AFTER many false starts I, fittingly, finally meet Alex Trimble just days before the release of Two Door Cinema Club’s new album False Alarm.
It seemed we were destined never to get together with a cancelled gig, missed flight and a lost voice resulting in our paths failing to cross. But when we do — at a pub near his North London home — the singer is in a chatty mood. And these days setbacks, either big or small, are something Trimble has no problem dealing with.
With bandmates bassist Kevin Baird and guitarist Sam Halliday, Trimble has been enjoying success with Two Door since 2007 and they are tonight’s second headline act on the Other Stage at Glastonbury.
Looking smart in a dark suit it’s his first stay at home for more than one night in a while. The last month has seen the band playing shows across the UK, Europe, North America and Mexico plus there have been the demands of radio and TV show promotion.
But he says he’s enjoying being back on the road and playing songs from their new album — a record he says marks a new start for Two Door Cinema Club in many ways. Trimble says: “We’ve been doing this for 12 years and have been in bands together since we were 14. So, for more than half our lives we’ve played together.”
False Alarm is their most experimental album to date, and proof they are in their happiest and most stable place in years. It’s not been an easy ride for the Northern Irish trio who came close to breaking up following the success of their second album Beacon in 2012.
Their higher profile and the demands of fame led to fights between the three and, in 2014, they were forced to cancel their headline set at Latitude due to Trimble’s deteriorating mental and physical health. They returned with album Gameshow in 2016 — after not speaking for months.
Trimble says: “The last record was so intense and so much had happened, it was very cathartic but it was also very painful to write a lot of that stuff. I felt totally burnt out.”
False Alarm marks a fresh start for the band and in the run-up to its release, they have been playing some of their best shows and Trimble is excited about Glastonbury.
“It’s great to be back there as Glastonbury is a big deal for us. It will be good to get the new songs out there, too.”
False Alarm was made with long-term producer Garret “Jacknife” Lee, who has also worked with U2, REM and Snow Patrol.
Trimble says: “Garret pushed all of us. He never let anyone stand still. It’s great having our own label, which helped making this record as, if I need studio time, I don’t have to ask too many people and it means we’ve been able to work quicker. We haven’t got any proper deadlines and we’ve had the confidence and belief to try new things.
“Dirty Air was a fun one to do and was part of the experimental journey of the record. I wanted to write an apocalyptic and dystopian song that was also joyous. I changed my voice on that track as I saw it as a licence to sing in another way.”
Besides Dirty Air, and first single Talk, other standouts on False Alarm include Eighties-sounding So Many People and infectious electro number Satisfaction Guaranteed — featuring Zimbabwean group Mokoomba. It’s the first time the band have included collaborations, with US rapper, Open Mike Eagle also guesting on Nice To See You.
Trimble says: “In the past I was always very scared about asking other people to get involved. I guess it was a little bit of fear of rejection, but this time it didn’t seem to bother me as much and if you don’t ask you don’t get.
“I think the difference with making this album is that we are all approaching 30 and realising we are grown up now and things don’t always work the way they used to be. We are all in a really good place. Both Kevin and Sam have got married — which obviously shifts priorities — and I live with my girlfriend (Anteros singer Laura Hayden).
“So everyone is settling down and enjoying their own lives outside of the band. But we learnt that the hard way. When we were younger, Sam was the more naive one — he didn’t drink at all and was very straight edged. It took him a while to ease into the big, bad world.
“And back then Kev was the responsible one and driving the van. I was like, ‘Well, I’ve got no responsibilities, give me a beer’. It was sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll for years. Then it fell apart. It was never really about the job or the band. We were human beings and we’d been punishing ourselves. Things became very vicious and we had to stop. I’ve seen that happen so many times before, with a lot of other bands, artists and singers. You start to see the joy fade from people’s faces and that’s what happened to us.”
Trimble adds coming back after hitting rock bottom has made the three bandmates closer and appreciate this new chapter. To fix things Trimble took help from Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody who introduced him to a personal trainer who helped the band keep healthy while on the road.
“We took him on the road with us as we were like these helpless little babies. We were scared about going back on the road and his help was indispensable. There was a reason why we had stopped touring for a while.
“Kev and I were definitely drunk the whole time. No one in the band was speaking and messages were conveyed through other people. There was a lot of drugs and junk food, which was another issue. If you’re not eating properly you don’t have any energy. It was like a total absence of life.
“There was no life on the tour. We were shown how to exercise while on the road and how to make time in our schedules. He educated us about food, as eating rubbish is one of the most dangerous slopes that you can fall down when you are travelling. And with booze we pick our nights.
“It has been made known to me, and I realise this now, I am not the best person to be around if I am tired or drunk. I am in a s***ty mood. Now we definitely don’t go out after shows as much as we did and I’ve also quit smoking. I’m far more protective over my voice. When I was a kid I used to drink and smoke my way through.”
More than a decade and four albums in, Trimble says the thing he’s most proud of with Two Door Cinema Club is that it has always been about the music. He says: “We’ve been a faceless band in many ways. People know our music rather than necessarily recognise us and that makes me feel good.
“We’ve managed to make it work with the music doing the talking. That’s why we are making the extra effort on this record with the colourful videos, stage show and even the album cover sees us in outfits and the wigs. We are doing it because we really want to rather than we have to. I was always against being seen and fitting in. Now we are in a place where we can do what we want to.”
Trimble also loves the freedom of having four albums’ worth of songs to choose from when deciding Two Door’s concerts setlists — including tonight’s Glastonbury gig.
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“We are on for an hour so it’s been about trying to gauge any idea of the best tracks to put together the best 60 minutes we can. Ultimately, you are there to entertain people and it’s a great place to be having a lot of songs to choose from.
“Glastonbury is always the big festival to play and we grew up watching it so know what it means to people and what it means to us. We are now all in a good place and have an album we are proud of — so it’s going to be a special night.”
- False Alarm is out now and Two Door Cinema Club play Glastonbury’s Other Stage tonight at 8.15pm.
Two Door Cinema Club – False Alarm
3. Satisfaction Guaranteed (featuring Mokoomba)
4. So Many People
6. Nice to See You (featuring Open Mike Eagle)
8. Dirty Air
10. Already Gone
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