AU Presents: Two Door Cinema Club

Bangor indie tykes Two Door Cinema Club speak to Chris Jones at the launch of their Four Words To Stand On EP

I heart AU!Bangor indie tykes Two Door Cinema Club have just launched their debut EP Four Words To Stand On at Belfast's Spring & Airbrake. 

In the build-up to the gig, bassist Kev chats about the band's head-spinning rise, their highs, lows and hopes for the future.

How long have you been together?
We’ve been together since Easter 2007.

How has it happened so quickly?

The first few songs we wrote, we recorded them ourselves and then stuck them on MySpace for download. A lot of bands don’t allow anyone to download their songs. We thought, ‘we don’t really care if anyone has this’. It all took off from there. We booked about 10 gigs for the summer without ever having played a gig before as Two Door Cinema Club.

Are you students or working or full-time?
The three of us are actually in our last year of school at the minute, and we’re going to be doing the band full-time next year. So we’re giving up on university, pretty much! That’s the plan anyway.

What’s going to enable you to do it full-time? Is it full-on gigging, or have you got management and label interest?
We’ve got a bit of interest, but at the minute we’ve sent the EPs off from getting them this morning, getting together a press pack and stuff. We don’t want to be not associated with Belfast - we do want to play there - but we’re not going to play to the extent that we do now. Probably every couple of months so people don’t get bored of us. We’re going to try to get some good gigs on the mainland.

Your brother Paddy is the drummer in Kowalski. They did the Snow Patrol gig in Bangor last year and Gary Lightbody has given them quite a lot of support. Is he aware of you lot as well, or do you even care?
[Laughs] Obviously it would be quite cool, but I don’t ever want there to be a link between Two Door Cinema Club and Kowalski. We feel that our music’s very different and if Paddy was playing a gig, I would never be like ‘get us on the bill there’. We want to do it completely ourselves, so we’ve never asked Kowalski to put us through and let Gary Lightbody listen to it, we’ve kinda done it under our own steam and that’s exactly what we’re going to do next year. But we’ve had a bit of interest from Zane Lowe and Colin Murray at Radio 1 from the earlier stuff we did.

There are some comparisons that crop up quite a lot, like Death Cab For Cutie and Broken Social Scene. How do you feel about certain bands cropping up regularly as comparisons?
It’s cool because those are the bands we love. But it’s never been ‘let’s make a band in the vein of Death Cab For Cutie'. It’s a compliment to be compared to a band like that. But hopefully people aren’t thinking we’ve copied them. I suppose you can’t help it if that’s the music you listen to and enjoy, then you’re going to…

Surely it’s a good thing – if you’re being compared to bands that you’re a fan of, then in a way it’s a vindication of what you’re doing.
Yeah definitely, we must be doing something right then.

What’s the weirdest or worst thing that’s happened at a show or just generally, as a band?
The worst thing was probably the first gig we ever played. It had some rubbish sound guy who didn’t know how to make our synth be heard at all. And on this song ‘I Might Be A Sign’, I was playing a synth bassline and just couldn’t hear it! There’s a breakdown in the song and it was just my synth part and I was just not hearing anything. I ended up having to sing the part and it was awful. Another one is that we started off bringing spare guitars with us and never had a string break and then we were just like, ‘aw, there’s no point bringing spare guitars’. So during the gig later in the night, a string broke. That always happens to us. Also, Alex [vocals, guitar] dropped a pedal board on his laptop and broke it, nearly lost all our EP recordings.

When did that happen?
That happened just as we’d finished the EP in fact, and just before we got it mixed. We were just fixing up all the parts and he broke his laptop.

He got it fixed OK?
Yeah he did, in fact he got a brand new laptop! He got it under house insurance and it was a Powerbook, he got a brand new Powerbook out of it. So it was pretty gippy but he managed it. In fact that’s the second time Alex broke his laptop.

What happened the other time?
It just died about a week before our first gig. And obviously we run our drums off the laptop. We shat ourselves!

Did you have the stuff backed up?
No we didn’t! Yeah it was a bad idea. And the other day Alex broke his guitar amp and now it doesn’t work.

So is it fair to say he’s a bit accident-prone then?
Yeah he must be.

Like you said there, you run your drums off the laptop. Was that a deliberate thing or because you didn’t know any drummers?
At first it was just a marriage of convenience. We did know people, but we didn’t know anyone we wanted to drum for us. And we tried out a few drum machine things that were shit so we thought, ‘we can do this on a laptop’ so we tried out a laptop and thought it was really cool. And then we just kept it because we thought it’s a bit of a quirk. But recently we’ve kind of brought up our game a bit with that. There’s no point getting a laptop trying to sound like a drum kit and at first it was like that as we got used to it, but now we’ve tried to incorporate a lot more kind of… I don’t know how to describe it like… techno.

Do you ever get pestered by drummers saying to you ‘I play drums’ or ‘my mate plays drums’ or something?
No, we more get pestered by drummers saying ‘what the hell are you doing with a laptop playing drums?!’ It’s happened mostly with really drunk people who are like ‘what the hell are you doing, get a drummer’ so we throw the fingers up at them and leave, pretty much.

I’m sure you get tired of people asking you about it as well?
No, no, it’s cool. There was one band – I’ll not say who it was – but they were like ‘you should get a drummer like ours’. They had an electronic drum kit and it just sounded exactly the same as ours, the only thing was that they had someone playing it!

You’re releasing your EP yourselves and there’s a few other bands doing things like that – And So I Watch You From Afar put out an album UK-wide, pretty much by themselves. Do you think there’s even any point in getting signed when you can do that yourself?
I think it’s really good and really cool to see people doing it themselves, but the really unfortunate thing about it is that ultimately, everything does come down to dosh. If you’re doing that yourself and spending all your own money, there’s way more risk to yourself. But if you can afford to do it, like for example The Futureheads did that – they had loads of money left over from after they got dropped by their old record label, and their new single is class. But it was more that we had a real personal relationship with this EP as well. We recorded it all ourselves and the only thing anyone else did was mixing it, and we organised the whole EP launch ourselves. And no-one really asked us to make an EP for them.

In a way there’s no point waiting for someone to pick up the phone if you can do it yourself.
Yeah, definitely. I suppose that’s the reason we didn’t make an album, because we didn’t really see that it’s very productive to make an album on your own. And we wanted a release to give to management and record labels, people who ask us for CDs, we don’t want to keep sending the same old two songs.

And you don’t want to rush things and put out an album before you’re necessarily ready to either.
Exactly, and your first album’s going to make or break you, so you want it to be the best thing you’ve ever done.

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