Two Door Cinema Club

Live from the City of Brotherly Love

Oct 27, 2010 Web Exclusive
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If it seems to you that Irish trio Two Door Cinema Club has been on the road almost constantly since its debut, Tourist History, came out in early 2010, you'd be pretty much right. As guitarist Sam Halliday reports, from the road (surprise) prior to an October gig in Philadelphia, the band can count its days off since the album's release on one hand. Halliday and his mates, vocalist/guitarist Alex Trimble and bassist Kevin Baird, haven't burnt out quite yet though, and finally they can see the light at the end of the tunnel in some time off at the end of the year when they'll begin a different kind of work, writing some new songs. Halliday reports to Under the Radar from the band's tour bus, just prior to show time. 

Frank Valish: Can you tell me a bit about where you grew up and what sort of things were formative for you in terms of choosing this path?

Sam Halliday: I grew up in Bangor, in Northern Ireland, which is pretty close to Belfast. [We got into music] mostly through the local music scene in Belfast, when we were 13, 14. It wasn't really until we saw other bands in Belfast who were just like my and Kevin's older brother and sister's friends. They weren't signed to any record labels or didn't have any albums out, they were just there in the local scene. It was just from seeing those guys play in church halls and little things like that when we were young teenagers that allowed us to think we could do that.

How old are you guys now?

We're 21.

How long did you guys play with a drummer, and what sort of music did you play? I understand it was a bit different than what you're doing now.

I guess probably since we were 14 until we were 16 or 17, so a good couple of years. I guess it was bad rock. At the time, we didn't really know all that many bands. So we were influenced by things like Biffy Clyro and At the Drive-In, things like that, and a lot of local bands form Belfast, and we just tried to emulate other people's sounds a bit. That lasted up until we were about 17, and then our drummer decided that he wanted to go on to other things, and we still wanted to write together, so we used the laptop as a backing track and wrote songs.

Do you keep in touch with him?

Yeah, yeah, he's a good friend.

Is he kicking himself now?

No, I don't think so. I think some people are able to do this sort of thing for a living, and some people it doesn't really appeal to them. I think he's fine.

I understand that you had to choose between going to university after school and pursuing the band full time. How close were you to going to college and not pursuing the band?

We weren't very close at all. We all applied to go to university after school, but none of us really wanted to. At the school we went to, it was just kind of the normal thing to do, to apply, because you had time during the week to actually do all your application and things, so we all kind of did it. But we knew we weren't going to actually pursue the whole educational path in life.

How were your parents with that decision?

We kind of sold it as a year out to them. And they weren't too happy with that. Well, Kevin's older brother is in a band, and he didn't do that, so they were cool with that. I think they're very happy with it now, since we're kind of able to not live in their house and use all their money. They're very proud. They're big fans.

You talked a little bit about the scene in Belfast. I wonder how much of a scene there was there and whether there was a sense that you had to get out of Ireland to really break.

When we were young teenagers, there were four or five band that would do the underage venue route, and we were very into that, and once we were old enough to go to bars, that's when it really opened up to us, and we started playing gigs ourselves. We were watching bands there, once a week at least. There are a lot of bands that just do the same bars very two or three times a month, and it's a cycle that is so easy to get into and not really move on from. And we were very adamant that we wanted to go on tour, to the U.K. We did our first U.K. tour the September after we finished school (2008/2009), so straight from the time we decided to go full time, we were on tour, pretty much.

You guys have seemed to tour nonstop since the record came out.

Yeah, I think it's just what you have to do. First record, you just have to go to everywhere. If you put out a second record and no one still knows who you are, there's no point in that. We're just trying to make a point of going everywhere. I think the best way for someone to like your band is to see you live. It's very important. And for us, we want to be known as a live band. You just have to put the time in, I guess.

You've been to the U.S. twice already, right?

This is our second time. The last time we were here for a month, and this time we are here for a month again. We've spent a lot of time in America even though we've only been to each place only once before.

Have you found that your audiences have been increasing as a direct result of touring and coming back again and again?

Yeah, definitely. Last time we were in Philadelphia, we played Johnny Brenda's, which is like 100, 150 people, and this time we're doing the First Unitarian Church, which is like 500 people and I think it's nearly sold out. [Editor's Note: the show was sold out.] So yeah, it's amazing. It's good to see the fruit of your labor.

Have you noticed that more people know the songs and are more into it? Is it something that you can concretely see as you're up there playing?

Yeah, yeah, most gigs we do now, everyone is singing along, which is really nice.

What sort of time off have you guys had?

At the start of September, we had like 4 days off. [Laughs] We don't have any more time off until Christmas. We have a couple of weeks over Christmas.

And that's been since the album came out.

Yeah, yeah. We had a week once when a festival was cancelled this summer, but we spent it writing. So that's probably not time off, is it? But we still enjoy it. It's fine. We're getting to drive around America. It's cool.

What sort of a toll has touring taken on you guys so far? I can't imagine how difficult it must be to travel and put yourself out there so consistently for so long?

The first time we came, we drove in a van around America, but we were so excited to be here that it was fine. And this time we're on a bus, so it's fine. We just go to sleep and wake up most days in the next city, and do the gig and go to bed, well a bit of bar crawl or something, but it's fine. We're young. We still like it. It's more the getting sick. It kind of wears you down.

How much have you been writing on the road, or is it mostly during time off?

Well on tour the days off aren't usually spent writing, but we're always playing little bits and pieces on our own. But I guess we need to actually go and spend time in a room together before we have actually any complete songs. We're all together at Christmas time. We live in the same town, so when we're home for Christmas, we're going to get all our stuff back to Bangor, and we're going to just do it kind of naturally. We're excited to get going again. We've been touring for so long with the same songs and all that, it'll be nice to start playing something fresh. We're playing a new song actually on this tour. It'll be good to get the rest of them finished and on the road.

What's the new song called?

It doesn't have a name just yet. It's called the new song.

When you play live, you play with a drummer, correct?

Yeah, since October of last year, so it's been a year now with a drummer.

Have you found that that dynamic, of having a live drummer, has changed the sound or the way maybe you want the next album to sound?

I guess in terms of albums, we had some live drums on this one, but there was a lot of sampling, and even other sounds and things, so the point is to expand a bit more with drum sounds, but the live show has changed so much, I can't really remember even not having a drummer. It sounds weird in my head anymore. It's so different. It's more of a live rock show now, definitely fuller. Before, whenever we did our smaller shows, I think it was okay, because it was tiny little clubs and bars we were playing. Now we're playing bigger stages at festivals and bigger venues.

When you go back in December to write, will you incorporate the drummer or a drummer into your writing process?

No. Our writing process basically is, not centered around the laptop, but it definitely helps. We're just so comfortable together, the three of us, and we kind of agree on what sounds good I think a lot of a time. I think having someone else would be a little bit strange. We usually get some ideas going and then get a basic tracks on the laptop. I think it would be a little bit strange bringing a drummer in.

Can you tell me a little bit about the deluxe edition of the album that's just came out?

Sure, the deluxe edition has the album, and it's got an extra CD with our favorite remixes from the singles. We've also got a documentary, made by a friend of ours from back home. The documentary focused on the release of the album in France. He followed us around for a few days and got a lot of live footage from our album launch in Paris and did a few interviews with the record label there and also the guys who were producing the album and mixing it. It's pretty cool.

And lastly, I understand that, like most music aficionados, you guys have diverse tastes in music. But one that I read truly stuck out for me: John Denver. How does a 20-something who is not from, say Colorado, get into John Denver these days?

I got into him from a friend who was covering his songs. I got his Greatest Hits. There's just great tunes on there. Great ear for melody. I'm not into the whole back catalog really. We just love great tunes really.

(www.twodoorcinemaclub.com)



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Mark Walsh
October 28th 2010
1:22pm

I was at the Philly show, and this band was incredible. I met them after the show, and they are all some of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. Thank you for doing an interview with these guys! I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Kathy
November 1st 2010
5:09am

love the interview. 

I don’t know if you’ve seen Oh Land on pretty much every freakin blog, but they are EVERYWHERE right now and if you like Two Door Cinema Club, you’ll love them.  You can thank me later for the link to the EP: http://bit.ly/9aDVZi just sayin’ lol