how you used ‘80s synths on ‘The Temper Trap’. Were you fans of ‘80s new wave, of certain bands? And if so, which would you say have influenced this album the most?
The main influences for the record was the acquiring of some synths and not necessarily the music. We used them as substitutes, for maybe once we would try and play them on the guitar or what not, we either tried the same idea on the synths or used them to reinforce the sound and add another dimension to say the guitar to make it sound fresh.

What do you think about this new album will be most surprising to your fans? Which song(s) are your favourite(s) and why?
I think one of the most exciting things about this record is Dougy’s vocals. The record shows off a lot more of his range and ability and has I think a more soul vibe to it. My stand out tracks are ‘Trembling Hands’ (new single stream below), ‘Miracle’, and ‘Leaving Heartbreak Hotel’.

Flipping through the SXSW schedule, I noticed your city of origin was listed as London and not Melbourne. Do you consider yourself full Londoners now? What are the pros and cons of living in London Town? What does Melbourne offer that London doesn’t / that you miss most?
Well, that must have been a typo and probably why I could find us in the program. In terms of being Londoners, I think I am personally still a Melbournian at heart, but I have really embraced living in London, and at this point in my life, it is nice to live in a different environment to the one that you grew up in and had all your formative experiances in. Melbourne’s pros is that it is a very artistic city and it is very accommodating to the artistic community. From music to architecture, there is a lot of outlets for creative expression. Another advantage is food and coffee, it is quite amazing the standard that they have and is probably the main thing that I miss the most. And AFL of course.

What did you think of SXSW this year? Which of your performances stood out (Stubb’s, the Parish, etc.), and why? Were you apprehensive “returning to the stage” in America?
In terms of SXSW, I think that it has become to big for the town and it seems to have turned into a festival where labels showcase their new acts rather than new bands being found. That being said, playing Stubb’s would have to be the highlight, I remember the first time we went to SX the band went to Stubb’s to watch Metalica, and that was followed by a DJ Shadow greatest hits set, which was ace. So playing there and the second show back from a lengthy break was nerve-racking and exciting at the same time.

Did you see any other bands in Austin you particularly enjoyed and/or that impressed you? And if so, how so?
I saw Blood Orange (Dev Hynes) for the first time, and that was on the first day we got there. He is an amazing performer and guitarist, so was a great way to be welcomed. I saw another Melbourne band called Twerps whose album I am obsessed with, and they are old friends. Toby [their drummer] saw Chet Faker who I missed and said he was really great.

You’ll be playing our stage at Liverpool Sound City on the Friday night. Have you played in Liverpool before? If yes, what has been your experience with Liverpool crowds?
I think we have played Liverpool. I believe it was on our last UK tour at an 02 but to be honest I can’t remember. It was at time where all the shows moulded into one for me. but I am excited to go back to the home of the Beatles.

“Advertise” / “plead your case” to our readers why they should come and see you play Friday at the Arts Academy.
If you want to see thee most amazing laser light show and a bass player who plays it like it owes him money, then come down to our show because it will have one of the two.

The Temper Trap headline the TGTF stage at this year’s Liverpool Sound City this Friday night (18 May) at the Liverpool Academy of Arts. They are scheduled to appear at 22.00.

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