Two Door Cinema Club are one of those rare musical anomalies that perfected the magic formula from day one: seemingly endless world tours, coveted Glastonbury slots and a sold-out gig at London’s 10,400-capacity Alexandra Palace amongst other stadium shows. Originally from County Down, Ireland, the fresh-faced 17-year-olds started jamming, unaware of the successes lying ahead of them, and one of Britain’s fastest rising alt-pop bands was born. When Indie was king, Two Door Cinema Club ruled, with their skinny jeans and guitar-riffs designed to trigger teenage fist-pumps. Debut album Tourist History became one of the most-hyped albums of 2010, with their jangly guitars, imaginative lyricism and bassline punk rhythms creating infectious and uplifting indie tunes making every 15-year-old feel like they could take on the world.
Then one day, just after they rounded off their touring campaign for second album Beacon with a sell-out O2 show in December 2013, there was no more. Singer Alex Trimble moved to Portland, bassist Kevin Baird flew over to sunny LA and guitarist Sam Halliday stayed put in London. Two Door Cinema Club took their un-announced hiatus and their “basement people” retreated to passionately reminisce in the depths of the internet.
Fast forward three years, and they’re back inside the whirlwind: it’s release day for their third long play, Gameshow. It’s 11:30am, and the trio have just got off the Eurostar and have dashed across London to Parlophone HQ. I ask them about their hiatus, a question met with slightly awkward glances. “It was our lives and we all took it very seriously and there was no escaping it and each other. I think we cared about it to an unnatural level,” says Baird; it’s clear that the past of Two Door Cinema Club isn’t as up-beat and happy as their music implied. “It was all consuming,” says Trimble (whose blood red Saint Laurent boots provide a talking point in themselves), “there was no real world or real life outside of the band.”
Reuniting, not as Two Door Cinema Club, but as friends, Gameshow’s inception was an entirely organic process. Trimble dove in and explained why they started again from scratch: “We’d been absent from each other’s lives for so long, we started on a social basis and met up for coffee and beer,” Trimble remembers. They bonded over pints, shared books they were reading and talked of musical influences they had been drawn to, as if they were getting to know each other all over again. In some ways, they were. “It was about getting that personal connection again. One thing led to another. Once we’d got a hang of where we were personally and creatively, the music didn’t take too long.” After bouncing ideas through Skype and email, they finally hit the studio for a two-month stint, where Two Door Cinema Club was officially back together. They charged straight back in with seven or eight song skeletons and the inklings of others. “It was best that nothing was finalised before we got into the studio, says Trimble, “As amazing as technology and the internet are nowadays, we can’t be Two Door Cinema Club until we’re in a room together.”
Gameshow itself is a complete departure from first album Tourist History and sophomore Beacon. This title was the first title they had managed to settle on reasonably easily. “We’ve always tried to have something that resonated with us all, because it’s nice when stuff has meaning,” says Halliday, who’s curled up in the arm chair next to me. Trimble continues, “on the surface it’s this fun, sparkly thing, a game show. There’s a wink in there to what we’d gone through before in our downfall, but packaged up in a glitzy, positive way.” Commenting on their previous experience of life in the musical limelight is a thread weaving its way throughout the album, and is part of the reason why Gameshow’s sound is so different. “That’s the reason it spoke to all of us… Most of it was very natural, the break had a lot to do with it. Time changes a lot of things.” Trimble emphasises, explicitly saying that they didn’t want to sound the same, but hinted at little throwbacks to their past era. The twangy riffs of their previous sound is there, but now packaged into a synth-y, disco-esque record. Executed with panache through 80s-rock undercurrents and Trimble’s impressively high falsetto vocals, it’s a complete departure from their previous style, but still undeniably Two Door Cinema Club.
“It’s not exciting to do the same thing again. I wanted it to be real. The whole thing was very cathartic. It was about dealing with myself and us and where we are in the world and how the world has changed since we began. It’s insane when you think about how much things have changed since we began, the internet wasn’t even really much of a deal. Now it’s overbearing and ubiquitous. It’s changed how we live our lives, how we function as a band, as people. There’s a lot of questions posed.” Questioning both the glitz and glamour of the industry as well as providing a reflection of themselves, Two Door Cinema Club are back and they’re all grown up.