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A chat with Temper Trap lead singer Dougy Mandagi



Talking to Dougy Mandagi over a crackling connection between our office and his cell as he ambles along the streets of lower Manhattan, one might easily mistake him for just another 20-something Australian hipster-kid. He's definitely not.

He's the lead singer of latest It-band the Temper Trap, and Mandagi's distinctive vocals are arguably the band’s strongest asset. If you ask him, he's got no qualms about the fact that Temper Trap broke onto the U.S. music scene via this summer's indie rom-com 500 Days of Summer. Their insta-hit "Sweet Disposition" was featured prominently in both the film's trailer and score, netting the Aussies some serious media attention before their debut album, Conditions, had even been released in the States. In response to any naysayers who might think the band "sold out" early on, Mandagi is coolly zen. "Can't please everyone," he says. Lucky for them, they seem to be pleasing quite a few people right now.

Mandagi tells me how the band was enjoying their last couple of days in the Big Apple when we spoke on Monday, as cabs blared in the background. They just finished playing the CMJ Music Marathon, where they headlined the Bowery Ballroom and the Williamsburg Music Hall (a venue Mandagi touts as is his favorite in NY).

The band's been busy promoting Conditions coast-to-coast over the past few weeks. They popped their US television cherry last Thursday, performing "Sweet Disposition" live on Jimmy Kimmel, an experience Mandagi describes as incredible, if incredibly nerve-wracking.

Since the October release of the album, the Aussie foursome has been compared to the likes of U2 and Coldplay, thanks to their penchant for sweeping atmospheric anthems. Mandagi's versatile voice, which he can lift to almost falsetto-like proportions, has been likened to that of the late indie-darling Jeff Buckley -- a nod that Mandagi rightly embraces. "We're in good company," he says in response to all these comparisons. Indeed, he cites U2 as one of the band's major influences, admitting that the Edge's guitar stylings in particular have had a significant impact on their own sound. TV on the Radio, Radiohead, and Massive Attack also made that cut.

The Temper Trap, formerly called Temper Temper (apparently a band in Wisconsin already claims that name) won't have time to take much of a breather after their whirlwind US tour. Their last stateside stop will be right here in Boston, after which the guys will embark on a jaunt through Europe -- they've already sold out nearly all their shows in the UK, which they now call home. So it would appear they've got something good going, even if Mandagi laments the amendment of their name. Still, he reasons, "I'm sure the Beatles didn't really like their name, either."

What's next? Mandagi claims he wouldn't mind dropping off the radar and "disappearing off the face of the earth" for a little while. With the way the band's star seems to be ascending, however, we're not sure that's going to be an option.

--Alexandra Cavallo

The Temper Trap play Great Scott tonight | 9 pm | $10 adv/$12 day of | www.thetempertrap.net

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