Tempered Mental
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Tempered Mental

Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | Established. Jan 01, 2002

Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Established on Jan, 2002
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"Rock band Tempered Mental has a new album, its second since 2007, writes Dennis Chua"

By Dennis Chua
dchua@nst.com.my

INDEPENDENT rock trio Tempered Mental is set to engage fans with its latest album, Pax Automata.

Launched recently at The Bee in Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur, the second album is the first that’s self-produced by the members (lead vocalist, bassist and lyricist Melina William, guitarist Jack Lian and drummer Jimmy Tan) who have built a solid reputation for technical proficiency and showmanship.

Tracks include Automata, Sleep and Ants and Blindfold, all of which they performed in a mini showcase during the launch.

William says they started performing in 2002 and what brought them together was a common love of rock music.

The group’s contemporaries include popular rock acts Estranged, Deja Voodoo Spells, One Buck Short and Dragon Red.

Producer Jennifer Thompson has described the group as one "with intricate guitar work, groovy drumming and melodious vocals” besides "passionate and imaginative".

Veterans in the local rock scene since 2002, the band released its first EP, Honestly, in 2004 and its debut album, The View From Here, in 2007. Honestly made it to the top 10 of Hitz.FM.

William says they have performed at the Canadian Music Week 2008 in Toronto, the Busan International Rock Festival in South Korea, the Heineken Phat Fest in Bangkok, Rock The World Malaysia, the Baybeats Music Festival Singapore and Crocodile Live House in Tokyo.

William who is from Kuching, says Pax Automata comprises 11 songs, which Thompson has hailed as “tightly put together as one interesting story book”.

William says they write honest thoughts about life in general.
Tempered Mental’s past producers were Nick Lee (Honestly) and Greg Henderson (The View From Here).
- New Straits Times / SHOWBIZ: Interesting story book


"Rock band Tempered Mental goes off the beaten track"

By ADRIAN YAP C.K.
entertainment@thestar.com.my

Tempered Mental is one of the most precise group of musicians you will see and hear outside of a military drill.

MODERN rock band Tempered Mental has never concerned itself with being hip. When it first came together in 2002, emo rock was starting to take a hold on the music scene, while rap rock was very much the preferred genre for most bands. Yet the instinct of founding members Melina William (vocals/bass) and Jimmy Tan (drums) was not to dive into either of these genres but to create their own sound – a hodgepodge of angular guitar riffs, fierce ambition and pop sensibilities built on a rock/metal foundation.

“I imagine it’s because we offer something slightly off-centre,” said William in a recent interview to coincide with the arrival of the band’s sophomore album Pax Automata.

“If music was food, we would be that thing you hardly find on menus, so if you do, maybe you should order it just to see what it’s like,” she added.

Well, the formula certainly was unique and it immediately endeared itself to many fans.

The combination of melody lines, odd time signatures and explosive arrangements translated well on Tempered Mental’s debut album The View From Here, released in 2007. The album perfectly captured its multi-faceted sound with songs like the popular Honestly loaded with intricate invention.

The first album allowed the band to build a strong global following, with a gigsecured at the Canadian Music Week 2008 in Toronto, Canada while gigs/festival dates followed in Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand.

It’s been five years since its debut and the band, rounded off by guitarist Jack Lian, has been re-energised by Pax Automata’s arrival, which continues somewhat from where its debut left off but with an emphasis on a certain pop cachet which other bands lack. “We wanted to take our time releasing this album to make sure we did everything right. During the five years, we experimented with different recording options and trying to find the best way to achieve what we wanted sonically, with the budget we had,” explained William about this self-funded release.

It appears the experiments have taken the trio in a more textured direction, especially with a string-laden track like Blindfold coming off both tender and bittersweet.

However, the realisation of Pax Automata’s 11 songs was not an entirely painless process. “I had written a lot of songs but I felt like I wanted to write some more because I couldn’t see the album taking shape with the songs I had on hand at that time.

“I threw out half the songs and replaced them with new material. The first track on the album, Automata, was the last song I wrote, weeks before we started the album production work.”

Recorded at The Ark Studios in Kuala Lumpur, the album was also produced by the band members themselves. American producer/mixer Ronan Chris Murphy, an experienced engineer who has worked with the likes of British prog rock legends King Crimson and American guitarist Steve Morse, handled the mixing sessions.

Apart from the vocals and bass, William also supplied additional guitars and percussion on the new album.

While Tempered Mental’s music direction has progressed, William is honest enough to say that her approach to the album’s themes and lyrics have been consistent.

“Thematically, I always write about things that are going on around me or in my life. However, the focus is on self-realisation and awareness now.”

In a homegrown music scene filled by indie bands and singer-songwriters, Tempered Mental’s continued existence and defiant sound is most impressive.

“Rock/metal music will always have its loyal followers who need that extra edge in their musical diet. It is best served live with the audience and band feeding off the raw energy.”

At the moment, William concedes that the challenge is to push for a broader audience. Apart from a local CD release for Pax Automata, the band has negotiated album distribution in Japan and more countries to follow soon. “Who knows, maybe in the future, the musical cycle will swing back in favour of rock and metal again. It’s hard to say for sure,” she added.

Much like her two other band members, William can get a little restless when it comes to music. Apart from Tempered Mental, she is also busy with other projects (both Lian and Tan also play in other bands) but William adds that it’s a reflection of something she has always been.
“Everyone who has known me since I was a kid knows that my life revolves around music. Almost anything music-related would pique my interest,” she shared.

“I don’t restrict myself by genre, instrumentation, medium, etc. If I’m not collaborating with someone, I would be working on something by myself. I learn something new all the time. Just by playing with different people or being involved in different types of musical projects (she has played in the backing bands of singer - The Star ecentral


Discography

LP - Pax Automata (Nov 2012)
LP - The View From Here (July 2007)
EP - Honestly (2004)

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Bio

Tempered Mental has rocked the Malaysian music scene for the past 10 years with three studio recordings under their belts. Theyve played in regional festivals in Singapore and Thailand, and as far as Canada for the Canadian Music Week, and Korea for the Busan Rock Fest. Their newest album titled, Pax Automata, was recently released in a 9-day tour in Kyushu, to the delight of Japanese fans.

Tempered Mental called on Mr. Ronan Chris Murphy to help capture the live energy of the band into their newest record. Ronan, who has worked with King Crimson, Steve Morse, Terry Bozzio, Steve Stevens, Tony Levin (and the list goes on), did exactly that by bringing out the sound that Tempered Mental has come to be known for; and with which fans have identified with.

* Pax Automata review by Ms. Jennifer Thompson (linkedin)

"Tempered Mental is a band that has always believed in themselves and their music and when you listen to them you know why they are passionate, tight, and imaginative. Had I not known they were local, I would swear I was listening to a foreign band. When you hear them it is reminiscent of when you first hear a cutting edge artiste with amazing musicianship and sophisticated song arrangements like Toto, Sting or Dream Theatre and you are blown away by how awesome they sound.

The album Pax Automata is a collection of songs that are tightly put together as one interesting story like a book you cant put down. The guitar work is intricate, the drumming is groove driven, the voice is melodically mesmerizing and all of this is packaged in a totally delicious, palatable, progressive rock dish.

If I had to describe Tempered Mental in three words they would be Unique, Talented and Stylish."