Of all the names being bandied around at the moment as ‘ones to watch’ for 2010, one that keeps cropping up is Two Door Cinema Club. Therefore State deemed it vital to meet up with the three band members for a chat a few hours before their debut headline gig in Dublin’s Crawdaddy venue in December. The core members – bassist Kevin Baird, vocalist/guitarist Alex Trimble and guitarist Sam Halliday – are three Bangor/Donaghadee boys who are barely out of secondary school and already signed to established French record label KitsunÃ© and set to release their debut album, Tourist History, on 1 March.
The band formed when the guys were in their teens, with frontman Alex being the chief songwriter. Named after Sam misheard the name of a local ‘Tudor Cinema Club’, they released their first single -I Can Talk’, in December and are about to embark on a year of touring in support of Tourist History. The album, which is crammed full of electro-heavy indie songs that ‘are about our progression as a band and experiences that we’ve been through together’ (Alex), will appeal to fans of Passion Pit, Phoenix and Foals, and certainly justifies their placement in the recent BBC Sound of 2010 poll. Although they didn’t scoop the top spot, it was proof that the future is bright for these young men, who will release their latest single, -Undercover Martyn’, on 22nd February.
Here, they tell State about how far they’ve come – from travelling around the country in a dirty old van that stank of dog (having been previously owned by a pet grooming business) – “All of us up the front, crushed in and no sleep or anything,” as Alex puts it – to signing autographs for screaming Japanese teenagers.
How does it feel to have the band doing so well – before you’ve even released your debut album?
Kevin: It’s been really slow which is good I think, we haven’t had to be thrown into anything, we just work away. I guess some people ask us, they look at what we’re doing and they say, ‘Oh is it just crazy, does it blow your mind, is it mental’..and it’s not really, it’s just like slowly built up to it, so I think it’s a really nice way of doing it.
Can you take us back to the beginning – where did you all meet?
Alex: We met when we were about 15, in grammar school, and I guess a couple of months from when we started hanging out we started playing together. We spent two weeks of a summer in Sam’s garage and just started to play really bad teen rock music together. That continued for about a year or so and when that ended the drummer that played with us left the band that we were in but the three of us still wanted to continue doing what we were doing; but by that stage we’d kind of grown up a bit I guess and we wanted to make a different kind of music that was more suited us and more suited other people as well. We were listening to so many other types of music and at that stage we were just confining ourselves to this one genre and we wanted to broaden that a little. So with this band we don’t like to confine ourselves to anything, especially since we have the laptop and we can experiment and do things like that, you know, we can play lots of different types of music if we want to. That started two years ago and since then it’s just been writing and recording and playing shows.
Sam: We were pretty lucky in the sense that once we left school over that summer between our last year in school and whenever you’re supposed to go to university, we were lucky in that we had sorted out a booking agent so we had stuff lined up for September so we weren’t sitting about too long. After that we met a few managers and got that pinned down.
What kind of music were you all listening to at that time?
Alex: The stuff that we started listening to back then was stuff that we listen to today, it’s just that we listen to so much more. I guess we kind of bonded over the one band – that was Biffy Clyro. All three of us were mental for that band and that was the first show all three of us went to together, we went to see them in Belfast.
Kevin: We were big fans of At The Drive-In as well.
Alex: And Six Star Hotel, from Belfast.
Kevin: We basically tried to rip [At The Drive-In] off for a year and a half and it didn’t go anywhere and we didn’t really enjoy it.
You were saying that you don’t like to confine yourself to one sound, is that important in the sense that you don’t want to get pigeonholed?
Kevin: I don’t think it’s a conscious thing so much, it’s more like whatever works at the time just gets used.
Alex: We’ll only let a song come to fruition if it comes naturally and it means not trying to steer it in a certain direction. So we just write songs that feel right to us.
What’s the songwriting process – has it changed over the years?
Alex: It’s all different. It’s different every time. It can start from any place and it can end up in any place. You know, all three of us are all involved in it. But it’s different every time.
You had a period where you were without a drummer and now you have one, so how did you work with that; did you find there was not a major difference?
Kevin: He’s only there for just live gigs, so we kind of see it that we always want to improve on when we play live and I think the first step for most bands is a lighting rig, and then for us we had an extra step which was a drummer. It’s kind of filling in a bit of a visual and a sound void as well that we had, just giving a bit of depth to the sound I guess. I think visually it seems much more deep. You can’t beat the live sound when you have a live drummer.
Alex: Just having a live drummer on stage there was just an extra energy and presence there as well.
Kevin: There was just a bit of a void when there was just three of us at the front.
Alex: I think that’s all fair and well if you are a straight-up electro band, and I’ve seen a lot of people doing that these days. I think for us personally we play a variety of different…like there is electro in there but we play a variety of different pop and indie and stuff as well and there is a lot guitars involved and I think it needed something to boost it a little.
Kevin: And we still run the laptop live.
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