Global ambitions for Down's Two Door Cinema Club

Two Door Cinema Club have gone from playing intimate gigs to headlining the 02 venues in Dublin and London. They play Electric Picnic next weekend, says Ed Power

Global ambitions for Down's Two Door Cinema Club

TWO Door Cinema Club are ready to be one of the biggest bands in the world. “Playing arenas feels natural to us,” says the Northern Ireland group’s bassist and co-vocalist, Kevin Baird. “We’ve been on the road practically non-stop since 2008. We have done a lot of shows and are comfortable headlining the big venues. It isn’t as if we had a huge hit single on our first record and arrived out of nowhere.

“We have grown at our own pace. I’m glad we did. It can be quite damaging to be in those huge rooms before you are ready.”

The synth trio have progressed. In 2009, they were topping the bill at Dublin’s tiny (and now defunct) Crawdaddy club. This year, they have sold out the country’s largest indoor venue, The O2, and will grace the main stage at Electric Picnic. Next December, they will perform their largest headline show, at London’s 20,000-capacity O2 Arena.

They have released two chart-topping collections. Their 2010 debut, Tourist History, was a glittering, indie-rock affair that won the Choice Music Prize for best Irish record. For last year’s follow-up, Beacon, they worked with Snow Patrol producer, Garrett ‘Jacknife’ Lee, updating their sound with fuzzy guitars and ’80s-style electronica. It was another triumph.

From a small town in County Down, Two Door say their Irishness has kept them sane. “It keeps you grounded,” says Baird. “We know we aren’t going to turn into assholes. We don’t get carried away by what has happened to us. We keep it all in perspective.”

Two Door Cinema Club have global ambitions. Talking to musicians from England, Baird is struck by their narrow horizons. All they want is to be big in London. Like U2 and Snow Patrol before them, Two Door Cinema Club want to be big everywhere. They’ve toured South and Central America, Asia, and the US. A cover splash in the UK’s NME music magazine isn’t an end in itself — it’s merely the beginning.

“We have no interest in ‘making it’ in London or Paris, or wherever,” says Baird. “We never felt a connection with those places. This idea of ‘let’s be big in London first and then let it carry over to Scotland or wherever?’ It holds no appeal. Actually, it goes against what we believe.

“Growing up, we were frustrated that bands didn’t want to come to Belfast. Maybe the big acts come to Dublin. Up here, we feel more isolated. There was a sense of ‘why bother with Belfast, we can be big in London’. That said, going abroad people often think we are English. Whereas, they think Mumford and Sons are Irish. It’s funny.”

They’ve been welcomed everywhere. “In South America, they are passionate about their music and in-your-face about it. I think that’s where being Irish might hold us back. The fans want to reach out to you and we’re not really comfortable with that. We’re like, ‘actually, we’re fine. We don’t need a hug’.”

Two Door Cinema Club formed in 2007. Within a few months, they were signed to the edgy Paris label, Kitsune. They were still living at home, in Down.

They moved to Glasgow, attracted by the city’s gritty music scene and no-nonsense airs. Success was instantaneous.

Arguably their crowning achievement was the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. At the invitation of the ceremony’s director, Danny Boyle, Two Door vocalist, Alex Trimble, performed the ballad ‘Caliban’s Dream’. With tens of millions watching globally, it was the ultimate shop window for the three-piece.

It’s been a manic summer. Baird and co have played nearly 40 festival dates. They have put out a new single, the propulsive ‘Changing Of The Seasons’. Produced by French electro figure, Madeon, the release is a change of direction for Two Door, away from indie rock and towards dance music.

“The reaction is surprising,” says Baird. “We hear a lot of people saying, ‘oh, you’ve gone pop’. Well, what is pop nowadays? Then again, we’ve heard that it is us going back to our first album. At the end of the day, there is very much an added electro tinge to it.

“We’ve always flirted with that genre. Now, we’re exploring it properly. It is a nice feeling, to push yourself in that fashion.”

Less than 12 months since Beacon, the group are already starting to think about their next project. Having toured the world with the same 20 or so songs, it’s time to switch things up, says Baird.

“We know we are ready to do an album, if the three of us are talking about it,” he says. “If we are focused on the LP we are presently touring, then we understand we’re not ready. It’s when we start getting the itch again.

“Then, we start talking about new songs. That is where we are at. Usually, we seem to spend longer talking about making a record than actually recording it. The last one came together quickly. I’m sure the next one will be the same.”

- Two Door Cinema Club play Electric Picnic, Stradbally, Laois, Saturday, Aug 31

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