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

The Northern Ireland trio chat about their new album, playing festivals, and more

Two Door Cinema Club Interview
Two Door Cinema Club, photo by Katy Cummings
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    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.

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    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.

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    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?

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    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.

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    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.

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