The alternative life

Two Door Cinema Club are under little illusion as to what is needed to succeed in the ’music biz’.

We are talking in the ‘backstage area’ before they head onstage at Dolan’s warehouse in Limerick for the first date of their yearlong tour.

As we talk, the support band, Kowalski, are drinking and pottering around getting ready for their own slot which is minutes away.

Despite a top ten album, ‘Tourist History’, it is clear that the young trio- Alex, Sam, and Kev- are not expecting instant rewards such as a luxury rider, though it is noted early on that they have a crate of beer with them.

And it is evident from talking to them that they would not like to be anywhere else in the world except that small backroom that barely fits the three of them-let alone the new drummer who has replaced the laptop.

Alex speaks candidly about what the band means to them all. “For me personally, I don’t think there is much else I could have done with my life. I didn’t do amazingly at school, and nothing really took my fancy at university. This is what I wanted to do and I don’t think I would be very good at anything else.”

It is a view echoed by moustachioed bassist Sam. “I dunno if people actually want to go and study for four years, so we just had to get an excuse not to.”

They have been playing together for three years after first meeting at school in Bangor, Co. Down and agree that it was a natural progression to begin their foray into the musical world.

“Pretty much as soon as we started hanging out, we started playing music together,” Alex says. “We formed our first band together and things like that as well.”

The band has grown accustomed to the interview process in recent months as the hype machine started to grow. Alex, as lead singer assumes the mantle of heading the conversation but there is clear fun being had by all, particularly when Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody is mentioned. Kev manages to reign in any prejudice in case his mother finds out. “I did it once and my mum told me off.”

The fruit of their three year labour is Tourist History, an album brimming with youthful vibrancy, and electro hooks around every corner. A clear reference point is Bloc Party before they became obsessed with London. Another, perhaps more pertinent influence, is future tourmates Phoenix. They share a label in Kitsune, and a producer, and the experience is something that TDCC do not understate.

Alex: “It was pretty amazing to work with Philippe Dzar. We just jumped at the opportunity to work with him. We had talked about working with him after he had finished working on Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix with Phoenix- the production on that is amazing. Kev and I went over to Paris for a few days to work with him when he was mixing stuff and just watching him work was amazing- the guy is a complete genius.”

Any bickering or fighting about what songs were to make it onto the album was easily dispelled. “By the time we came to record it, it was kind of sorted what was going to be on there. We all tend to agree on what our favourite songs are, so it was a combination between that and seeing how songs went down live. By the time we came to do it, it was a pretty easy decision (what songs were going on).”

Though the band recorded Tourist History in Paris, and are frequent flyers to Britain where they are currently touring- with alot of the venues sold out- they have certainly not lost their distinct Northern Irish accent. It is another endearing quality, especially when the ‘you knows’ that sprinkle the conversation, come out with twangs of America mixed in: truly a band of the world.

The scene in Northern Ireland is going from strength to strength with bands such as TDCC, …And So I Watch You From Afar, and General Fiasco all garnering press coverage in recent months. ASIWYFA were most recently nominated for a Choice Music Prize, losing out to singer songwriter-type, Adrian Crowley.

Kev: “I think it is such a strange thing that a band like ASIWYFA can sell out a venue that the likes of Soulwax sold out at Christmas. It is pretty unique. “

But with the aforementioned support slot with Phoenix coming up, both across Europe and in America, in combination with a summer packed with festival appearances, their audience can only grow and it will not be long before they are selling out these types of rooms.

Live, they certainly do not disappoint. Flailing around the stage for just under an hour, they win any undecided people in the crowd over quite easily.

“Obviously, the more we played live the better we got, but I think across the board we have enjoyed playing live as much now as when we started out,” Kev says. Alex adds that they have “always enjoyed playing live”.

And you believe them. You believe that they get a kick out of seeing the young audience singing back to the words to recent hit singles ‘I Can Talk’, and ‘Undercover Martyn’. You believe they are genuinely bemused at being asked to play an 18th birthday party via their Blackberry. You believe that this band will be around for many years!

With friends in high places, such as Passion Pit and Delphic, it is only a matter of time before TDCC reach a wider audience. But playing support to so many appreciated bands, Alex concedes, has its (dis)advantages too.

“I always appreciate when I am watching bands, and you enjoy it and you come away feeling like shit because you are not as good as them. I get like that alot when I see good bands. It makes me want to step up my game, and go away and practise even more to try and become a better musician and performer. “

Sam: “You learn so much playing with different people. We toured with Delphic when we had first gotten our drummer to play live with us, and they had done the same thing, running beats and backing tracks. Just watching how they do it really helped us step up our game. Playing with people who had so much experience playing live shows, like Passion Pit- we just take away so much from it.”

With the rest of 2010 taken up with “touring touring touring and more touring”, one can assume that TDCC are in it for the long haul and will more than likely be playing in a field near you this summer.

During the course of our interview, Alex says, “I don’t think there is much else I could have done with my life”. On the evidence of what he and his band have created and promise to create in the future, there can’t be many people who hope that he considers doing anything else anytime soon.

I believe I can fly...or at least direct air traffic