Two Door Cinema Club’s 2011 sees the band firmly encamped on Radio 1’s A-list and more than successfully fixed in the mainstream consciousness. With both Reading & Leeds’ Main Stage to come, we check the nerves of Northern Ireland’s latest musical heroes. Photography: Simian Coates
Tickets for your Glastonbury warm up show sold out in minutes. What made you decide to do a practice run?
Glastonbury’s important. We’re doing a pretty big slot on the Pyramid stage.
Alex: When you’re doing festivals you’re only gigging every weekend; we feel out of practice if we haven’t played together for five days, so I think to go and play a small show the night before is probably the right thing to do to get into the right mindset.
Is Glastonbury the main festival for you this summer?
A: It’s definitely my favourite festival. We always make a point of trying to stay for the whole weekend, which we’ve done for the past few years that we’ve played. It’s one of those all encompassing festivals where no matter what mood you’re in, you can go and enjoy it.
I guess this year for me it’s the most important because it’s the Pyramid Stage, and I think it’s every band’s dream in the world to come do Glastonbury and play on that stage. It is the most iconic stage in the world so it’s a huge honour.
What your best memory as a festival punter?
A: I’ve never been to a festival as a punter. We started playing festivals when we were 17 or 18.
Sam: We usually turn into punters as soon as we’ve finished playing. Punters with access to backstage, so it’s even worse probably because we get the whole rider there and we just go and cause havoc.
Talk us through some of this havoc.
K: The first year we were at Glastonbury we played three shows over the weekend and camped at the same time, so we were carrying our guitars through the campsite. There were so many memories from that. We did Isle of Wight and had one night of debauchery, but Glastonbury was just ridiculous because so much happened.
S: We had a rental car because it was just us and our sound guy [Stu], and he got royally trashed. Falling all over the place.
K: He threw vodka over some girl.
A: He also pushed me over. I landed face first and it had just been raining so I ended up brown from head to toe.
S: He was running around the whole campsite and lost his bag.
A: We’d all split up, and I’d gone to watch Bloc Party. They were headlining The Other Stage and I’d heard about half a song before Stu, out of the 200,000 people at Glasto, fell into me. We had to carry him back to the campsite and undress him and put him to bed.
S: He woke up the next morning and had lost his bag with the rental car keys in, and all of our equipment.
K: This was a period of two hours where everything went wrong. I was on my own, too drunk and trying to get back to the campsite. After walking for about an hour, I decided that I was never going to find our tent so I got into someone else’s. I was so hammered I didn’t really know what to do.
I got into their sleeping bag and took off my shoes and all, and just went to sleep. Then they obviously came back to their tent later that night and were like, “Who the f**k are you?” They stood in the door way and watched me get dressed, and in my panic to get out of there I left my glasses behind. This was the Friday night, so I just had no glasses for the rest of the weekend.
S: At the time it was horrible, but looking back it’s probably one of my favourite festival memories.
What’s in your festival rider?
A: It’s just booze and food. Quite a lot, but simple stuff. You know, bread and salad. Meat and cheese.
K: There’s nothing ridiculous on there.
S: It’s just like whenever your mum does a great shop and you’re the first one in the fridge.
A: Every day.
Do you have any festival do’s and don’ts?
K: There are a lot of don’ts that we’ve ended up doing. Like, don’t get really, really drunk and then fall asleep in a portaloo because that causes a big security risk, especially if you’re backstage.
A: It was our very first festival - Isle of Wight - and Kev did that. People thought that there was someone dead in the toilet. They had radios going throughout the site.
K: But I’d just fallen asleep; I’m just a heavy sleeper. That’s a definite don’t, but I don’t think there are many. At festivals you can get away with most.
S: Don’t be a dickhead, that’s a good one. There are so many dickheads at festivals. Don’t throw cups of beer.
K: That’s a big one. Festivals are one of those opportunities at which you can do something that you wouldn’t normally do, or that wouldn’t normally be acceptable, like wearing a ridiculous outfit. I saw this girl at Coachella the other day and she was just walking around and just had x’s on her nipples and the American flag and that was it, and for some reason, it was kind of acceptable because it was a festival.
A: I think the main thing is don’t bring anything that you care about because you’re either gonna break it, lose it, get it stolen or something’s going to happen to it.
K: Wellie boots are pretty essential. Even if it’s not raining, just in case.
What do you think of secret sets at festivals? Would you ever consider one?
A: Last year at Glastonbury Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood did a secret set on the Park Stage; it was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. More so because no one knew it was happening. I’m hugely in favour of secret spots, because when it’s a big band it really lifts the mood and gives an amazing atmosphere.
You’re in high demand at the moment with sold out tours and festival appearances here, there and everywhere. What’s been the highlight for you this year so far?
K: We’ve had such an incredible year that it’s hard to pick out individual moments. There hasn’t been a time we’ve thought, “Why are we doing this?” or “Crap, this isn’t going very well.”
S: I think every time we go to America now, there’s always a little highlight there because it’s almost like starting afresh. Our album [‘Tourist History’] came out a couple of months later over there so it’s kind of like just starting to happen over there and it’s nice to relive the whole success of the album again - hopefully that’ll happen.
What’s more important to you in defining succesS: awards or chart positions?
A: I think the most important thing to us is when we play shows and see people’s reactions. Awards can be given to anyone by anyone.
S: Something that we’ve been very proud of our album about chart-wise is that it didn’t ever go in at a really high number, but we’ve been shocked at the sustained success of it. It’s been in the Top 40 pretty much constantly. Loads of bands get a really big marketing budget behind them and it’ll go into the chart in the Top 10, but then people forget about it and that’s it, over.
How are you adapting your live sets to the bigger venues you’re playing thanks to the album’s popularity?
K: More lights!
A: I think that’s about the only thing that’s changed. We obviously have a bigger crew now, and we have more techs to help set up, but in terms of the show itself we’ve kept it much the same. We just play a rock show and that’s what we enjoy. We just enjoy playing songs. We feed off the music on stage and I think that provides a big enough performance in itself. I think if you get carried away too much with production and gimmicks, you lose that intimacy and you lose that connection with your audience. I would never want to do that.
What are reactions like for you when you go back home now?
A: I was home two weeks ago and I got recognised a little more. One thing I have noticed is that people we knew when we were back home, guys we went to school with who we didn’t hang around with, all of a sudden are trying to be our best friends; it’s just because we’re Two Door Cinema Club now and that’s something they want to be a part of.
K: It’s embarrassing. You always watch what you’re doing a bit more. Recently, I was out in a bar with a couple of my good friends and we were quite drunk at the bar doing shots. I was like, “Can I have six shots of tequila?” and the girl was like, “Yeah, are you that guy from Two Door Cinema Club?” I was like “Nooooo…”
A: It’s an uncomfortable feeling when you know everyone around you knows who you are.
So what’s next for you, are you working on new material now?
S: We are, yeah. We’ve been working away. We all live in the same house, so we’ve got a few new songs that we’re playing at the minute just to keep people interested. We’ve probably played the same set in London like four or five times now, which is ridiculous. So we’re working away and we’ve got some new ones ready. We’ve just got festivals this summer and then we’re doing one last tour of the States in September and then it’s just heads down with the new album.
You can catch Two Door Cinema Club at Glastonbury, Oxegen, Lollapalooza, and Reading & Leeds.