It’s 4pm on a grey Saturday. Not just any Saturday. It’s Halloween. I swear we never used to bat an eyelid. Bonfire Night was always the bigger deal. You know, fireworks. Gunpowder plots. Low budget public safety adverts. But these days it’s all about Halloween. Even TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB are joining in. They’ve carved four pumpkins, each bearing one word of their name, to sit onstage at the warehouse party they’re playing tonight with Delphic. But someone left the ‘Club’ one in the van. Flip, as the Northern Irish trio would say.
I first saw TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB at Glasgow’s inaugural Hinterland festival back in March. They’d played one of the best-attended gigs in the Arches, getting all the girls dancing. Fusing intense guitar rock with the feel good electro energy of bands like PHOENIX (surprisingly they hadn’t heard of before the comparisons but they’re now big fans, it was “a flipping dream” to contribute to their recent remix album) and WE HAVE BAND, they sounded great but the lack of a drummer had taken the edge off the ‘live’ feeling. It didn’t stop them making arguably the song of the summer, Something Good Can Work, their debut single on Kitsuné. Unapologetically positive and shot through with crowd cheers, it stood out a mile from the seasonal flood of danceable indie pop. A Steve Lamacq session and a 3-day stint at Glastonbury’s BBC Introducing stage followed. Fast forward to the Lexington a few days ago and a newly acquired tour drummer saw them transformed into a fully charged, electric, super tight pop prospect. I’ve never seen such an energised reaction for a first band on: 8.40pm and the packed audience were leaping about like they were the headline act.
But back to Halloween. We try a number of pubs near tonight’s Hearne Street car park venue but nothing’s open until later. Settling for a friendly café, photographer Julia and I sit down with Alex Trimble (vocals/guitar/synth), Kevin Baird (guitar) and Sam Halliday (guitar). They’re confident but not in the slightest bit cocky, enthusiastic without being skittish and are quick to laugh. They seem more seasoned that their 20 years. Growing up, they were all big fans of DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE and THE POSTAL SERVICE but it was Belfast’s gig circuit that was the biggest influence. “It’s pretty self-contained and very different to anywhere else we’ve played in,” says Kevin. “I don’t think I’d have wanted it any other way,” Alex goes on. “I’m really proud of being from that scene. There’s so many good bands, all different types of genres. I think that’s something that we loved about it. One gig would span six genres.”
So, let’s get it over with: the drummer question. Turns out that their first band at 15 had a drummer but he left. Explains Alex: “He was our only mate who played the drums. Getting someone in we didn’t know seemed a bit unnatural.” So after “a lot of pissing around”, they formed TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB as a guitar-wielding trio with a drum machine on the side. “But now we can afford to bring a drummer along with us,” says Sam, “and it’s great to have him live. It works a lot better.” When it comes to writing songs however, Kevin says that not having a drummer “gave us so much more freedom.” Alex goes on: “We could really mess about with sounds and stuff, firing stuff through synths, because we didn’t have to have this conventional drum kit throughout the whole album.”
Ah yes, the album. I’ve heard a five-song sampler. It’s flipping awesome. They have the densely melodic, ridiculously catchy, emotive pop thing sewn up. All five songs are corkers, the kind that make bad days feel like good days. “Hopefully after two years, we’ve filtered it down to ten songs that we think sound like hits, that we’re not embarrassed to play live,” says Sam. “We wanted every song to be a song that we loved,” add Alex. As a trio, they all work very instinctually – it’s all about something feeling right. And that’s as much about gorgeous melodies as is it about lush, layered, intricate guitar rhythms. “I don’t think we could do what we do and enjoy it if we were just about pure, clean cut pop songs and that’s it,” explains Kevin. After half an hour chatting to these three young musicians, what comes across the most is their absolute passion. It’s infectious. They make me feel like 2010 is going to be a good year.
Like Phoenix? Read Dummy’s interview with them back in April.