Having spent the last 3 years on the road, winning major awards, selling out massive venues and proving that the independent DIY route can work well, St. Albans 4 piece Enter Shikari have decided after 3 years that it’s time to look back and focus on the next record.
Singer Rou Reynolds talks to Zac and Keri Stanley during their February 08, 40 date tour about writing the follow up to the highly documented album ‘Take To The Skies‘, the tour and much more.
Hey Rou, where in the world are you right now?
In the middle of nowhere, driving through Nevada actually, a very vast quiet white landscape, just passed through a quaint town called ‘Susanville’ hah!
Would you call it a World Tour?
Yeah it’s our ‘“Around the World in 40 days” Tour. It’s the first time we’ve actually flown the whole way around the world, we’ve done Japan, New Zealand and Australia and are now making our way down the West coast of the US. It’s just crazy.
What has been the best country on this recent tour to visit?
Japan is always awesome, definitely one of our favourite places to hit. But we went down under for the first time to play Big Day Out festival, which was amazing. Obviously it was the middle of summer there so it was stonkin’ hot, had loads of days off, was one of the most relaxed and fun tours ever! Plus we got to see Rage Against the Machine most nights, can’t ask for much more really.
What do you miss most?
Girlfriend, Family, friends, my decks… My mums tasty egg and soldiers…
What are you listening to?
A heap of drum & bass, Sub Focus, High Contrast, Nosia and Mistabishi, a lot of chilled out stuff, Regina Spektor (my future wife by the way), Jose Gonzalez, Nitin Sawhney. and finally a healthy load of Japanese music, Mong Hang, T-AK and Makoto and our tour buddies Maximum the Hormone.
Who is the most annoying band member on this tour?
They’re all a bunch of stoner cunts!
Food wise, are you all living on burgers and chips or are you becoming to come to terms with the delicacies?
Rob, Rory and Chris have all gone sushi crazy. I can’t dig that shit, too slimy and too many tails sticking out all over the place. Japan just has crazy food. We tried to set out to try most things, you only live once and all that, Rob managed Raw Horse for fucks sake. The worst I did was a little nibble at Cow Tongue… never again. In the US i swear it’s impossible to eat healthily whilst on tour. It’s hard to find the time to sniff out the good places. We just have to pull into shitty diners whilst traveling and even the salads come soaked in fatty Caesar sauce and bacon and processed cheese and stuff. And the portions are just stupid, so much food gets wasted it’s pretty sickening.
What are the crowds like across the other side of the planet? Do people know the songs yet?
Yeah Australia/NZ was great, the average age of our crowd was like 19/20 or something so that was kind of cool to get away from the eyeliner clad teens of the US and UK. They new all the tracks even though the album has only been out a few months there, it went off.
How was the Big Day Out down under? How does it compare to Reading/Download in the UK?
The line up was a lot more eclectic, we got to see fellow brits, Dizzee Rascal, Kate Nash and the great Billy Bragg too. The festival vibe was just the same really, just a lot more people sun burnt!
Do you write new songs in the van or wait until you get home?
I’ve been putting together a few ideas on my laptop on the road, I prefer writing in my room though where i’ve got everything at my fingertips to write on.
How do you set about writing a song? (What inspires you? How do you know when to give up on a lost cause? Do you write lyrics to fit the melody or decide on a subject matter and then write the melody?)
I don’t really have a set way of writing, some times it’s lyrics before anything and I write the song to fit them but sometimes it’s completely the other way around. Generally I’m pretty quick to give up on a ‘lost cause’ hah! If I don’t get the initial buzz whilst I’m at it, then i’ll drop it straight away.
How many song ideas do you already have for the follow up to ‘Take To The Skies’?
I’ve built up quite a lot of lyrical content over the last few months, obviously there’s a lot going on with the world at the moment, so there’s a lot of inspiration. I think generally lyric wise where the first album was quite deep and metaphorical this ones gonna be a lot more outspoken, politically and socially. Music wise I’ve done a few home demo’s and we’ve still got a huge back catalogue of tunes from way back that we’d like to revamp.
Anyone in mind to produce and mix the new album with you guys?
We’ve had a few offers and stuff but we haven’t really started thinking properly about it, which is just like us, leave it to the last minute… don’t expect the album till next year.. haha!
Do you feel the second album pressure?
Not really. I’m just anxious to get back in the studio, it’s been well over a year since we recorded the first album and that was done in just two weeks so I just can’t wait to have some time to experiment in there and record without a strict time schedule.
You have recently been hanging out with the likes of Pendulum at their shows, how does the live drum and bass scene inspire your sound?
Drum & Bass is going to be one of the biggest inspirations for the album I think, we’ve always been pretty heavily into it, me and Rory especially. His brother is the DJ that we bring on tour with us occasionally, so we’ve always had it around us. Like Trance, drum and bass really has that euphoric feel, gets you totally vibing, but you don’t headwalk/stage dive to dnb or trance, there’s the problem. That’s where we come in i guess.
Do you think that you will hook up with Pendulum this year for a remix/co write?
There was talk of them producing the next album but i think they’re just too busy at the moment. But yeah there could well be some sort of remix or collaboration one day.
On your Wikipedia page it says that you requested the physical formats of “Sorry You’re Not a Winner/OK Time for Plan B” to be chart ineligible, is this true? (If so why did you do it?)
Yeah it was our first proper release, so we were just testing the water really. It was just solely for the fans, limited to 2000 CD’s and 1000 vinyl with some pretty clever artwork if I do say so myself haha. To make it chart ineligible we included some free stickers and stuff. It’s not like we were taking the ‘yeah fuck the charts, it’s bullshit‘ view, I mean i think we need a revival, especially as alternative music is becoming a lot more commercial now. Bring back Top of the Pops man, it was a british tragedy that it was full of shit every week, but it was a bigger british tragedy that it got cut, it just needed a re-vamp.
As widespread as your new sound has been documented there have also been a few whispers that really you’re not doing anything new introducing a synthesizer to a rock band. What or who first inspired you to crossover the dance and rock genres, mix them up with a message for the youth of today and throw them into a raving mosh pit? (Did you ever really believe it would take off the way it has?)
Nah, we were obviously a victim of silly media hype. They had a fucking baby over it, now it has died down a lot, i guess the baby has grown and it’s just the miserable toddler at the moment, terrible 2’s or something, they’re not so interested anymore. They’re just moving onto the next new thing, the next baby from another partner, media are just whores man. Haha how far can I take this metaphor?! I think most bands would be nervous if they had lost there original hype but if anything I think we’re glad. Playing the music we do was just a hobby, music that we all enjoyed, we thought that when we were playing the Bull and Gate to 2 people, we think that now playing the the other side of the world to 3,000.
Who have you most enjoyed sharing a stage with (headline or support) and why? (What was your favourite festival of the number you played last year?)
Our UK tour with Hundred Reasons and local mates Your Demise was awesome, just having them two bands on before us always got me so hyped up. Bringing Hundred Reasons along with us was a dream come true, they were always one of my favourite bands and listening to them just brought back memories of summer fun and japes.
You have a lot of banter and little jokes and messages during your gigs to really get the audience involved. Human pyramids, circle pits, free Johnny Sniper branded condoms you really get them feeling like they’re up on stage with you. But what makes you feel most connected with the audience?
I guess we’re just always looking for participation of every kind. I’m always looking out for the kids that do the mental stuff; climb lighting rigs, stage dive, rush the mic, do pitleaps, pyramids, flips, cartwheels and just generally dance and have a good time. It should be a bit of an adrenaline fueled workout really, for band and audience.
Last year you performed on The Dimebag stage at Download, named after the legendary Dimebag Darrell of Pantera. What’s your favourite Pantera song and thoughts?
Slaughtered, Strength beyond Strength, anything from that album really, when it had a bit more energy, before they were just off their heads all the time. They’re cover of Planet Caravan (Black Sabbath) is pretty cool and Good friends and a Bottle of Pills is pretty fun. Never been like massively into them though, Phill Anselmo’s dodgy race views put me off.
Last year you won a plethora of awards. Which one were you most shocked to win? (Which one were you most pleased about winning?)
The first one, the NME musical innovation was a big shock, Dan P Carter just strolling onto stage before ‘Return to Energiser‘, our tech didn’t know who he was and almost took him down haha! The Kerrang awards were a massive shock as well, I mean we never thought we’d get any awards ever; we’re just our scrubbers from St Albans. Winning best live band was very humbling and rewarding for the 600 shows we’ve done whilst trawling the UK.
You’re very supportive of new music coming out of St Albans and in generally just very vocal about your roots as shown at your homecoming all day festival there last year. But you’ve visited a lot of places and played a lot of shows all over the world now, so if you could choose anywhere to live in the world, money no object, where would you go and why?
New Zealand i think, we were only there for a few days, and only saw Auckland which is apparently like the least picturesque place and that was fucking beautiful.
Your song Labyrinth…is it about or inspired by the 80’s film of the same name with David Bowie? Or the Sonic the Hedgehog level?
Hey you, you’re good, hit the nail on the head, both actually! The Sega Mega drive has always been my favourite games console, and Sonic one of my favourite games, and that level is just sweet, how fucking panicky you get when he starts gasping for air and the countdown starts! Genious. And yes of course the movie is a complete classic, Bowie’s awesome.
Have you ever written a song about a computer character?
Not about a specific character, but ‘Ok time for Plan B’ had a lot of musical influences from the music of the original Goldenaxe. I reckon i’ll write a song about the end boss in that though, “Death Adder” he’s fucking Tough. You heard it here first.
If you could be any fictional character who would you be?
Banana man? bit of a geezer, and i love bananas, but apparently if you eat too many they actually properly poison you, so I’d have to keep my banana count in check.
Which of you boys is most likened to the fictional character you created Jonny Sniper and why?
Probably me cos I’m always handing out the condoms to those in need, being girlfriended ‘n all.
But the song actually has a completely different original meaning from the sordid live interpretation! Jonny Sniper is every critic of climate change and every hypocrite that goes around preaching and not practicing interventions of climate change (Al Gore). So in that case all of us are Jonny Sniper to some degree. “So this is a quest to save the world, and he’ll always be here for another day another chance to rescue…” We have the chance to do something everyday, but until are lives start being affected by it we wont change which is just sad and selfish.
How did you all feel after the tour collectively and what are you going to miss about not being able to get on with the daily schedule of touring?
Just totally and utterly drained. It’s going to be seriously weird being home for more than a few days let alone weeks and months! I think it’s gonna be pretty depressing to be honest, like the biggest come down ever, 3 years of pretty much constant touring and now we’re done, we don’t really know any different! But saying that we’ve been looking forward to it for a while now, so it’s relief as well we’ve just gotta keep our heads up. The other prominent emotion has gotta be anxiety and excitement I suppose, it’s well over a year now since we recorded the first album so we just can’t wait to get back into the studio and write. And of course this time we’ll have more than two weeks to record the album, what a luxury! Although thats probably quite dangerous, experimenting in the studio whilst recording is something we did get a chance to do on the early demos back in the day and it usually resulted in us getting bored and adding completely ridiculous unneeded bollocks into the pot.
I’m gonna miss our touring crew, we’ve built up our sound and tech squad around us since day one, we’re like brothers now, their mostly all Glaswegians though, so they’ll be back off up north you see. I’m gonna miss living in the tour bubble as well, just that whole waking up in a different city, different time zone, totally sleep deprived and just thinking what the fuck is going on… where am I? Who am I? That whole constant surrealism of the situation. I suppose for three or four years I’ve just been living through Escapism…
Anything you would like to say to your fans?
A colossal thank you to everyone that has supported us in any way so far, It’s only just begun really, we’re totally buzzing about the next album, hold tight!
Around the World in 40 Days Tour shots by the band
Street photo by Juan Garcia