Friday, 12 July 2013

Who Are You Callin' A Rookie?

Who Are You Callin' A Rookie?
The Trouble With Templeton's Thomas Calder
As interviewed by Nayt Housman

This week I had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Thomas Calder of The Trouble With Templeton to talk to him about his massive year and the band's first full-length album, Rookie due to hit stores August 2nd.
It was March last year while I was watching a bit of morning RAGE on the telly that I first heard a voice that was to become one of my favourite male singer/songwriters EVER. It was a voice soft and velvety, delivered with the gentlest vulnerability, then exploded with the most primal, guttural emotion. I was hooked and needed more, but who was it? Having missed the artist and song name I was left not knowing whom this amazing vocal belonged to.

Weeks later my lover put on some new music he’d acquired that roused my attention, it was that voice again.
Him: “Oh it’s this local band called The Trouble With Templeton.”
Me: “I want it IN ME!”

A new love was born! I spent the next few weeks listening to one album alone, on repeat; it was the debut recording Bleeders by the very talented Thomas Calder.

Over a year has passed since that moment I first fell in love with The Trouble With Templeton and a lot has changed for the talented artist; gaining a full band, having played in the USA and Canada, BigSound Live and Harvest Festival, won the APRA PDA Songwriting Award, placing third in the rock category of The International Songwriting Competition, being nominated for the upcoming Queensland Music Awards and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The feeling you get when talking to Tom is his how honest he is about his craft and his genuine love to perform, learn and grow. Tom was humbled when the bulk of his achievements were listed in one sentence and excited about the new album, saying, “It feels really nice. We’re very, very excited to get it out and have people listen to it, to see what people think. Recording is my favourite thing and it sounds good. It’s something that we’re all really proud of.”

Though it has been a big year and quite a successful one, don’t expect any diva attitudes from these creative kids. Tom is nothing but a total gentleman and takes everything in his stride. Explaining that nominations and awards are lovely to receive, though never something they’d hope for or a specific goal, he also felt it was important not to dumb down the sense of pride they get from the people in the industry who present them with such accolades. Though they’re not the kind of band who has undies thrown on stage or boobs flashed, the question was asked what memorable things fans might have done. “Our fans are just insanely lovely and it’s always memorable when I get people come up to me randomly around Brisbane. Five people came up to me the other night. I think it’s my hair to be honest, but anyone who comes up and says something nice is always number one to me.”

Normally artists will form a band, gain some recognition then go solo, but Calder’s process was to buck that trend. Never intending to pigeonhole The Trouble With Templeton as a solo act, it quite naturally and gradually progressed to a full five-piece band. “I had a whole bunch of other songs that were nothing like Bleeders and I was like alright, this has got to be a band now, this is what I want to do.”

Hugh Middleton (guitars, backing vocals) and Betty Yeowart (keyboard, backing vocals) met Tom in high school and had already been part of the live line up from early on then Sam Pankhurst (bass) whom Calder also knew in high school, introduced Ritchie Daniell (drums), who along with Sam, both wrote a film score for a film Tom acted in. Already being familiar with each other’s talents and sharing similar musical taste meant the band gelled instantly and the creative process could progress quite organically.

Tom is a man who shows total confidence in his craft and determination to create songs that are polished and have a life of their own. He knew the direction he wanted to take the album, trusting fully in his band during the creative process. Tom describes the album as eclectic genre wise and having broader perspective than Bleeders. “I guess the concept is perspectives. All the songs are different in terms of genre, style and sound, exploring other people’s points of view from different walks of life and the idea of how perspective changes your experience, unlike Bleeders, which is very confessional and very personal from my point of view.”


The album may still be a few weeks away but there are three singles already on the airwaves to stave off fans hunger pangs. The first song the band recorded together as a group is the single ‘Six Months In A Cast’ then ‘Like A Kid’ and the most recently released ‘You Are New’ provide us with a taste of what is to come and show off the eclectic ‘Dr. Heckle’ and ‘Mr. Hide’ nature of the album. ‘Six Months In A Cast’ is an up-tempo, inner dialogue pep talk, about self-sabotage; ‘Like A Kid’, (influenced by a Grizzly Bear performance Calder saw at Harvest Festival) is “louder, punchier, a lot weirder and driven” and showcases the bands more theatrical, playful side; then ‘You Are New’, is a sensitive foray into the workings of delicate young minds, “It’s a real great bridge between the last record and this one and along with the other singles, leading into the record are the perfect palette to really establish the rest of the work.”

Like all creative endeavors this journey has provided challenges to be overcome and its share of rewards. Originally scheduled for a June release, Tom mentioned necessary delays in order to produce the best work they could. ‘Whimpering Child’ was described as one such challenge. “We were writing it as we were recording it and in the second section we had a lot of trouble, it had to be changed. We had to take a little bit out, then took part of another song that didn’t end up on the record and it floated together really well.”

Rewarding are the spectacular videos for ‘Six Months In A Cast’ and ‘Like A Kid’, which are a collaboration by a close-knit group of friends including Tom’s brother, Josh Calder who films and directs the videos. Tom explains, “I always like to listen to other music when I’m thinking about song clip ideas. It’s a weird meditative process where you let your thoughts go, write stuff down and eventually something always comes out. I think film clips can really add something to the song, another dimension. We always try our hardest to make something that services the song well and that is never literal, it’s just a feeling.” Calder’s Film Noir influences are easily seen in the enjoyably macabre and kitsch videos that accompany the first two singles from Rookie. With the video for ‘You Are New’ recently filmed it will be interesting to see if it follows the same pattern.

So while we have a small wait until Rookie is available, make sure you check out the first three singles from the upcoming album. You will dance, cry and laugh and hopefully, if you aren’t already in love with this enviably talented group of human beings, you will fall head over heels.

A huge thank you goes out to Tom for taking the time to chat to us and you can find my review of the new album Rookie in the upcoming New Music Monday.

Rookie by The Trouble With Templeton is due out August 2nd and available for pre-order here:


16 August - Northcote Social Club, Melbourne w/ Ali Barter
17 August - Ed Castle, Adelaide w/ special guests
22 August - Transit Bar, Canberra w/ Battleships
23 August - GoodGod, Sydney w/ Battleships
24 August - Republic Bar, Hobart w/ special guests
29 August - Spotted Cow, Toowoomba w/ Holy Holy **free show**
30 August - The Zoo, Brisbane w/ Holy Holy
31 August - The Brewery, Byron Bay "Winterfest @ The Brewery" w/ Love Hate Rebllion, Dave’s Pawn Shop & The Halls **free show**

1 comment:

Love it or hate it? Agree or disagree? Let me know what you think!