Before Two Door Cinema Club walked into the studio to be interviewed for KROQ there was an instruction, or maybe a warning, but definitely what we found to be an undeniable truth: “They’re Irish. So they have to be funny and cheeky.”
After watching Gregg Houston’s documentary of the band of their European summer tour, the expected young gentleman were cool, wintry, mysterious, maybe a little reticent to open up completely. In our fantasies, they were the sort of band that hid behind their clangy, funky synth-pop dance hooks that belie a refined, quirky intellect. We thought: these boys are a quiet storm.
But that’s not entirely true, because what was discovered while the band talked about their favorite American stereotypes, the pop stars they despise (that confession was cut and shall never reach the light of day), and their dislike of Mitt Romney, Two Door Cinema Club were more of good-natured guiding light, an àpropos assessment given that their newest album is entitled Beacon.
It shows that you can never assume you know a band from merely their music or the multitude of interviews they have done or even how they are acting on a certain day. Nothing can account for a temporal mood or compatible mental rhythms; for a band with such a unique musical take on the concept of rhythm their offbeat, tongue-in-cheek banter was on point. Not a beat was missed.
“It’s hard being a sex symbol, you know,” quips Kevin Baird. The bespectacled bassist, complete with attractive American girlfriend, is referring to the band’s craziest fans, mostly of the female persuasion, who say weird things to them on Twitter, jump on them at shows, or get Two Door Cinema Club tattoos.
One of frontman Alex Trimble’s fans, “a young girl in France,” even dyed her hair the same as color as his, made a small figurine of him, and put it in a cigarette carton covered in pictures of him like some fanatical, lovelorn version of voodoo.
This is the sort of psychotic level of devotion usually reserved for boy bands like One Direction or the Wanted, whom Two Door Cinema Club agree is “crap,” but the band also confess to seeing themselves as a pop band–although they play a “strange kind of music.” When asked if they’d want to collaborate with a pop artist, Trimble names a few of the top females of the game, but when Prince is mentioned there is some debate over whether a pop artist can be male.
When it’s decided they can be, guitarist Sam Halliday interjects “I want to do something with Drake… He just speaks to me. He puts his heart on his sleeve.”
For Trimble, it’s people like Lars Ulrich from Metallica who “speak to him.” The metal-loving frontman says that his first band was a Metallica cover band. The night before, Trimble had met Ulrich at a Two Door Cinema club show because the rocker’s son is a fan. Ulrich came back into the dressing room and Trimble was starstruck.
“You know when you have something in your head that you want to say to someone? Then I just froze up and I was like shaking walking on stage, I never, never in my life have I been starstruck,” describes Trimble. “I mean, I met a few famous people through what we do and I’ve never been lost for words, but he’s the drummer from Metallica.
“He’s one of the coolest people that I’ve ever met.”
Interjecting himself into the serious fangirling, Halliday jokes, “I was always more into Anvil. Metal on metal just speaks to me. That’s where I get all my riffing from.”
Of which Halliday did plenty the verbal variety throughout the whole interview.
Earlier, before the band performed a short set on-air, they were delivered some of Southern California’s quintessential burgers from In-N-Out.
When asked if the band are foodies, Halliday says with sincerity that the things that affect his mood the most are the weather and what he eats that day, describing a “one of the saddest days” of his life in Oakland where the weather was horrible and there was nothing but a “terrible Chinese restaurant.”
After we went on to talk about something else, Halliday, who said at the beginning of the interview that he prefers conversational questions during interviews, started in again with a hilarious non-sequiter, talking about how the best fast food chain is Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, although the premise of the food combination seems suspect.
“Chicken, eggs, waffles. You feel like having chicken and eggs together are somehow disgusting.” I ask if it’s because you are eating the “whole lifespan of a chicken” with only a waffle as a buffer.
Halliday nods in agreement and says sadly, “It’s not meant to be, is it?”
Even though these Northern Irish boys have traveled all around the world, American culture of “guns, flags, barbecues, and beers” still both confounds and amazes them.
Although they think it’s “crazy that you can get a gun here,” Two Door Cinema Club confesses to loving all the things that they don’t have in Ireland and appeared in the “movies of their childhood” like yellow school buses, red fire hydrants, and street signs.
Despite the once war-fraught Irish religious and political climate, the band says that America’s mixture of religion and politics is strange to them.
“I think it’s hard when you’re European because you kind of grow up in countries that are much more liberal and I understand there’s issues where people in America are very religious and it’s much more normal for them to have these views, but in Europe, it’s crazy,” says Trimble. “We didn’t grow up with religion and politics.”
“As far as I’m concerned, I think Romney’s an idiot,” agrees Baird, passionately. “And that’s my view.”
With their new album so profoundly imbued with songs about being away from home and traveling the world, would Two Door Cinema Club ever live in America? Well, they joke that Baird has an American girlfriend for the potential marriage visa. The bassist says that if he was a stereotypical American he’d have the most amazing bumper stickers.
“I bought a bumper sticker the other day, even though I don’t have a car, but it was something to do with Texas. Don’t Mess With Texas and I thought that would be class to have on my car if I had one.”
“I’d have a porch. I’d have a rocking chair on that porch. I’d have my flag,” replies Halliday, his eyes glittering with a sense of sardonic glee. “Shotgun and a beer. I would like a Budweiser.” Welcome to America, dudes.
–Nadia Noir, KROQ Los Angeles