En­ter Shikari takes an­other new turn

Singer stopped try­ing to de­ter­mine what sound would con­nect with North Amer­i­can au­di­ences long ago

The Province - - ENTERTAINMENT - STU­ART DERDEYN sderdeyn@post­media.com twit­ter.com/stu­art­derdeyn

For the past 15 years, Hert­ford­shire quar­tet En­ter Shikari has built a solid and pas­sion­ate fan base in the U.K. Enough of one that, early on, the band was able to sell out the Lon­don As­to­ria with­out a record deal.

Of course, the post-hard­core work ethos of this DIY crew meant it had formed its own la­bel, the cheek­ily ti­tled Am­bush Re­al­ity.

Jump ahead to Septem­ber 2017 and the band has re­leased its sev­enth al­bum, The Spark, and is once again in the U.K. charts and gen­er­at­ing a buzz.

Not only for its mu­sic, mind you. Al­ways ac­tive with the “so­cials,” the group’s singer, Rou Reynolds, got in a bit of bother when he tweeted it was an “ul­tra-cap­i­tal­is­tic ex­ploita­tion of fans” for Tay­lor Swift to be launch­ing the con­tro­ver­sial “ver­i­fied-fan” ini­tia­tive with Tick­et­mas­ter for her U.K. tour. This is where you could move ahead in line for ticket pur­chases by watch­ing Swift’s Look What You Made Me Do mu­sic video and buy­ing her new al­bum, Rep­u­ta­tion, mul­ti­ple times; up to 13 copies.

With all of that be­hind them, En­ter Shikari pre­pares to bring songs such as the scream­ing anti-Brexit rager Take My Coun­try Back, and new sin­gle Live Out­side to a grow­ing North Amer­i­can fan base. Per­haps this will be the al­bum to make the group get the at­ten­tion it de­serves on both sides of the water?

Reynolds took an early morn­ing call to chat in De­cem­ber.

Post­media News: The Spark is more elec­tronic and textured than its pre­de­ces­sor, the Mindsweep (2015), or any­thing you’ve done be­fore. Is the odd-look­ing piece of space in­stru­ment on the cover an ac­tual thing?

Reynolds: “Well, it wasn’t, but it will be as we’re hav­ing it 3D printed and con­structed in time for the tour, so we can be play­ing it. We’re mak­ing an out­side shell for this MIDI soft­ware con­troller, as well as some vin­tage gear.”

Q: The band seems poised for a North Amer­ica push with this re­lease. But maybe it’s just that the anger and in­tel­li­gence of the songs seem very ap­pro­pri­ate at this time.

A: “I have re­ally given up on try­ing to fig­ure that out, as one of our most suc­cess­ful tracks ever on ra­dio was a two-minute-long punk-rager where the ones you think would be a fit don’t. It’s one of the rea­sons that we have been so en­gaged with fans on so­cial me­dia for so long be­cause that is where the di­a­logue hap­pens.”

Why does the band dis­play such wildly eclec­tic tastes, where you go from full-on rock to weird noise, ex­per­i­men­tal dance mu­sic or even twee folk all on the same al­bum. Some­times you even do it in the same song?

“The main rea­son is the in­ter­sec­tion of a lot of dif­fer­ent so­cial groups and in­ter­ests. Guitarist Liam (Rory) Clewlow grew up with a brother who was a drum and bass DJ ... Then we had close friends who were into grime and I took mu­sic at uni and loved lis­ten­ing to clas­si­cal and learn­ing about tech­nol­ogy and pro­duc­tion. We’re all like that.”

Has this been key to your longevity, where so many of your con­tem­po­raries have had to go back to day jobs?

“We’ve re­ally man­aged to hit a sweet spot, where we can just make mu­sic and make enough to keep our­selves go­ing — although we of­ten lose most of it when we tour North Amer­ica. Here’s hop­ing that changes this time out. Ei­ther way, you can’t not have fun when you are mak­ing mu­sic.”

There is a lot of re­port­ing about both your own men­tal state and the state of the world be­ing deeply de­pressed at the time you wrote The Spark?

“As a rule, we’re gen­er­ally al­ways com­ing from some­place pos­i­tive, but we weren’t find­ing it try­ing to start writ­ing this record. It ended up that we have an al­bum that is quite up­beat but ad­dresses some su­per-som­bre top­ics. That’s a defin­ing fea­ture of a lot of the best pop mu­sic in the past like the Manch­ester scene.”

En­ter Shikari, an English band fronted by Rou Reynolds, sec­ond from left, re­cently re­leased The Spark.

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