Singer-songwriter Thomas Hoy didn't always picture himself being a full-time musician. After graduating high school, he spent a year travelling abroad in southeast Asia, before finally ending up at King's College to pursue a philosophy degree. "I was halfway through my degree and realized I really wanted to start studying music," he says.
He took a year off from school, playing in a band and studying musical theory full-time to gain entrance into the Dalhousie music department's voice and composition programs. Upon being accepted, he realized he wanted to start a new project that was more experimental than his current band and began looking for musicians.
"I knew the ideas I had in my mind were pretty technically demanding and I knew I needed musicians who were virtuosic enough to play and sing what I wanted at the same time," says Hoy.
He began looking around his program and auditioning musicians. He asked keyboardist Leah CL to join onto the project after being "blown away" watching her perform a Beethoven concerto. He met drummer Jeremy Dutcher at a friend's party.
Guitarist Ben Shaw came about in a less classy way. "I was kind of drunk and walked up to him and was like, 'You look like a guitar player. You have long hair. You should come audition for this band,'" says Hoy, laughing. "And luckily he turned out to be really good at guitar."
The band became TemperTemper, an electro-pop four-piece with art school leanings. Inspired by the songwriting of Dirty Projectors' David Longstreth, Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes and a bunch of Soviet composers, Hoy and his merry foursome deliver bombastic rock with classical flourishes.
The band had been gigging around for some time before deciding to put its songs to tape in May 2011. "Spending a lot of time working on these songs, the thing I found with them is that a lot of them have some unconventional things going on, so it can be really hard for them to translate well live," says Hoy. "We thought it would be interesting to have a recording people could listen to so they could fill in the gaps from the show if it wasn't all clicking."
Recorded in Hoy's living room---"and other living rooms across the city"---the band sat on the album for almost a year while playing around with the mixes and getting it professionally mastered. The band launched tempertemperband.com on March 25 with its self-titled debut as a free download. "Despite the work we're putting in, I still think there are a lot of people that don't know about us, so primarily we just want people to hear the music and get into it and hopefully we can get out of debt later."
But at only 30 minutes in length, Hoy isn't content to ride the coattails of TemperTemper's newly released debut. He continues to study at Dalhousie and experimenting with the theory he is learning in the classroom, writing new songs and working on the old to enhance the band's live performances.
"I think what guides my songwriting mostly is trying to integrate complex compositional ideas into a pop format," he says. "I can never allow myself to do something simple. I can't be satisfied writing a song that doesn't have something bizarre in it."
TemperTemper w/Hind Legs, Special Costello, and a piano quintet playing Shostakovich op.57 in G minor
Saturday, March 31 at The Bus Stop Theatre, 2203 Gottingen Street $6
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