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TAS in Session: Two Door Cinema Club

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The Alternate Side has been keeping tabs on the Northern Irish band Two Door Cinema Club for a while. They were chosen as one of our 2010 breakthrough bands and, at long last, their debut album, Tourist History, is finally out in the States on Glassnote Records and in the UK and Europe on Kitsuné. We were so pleased that the band, who've toured with Phoenix in the past, had some time to stop by Studio A for a conversation and performance.

I was surprised that there seemed to be an extra person in their crew; Two Door Cinema Club, who met in grammar school, is a trio - vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Alex Trimble, bassist/vocalist Kevin Baird and guitarist/vocalist Sam Halliday - but they've now recruited a drummer, Ben Thompson. In the past, Two Door Cinema Club didn't use a drummer but Alex oversaw the beats. Semantics? Well, the guys normally just use a laptop to create beats and loop them as they play and sing over them. This time, they brought along Thompson to wonderful effect.

Two Door Cinema Club will be staying overseas most of the summer. They'll be playing Glastonbury on June 24 and 25 and have a slew of European, Japanese and Australian festivals to attend, but happily they're slated to return to New York on October 21 to play Webster Hall:

Alisa Ali: Your single "Something Good Can Work" was remixed by a lot of people, like The Twelves and Ted & Francis. Was that sort of amazing that you looked online and saw that people were remixing your record?

Alex Trimble: We asked them to do it! Everytime we did a single, we wrote a list of people that we'd like to do a remix. We just got in touch with them and asked them. We love to have [remixes] on our single releases because we usually do few formats, like CD and vinyl. It's really nice to have a load of different remixes. That's part of our single campaigns.

Alisa: Do you have a fat Rolodex of impressive people you'd like to remix your songs?

Kevin Baird: We can have dreams!

Alex: Some are more realistic than others.

Kevin: We'd love Daft Punk to remix a song.

Alex: Daft Punk would be amazing.

Alisa: You also remix other songs as well. How does that work?

Alex: The record label we're on in Europe, [Kitsuné], has quite a lot of dance music and remix artists. The label is like a big community, so any time one artist on that label has a single, they'll ask other artists on the label to do the remix. That's how we've been doing ours. We've been asked by artists or the label if we'd like to have a go at doing them. It's good fun, it's good to do when we're on the road and there's not much else to do when we're traveling.

Alisa: Here in the States you're on Glassnote which is the same label as Phoenix. Is that how you got hooked up with them and toured with the band?

Alex: I guess that has [a lot] to do with it, yeah. Again, we're connected on the French side as well since they're very friendly with the guys who run Kitsuné.

Alisa: You formed back in 2007. I know you released a lot of singles and EPs, but was there a lot of pressure to get a full-length album out?

Alex: I guess there could have been but we didn't pay attention to that. We wanted to spend as long as we needed to on this record and get it as perfect as we wanted it to be. Not rush something out because it needed to be out. We started recording [the album] in June or July of last year. It's only out [this spring], so we spent a lot of time working on it. I don't think any of us would change anything. That was our aim - to get something that we were one hundred percent happy with. I think we did it.

Alisa: So this album was a collection of some of your best songs over the years. How many were there?

Alex: Not a lot. I think the three of us are quite perfectionist about everything to do with this band, so I guess at the end we had about 25 songs or so. We would only finish a song if we liked it. We would start writing every single day, but if something wasn't feeling right or wasn't going in the right direction, we'd just stop. We'd either go home and come back the next day or try something new. As a result we only ended up with a small amount of songs, but ones that we were very happy with. [As for the others], we released a couple of them on our first EP and there's a couple out there on blogs.

Kevin: We just don't see the point of putting our energy into something that's not the best it could be. We don't see any point in having average songs.

Alex: Rather than returning to those, I think we've developed as songwriters. We could come up with something better rather than going back and releasing old material.

Alisa: In the past you used a laptop for drumbeats and now you have a drummer. I heard that you didn't know any drummers before, which is why you used a laptop?

Alex: Exactly that. We did have [a drummer] when we were fifteen and played in a rock band together but he left. We weren't very good, so it was a good thing. Then we used a laptop. We've all been really good friends since we were very young so it didn't really make sense to bring in a stranger to do something that was so personal. So we made little backing tracks on the computer and we toured about two years with [that setup]. But then we got signed and we started to play bigger shows. It made sense to step up the production a little bit.

Kevin: We got a lot of drunk guys at our shows offering to play drums for us. We started off with just these little drum patterns that we made on the laptop and then we realized we could expand it and make a lot of different noises. We were also into dance music and electronica and so as well as having Ben play with us, we're still [using a laptop].

Alisa: Kanye West posted the official video to "I Can Talk" on his blog. Were you taken aback?

Kevin: I thought it was a joke at first. I remember Alex sent me a text message with a link. And I looked at it, thought it was a joke for a while, and then realized it wasn't. It was mental.

Alisa: There's a great video on YouTube of kids playing along to "I Can Talk." Do you know those kids?

Kevin: It's an American family somewhere.

Alex: Every now and again we like to look ourselves up on YouTube because there's usually some funny stuff and we did it one day and this just popped up. We linked to it on all of our sites and [sent it] to everyone we knew.

Alisa: You must be handed a lot of different demos yourselves. Is it hard to absorb all of these different bands?

Alex: We always listen to them. If it were us, we liked a band's music and gave them our CD, we'd like to think that they'd listen to it.

Alex: We are very interested in finding new music. We're in a band because we love music and there's nothing like discovering a new, amazing band that you suddenly fall in love with. The great thing now is when we discover a band that we love, we can bring them on tour with us. It's brilliant.

Sam Halliday: Recently, though, someone gave me a CD and I put it in my back pocket and forgot about it for a couple of days. Remembered it, took it out to listen to it and the CD was broken in half. I'm sorry. I can't remember the name of the band, but I'm sorry.

Kevin: That was their big break, Sam.

Alisa: "Undercover Martyn" is one of the first songs I ever heard of yours. What is the back story?

Alex: It was one of the first songs we wrote, about three years ago. I guess it represents us starting out as a band. Immediately we knew that it's what we wanted to do. That's a hard decision to make - to leave school, not go to university and be in a band - and it was a hard decision for our families as well. They were very skeptical. ["Undercover Martyn"] is a story that is not about that, but it represents it as a metaphor; convincing someone to do something, to be a bit scared doing it. It represents what we're doing.