Enter Shikari takes another new turn
Singer stopped trying to determine what sound would connect with North American audiences long ago
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.