By Prachi Kamble
VANCOUVER — Toby Dundas is the man behind The Temper Trap’s invigorating drumbeats. His voice is a serious shade of mellow as it traverses the Atlantic Ocean and resurfaces through the metallic husk of my ancient phone. The guys are travelling in a bus across the French-Belgian border, en route to their next tour destination. I picture the green, French countryside whiz past Dundas’s window and fade under the nine o’clock evening light, as he recounts to me what he has been listening to lately. “A lot of movie soundtracks. “Sicario. A budget horror film called It Follows has an amazing John Carpenter soundtrack. And Tash Sultana.” Sultana, fellow Australian singer-songwriter, is joining the band on tour. “She is ridiculously talented,” Dundas verifies. The tour will bring the band to the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, on September 21st, and follows the June release of their third album Thick As Thieves.
Since the colossal success of Sweet Disposition, the giant sonic caramel that melts in your ear and seeps into your brain, and which also became the star of many TV commercials, the band has put out three albums. The guys are famous for their catchy hooks and soaring, emotive vocals. “We’re a pop band so hooks and catchy melodies excite us and are a part of our DNA. The best stuff just comes naturally,” reflects Dundas.
The band has always experimented with diverse genres – rock, pop, indie, alternative and electronic, as well as hints of soul and gospel. With Thick As Thieves, they return to the mood of their debut album. “We talked about going back to the guitar-heavy sounds of the first album. We had a lot more synths on the second but we missed the rawness and energy of the first. The guitar was a big part of that so we really focused on them.”
Thick As Thieves is a departure from the band’s earlier albums, in terms of the extent of external collaborations. Main producer Damien Taylor rounded up a host of songwriters and other producers. “He got people like Malay on ‘Summer’s Almost Gone,’ which brought a hip-hop sensibility to the track and created a nice juxtaposition against the rock sound that is natural to us. That really opened our eyes up to the collaborative process.”
As young as 11 years old, Dundas was listening to Nirvana, DJ Shadow and the Smashing Pumpkins and it ignited his passion for drumming. He worked at a recording studio, played drums for bands on the side, until he met Dougy and Jonny and got gladly caught in the vortex of band life. “We had so much fun together. Writing, touring, stuck in vans, driving between Melbourne and Sydney.” The band has faced their fair share of challenges since then – an impossible to beat debut in Sweet Disposition, which Dundas describes as a “high watermark,” and the bowing out of their lead guitarist Lorenzo Sillito that “was like losing a family member.”
Dundas felt particularly rewarded by the writing process this time around. “The title of the album, Thick As Thieves represents the bond we forged over the four years of creating the album. It was such a long writing process. We’re really excited about cruising around North America in a bus now!” The band has played in Vancouver a few times. Dundas remembers it well. “I spent three weeks there in 2001 and a couple of weeks up at Whistler. I grew to love the city. We’ve always had a great time and the Commodore is a great venue. We’re really looking forward to coming back.”
As are we. Here’s to big guitars!
The Temper Trap performs at the Commodore Ballroom on September 21st.BC, British Columbia, Commodore Ballroom, Temper Trap, The Temper Trap, Thick As Thieves