Originally published at Cool Accidents on October 16, 2016.
Two Door Cinema Club cut their teeth as one of the ascendant indie pop rock bands of the past ten years. Barely adults, the three childhood friends released their debut album Tourist History in 2010 and embarked on a relentless touring and recording schedule over the next five years. After establishing themselves as a big deal in every corner of the world, the band disappeared for a few years, recently re-emerging with their thrilling new album Gameshow.
Coated in funk with a dazzling disco turn, Gameshow is a record that maintains all the wit and groove of the vintage Two Door Cinema Club but exhibits the most dramatic departure from the band’s established sound yet. Gone are the light hopping drums and frenetic guitar licks of the mid-naughts Brit rock, and is an up-tempo lounge-disco-pop hybrid. The fresh take is brave, bold and downright impressive.
Ahead of the album’s worldwide release, guitarist Sam Halliday caught up with us to talk about Gameshow’s timeline – starting with the band on the brink of breaking up and culminating with the band’s re-energised return to music.
Congratulations on the rew record. This is your first record back after a short break, what was the recording process like? When did you realise it was time to go back?
It was a bit of a slow process, to be honest. After the break from the last campaign, we probably took about a year and a half off, just away from each other. It ended quite badly and we didn’t know if we were going to do another album, so we just needed a bit of time apart and we didn’t do anything band-related for about a year. It wasn’t until last summer that we started to meet up again and decide whether or not we wanted to do this. We just started really hanging out again and sharing what we were into musically, and then we started e-mailing each other little bits we were all working on.
It was difficult because we weren’t living in the same place this time around, so we did a lot of the ideas over email and independent work, so Alex would send us songs he had been working on and we’d do little parts around that, and vice-versa. We got into the studio around February this year and once we got into the studio, it was like business as usual – it was all very quick and came together very, very easily, to be honest.
I think it was probably down to the fact that we’d had a lot of time away from it and we were just keen to make a record again. Working with Jacknife Lee, he’s great at creating this nice, fun environment. I think we were all a little bit anxious about getting in and recording because it had been so long, but he just made the whole process very fun and there was no real need to be worried.
How did you use that time away? Did you stay involved in music or completely detach yourself?
The first couple of months I didn’t really do much musically. After being on tour and doing that every day for a couple of years, it was nice to have a bit of a break from it. I just moved into the house for the first time probably ever, so it was just doing that. It was just nice to be at home and getting to see your friends again, playing football once a week, being around to make dinner.
I got married before the end of the last campaign, so it was nice to be around to do that for a while. It was nice to go and pick the guitar up for fun, instead of because I had to. I definitely made a lot of music over that year but not really for anything in particular, you know? It’s good to keep that muscle working.
On the latest album, the band cites David Bowie and Prince as influences. Their loss this year has obviously been really tough for the world of music. Did their passing spur the direction of this album, or was the album already heading that way?
I think It was already sort of heading that way, I think Bowie had already passed but Prince was still around when we were making that record. We were just loving listening to his records in the studio and I think it was more their creative boldness that was inspiring to us aside from just the music.
It’s how they weren’t afraid to try something totally different, just do whatever they felt like. I think that’s tough, not many bands really do that nowadays. I guess it’s easier as a solo artist to reinvent yourself, but not many bands do. I think you’re a little stuck after you make your first album because you don’t want to change anything too much because that’s not what your fans want or that’s not really what sort of band you are.
Even though we made the first album when we were teenagers, it’s nice to feel like you want to move on musically and you’re being influenced by totally different stuff all the time, it’s just nice to make the music that you want to make and I think that’s what we wanted to do this time around: just not be afraid and not be confined to what we’ve been pigeonholed as.
What did the band do to overcome that perception and try something new?
I think it was just the general atmosphere and feeling that we’d all had, from being in the band for so long and so intensely for the past six, seven years doing it non-stop, I think we felt like we’d become defined by the band and that’s all we were and we weren’t allowed to do anything outside of that, just because it took up so much of our time. I think we all had a bit of an identity crisis through it, because we felt like we’d maybe changed as people but we were still stuck in this same mould.
I think having the distance from the band just allowed us to not think of this as a Two Door record going into the studio, it just felt like three friends going in again to make music that we were all interested in and that was quite far from what we were like when we were teenagers.
Do you have a personal favourite track from the album?
Yeah, I think for me Je Viens De La is one of my favourites. The sort of idea behind it was that we had this instrumental demo and Jacknife thought it was a bit close to a throwback Two Door Cinema Club song, and that it would be kind of fun to then almost start again on the song but like, sample ourselves. We’d tried sampling quite a lot on this album and it seemed like a fun thing to do, to reference the past. There was sort of this idea of sampling ourselves and making a new sound around that, there was something quite nice about that. I don’t know, I just like the sheen of it. It reminds me of one of the radio stations you would turn on playing Grand Theft Auto or something.
In the four years between albums, what are the big changes you’ve observed in the way the music industry has moved and the differences in releasing an album then and now?
Yeah, I think it’s massively different. I remember our last album was leaked online on BitTorrent and that was a big deal back then. I don’t think…I don’t even know if people even still use BitTorrent, but I’d be very surprised if our album was leaked on that, which is weird. So I guess it’s good in that sense, I think not really being bothered trying to seek out piracy anymore, which is cool. And yes, definitely I feel like our fan base just stream music now. Even though there’s less of a craze on trying to get people to buy the CD, it’s totally different now and I feel like nobody really knows what’s going on, which is cool. There’s still no answer to the whole music thing.
You’re back out touring now, are you enjoying the return to the road?
Yeah, aspects of it. It’s nice getting to visit the places that are familiar and visiting old friends, going in different bars that you’ve been to before and the shows have been really good, which is nice. It’s been good fun. I feel like by the end of the summer, I’ll be done with festivals already again. It’s one of those things, it’s really fun the few weeks of the summer and then you’re kind of ready to go into your own shows and be your own boss again. It’s been cool, it’s been good.
Any plans to head down to Australia?
No plans just yet, sadly. We’re trying not to kill ourselves this time around, so it’s been a bit more sensible and trying to do not too many shows, which is a shame. But we’ll try to there ASAP.
Fair enough! Thanks for your time, Sam.
No worries, hopefully we’ll get down to Australia soon.