The post Two Door Cinema Club Return With “Wonderful Life,” Tease Upcoming Album Keep On Smiling: Exclusive appeared first on Consequence.

When Two Door Cinema Club returned back in 2019 with False Alarm, there was a delightful tone of being “seriously unserious.” But now, that lighthearted message means something a bit different; after two years of a pandemic and a lengthy period of being stuck at home, playful and positive art helped lessen the weight of our global situation, and as most of us exit lockdown, there’s a definable sense of tension around re-entering the world and starting over.

For Two Door Cinema Club, they just want you to keep calm and smile on. Today (June 16th), they’ve announced their forthcoming fifth studio album, set for release on September 2nd of this year. Keep On Smiling as a title implies a couple different things: for one, it’s a steadfast image of positivity and optimism, a plea to keep spirits bright in the face of anguish. But it also suggests that that anguish is nearly impossible to avoid, that the heaviness of our current reality is too hard to ignore, and to keep on smiling is an ironic way of acknowledging everyone’s pessimism.

The dichotomy of this idea — optimism versus pessimism, acknowledging change versus ignoring it — is at the core of Keep On Smiling. And in true Two Door Cinema Club fashion, the band has channeled these ideas through a bright, neon-colored glow, full of glitzy synths, classic melodies, and some nods to their raucous and bustling debut, Tourist History.

Along with announcing Keep On Smiling, Two Door Cinema Club have shared the album’s lead single, “Wonderful Life,” which represents the LP’s contrasting ideas perfectly. Though bassist Kevin Baird and guitarist Sam Halliday claim that a bulk of Keep On Smiling was crafted pre-pandemic in the months following False Alarm, “Wonderful Life” was one of the more recent tracks they worked on, and serves well as the album’s thesis and entry point. “It feels perfect, it sounds like us, it is us,” Baird says of the song. “We’re starting to get into the summer, it’s a ‘here we go’ kind of thing.”

Indeed, “Wonderful Life” finds the Northern Ireland trio meeting the moment, embracing the tension that they’ve pondered from their homes over the last few years. “Talk about it but you never ever want to think about it,” sings frontman Alex Trimble in the song’s first verse, later warning that “you can’t make any sense when you’re building a fence around you.” The song urges for transparency and openness, maintaining that since “it’s a lonely little life/ a lonely little lifetime,” there’s no point in closing yourself off to connection and vulnerability.

Not only does the band represent these ideas well, they sound fresh and renewed. Trimble has evolved a great deal as a frontman, adding more layers to his soaring vocal deliveries and channeling an ’80s new wave-esque vibrato in the song’s bridge. But throughout Keep On Smiling in general is the sound of a band truly unified, even after 15 years and massive changes in their indie rock lane.

In addition to gearing up for the release of Keep On Smiling, Two Door Cinema Club are currently out on their first run of shows since last year’s Reading and Leeds Festival. They’ve certainly got their eye on festivals in particular — amidst a few headline shows this summer, the band is also set to play Madrid’s Mad Cool Festival in July, ensuring that their euphoric vibes will be well represented in Europe’s renewed festival season. They’ve also announced a major European and North American tour set for this fall; check out the full list of tour dates below. Tickets for the North American tour go on sale June 24th (tickets are available here).

Ahead of the release of their new single “Wonderful Life,” Consequence caught up with Two Door Cinema Club’s Kevin Baird and Sam Halliday to discuss Keep On Smiling, getting back on the road, the music they listened to throughout lockdown, and much more.

You’re days away from the release of your new song, “Wonderful Life,” and it’s a completely different world than when you last released music. How is it all feeling?

Kevin Baird: Yeah, we’re obviously really excited to be back to releasing music, playing music together on a stage. I think it just feels crazy. It feels like the music industry was this big complex machine that had never been turned off before and now it’s really stuttering back into life. Obviously, there’re a few bumps in the road just generally in the industry, but yeah, it feels… almost back to normal?

“Wonderful Life” and the overall sound of Keep On Smiling feels very bright and positive. How intentional was that?

Sam Halliday: I suppose we’ve always tried to keep things upbeat and fun in some element, and I suppose that the album is a bit of a strange one, because it kind of spans almost two or three years in the making of it. A lot of songs on there were recorded around the same time as False Alarm and the last record. And then COVID happened, and we didn’t get a chance to release and tour them. And then I feel like during COVID we were just trying to get through it. We weren’t really a COVID-album band, unfortunately. We were too busy just surviving, I suppose.

And then we got over email — towards the end, whenever stuff started opening up — we got over email with some ideas and started making tunes again, and that’s where “Wonderful Life” came from. I suppose that one, compared to the other songs that were done in the studio with Jacknife Lee, which were obviously more complex, studio-based songs, “Wonderful Life” was more like, “Ah, we can kind of do this again, so let’s do it.” A simpler process, just us doing it in our houses with basic gear and sharing ideas back and forth over email and back to the basics. And just enjoying playing music again because we hadn’t done it in so long. It’s kind of a strange album in general.

Baird: I also think with “Wonderful Life,” there’s a little bit of a journey, because as Sam said, the middle where we didn’t do anything was COVID and lockdown, and a big part of the album is tongue-in-cheek positivity, looking at some things that have taken on a bigger meaning with the shitshow that is COVID. But then also, at the same time, I think “Wonderful Life” is probably the most abruptly in your face, positive piece of music that we’ve done since the early days. So it was definitely more intentionally positive.

When you finished “Wonderful Life,” did you always know it would be the lead single? Or did it take more time to figure out what the entry point of the album would be?

Baird: There’s another song on the record and both of them came from sections of music that we had written after lockdown and I think we thought either of those could be our entry point and we weren’t really sure which. So yeah, I feel like it was kind of between two songs. But it feels perfect, it sounds like us, it is us. We’re tarting to get into the summer, it’s a “here we go” kind of thing.

Halliday: Yeah, I think generally throughout our existence we’ve always been the most excited about the newest stuff that we’ve written, which probably feeds into that. But I do feel like it feels the most “us,” and has the strongest melodies, which is an obvious one.

While working on this record, did ever feel like going back to your roots and the exploring basics of Tourist History?

Baird: Yeah, but I don’t think it was extremely intentional. It was partially necessary, given that typically when we’re writing these songs, it’s like, “I got this guitar part, do you want to try something out?” or “I’ve got this bassline” or whatever. We were sending things back and forth, we weren’t able to go into the studio, and if we were, it was extremely complicated and we didn’t feel a pressure to do it.

So the songs were just so simple that we finally went to a studio just to record each part, and then we did a little extra studio production, but it wasn’t a big studio session and I think that really just pulled out the basics of what we love about our music. It wasn’t really intentional, but yeah, just very calm, and “less is more” was the feeling at the time.

What were some of the artists you were listening to while making Keep On Smiling that influenced the record?

Baird: That’s a hard one. Half of it was in 2018 or 2019, but it’s still so current, obviously, time is… I mean, I feel like we’ve always loved the classics. David Bowie and Prince and that sense of melody and importance of melody, and I think particularly during COVID, there wasn’t that sort of relentless new release every week, so there was quite a lot, for each of us, of going back to those things that we really loved. For me, I found a great comfort in going back and being like, “Wow, Transatlanticism by Death Cab For Cutie is still a fucking amazing album.”

And it’s so easy to blow past these things that were so massive. Silent Alarm by Bloc Party, we loved United by Phoenix and we went back to Daft Punk’s stuff. I think not in an intentional way to connect with the music that we were listening when we were sixteen and making Tourist History, it was more just finding a great comfort in going, “Yeah, watching At The Drive-In on Letterman is fucking class and that should be the basis of what ‘Wonderful Life’ does.”

Halliday: Yeah, it’s funny, I feel like guitars weren’t very in for a while? Or they weren’t very fashionable. I don’t know if I’m just being quite contrarian in my head, but now I’ve gone back totally the other way. I’ve been driving up to Dublin because I live up in Belfast and our airport doesn’t fly everywhere, so I’ve been doing a lot of long drives up to the airport and yeah, weirdly just listening to lots of The Strokes and Death Cab and At the Drive-In and just loving it again.

Baird: I feel like every meal, you have your formative years, you have a little tipple and dance around your mid-twenties, and then you come back to the guitars in your late twenties and early thirties. It’s the meal journey.

What songs from Keep On Smiling are you most looking forward to playing live?

Baird: “Lucky” is really easy for me to play. It has a pretty driving bassline that is pretty consistent throughout the majority of the song, so that’s good for me. I think I’m really excited to play “Wonderful Life,” just because it feels like one of those songs that you can already tell it’s going to take on a new life. There’s going to be this sort of lovely difference between the studio and live environment that I think I can just tell that that’s going to happen in my head. So I’m excited to see what kind of personality “Wonderful Life” takes on.

Halliday: Yeah, to be honest, I haven’t given it a lot of thought, I feel like, because we’re going to play “Wonderful Life” eventually this weekend and I feel like I’m just panicking learning to play it. The summer is always a bit manic, like you’re away Thursday to Sunday, maybe Monday, doing festivals and then you’re home for a few days trying to keep up with cutting the grass and other summer things… and also just trying to figure out how to play the songs. So yeah, just trying to get through this week.

Baird: Rock and roll.

Do you guys have any go-to festival routines?

Baird: Well for one, if you want us to go and watch you play as an artist, you gotta be relatively close to the dressing room and you gotta be someone that we really want to see. I wouldn’t say we’d be out there going like, “Ah, never heard of this band, should we go watch?”

Halliday: Yeah, we’re not going to go between stages like that, unfortunately.

Baird: And that sounds bad, but I feel like we go to a lot of festivals and we travel around a lot, and — what do you guys call them? Rainboots? We call them Wellie boots — if it’s wet and muddy, we don’t bring those things with us. If the weather’s good, maybe we’ll walk across, but we’ve got outfits to keep good, you know? But yeah, I think we have this ridiculously, like, one percent, this like 0.000001% view of what festivals should be like. No one should ask us because it’s like, there might be 100,000 people going, and they could have the shittiest time, but we’ll have a really nice sofa in our room and we’ll be happy. People shouldn’t ask us because we’re very much in the minority.

We love having good catering and showers and whatever, but it helps to have great lineups where you’re kind of seeing these bucket list bands, and that’s been probably one of the best things about festivals for us, over the years, is the opportunity to watch someone like The Strokes in Sao Paolo. That’s incredible. Or sharing a stage with Pearl Jam in Columbia. Just mad things like that where you’re kind of like… we just wouldn’t have gotten that opportunity in any other life, so that’s really fun.

Your sophomore album, Beacon, turns 10 years old in August. What’s it like reflecting on that album now that you’re 10 years away from it?

Halliday: It definitely brings back a lot of memories. When we wrote that album, we were all living in a house together in Glasgow, which just feels like a million years ago. And then we recorded it in LA with Jacknife Lee, and that was kind of the first time we’d spent any real time in LA. We lived by the beach for a couple of months in Santa Monica and that was a whole experience, just these kind of pretty wild experiences for young guys from Northern Ireland. And working with a big time producer, a Grammy-winning producer and that kind of stuff, not having a clue what we’re doing but muddling through and ending up with something we’re really happy with. Good memories!

Since it was your second album, did you feel like there was a lot of pressure put on you guys after the first LP did so well? Was there a mindset challenge?

Baird: I can vividly remember the reason why we went in the studio in two separate blocks: we had to leave halfway through, because back in the day, NME was a massive magazine and they did a huge tour around the UK each year, and they had asked us to just headline it and it was such a big deal, but it was like “pull studio time and do this and do that.” I remember in the summer before we recorded it, we were doing festivals, but we were supposed to be writing at the same time, and I remember it was just chaos, because you’re excited to be out there, doing things, you have a little too much to drink, you get back, you’re home. Do you want to go in that room with really loud music? No, you don’t.

But I remember there was a lot of pressure, in terms of you know, we’d had success with our first album but it was a really odd campaign where the first album, we had done it, we recorded it, we started touring it. And then it was like a bit of a slow burn. So the album had been out for ages before we really finished that campaign. Where at the same time, we were in the eye of the storm going around the storm playing shows but it had actually been a year and a half to two years since the first album, so there was an expectation to do another. So yeah, it was quite full-on.

Lastly, what do you hope people will take away from Keep On Smiling?

Baird: I think it’s the positivity of things. There are some songs that are more directly positive, some that are a little more tongue-in-cheek, but overarching it’s kind of like, “What the fuck is going on in the world?” We don’t have the answers and everyone kind of has their own perspective of what is right and what is wrong. We can’t all agree, there’s so much debate, and so it’s kind of like a little bit of a commentary on that. But at the same time, at least just acknowledging that is a positive thing… if everything feels so serious all the time that it’s nice to kind of take serious topics and be able to laugh at them, laugh at yourself. So I think it’s just stop thinking so much and have a good time.

Two Door Cinema Club 2022 Tour Dates:
6/10-6/12 — Berlin, DE @ Templehof Sounds
6/14-6/18 — Bergen, NO @ Bergenfest
07/01 — Ewijk, NL @ Down The Rabbit Hole
07/09 — Oeiras, PT @ Nos Alive
07/10 — Madrid, ES @ Mad Cool Festival
07/14-07/17 — Valencia, ES @ Benicassim
07/16 — London, UK @ Community
08/22 — Isle of Man, UK @ Villa Marina & Gaiety Theater
08/24 — Zürich, SZ @ Zürich Open Air
09/28 — Paris, FR @ L’Olympia
09/30 — Brussels, BE @ Ancienne Belgique
10/01 — Amsterdam, NE @ Paradiso
10/04 — Hamburg, DE @ Fabrik
10/05 — Berlin, DE @ Columbiahalle
10/07 — Munich, DE @ Tonhalle
10/08 — Cologne, DE @ E-Work
10/28 — Richmond, VA @ The National
10/29 — Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore
10/30 — Pittsburg, PA @ Stage AE
11/01 — New York City, NY @ Terminal 5
11/02 — Boston, MA @ Roadrunner
11/03 — Washington D.C. @ The Anthem
11/05 — Toronto, ON @ History
11/06 — Detroit, MI @ Majestic Theater
11/07 — Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theater
11/08 — Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
11/10 — Kansas City, MO @ Uptown Theater
11/11 — Denver, CO @ Mission Ballroom
11/12 — Salt Lake City, UT @ The Union
11/14 — Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
11/15 — Hollywood, CA @ Hollywood Paladium
11/17 — San Diego, CA @ Cal Coast OAT

Two Door Cinema Club Return With “Wonderful Life,” Tease Upcoming Album Keep On Smiling: Exclusive
Paolo Ragusa

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