Since Two Door Cinema Club first visited The Alternate Side, following the release of their 2010 debut, Tourist History, the three Northern Irish bandmates have rapidly ascended as unorthodox indie rockstars in the UK, the States and internationally.
They've also experienced a series of surprising high points punctuating their brief career. Two Door Cinema Club has played to thousands on the mainstage of Glastonbury, they won the prestigious Choice Music Prize for Irish album of the year for Tourist History and just last year, lead singer Alex Trimble was prominently featured in the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, memorably singing "Caliban's Dream" during the lighting of the cauldron.
On the heels of the band's second album, 2012's Beacon (nominated for a 2013 Northern Irish Music Prize), Two Door Cinema Club released an EP this past August, Changing of the Seasons. The four-track EP, which includes one remix, signals an intriguing shift in the band's sound, leaning more assertively towards dance for its title track. Whether that shift informs the recording of band's third album remains to be seen; Trimble, bassist Kevin Baird and guitarist Sam Halliday hope to release their third record in 2015.
Two Door Cinema Club is wrapping a busy year with two more UK dates this week, playing a particularly big gig at London's O2 Arena on Friday, December 13.
Earlier this fall, Two Door Cinema Club returned to the Bronx for a session and conversation with The Alternate Side's Alisa Ali. Below, watch videos of Trimble, Baird and Halliday in performance in Studio A, read highlights of their interview and listen to Two Door Cinema Club's full session on TAS on 91.5 WNYE on the morning of that London gig, December 13, at 11am EST, also streaming online:
Alisa Ali: Was [the] Changing of the Seasons EP meant to whet the appetite of your fans between the next full-length album?
Alex Trimble: Yes, I guess so. I guess the main reason for this EP is that we want to spend a little more time making the next record. We had this song left over from just after we recorded Beacon. We thought it was a great song — and a great one to to release — so we used [the EP] to put it out there. There’s still music happening while we’re off making our next record.
Alisa: Did this title track, “Changing of the Seasons,” come during the making of Beacon?
Alex: Just right afterwards. This came out of the B-side sessions. We took about two weeks after we got back from LA making the record to get some extra songs for the singles. Right from when this was written we thought it deserved better than a B-side. That’s always a time to experiment and try something new. This “something new” happened to work.
Alisa: You have a pretty cool video for this as well. It’s like a 60s rock documentary.
Kevin: That was the plan.
Alisa: You’re attacked by screaming females, madness ensues, there’s a hotel room that gets trashed …
Kevin: Yeah, we wanted an excuse to be rock and roll which we don’t normally do in real life. We were inspired by the kind of documentary footage by, say, Bob Dylan in that period. We wanted to make a classic documentary from that time period and everything that goes along with it, whether that be screaming fans or trashing rooms!
Alisa: So that doesn’t reflect you’re life, or are you totally trashing hotel rooms?
Alex: It was more this idea that was dreamt up by Brewer, who are the two brother directors that we worked with on this video. They came up with this idea, this romantic, forgotten idea of what it’s like to be a rock star — or what it was. What it was for Dylan and the Beatles. It’s something that has definitely fascinated me and the two Brewer brothers. So we wanted to pay homage, in a way, to that. There’s a little bit of pastiche in there as well — we’re not taking it exceptionally seriously. It’s got it’s own humor in there, but at the same time, paying our dues to those great rock starts who had the life that no one will probably ever lead again.
Alisa: Do you feel that you would have thrived during that time? Or floundered?
Alex: I don’t know. I just think it would have been hellish! I think if anyone is coming close to that life today it’s probably One Direction. That’s no joke. Those guys probably don’t have their own lives anymore. Although it is glamorous, exciting and crazy. It’s got to be horrible to never have your own space.
Kevin: You can’t even go surfing without getting your ass tapped. That happened the other day. It made the news. A member of One Direction went surfing and on his way out of the beach, some fan grabbed his bottom. I don’t know their names or anything, but I think it was Louis and he wasn’t happy. He threw a bit of a hissy fit in a wetsuit.
Alisa: No one’s ever tried to grab you guys …
Alex: We’ve been taken advantage of before … it’s not a laughing matter.
Alisa: No, I mean ladies trying to grab you as you walk by.
Alex: Yeah, it’s a tough life.
Sam: It has happened. It’s gets to that point in some places. In some places there are definitely more enthusastic fans.
Alex: They kiss you and things.
Kevin: It tends to be places where we haven’t toured so much. We’ve started touring more in South America and Asia. Bands are starting to come there because they realize how awesome it is. It’s a really big deal when a band comes there and it makes us feel amazing to go there. But of course, it comes with all of that craziness. When we were in Buenos Aires a few months ago, we had fans waiting outside the hotel and following our cars. To have it for a day or two at a time is really exciting, but I can imagine the hell that people go through living that every day.
Alisa: There’s a couple of remixes [on this EP] too.
Alex: We got one on there by Monsieur Adi which is very exciting. We worked with Madeon on this track, I should also say, who is a French house DJ and he added his own spin to the track. I think Monsieur Adi has taken that essence and brought it out even more, even more into this dance club style piece. We’ve always been fascinated with remixes and DJs and producers’ abilities to bring our songs into clubs and make them seamlessly fit in with all this other dance music. Just to turn a pop song around like that is a great feat if you do it well.
Alisa: But you’re no stranger to remixes. You’ve remxed other people’s songs as well. On this EP, the song “Crystal” is very different from anything you’ve ever done. It’s very downtempo, more instrumental. What inspired you to do something so different?
Alex: We had this song, “Changing of the Seasons” which we knew would be released around this time, but we did want to put together an EP. But writing on the road is very difficult, to get all of us together in a space we’re happy with — never mind music that we’re happy with. Finding the time to do it is just as hard. So we decided to split things up. The other track on there, called “Golden Veins,” was written by Kev and Sam and performed by Kev and Sam.
I took on the responsibility of doing the other track. I guess I just used the newfound freedom in songwriting just to do something entirely different. If I were making a song on my own, as I’ve done before. There is a lot of stuff that’s very different from Two Door that I’ve written in the past and has never seen the light of day. I used this as an opportunity to take away the entire band format, considering that we weren’t writing in a band format. I’ve always been very interested in orchestral music. Growing up, I played in orchestras. So there’s always a part of that in my blood. I love writing for strings. I did it for the first time on Beacon; I wrote string parts for a few songs. I caught the bug, I guess! I wanted to make an orchestral string epic with a lot more emotion — romantic emotion — that ever goes into a Two Door Cinema Club song.
Alisa: So you think this way of working will be adapted for your next full-length album? To split up?
Alex: If anything, it makes us a lot more productive. You don’t have to wait for someone else to get something finished. But, at the same time, writing together is where we started and how we made all of those songs that got us to where we are. I should say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But it was a great experiment and definitely could happen again.
Alisa: Did you feel that you were rushed recording for Beacon?
Kevin: Most definitely. I think before we went into the studio to actually record, everything we’d written was crammed over two months. We were still going away, doing tours, coming back to the house where we lived together in Glasgow for two weeks, write and then we’d do festivals. It was pretty crazy.
It was at that point, at the end of the campaign of the first record, that all of the hard work began to pay off and there were things we felt we couldn’t say no to. We’re still really proud of what we wrote and achieved with Beacon. We felt that, at that time, we’d keep momentum going between albums by doing shows and I think our idea this time is to try to let that momentum rest a bit more with music, like “Changing of the Seasons.” It would be a nice change to take some time, write and be creative musicians that way rather than touring musicians.