Two Door Cinema Club
Onward and Wandered
Oct 03, 2012
Last year, Northern Ireland’s Two Door Cinema Club took a break from what seemed like an endless touring schedule to set up shop in Los Angeles and lay down their sophomore album, Beacon. With a certified gold record in the U.K. and high-profile tours alongside Phoenix and Delphic on the books, one might think that the pressure to deliver an amazing album loomed large over the band during their recording sessions. But guitarist Sam Halliday, vocalist/guitarist Alex Trimble, and bassist Kevin Baird seem confident, cool as cucumbers, and already completely prepared for their next bout of touring.
Halliday—who inadvertently named the band by mispronouncing their local theater, Tudor Cinema—reflects on the nomadic group’s recent time spent in the studio, a rumor that President Barack Obama is a big fan, the differences between American and European gigs, and the benefits of finally staying still for just a moment.
Michele Yamamoto (Under the Radar): Can you tell me a little bit about how different the process was in Los Angeles, in a home studio versus in London?
Sam Halliday: It was less formal. When we were doing it in London, we'd have to get across London and it was really like work. And we'd be at the studios from 10 in the morning until six in the evening. Whereas in Los Angeles, we'd come and go as we'd please. We could work late without getting hit with massive studio fines. It's just a nicer atmosphere. Just hanging out in a home was really nice.
Would you say that that experience affected the outcome of the album?
I think you've got to be relaxed when you're in that sort of environment making music. We were definitely more relaxed this time around and we felt comfortable experimenting with different sounds and not feeling like we were under pressure.
From what I understand, one of the big themes of Beacon is travel. It's one of the obvious themes, and it seems very intentional. But I was wondering if the writing and recording process of Beacon revealed anything to the band that it didn't already know about itself.
I'm not so sure. I guess travel is what we spend our lives doing, and I think it allowed us to reflect a bit on how much we've actually done. We forget that we toured Tourist History properly before the record was made and before it came out, we toured it probably for about three years. It gave us time to stand still. And you know, it was probably the first time we'd been in one place longer than a week. We were doing the record, writing it. I guess it was really the first time we had a chance to look back on what we've done.
And looking back on it, do you have any regrets or second guesses about the album?
No. We're pretty happy. You know, we think it's a great record. And it's been only a few months since we've made it, and I still listen to it. I think that's a really good sign, if you can listen to your own record and enjoy it.
So, how is the band handling the pressure of bringing out the sophomore album after such positive reviews for the first album?
I think we're pretty confident in the fact that we've made a good album. I think there's a bit more pressure from people around us now to do well. Media and marketing and that sort of thing, I think has sort of been our job. We didn't really feel pressure from the label when we were writing. They just left us to our own devices and let us get on with it, which was really nice. We would hate to have A&R people coming in to the studio, telling us they think we should do this and do that. I think they had a lot of confidence in us as well to write.
How is the band handling the success otherwise? Has it affected any relationships between you or affected your relationship to music?
I think it's probably just our relationships with people at home that we don't really get to see so much because of the touring. Like Kevin and myself have girlfriends and that's always tough, you know? It's really about being organized and remembering to get in touch with them. You get a bit lost in your own world being on the road. I think we have really good relationships built in the band and with our crew as well. We're really lucky in the respect that we still really enjoy touring…. And also, the crew we have on the road with us—our sound engineer and our tour manager and guitar techs and everyone—they're just lovely guys. And we all get on pretty well.
So you guys are looking forward to getting back out for your fall tour, which is huge.
Yeah. America is definitely still one of our favorite places to tour.
Really? Why is America a favorite place?
I don't know. I think we've just had a really good time, a really pleasant experience…. Like getting back into a small van and driving ourselves around and playing in small bars. And I think, because we've been lucky enough to be doing bigger shows in Europe, it's nice to go back…and really put the time and effort in…. And now when we come to America, we're able to play the sort of nicer shows. It shows the hard work has paid off. And there's just so much to see in America. It's so different from Europe. It's full of marvelous things.
I see on your Twitter feed that you post a lot of photos of food.
I do. I do like food.
I would love to hear about your experience on the road with food, if you have any memorable moments or dishes.
The first time we were in Mexico was fantastic. I'd never really been a fan of Mexican food, but I just fell in love with the fish taco.
Any recommendations on the road?
There was a really nice place in L.A. where we were living. Just a little Mexican place on a street called Abbott Kinney in Venice. They did pretty good Alaskan Halibut fish tacos.
As a foodie, do you cook a lot? Or are you more of a consumer?
No, I think being on the road so much, you kind of get a bit sick of restaurants sometimes. I don't really have a house at the minute. I've just been away all summer, and it's driving me insane.
What do you call home? Where is home for you?
I'm kind of between homes at the minute. I kind of live in Glasgow, in Scotland, and the rest of the guys live down in London.
Yeah. That's where we all meet up and rehearse, and that's where all of our tours leave from.
Do you guys ever get back up to Northern Ireland?
We had a show there last week, which was really nice. And our parents came up for the show. We don't get home that often so it's good if everyone can make it to the show. But I've been home a few times this summer. I try to get home for more than a couple of days.
I have to ask: where did this Obama rumor start? Have you heard about this? You've heard about this.
I've heard about it. Apparently, it was on the front cover of a newspaper in India.
We were announcing that our show in Washington had sold out on Facebook, and we were about to announce a second date. Kevin provided the text for that, and he said, "Oh, the show in Washington sold out, Obama must have gotten his tickets early."
Ah, so it came from the band.
I also saw that you had a couple photos with… was it Prince Harry?
Um, well, we met Prince Charles.
Oh okay. Has that been your only experience with the royal family?
It has, yeah. Our only royal experience was with Charles. It seems like Harry is a bit of a nightmare, though.
It definitely seems like that.
He'd be good to have on the road.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers of Under the Radar? Any last thoughts on Beacon?
I think, if you didn't like our first record, you probably don't have to like it to like Beacon. But I suggest you give it another go. Give us another chance.