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The Temper Trap heads to Wanderland |


The Temper Trap heads to Wanderland

Shinji Manlangit - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - If you’re wondering whether the Asian guy in the photo above is Filipino, allow me to cut that thought because he isn’t. Dougy Mandagi, the vocalist of The Temper Trap, is actually Indonesian. “I get that all the time,” he says when I asked him about people miscalculating his nationality. “When I tour in America, I always have Filipinos yelling out Tagalog things to me from the crowd,” he recalls.

“They think I’m Filipino, but I have no idea what you’re saying, dude.”

While it is sad that we can’t use #PinoyPride on this one, for one night at this year’s Wanderland Arts and Music Festival, every one of us could claim ownership of Dougy Mandagi and keep him as our own. Supreme talks to Dougy about his life scattered in three continents, exploring while on tour, and getting stoked for things to come.

Sweet disposition

Dougy was born in Mandao, a bustling city province surrounded by mountains. “Living in Indonesia was when I first got interested in music and started dabbling in bands and stuff,” he says. While the Indonesian music scene is a bustling one, Mandagi decided to study in Australia, where the beginnings of The Temper Trap happened inside a retail store with drummer Toby Dundas. One of their first biggest shows was the first Sydney outing of St. Jerome’s Laneway Music Festival in 2006.

Their first EP brought them to the Australian charts as well as a handful of tours, but it wasn’t until 2009 when the band managed to shatter the international barrier when their song Sweet Disposition was heavily featured in the indie rom-com (500) Days of Summer. Suddenly, they were in car commercials in Scandanavia and Diet Coke ads. While their success continues to skyrocket, Mandagi’s relationship with the song was pretty much inversely proportional as he said to UK’s The Guardian: “It’s not my favourite song. It wasn’t my favourite song on the album.”

He admits, however, that the song has it charms. (500) Days of Summer was known as a game-changer; an off-beat quirky comedy that wasn’t afraid to dodge a few conventions that plague modern-day celluloid romances. The Temper Trap’s sound is always sweeping and gives an evocation of grander things encompassed in three-five minute indie-pop ditties. It’s no wonder how The Temper Trap managed to rise from obscurity because Sweet Disposition, was, in all intents and purposes, a great introduction to this music powerhouse.

Soldier on

Often regarded as U2 for the younger, hipper set, U2’s frontman Bono himself was a vocal fan saying in their website: “Something really exciting is that finally the rock band is melting into clubland and experimenting with sounds that are not normally deemed authentic for the rock band — synthesizers, experimental sounds — which you can hear in an album by the Temper Trap. That’s exciting — a new hybrid.”

A couple of months later, The Temper Trap released their second album, a self-titled LP that took three years to complete. The wait paid off wonderfully as they shot on top of the Australian album charts and even broke inside the US Billboard 200. Dougy moved from Australia to London, “It is mainly where my musical career — internationally, took off. That’s where I live now,” he says. The 2011 England Riots that was dubbed as the “BlackBerry riots” due to the use of BBM to instigate riots was reflected heavily in the track “London’s Burning.” “Will tomorrow come for the men stuck in the line? / There’s a rumor circling / London’s burning from within.” With their second album, The Temper Trap transcended their music, bringing in more rock than their initial pop incarnation. Mandagi also shifts between his striking falsetto and a deep baritone depending on the gravity of the songs. Trembling Hands, an uplifting song laced with layers and layers of guitar, shows Dougy’s capability to utilize his lower voice to great effect as the song erupts to a strong chorus with a string quartet.

To the wander

While it’s true that the Philippines still hasn’t built an arena that’s big enough to fit Bono’s ego, perhaps The Temper Trap headlining Wanderland Music and Arts Festival is the closest that the Philippines could get to a similar — if not, even better spiritual musical experience. Mandagi is excited for his first time in the country. “I used to live in Australia and I travel to America a lot and I meet a lot of Filipinos, so I have a lot of Filipino friends. I think it would be a lot different actually being in the Philippines. Parts of my Filipino friends have been born and bred in America and Australia. Although they look authentic, they’re probably not as authentic (laughs).”

When asked if he tends to roam around the countries after touring, he said: “If I have more than a day.” Turns out that he does have a couple of days to spend in the Phililppines, “But I have no idea where to go,” he laughs. “I’m actually looking forward to seeing things and real Filipino culture.”

“We’re just excited to go somewhere we’ve never been to. We’re excited to meet the people and eat some exotic food. It’s fun to go back to the same place, providing that it’s a nice place. But when you go somewhere you’ve never been to, there’s some kind of excitement there.”

The Temper Trap headlines the ultimate sonic playground for the summer: Wanderland Arts and Music Festival happening this May 18 at the Globe Circuit Events Grounds. Oh, and remember, he’s not Pinoy. Try not to scream Tagalog things to Dougy.

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Tweet the author @JunellHernando


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