Q&A: Two Door Cinema Club's Kevin Baird Talks His Band's Fast Rise, Its Favorite Festival Moments and Its Problem With Light Beer.
In just four years, Two Door Cinema Club have gone from a group of high school buddies to rocking thousands at festivals all over the world. That much isn't necessarily surprising: The band's sharp, dance-infused indie rock has drawn comparisons to Passion Pit and Hot Hot Heat. And, while they may not necessarily sound original, their debut album, Tourist History, is catchy as all get out.
In support of that disc, the band has toured extensively overseas in their short time. But, somewhat surprisingly, the band's current trip through the States is only Two Door Cinema Club's second visit. And, like so many other bands coming through the region this week, the reason behind its appearance is clear: They're coming through for an Austin City Limits appearance.
Earlier this week, in advance of the band's Friday night gig at The Loft, we caught up with bassist Kevin Baird about Two Door Cinema Club's dramatic rise, what it's like to be in a band without a drummer, and the worst thing about touring the States.
Read the full Q&A after the jump.
Two Door Cinema Club is just barely four years old, and yet you've already headlined numerous tours and played most of the European festivals. Has your success been surprising?
It's been quite fast, I think. I think there was a spark that caused us to go up real quick, and we've just always building things up as we went along. That spark might have happened in terms of media attention, more than anything, but for winning fans and from the live perspective, it was always underplaying it and building our way and working our way to where we are now.
How old are you all?
We're all 21. Well, Alex turns 21 on Sunday.
What's your musical background?
Well, it's from a classical music kind of thing. We all started out in orchestra classes and playing classical instruments. But you know, we weren't cool. I think every kid at that age, especially if you can read and write music, wants to play guitar. Everyone wants to do that; every kid wants to play Guns N Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine," you know?
You guys have a very specific dance-rock sound that's equal parts fun, infectious, and precise. How much of the band's sound was intentional or just natural?
The tightness came from capturing the energy of how we do it live on the record. We're a really energetic live band, and we've always said we were a live band first before we were a studio act, so we had to capture that on the record. We never talk about what we're going to do before we do it. We never talk about what we're doing before we do it. We don't say, "Oh, we're going to write more of a rock song," or "I'm going to write a dance song". It just happens. We just try hard to find that something that sounds like the three of us.
It's unique, to say the least, for a rock band to go without a drummer. Is that why you have a mix of live and programmed drums on the album?
Yes. It's mostly just the three of us playing some things, and we had a different guy come in and play some beats one day. It's mostly sampled live drums on the record rather than full drum parts. We have added Benjamin (Thompson), but we did play with a laptop for the beats for a while. It's definitely gotten better live with a drummer. [Laughs.]
Why was it important to add a drummer to play live instead of continuing with the laptop?
We'd been on tour for maybe two years, and we liked using the laptop. But we were sitting around having a conversation one day and someone asked, "Can you imagine doing this in five years time and still bringing around a laptop?" And we all said "No, we're going to have to get [a drummer]." So, we dipped our toes in the water at first and tried a couple of rehearsals with two different people to see how it felt, and it worked. We still use a lot of the programmed beats, you know--we didn't throw one out and bring the other in--so it's all working together.
Will live drums continue to be a part of the band's sound moving forward in recording as well?
Definitely not. We've always worked well, just the three of us. We've known each other--been best friends--for eight years now, and we have this comfortability with writing together. It would be weird to have some kind of outside influence, as well. We would lose that comfortability that we have when we write. And I don't think we need another creative member. [Laughs.] It'll just strictly be a touring thing.
What was it like to play in front of tens of thousands at festivals like Glastonbury, Reading, or Austin City Limits?
There's a lot of added pressure because it's not your crowd. Maybe they've heard your name, or one song, but most people don't own your album. So, you feel like you have to win them over and impress them. It's fun, though. You get to play on bigger stages than you ever could on your own, and play in front of more people than you could ever bring alone. We did quite a few already this summer, and we're really looking forward to Austin City Limits.
What's your favorite festival story?
I think when we were in Australia. Pretty much every band goes at the same time, and they all have shows on the side as well. So we had plenty of time to hang with bands we got to know the past few years like Passion Pit. Then it was Sam's birthday on the flight over and my birthday while we were there, so the whole trip was a big party, really.
What are some of your favorite performances you saw on the festival circuit?
The Strokes in Splendor in the Grass--one of the best bands I've ever seen. Stevie Wonder at Glastonbury was brilliant. Phoenix...we saw them a few times. Beach House was really good. We saw Ash at Glastonbury--they were really good.
Be honest: What's your favorite thing about touring the States?
Um, one of my favorite things is that it's so familiar. Obviously, there's a lot of the same movies and TV shows, and it all feels so familiar. But, when you get there, it's not. It's different at the same time. It's the same when we go tour Europe. There, you have proper foreign countries. The only difference between that and the U.K./U.S.A. is that the U.K. and U.S. speak English. One thing we loved is that whenever we'd wake up, we'd want breakfast. And you look, and there's a Waffle House there. So we go have Waffle House. Half the time we'd walk out thinking that we have to stop ourselves from eating all that stuff so much! [Laughs.]
OK: What's your least favorite thing about touring the U.S.?
Light beer. It's awful. It's the worst thing ever. It's just rubbish. I mean, what's the point? We just didn't get it. It doesn't taste like beer! We spend most of the time scouring the bars for good European beers. I wish I could have said something more intelligent there, but really, light beer is the worst.