In the big mess of genres and subgenres that constitutes the UK scene, it’s no secret that managing to stand out among everyone else is a very hard task ; however, one band have always done that while staying true to their roots, and this is why they’re important. We discussed that with Chris Batten and Rory Clewlow.
Enter Shikari have spent countless weeks on the road between Europe, the USA, Australia, Europe again, and many festivals. An impressive tour cycle only for ‘The Mindsweep’, which just celebrated its first year of existence. The St Albanians love to keep themselves busy and they don’t really seem to relate to homesickness.
“It’s what we’ve been doing for the last 10 years, so we’re pretty used to it. We have kind of adjusted”, “Because although there is a lot of travelling (…) our working day is really sort of 1-1.5hour or something. The rest of the time, we just sit here doing this : sitting down and chilling out.”
These guys assure it just “needs some practice”. Obviously they’re good at it and seem to be enjoying it. They don’t even get nervous anymore before shows! “the only thing I get nervous is when I do something we haven’t done before”, says Chris Batten. “Like the first time we did a music festival or the first time on a live TV. That was nerve-wracking.”
During the past cycle, playing new songs was the most challenging part of the job for Enter Shikari, as well as dealing with tons of new equipment and new stage production. In fact we’ve been able to witness it on The Mindsweep euro tour, with an old piano, new structures etc. The flawless stage production they always have is part of the special experience that is seeing them live.
“It’s just a confidence swing, really, isn’t it?”
Confidence is the key and Enter Shikari have all the good reasons to be confident : they just released the phenomenal song Redshift along with an acoustic EP, and this February they’ll be embarking on their biggest UK and Europe tour to date, playing legendary venues such as Alexandra Palace in London, and there isn’t an inch of doubt in the fact that they’ll be able to pull that off masterfully.
Now with an even more daring last record, both lyrically and musically, Enter Shikari definitely show that they are still doing what they feel like doing, rather than what people want them to do and they are definitely not afraid of that.
“I don’t think there should be any sense of censoring when it comes to art. I mean, that’s what it’s there for, to kind of question the status quo.”
“It comes down to confidence again. When we recorded A Flash Flood of Colour, that was the first album we were fearless with. And knowing we had the same team allowed us on this record to be even more so.”
‘The Mindsweep‘ followed more or less the same producing and engineering pattern, with the same team of people. From around 40 song sessions going, Enter Shikari finally got ready to go in the studio with 15 tracks and that’s when Dan Weller got involved.
As for the engaged lyrics, Rou Reynolds writes most of them, managing to mix burning political issues and existential reflections which speak to almost everyone that’s ever listened to Enter Shikari and paid attention to the words beyond the catchy electronics.
“He’s just never away from his books, constantly researching and learning. He’s got unquantifiable thirst for learning stuff, so he’s always just doing that and making notes, constantly writing. His notes that he makes into lyrics”
These days people describe them more and more as one of Britain’s most engaged bands in the alternative scene, because of their involvement in many social and political debates on social media, and they’re right. They truly are ahead of everyone because aside from music, they also show themselves as full citizens of planet earth and truly care about now’s society. Which, when you have a young and growing base of fans and followers,is great, in the way that it’s important to care about the environment you live in and it’s important to have an opinion, act and not just put up with what’s fed to you. Often you’ll see Enter Shikari encouraging people to be part of debates and discuss issues and share ideas with simple words, which are always welcome in our complicated world.
“That’s really what we’re asking people to do. It’s to question authority, anything. Don’t take anything without a good reason that you can comprehend and that you understand. That’s all our lyrics are reall doing. We’re not saying to people “you should think what we do” it’s just putting out content that we believe should be talked about.”
There’s also an indisputable duality in modern societies, where we are supposedly free, but where one can also get persecuted or judged for the things they say…Reflecting on the tragic events that hit too close to home this past year, it comes again to the conclusion that “you should be able to have freedom of thought and to express yourself without matters.” Unfortunately sometimes, it feels like there’s still a long way to go…
“It’s a bit sad really. We’d love to see more people talking about things. Objectively looking at society and just not accepting things as they are just because that’s how you’ve grown up with them being. “
Politics have always been complicated, but once again, this doesn’t mean young people shouldn’t be interested in the world that they and their children, if they end up having them, are going to live in :
“There’s a confusion in the word politics itself. Because when we think about the word, we think of people sitting around in a room, doing all the budgets and decide how money should be spent. We’re talking about topics that we think affect people, as one big global issues. And if that is considered politics, then surely everyone should be talking about politics”
Obviously, Enter Shikari have grown up a lot over time, —bear in mind that they were teenagers when they started the band. (They’ve managed to develop a lot of things beyond their lyrical themes and their sound, for example Shikari Sound System, their mixing side project, which lead them to release a fully remixed version of ‘The Mindsweep’ last Autumn, not even one year after the original album release. Enter Shikari know how to keep themselves busy and aren’t boring one bit : they don’t rest on their laurels and are constantly challenging themselves.
« we think we are in the best cycle we’ve ever been in. It’s really hard for us to say because we’re so involved in the music. Hard work really pays off. I mean we genuinely got a bit lucky at times, but yes, hard work mostly works”
So just to sum up “efficiently”, we asked Chris and Rory how they would describe briefly Enter Shikari, to which they answered : THE FUTURE.
And that’s right. Enter Shikari are and have always been the future.
Words : Mariam B. / Alma R.