As the three band members take their seats and joke with the audience, you would have never guessed that just a few years back, the band was on the brink of collapse.
Two Door Cinema Club addressed the UCD Law Society on Tuesday Oct. 15 to receive Honorary Life Membership to the society, where they discussed the band’s evolution throughout the years, what they’ve learned, and what is on the horizon.
Formed in 2007, Two Door Cinema Club and have had three top-selling albums, performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and are a staple of music festivals across the globe. After a three-year hiatus, they released their newest album, False Alarm, in June. The band recently performed two nights at Olympia Theater in Dublin. They now near the end of their tour, which they described has been “rough, but fun.”
Two Door Cinema Club announced that their fifth album is ready to go. In response to whether or not the band’s music will branch out and do something a bit “out there,” Trimble gave a vague, foreshadowing response, saying they’ve been trying some different things.
“It’s coming,” Trimble said.
Are we ready? (Wreck)
The indie rock band’s three members—Alex Trimble, Sam Halliday, and Kevin Baird—grew up in Northern Ireland and have been playing music together since they were 15 years old. However, the path to get where they are now has not been smooth sailing.
“A band’s trajectory is so predictable,” Trimble said. “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, every band goes through the same thing. You hear the stories, and you think you’re never going to end up there.” Two Door Cinema Club was no different.
Much of the Q&A revolved around themes of conflict and compromise, allowing the band to showcase both their vulnerable and humorous side. Trimble explained that their work became their identity, and it was all-consuming in an unhealthy way. Spending 24/7 touring together only strained their relationship more.
The band members were open about the struggles they have faced, admitting having been essentially broken up for six months after releasing their second album. Baird recounted the moment he felt the band was done, describing the bleakness of performing at The O2 in London, with each member arriving and leaving in their separate cars. No one wanted to be there, Trimble said, and after the performance, they didn’t speak to each other for a year.
“We got fed up, and it was said—maybe in not so many words—that we just did not want to see each other again,” Trimble said. “It did take a while. It could’ve been over.”
However, after a break from one another, they felt the good parts were too good to lose. Trimble sent an email to the group saying he would be in town, asking if they wanted to meet up.
“It started just over a pint, and a few more pints, and we just got talking again,” Trimble said. “Then, we had to get through all the sh*t, which involved a lot of screaming at each other, and then we made a record.”
At their roots, they still cared for each other, so many of the wounds were healed by working together again. Their arduous journey as a band taught them the importance of leading a life outside of their music and staying grounded. The band still has their disagreements, but they have been trying to work out their kinks without “blowing everything up.”
“I think we are better at [working things out] than we have been in the past,” Baird added jokingly.
Something Good Can Work
The members of Two Door Cinema Club did not attend college, deciding to focus on music after school and forming their band at 17 years old. They sold the idea to their parents as them taking a “gap year,” which is now still ongoing.
Trimble said he had ongoing conversations with his parents about attending university, especially since they were both educators. It was not until he brought his parents to a show, giving them free drinks afterwards, that they realized they were the real deal.
Trimble joked to “stay in school” because only pursuing music leaves you with a very limited skill set. He described coming home from tour not knowing how to cook or do laundry because he didn’t do these things on the road.
A record company in France gave the band around €30,000 to create their first record, including renting a studio, getting a producer, and affording to live, Baird said. At the time, they were basically living in total squalor.
“There were three of us and one other guy sharing a two-bed flat in one of the worst parts of East London, infested with cockroaches, living on tortilla chips, travelling two hours each way to get to the studio in West London,” Trimble described.
The band didn’t make much money for years, and when they started to feel like the money was coming in, they had to spend it on paying for more crew. For a while, Trimble said the people working for them were making more money than the band. It wasn’t until the end of their second album tour that they felt like they were making a living.
Trimble said that by no means did any of them feel like they ‘made it.’ With the amount of music out there, the band feels lucky and appreciative to have gotten so far. They deserve their success given their hard work, but they never take anything for granted, Trimble explained.
“We’re trying to stop ourselves from continually thinking ‘once this happens, we’ll be grand’ because that can be quite dangerous,” Baird said. “You’re constantly chasing some mythical thing in the future, and you lose that part of enjoying being in the present.”
Come Back Home
The band’s roots in Northern Ireland also have influenced their music and struggles. The loss of the band’s drummer early on catalyzed their initial interest in indie and electronic sounds. They described their initial sound as a bit “wanky” and self-indulgent.
“I think growing up in Northern Ireland, you think dance music is just terrible. Dance music was not a thing when we were kids,” Baird said.
It was not until hitting a few dance clubs in other parts of Europe when they realized they wanted to make music that people could dance to and have a good time—and to get girls to come to shows, Baird joked.
The stereotypically closed nature of the Northern Irish also had a role in their band’s rocky path.
“Northern Ireland felt it had been quite behind the times, in terms of social progression,” Trimble said. “Emotion from a man was just not accepted or allowed—it was like if you’re showing emotion, you’re showing weakness. Our environment growing up had a big part to play where we found ourselves many years later.”
The band said that their most recent album feels like their first proper album. Tourist History was just an initial collection of songs, while Beacon felt a bit rushed. Gameshow was a healing album for the band, and soon after, the songs for False Alarm started to materialize in 2016. Three years later, Two Door Cinema Club is touring their fourth album, with their fifth album in queue.
Trimble said that it has been a long road to where the band is now. Though they had a long period of time when they did not enjoy each other, making music, or playing shows—they enjoy it now.
“Everything we learned in the last 10 years, we learned the hard way,” Trimble said.
Shannon Fang – Reporter