INTERVIEW: Enter Shikari “We Never Hold Back, If We Did We’d Sound Like The Maccabees”


UK Dancecore mob Enter Shikari are taking the world by storm, one sweaty frenzy of a show at a time and with the release of Common Dreads it looks like their hold on the planet will do anything but loosen. Shikari boys Rou (vocals) and Rory (guitar) wax lyrical on their mind-blowing new album, keeping up the DIY ethic in music and making it to Edith Bowman’s playlist.

Your success has paved the way for a number of other rock bands influenced by electronic music to gain mainstream attention. How do you feel about these bands using a similar style to you?

Rou Reynolds (Vocals): It’s good to experiment definitely. At the end of the day you should play music you enjoy, whatever texture or mood that brings. It doesn’t always work with everyone but it’s good to try.

Do you feel that these bands are directly copying you?

Rou: I suppose there are definitely a lot of bands that do ‘Mothership’ sounding beatdowns with sort of a trance synth over the top. The amount of standard sounding Metalcore bands alone that we’ve toured with, especially in America have been playing the same stuff.

Rory Clewlow (Guitar): It puts us off a bit, it’s a bit soul destroying hearing the same sort of music every night.

Rou: I don’t think we’ve got any pressure really.

Rory: I guess if we identified ourselves as a band which was original, and did this “different” thing then it would probably be threatening but I guess we’ve always just done it cause that’s what we want to do. We don’t compare ourselves to anyone really we just do our own thing.

Has it been refreshing to play intimate, scaled-down shows this year?

 Rory: Last year was really good ‘cause we did lots of smaller shows and then the year before that we did the big festival seasons. This year we’re going to be doing festivals again but we’re throwing in some smaller shows for a bit of variety cause it’s never good to get stuck doing the same thing over and over again.

 How did the recording process for upcoming album Common Dreads go?

 Rou: By the time we got into the recording studio it was pretty smooth from there on out. A lot of things changed that we didn’t think would, like song structures got played about with and all sorts of alterations happened. The only time it got a bit hairy was at the beginning when we started sorting out the riffs, with crazy four-part harmonies in the background! (laughs) I guess when we started labelling the different riffs and ideas and putting them into categories we were sort of like “whoa” we’ve got this massive mission ahead of us to make sense of all these ideas and put them together. But once we organised it, it was fairly plain sailing.

 Is the direction of the new album radically different from Take to the Skies?

 Rory: There’s definitely progression in the way it sounds. This is the first time on a record where we’ve had a lot of time to experiment. I think we developed as songwriters and players. And lyrically we are more direct; we say what we are thinking rather than shrouding stuff in   metaphor.

 Rou: I still feel that the first album is almost a live album, we just went into the studio, did it in two weeks, we just thrashed it out. We didn’t really experiment or work on it at all in the studio. This time there was time to play about and develop the songs.  This really feels like our first album in a way.

 Do you think that you now have more to say?

 Rory: Well I don’t think we’ve ever been the type of band to hold back (laughs). I think if we were then the first album wouldn’t sound like it does, it would sound like The Maccabees.

 What were your main musical influences going into this album?

 Rou: We really need to start making a list for that question (laughs). So much stuff. Hardcore was still very much an essential theme. ‘Sick of it All’ being my favourite Hardcore band from day one really.

Rory: I’ll chuck Radiohead in there, and Rage Against the Machine.

Rou: Biffy Clyro. A lot of softer stuff like Jose Gonzalez, Regina Spektor. Dance-wise is more genres, like Drum ‘n’ Bass and Dubstep have been a big influence but then again so has House, so has Trance. Hardcore and Happy Hardcore, that whole side of dance.

 Rory: It’s like every song brings something new to the table. It’s kind of hard to pinpoint any direct, main influences.

 Rou: Even UK Hip Hop like Lowkey, The One Taste Collective which is a collective of all sorts of musicians and poets. Is that enough? (laughs)

 You mentioned Dubstep there, a genre that has come into the mainstream more since your last album. How have you used Dubstep on the new album?

 Rou: The idea was to have interludes, like on the last album, not full songs. Dub and Dubstep were sort of a big influence so we decided to make them actual songs with the whole band playing it rather than just me playing it on electronics. It sounds really cool but it took a lot of work, especially on Chris’ (Batten, Bassist) bass set-up. It’s ridiculous now (smiles), it’s completely computerised, digitalised. Some of the sounds he’s getting are just awesome. Taking that to a live scenario is really cool.

 How have the tracks from Common Dreads sounded in the live setting so far?

 Rou: I’ve been pleasantly surprised really. As a fan of a band, if they play something new I’d kind of take a step back from dancing, to listenand watch them play it. A lot of people seem to be going nuts for [the new songs].

 Rory: A lot of what people come to the live shows for is the energy, then they go home and listen to the CD to nitpick the music. I guess that’s just our fans that mainly do that though.

 Another festival you played recently was the Radio One Big Weekend, do you think having major radio backing has helped you as a band?

 Rory: Exposure on Radio One is one of the best things that can happen as a band. It’s the way to get music out to totally random people. To be honest I don’t really listen to Radio One a lot, because I don’t like a lot of what’s on it. Playing the Big Weekend, you would look out at the crowd and you could tell it wasn’t really all our fans. It’s all giveaway tickets at that festival, it’s not people who normally go to gigs so it was good for us.

 Rou: I think it’s that whole “non-music fan” Radio One audience that just listen to the radio for their fix of…

 Rory: (interrupting) Lady Gaga (both laugh).

 Rou: It’s good to introduce them to…I don’t want to sound like too much of a twat but good sorts of…bands. Radio One to be fair have all the specialist shows, like Zane Lowe’s really good he plays loads of new stuff, and they’ve got the Rock Show and the Punk Show so it’s great. But for us (new single) Juggernauts has been played in the middle of the day which is something I never though I’d hear. Us on Edith Bowman! (laughs) It’s weird as hell but it’s cool.

 As a band you have always held DIY ethics, how much longer do you think you can stay on your own record label?

 Rou: I think the way the music industry is going, every minute a band says they are doing a different deal and saying, “this is the future!” We’ve changed distributors for this album and we’re going to plug in to a few more marketing people, but I think the way we run ourselves will always be the same. I couldn’t see us selling away our copyright or something like that. That shit just scares me!

 Rory: It doesn’t really make much sense to us to sign a standard old-school record deal.

 With yourselves, Gallows and Your Demise, do you think that Hertfordshire may be the new home of Hardcore?

 Rou: (laughs) When we were growing up literally all I listened to rock-wise, apart from big bands like Rage Against the Machine was bands from out local scene.

 Rory: All our bands have taken influence from each other, if you know the St Albans Hardcore scene and listen to us and Gallows and Your Demise you’ll definitely hear the influence.

 Rou: There’s so many other bands, like Sikth, Cry for Silence, Incoherence. There was a really huge scene around Watford, Hatfield and St Albans.

 (At this point drummer Rob Rolfe walks in, admonishes his laptop for not charging, before politely apologising, exclaiming “shit, you’re in an interview” and then leaving the room. Nice guy.)

 Rou: Ourselves and Gallows came along after a few years, and now Your Demise as well. It seems to be kicking off again.

 Can you recommend any new bands to our readers?

Rory: Obviously Your Demise. Fell Silent, we’ve toured with them three or four times. They are our mates but they are also an awesome band. A bit like, they’ll hate me for saying this, but a little bit like Meshuggah. The get compared to them all the time.

Common Dreads is currently on sale, if you don’t have it- you pretty much have no excuses…


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