This Piece Of Mind: Two Door Cinema Club

"Things like that, just blow my mind."
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Hard bleedin’ graft, mate. That’s what Two Door Cinema Club owe their success to.

For almost 18 months the band practically glued themselves to their tour bus, travelling around the world countless times and notching up more than a few new stamps on their passport. Spreading the word wherever they stopped, Two Door Cinema Club managed to push their debut album ‘Tourist History’ into the mainstream, garnering an army of fans in the process.

Yet their success has been insidious. Two Door Cinema Club have yet to notch up a number one single, making the true measure of their profile difficult to grasp. They are, perhaps, the nation’s most secretive success story.

The release of new album ‘Beacon’ should change all that. Retaining the sharp hooks and Kitsune flourishes of their debut, the new record finds Two Door Cinema Club simultaneously exploring new options and honing their sound. It’s a diverse record – swooping between lush orchestration and dancefloor abandon – yet one that also sounds cohesive, whole. It’ll be massive, trust us.

ClashMusic recently sat down with frontman Sam Halliday for a quick chat about the gestation of ‘Beacon’.

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When did you sit down and start thinking about the second album?
It’s been on our minds for a good while. You know, it’s always frustrating not being able to write new songs just because we’ve been so busy on the road for the past few years. We got a couple done, whenever we had a few days off here and there. I suppose we didn’t really start to do it until October. We finished a US tour in September and then moved up to a house in Glasgow in October. We had a house in the south side with a basement, so we had all our stuff set up there all the time. We just wanted to get out of London and have a bit of space to do it.

How did Jacknife Lee come into the equation?
Initially we were worried about working with someone who has as big a name as Jacknife Lee, just because we didn’t really want someone to leave their stamp. We didn’t want to make someone else’s record. So we had a chat about what albums we liked, what we thought would be good. His name came up and our manager loved the idea – as any manager would, I guess. So we met up with him on Skype – because he lives in LA – and he seemed really nice, really cool. He didn’t come across as arrogant, or like he had an ego. He just seemed like a fun guy who was really enthusiastic about music. We did a couple of trial weeks in January and it just turned out really well – he’s such a lovely guy.

Was he able to open you up to new ideas?
I think a producer should really be that figure in the room where if he says.. if we’re all chatting about something and there’s an argument he should be the guy who mediates, who everyone has to listen to and commands respect, I guess. Which he did in a sort of strange way. It was great. Obviously, he’s done so many records that you have to respect his view on a lot of things. You just have to respect his experience, in a way. He was just great at introducing us to so much more music. A lot of the stuff he would play us would be stuff I would never think I would be inspired by but he would play something and then take an aspect of it, which I wouldn't have heard at first listen and make it relevant to one of our songs. Even if it’s like a sound, a nice texture within a track. Things like that, just blow my mind.

Do you view yourselves as being a rock band?
A little bit. I mean, we definitely put on a rock show whenever we play because that’s where we come from musically – that’s why we’re a band. We love watching rock music live, that energy onstage. We don’t really want to make records that are really heavy and selfish, in a way. It’s probably a rock live show. There are times on this record where we’ve gone a bit more rock, but at the same time there are points on this record where we’ve gone in a different direction, gone more slow and beautiful. It’s been nice to feel that we’re allowed to do that sort of thing. I think that’s come from confidence, feeling that we don’t need to stick to one thing that’s worked.

Were the songs complete when you went into the studio?
No. Maybe half of them were sort of what we thought they would be complete, and the other half didn’t have any vocals but the music was sort of there. Once you get into the studio, a lot of stuff this time around was working on the structures. Something that I’m bad at is that if I’m finding a riff or a melody I’ll maybe overkill it a bit so this time was about dropping things in and taking things out – creating a bit more space within a track, which is something which we’ve never really thought about too much before. So our songs changed a bit there, and also because the vocals for a lot of them changed later so sometimes things clashed a bit musically – the music and the vocals. It was different this time around. If the first album was recording our live songs, this was the opposite.

Did Jacknife Lee help inject that confidence?
Definitely. I think also how well the first record was perceived, just how well we’ve done. The first record was a compilation of what we thought were our best songs, and those have been our singles for the past couple of years, I guess. So the songs that were four to the floor, fast, energetic and upbeat. We did slower stuff but they weren’t the first ten which we thought of. This time we had the confidence to make a record, as opposed to a compilation of fast songs which were all sort of similar.

It’s more varied, this time round.
Jacknife definitely was so encouraging, and made us feel that it’s OK to go off in different directions, include different styles which we would hint at but not fully immerse ourselves in. Alex wanted to create a Beach Boys vibe on one song and Jacknife just threw him further into it. Doing stuff like that was fun!

How has touring changed the band?
I don’t think the way we deal with each other has changed because we’ve mostly spent each day with each other, anyway. Being at the same school, hanging out at the weekend and stuff so that wasn’t really the problem. Touring was definitely a big influence, going to all these countries and experiencing first hand all these different styles and cultures. All that has definitely filtered through. Watching so many more bands which we had never seen before, and hearing so many new bands which we’d sort of missed out on first time round has been a big thing. I think it’s important that we tour so much, I don’t think there’s a shortcut to going where we want to be. I think we’re probably one of the most set up new bands worldwide. I don’t think that’s ridiculous to say. We’ve probably been to more countries than most bands over the past couple of years. It’s just because we love travelling. We’re from somewhere that doesn’t really get bands that often. We feel it’s quite important to try and get everywhere. It’s tough also if you get an offer in to go and play somewhere like South Africa to be like, oh no I’d rather stay at home and write in Glasgow! No – you’d rather go to Cape Town and have a day off afterwards. It’s hard to say no!

Was the album recorded with the live set in mind?
We didn’t with this one, so it’s now becoming an issue. We have to think about how we’re going to re-create things. Which will be fun, it’ll be a challenge. The first time round it was a case of just putting down what we played live. I think it’s a better way to do it, obviously. Just because you want to make everything as perfect as possible. Obviously we’re not going to have string sections on tour. I think a lot of the time people don’t miss that sort of thing. When you’re at a gig and you’re surrounded by that atmosphere obviously everything’s a lot fuller. You don’t hear little things going on as much as you would with headphones on. I don’t think it’ll lack because of that.

The record is full of those subtle touches – listening back, does that take you by surprise?
Definitely. I’ll listen to things and I’ll be like, what the heck was that? Some sound where I had no clue what it was. It was nice having the time this time round to really build up a track. I love doing that – whenever you listen to a record for ages and then a year later you’ll play it on a different CD player and you’ll be like, what is that? I’ve never heard that before! Also Jacknife just had amazing instruments lying around so we’d just pick them up and he’d be like: do you want to put that in somewhere? He has his computer desk and a couple of amps – all around the walls are keyboards. He’s got these little African instruments... it’s fun.

Two Door Cinema Club - Sleep Alone



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'Beacons' is set to be released on September 3rd.

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