They say absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Truistic and dismissible as the saying may be, it resonates with all of us when the time comes. That time, for fans of Two Door Cinema Club in Thailand, was last week, after three years’ wait, when they could finally see their favourite Irish trio in their own city. It’s not exactly something Alex Trimble would encourage, but they couldn’t share a snap from last Wednesday night’s gig and phrase how much fonder their hearts had grown on Instagram fast enough.
Fresh off heated festivals in Kuala Lumpur and Incheon, the Bangor band faced another sultry night at Show DC Oasis outdoor arena. Used to Thailand’s humidity as we all are, an open air international gig is never preferable. It’s not Khao Yai in winter. It’s unorthodox. It’s almost wrong. The only thing that would have made the event more wet was a usual August downpour.
The band put on a set of 19 songs, including old favourites, “Changing Of The Seasons”, “Sun” and “Something Good Can Work”; and new releases, “Are We Ready? (Wreck)”, “Bad Decisions” and “Gameshow”, as a teaser for their new album before bringing the show to a perfect close with spiky “Someday” and the Basement People’s national anthem that was “What You Know”.
Before all of that went down, though, we’d hopped backstage for a quick interview with Two Door Cinema Club to discuss their new material, the long-overdue Asia visit and the particularities of being the Irish indie band.
Tell us about your new album, Gameshow.
Kevin: It’s coming out on October 14 and we’re pretty excited. I think it’s the first time we’ll put a record out in Thailand! It kind of took a while for us to get it going but we needed some time to recharge and not worry about anything. Once we actually started making the album, the process flowed quite quickly. We’re pretty happy about the album. It’s got ten tracks and you’ve heard two of them already. There are eight more that are fantastic! They’re going to be different, but similar.
How so? Will there be funky 70’s elements like what we’ve heard in “Bad Decisions”?
Alex: Yeah, there’s definitely some of that in there. We listen to different kinds of music but are particularly interested in the music of the 70’s. We share that passion with our producer Jacknife Lee. Disco is something that’s kind of long forgotten; it felt like a good time to revive a little of bit of that and use some of those older techniques, but in our own way, in a more refreshing way. We look back to those things but also want to push them forward and try something new.
What are some of those older techniques?
Alex: It could just be using older instruments. If you get totally obsessed with the process like I am, you can go down to using different microphones and microphone techniques, and recording things in certain orders. All of that contributes to the overall sound of [“Bad Decisions”] and the record. I’ve been interested in recording since I was a kid, so that’s always a huge part of putting the album together. Not only how we write the songs but also how we record them is so important to make sure that they’re exactly what we want them to be.
Alex: It became a contender for the name of the album because it’s already the name of a song on there. The easiest way to put it is that life, especially on the road, feel like [a gameshow] sometimes. Points means prizes, you know. Sometimes without even realising you can be jumping through hoops to get to whatever is next. Life shouldn’t be like that. Most of this record, I think, is realising that about life. Things didn’t go well for us a couple of years ago; we found out how hard life really was because it caught up with us. So “gameshow” seems like a good word to describe what we’ve been going through and how we, in a way, figured it out eventually.
“Are We Ready? (Wreck)” is about consumerism. Why did you decide to tackle this issue in the song?
Alex: I think consumerism in our culture, or at least in the west, is reaching a somewhat dangerous level, in terms of advertising and the power that some of the larger corporations have over young minds. It’s a little unhealthy. It would just be nice to walk that back a little bit. Nowadays you have to have the latest everything – the latest phone, latest gadgets, latest clothes and all the rest. Ultimately, it’s not important or necessary, I think. That’s the main point: it’s unnecessary. Too much of anything is never a good thing.
Can we expect to hear a new single off the album before the release date?
Alex: Yes. After “Bad Decisions” we’ve got another song that will be out around the time the album comes out, maybe a week or two before that. It’s called “Fever”.
(At this point we got the impression that Alex just let something confidential slip. The singer chuckled and glanced at the band manager standing behind us.)
Alex: He hates it. He’d get stressed.
Earlier this year, you held comeback gigs in Ireland as your own tribute band, Tudor Cinema Club. What’s the story behind that?
Sam: The idea came from our manager. We wanted to do small shows because, to be honest, we were afraid we’d forgotten how to play shows together. We hadn’t been on stage together for, like, two years or even longer than that. So it’s just nice to get in the shallow end first. You don’t see Tiger Woods just get straight to a golf course and collect his cup; he’d practice in a driving range or a putting green first of all. Doing smaller shows was sort of our getting the swing back.
And it didn’t take long before we figured out it wasn’t going to be a tribute show.
Sam: Yeah, that was kind of our hope. But we also wanted to play as nobody. It’s nice to go home and play for familiar faces and the guys who’ve been going to our shows since we were all teenagers. Feeling the support from the fans is always nice.
Kevin: As Sam said, we didn’t want to jump right into the deep end and do our biggest show we’ve ever done or that kind of thing. We wanted to take it back and kick things off slowly without any pressure.
What have you learned from touring around the world?
Alex: I guess we’ve learned to look after ourselves. It took us a long time to learn that. It’s just a different way of living. You can’t expect to live a normal life while you’re doing it. All of us at one point or another ended up getting quite ill and suffering as a consequence of not really paying attention of what was going on [with our bodies]. Now that we’ve taken a break, it’s a lot easier to deal with that life; you learn how to enjoy it, which is the most important once you’ve taken care of the basics.
Kevin: We’re now really good at packing as well.
What are your favourite songs of the moment?
Alex: Recently I’ve been listening to Puberty 2 by an artist called Mitski. A couple of songs on there are fantastic. There’s one called “Happy”, which is phenomenal, and the other one’s called “Your Best American Girl”. At the moment those are two of my favourites.
Sam: “Fireworks” by Drake and “Roseability” by Idlewild.
Kevin: I’ll go with “American Girl” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
Why did you decide to sign with a French label (Kitsuné) instead of the ones in the UK?
Alex: The ones in the UK didn’t want us.
Kevin: We didn’t actually meet that many labels. I think a lot of labels who came to see our show maybe didn’t understand what it was or didn’t see where it could go. At that time, it was kind of the peak of piracy in the music industry so labels were being very careful about who they signed and how much money they spent. I think it’s just we didn’t make the cut for a lot of those people. But with our label, we found great people who believe in our music and want to help us out. It’s not to say that we signed with them because we didn’t have any other options. We’re really happy that they really like the band and want to put our records out. They’re amazing for us.
How have you changed as musicians over the years?
Sam: We’ve become less afraid to stick to the rules. Whether those are the rules that we’ve created for ourselves or not. We’re fans of music and constantly discovering different types of music. Before this, we might have been too afraid to let that influence what we did too much because there’s always that pressure of people already liking what you do, and you’re afraid to be going against that in case people won’t like it. Now we just take it less seriously and enjoy what we do, hoping it would come across in the music and people will like it, rather than just sounding like what we’ve done before.
Is playing a live show in Asia different from in the West?
Kevin: The engagement from the fans when we play live is definitely a lot different here from Europe or America. In western culture, people are really spoiled for seeing live shows. So coming here, we know that people have been waiting for a long time. It’s really nice to get here and finally play a show. We’ve felt a very nice response from the fans because of that.
How do you feel about being looked up to by a lot of newer bands?
Alex: It’s obviously a huge compliment. If you’ve been around for a certain amount of time, it’s because you’ve done something right. And I guess we’ve done something right. Our music certainly sounds different from any other bands who came before us. It’s nice to be part of the future in a way, I guess. For us, we’ve never tried to be an inspiration – we just want to be ourselves. It wouldn’t have been possible for any of us to be happy doing what someone else had done before.
What is the weirdest thing you’ve written a song about, whether as a band or individuals?
Alex: There are a lot of strange topics throughout our career, actually. There’s a song on the new record dedicated to lavender. It’s a wonderful plant so I wrote a song about it.
(The 3.56-minute ode to the aromatic herb is appropriately titled “Lavender” and let’s just say we can’t wait to hear it. Gameshow is out worldwide October 14.)
Special thanks to Warner Music Thailand