Temper Through Tears balances new and old

Knoxville band Temper Through Tears is, from left, Rob Sellers, Justin Parker, Donnie Mahan and Jason Williams.

Knoxville band Temper Through Tears is, from left, Rob Sellers, Justin Parker, Donnie Mahan and Jason Williams.

— Temper Through Tears vocalist/guitarist Jason Williams and guitarist Justin Parker took a break from the music world after spending more than a decade each in a range of original acts. As with many aspiring local acts, each found the pursuit of playing original music to be more of an expensive hobby than a lucrative profession, but after enough time sidelined, Williams and Parker simultaneously got the itch again, and met each other through Craigslist.

Having shared the stage once before on a bill that included their respective bands, the two convened for a number of homestyle jam sessions, ultimately reawakening their zeal for live performance.

With mutual acknowledgment that the only genuine reason for playing music is the enjoyment it brings, Temper Through Tears was expanded to a four-man roster, and despite its intentions the band actually started landing shows and making money. The group attributes the sharp rise in earnings to the fact it features a high ratio of cover tunes and custom remakes.

"The key is that we just want to play," Williams says. "I personally spent a decade and a half doing my own stuff and have written more than 100 songs in that time. I still enjoy writing, but we want to play, so I think that's why we went ahead and learned all the covers/remakes — so we could get out in front of people quicker, all while working on our originals.

"(It's true) that the only way to make any real money around here is to play the cover scene. After more than 15 years doing original shows, I'd say 90 percent of the time I never put any real money in my pocket. The bands would break even at best. Now our band fund gets paid, and each member walks out with as much individually as my old bands would make as a whole. That's just where it seems most of the crowd, and thus the money, is around here."

Temper Through Tears points out that the breakdown of covers and originals is often based on the venue. Having predominantly played sports bars in the past year, the band has done fewer original tunes.

Another factor is the band's catalog, which is still in development. At the conclusion of 2011, TTT will take a hiatus to focus on writing its own material in addition to its usual incorporation of new covers, which it tends to stylize.

The group says that the love of '80s and '90s rock reflected in its cover selection is equally influential in its original material, which applies a modern approach to past eras' alternative.

"Currently we have a handful of new original songs in the works, but we've concentrated so much on building our cover catalog for this past year's shows that we've only been able to perform about three originals each show," says Parker. "The winter hiatus will allow us to focus more on our original material and get started on our recording process. We hope to put together something to put in the hands of our fans by the time we start booking shows for 2012.

"What we have been working on seems to be developing its own style. With (former project) Perfect Mercy, we were a female-fronted pop-rock band much like when I was in Box Wagon Candy Band (aka Jag Star). So being in a male-fronted band this time around, there's more of that testosterone-induced angst — just enough edge to be heavier than a pop-rock band, but not so much that a mosh pit follows us. I hear a lot of new bands going back to the roots of rock. In some of the things we're currently writing we seem to be mixing that old school rock guitar with a more modern feel to it."

After finishing its December schedule, TTT will not likely return to the gig circuit until March. The group hopes to devote a larger portion of its time in 2012 to playing out-of-town dates and diversifying its host venues locally.

B-side themselves: Monday night, Nov. 14, Barley's Taproom welcomes Asheville soulsters The Secret B-Sides. Music is slated for 10 p.m.

Gold bonding: Gold Leaves joins AA Bondy for a show at the Pilot Light at 10 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17. Admission is $10.

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