Interview: Two Door Cinema Club
This three-piece indie-rock band hailing from Northern Ireland has been a driving force in the music world since their formation in 2007. Their songs, such as “What You Know” and “Something Good Can Work”, have defined over a decade of the UK indie scene, and their latest album False Alarm is no exception.
Two Door Cinema Club is currently touring the UK and will be hitting Australian shores for Grapevine Gathering Festival in December. We caught up with Kevin Baird to chat about their 2019 plans, the new album’s release and what he’s learned from being in a band for over a decade.
How are you doing, Kevin? Where are you right now?
I’m good, thanks. I am currently in London, but I’m flying back to Ireland tonight.
Oh, nice. Let’s talk about your music. I need to ask you straight up. Two Door Cinema Club, you guys re-released your EP last year, Four Words To Stand On, for its 10th anniversary. Next year is 2020, which will be the 10th anniversary of Tourist History. Will there be a re-release, or will you be doing something with that album again?
I don’t know. We actually did have that discussion the other day and I guess the reason we wanted put out Four Words To Stand On was because no one had it. I think we made about 500 copies on CD, and we used to sell it at gigs. So I think 100 of those copies are under Sam’s childhood bed back in Ireland. I think with Tourist History it’s obviously out now, and it’s been out a for long time.
I think the conversations we had, we may even change our minds, but we kind of saying, “No we really weren’t going to do anything” because it kind of felt like it’s just nostalgia. I feel like there’s so much going on in the present, and then hopefully in the future that, I don’t know, it didn’t feel right to hark back to sort of the past glories yet. We don’t feel like we were on the way out yet. We really will save that work for when we’re struggling. Maybe for the 20 year anniversary, I guess?
I suppose that album did sort of take off with a life of its own whereas you said Four Words To Stand Ononly the die-hard fans at the very beginning of your career had their hands on, so that makes sense to give that one a revival. I mean if I was to float an idea, maybe you could grab a live orchestra and just play the album in its entirety in just a one-night-only sort of thing as an homage to it. That would be dope.
That’s a good idea.
If you do that, I hope I get a ticket.
At the very least, you should get a ticket.
Thanks, and maybe some flights over to the UK? No, I’m kidding.
Yeah, sure, why not?
What? Okay, this is all on record now.
Shit guys, we can never do the orchestra.
Yeah, that’s true. Well, maybe I’ll play the cowbell for you. That’ll be my input. Let’s talk about your upcoming fourth album, False Alarm, out June 21. You produced this one with Jacknife Lee who you worked with on Beacon. What’s it like collaborating with him?
Yeah, it’s great. We’ve been working together since 2011, and we have a really, really good relationship. He’s from Ireland, we’re from Ireland, and I think we have that connection. It’s kind of a strange thing have, like be in a studio in Los Angeles, and it’s just four Irish guys making a record. So, yeah, it’s really good. He’s an amazingly talented producer, but outside of that he just has the most amazing lust for music, and discovery, and most importantly, for him I think it’s about sharing that. It’s like, “Oh, you’ve got to hear this song, or this album that I found.” Or whatever. Whether that’s something new and current. He knows more about new music than anyone, or whether it’s something he dug out from some a bargain bin from 50 years ago. His lust for music is just infectious.
Yeah, that’s someone you definitely want to work alongside, and I also think that that sort of thirst always manifests in the songs that are produced. And it’s obviously a formula that works for you guys.
Yeah, yeah, we’re kind of happy with the product.
You’d never consider self-producing?
We’ve always done bits and pieces. You know when you finish an album people go, “Okay guys, this is great. Got anymore? We need some B-sides.” And we’re like, “Nope.” We’ve always done things like that where we self-produce for little EPs or extra bonus tracks, we’ve always self-produced. But we get so much more out of it bouncing off ideas with someone else. So I don’t think in terms of a full-length album we would be really considering self-producing at this point. We know the limits of our job.
You know your strengths at least. I wouldn’t say limits.
Yeah, sure. That’s good.
You’re alright. The contents of this album, I had a sneaky preview listen, it’s pretty satirical. It’s all about the modern human condition. Tell me about that subject choice because obviously, love and heartbreak is the typical go-to for music. This is not quite that.
Sure, love, heartbreak, and having a good time seems to be what every single pop or dance song is about. You’re either having a good time, or falling in love, or getting dumped. I think this album is very much as you said a sort of satirical look at the human condition. And it’s a look, and I think it’s important to stress that, it’s not a critique. I think it’s a sort of realisation that we’re all sort of part of this, and we are collectively responsible for where we’re at, and also seeing humour in how we’re just fucking ourselves up. So I think, as you said, it’s a lot more satirical than anything we’ve done before, and I think it’s a bit more fun that way.
Yeah, it’s definitely a bit more of a wackier sound. How would you describe the sound in comparison to your other bodies of work?
Good question. How would I describe it? Just different.
Well, I mean in my opinion, you’ve got some really synthy sort of ones and the good thing about Two Door Cinema Club is that with each album you’ve kind of added new layers into your sound and things like that. It’s not like completely adverse to your brand, but it’s definitely a level up, it’s like a layer on top I would say.
Yeah, for sure. I think it’s really nice because we kind of… I might be wrong in this, but it doesn’t feel like there’s anything that we can do that people would say, “Oh, that’s very not Two Door Cinema Club.” I think we’ve always tried to experiment with different things, and that has allowed us the freedom to kind of go in any direction the wind takes us. So I think we’ve very much been taken by the wind on this album.
You guys have definitely shown that you’re versatile, which I think is really important for a band, particularly for a band for your longevity as well. Your pedigree.
You recently released your third single from the album, “Dirty Air”. Let’s talk about that one in particular. Tell me about what was the inspiration for that track because I mean, the opening lyrics are pretty … They lay it out for you, I would say.
Yeah, I think it’s kind of… that’s most sort of tongue-in-cheek sort of… You know, it’s in the chorus, it’s like pulling up a chair and watching the world burn kind of thing. It’s not about stopping it. We’re kind of at least sort of acknowledging the craziness of where we’re at, and I think we also just let loose on that one, and just put aside some the ’80s, ’70s synthesisers that had been used a lot on some of the other tracks and just wrote a big rock guitar song.
It’s definitely a good intro into your whole album. On the horizon though, you’ve got a big slew of UK and European festivals coming up including a night slot at Glastonbury, that’s one step before headlining, pretty much.
It’s cool that, isn’t it? I think we’ve done it six times, and we’ve never played it in the evening before.
Wow! That’s pretty much a milestone.
Yeah, I don’t want to tempt fate and say that means that we’ll be headlining, but that’ll be nice.
Hey, well, my fingers are crossed for you. But, I’ve been really intrigued by Blue Balls Festival in Switzerland.
Yep. I don’t know if they know the English connotation with the name, but yeah, there’s a couple of festivals that they have … They’re not funny, but the immature part of you finds it funny. You know, there’s another one in Hong Kong called Clockenflap.
No, there isn’t.
Yeah, it’s a great festival. I don’t know, I think it’ll be pretty exciting. Maybe the Swiss know and they just don’t care.
If anything they would have great merch come out of it. That would be very interesting to be wearing a shirt for a Blue Balls Festival back in Australia.
Endless options. It feels like it’s a festival just for virgins or something.
Oh my god, can you imagine? Okay, so what else is on the horizon? You’ve got a US tour in September, then you come back to the UK for a little bit more of a UK tour in October, and you do the O2 Arena. Then you go and finish your US tour in November. You got a little hiatus in between there. That’s a lot of travel.
It is a lot of travel. Well, we thought we were smart in splitting up the American tour into two halves, but now we’re just ping-ponging back from America to UK and back again. We have some stuff after America which we haven’t yet announced but which we haven’t yet announced but… Then we’ll have December off.
Oh, that’ll be nice. Can we speculate whether this unannounced stuff will be you guys coming to this side of the world?
I mean you can certainly speculate. I can neither confirm nor deny.
Yeah, you haven’t said no. Never say never, that’s one thing I’ve learnt in this industry.
It could happen. It could also not happen.
Okay, good. Well, is there anything else on the horizon that we’ve missed out?
No, I think you kind of got it all. Just the record coming out, new music, more shows. I think that’s about it.
We’ll end on a corny note, how about that? We’ll end on: Kevin, your band’s been going on since… well, it’s been like 12 years. What have you learnt over that time being in a band for that sort of extended period? What’s your one lesson you’d want to impart?
Oh god, I think the most important one was “This band or any band should not be your life”. I think that was quite hard in the beginning. It kind of felt like us against the world, and I guess the three of us, each of our identity was solely being in this band. And I think as we got older, we sort of just realised how unhealthy that was. As much as being in Two Door Cinema Club is a big part of my identity, it’s not my whole identity, and I think that was the most important thing for me, personally, that I’ve learned.
I think that’s wise, and I think that also translates into any profession or relationship for that matter.
Yeah, because it’s like if that’s all I am… If we put out a song, or album, and the people don’t like it and if it fails does that mean I’m a failure as a person? That’s pretty unhealthy sort of setting yourself up for that.
It’s an intense pressure.
You have to step back, and allow yourself to just create. And if it works or doesn’t work, then great. And if it doesn’t, then no big deal. You’re still a valuable human being.
Exactly. And I think at the crux of making music, it should just be all about the expression and the cathartic getting it out there, and the creation of it rather than the reception.
Well, Kevin, I’ll let you enjoy your morning. So thank you so much for chatting with me, I really appreciated it. And I hope to catch you on Australian shores very soon.
Yes, me too. Thank you very much for taking the time.
Two Door Cinema Club‘s new album False Alarm is out now.
You can catch TDCC at the Grapevine Gathering Festival. For more information and tickets, head to Grapevine Gathering’s website.
Saturday 23rd November | Grapevine Estate | VIC
Saturday 30th November | Roche Estate | NSW
Sunday 1st December Sandalford | WA
They will also be on a national tour to celebrate the release of False Alarm:
21 November | Forum Theatre | Melbourne, VIC
22 November | Thebarton Theatre | Adelaide, SA
28 November | Enmore Theatre | Sydney, NSW
29 November | Fortitude Music Hall | Brisbane, QLD
This article was originally published in the AU review.