be­fore we bring you a world-ex­clu­sive in­ter­view all about En­ter Shikari’s bril­liant new al­bum, The Spark

By now you’ll re­turn to know that the scene, En­ter Shikari world-ex­clu­sive armed are with new plot­ting this deeply in­ter­view, al­bum their per­sonal singer rou the Spark. al­bum in this for reynolds ker­rang!, Breaks down track By track…

Kerrang! (UK) - - Contents -

THE END of 2015 was the rough­est pe­riod of Rou Reynolds’ life. a seis­mic panic at­tack trig­gered in him a four­month bout of in­som­nia, which it­self sent his anx­i­ety spi­ralling out of con­trol. “i got de­pressed and was on the ob­ses­sive-com­pul­sive dis­or­der spec­trum as well,” the En­ter Shikari front­man re­calls to­day from the band’s prac­tice space in Wel­wyn, Hert­ford­shire. “it was just a re­ally fuck­ing grim few months! And then just be­fore that, I’d lost my last grand­par­ent, and broke up with my girl­friend of seven years,” he says. “so it was a pretty tu­mul­tuous pe­riod, and a lot of the al­bum re­flects on that.” Rou’s talk­ing, of course, about new record The Spark, out on Septem­ber 22, via Play It Again Sam/am­bush Re­al­ity. writ­ing for the al­bum be­gan in early 2016, with record­ing tak­ing place this Jan­uary at the An­gelic Res­i­den­tial Record­ing Stu­dio near Northamp­ton.and af­ter lay­ing his trou­bles down in the vo­cal booth, he’s feel­ing great. “I’m like a new man!” he smiles. “i’m just full of ex­cite­ment and pos­i­tiv­ity for the record. It’s nice to know that that’s what I was hop­ing for [when I wrote these songs], and it kind of came true.” Here he is to walk us through the tracks…


“It was very late in the day that [the idea for an in­tro and an outro track] came up. they served a pur­pose of book­end­ing the record.the song is made up of chords that I’d played about with a lot, and as soon as I hear them it’s like some­one’s punch­ing me in the gut, but in a good way (laughs). It’s such a vis­ceral, im­me­di­ate emo­tional thing for me.and mu­si­cally it works re­ally for call­ing the al­bum The Spark, try­ing to en­com­pass ev­ery­thing on the al­bum in one line, one ti­tle, is re­ally dif­fi­cult, but to me, the Spark is about com­ing out of a pe­riod of strug­gle, ba­si­cally.”


“It’s the on­slaught of emo­tions that hit you af­ter a new start, so for me the last few years have been ab­so­lutely men­tal: by far the cra­zi­est and tough­est of my life, so this is just the var­i­ous fears and ex­cite­ments of hav­ing a new chap­ter in your life open up. there’s lots of ref­er­ences to my pre­vi­ous re­la­tion­ship on this al­bum, and this one cov­ers, not the free­dom – be­cause peo­ple will just think that that means sex­ual free­dom, which isn’t re­ally what I was go­ing for (laughs) – but be­ing back in con­trol again of your own des­tiny, and be­ing able to re­dis­cover your­self and all those clichés (laughs). and then the ex­cite­ment of know­ing that, at some point, maybe I will find some­one else who will make me happy, and I’ll make them happy. It’s about new starts.”


“This is fo­cused on men­tal health. there’s par­al­lels to want­ing to get away from the on­slaught of mod­ern life and ev­ery­thing go­ing on at the mo­ment – it’s just one global shock af­ter an­other. It’s about want­ing to step out­side of one’s own skull (laughs)! To step out­side of the re­lent­less na­ture of thoughts and ru­mi­na­tion and just want­ing a break when you’re in those more anx­ious or de­pres­sive mo­ments. I have two lev­els of anx­i­ety: that level where it was just ridicu­lous [at the end of 2015], and my ev­ery­day anx­i­ety, when I have an al­right sleep­ing pat­tern and I can get it un­der con­trol. It still frus­trates me, and an­noys me, and I try and work at it, but I can ab­so­lutely live with it – it’s not de­bil­i­tat­ing or any­thing.”


“This is the most rau­cous, an­gry and most po­lit­i­cally-overt track on the al­bum, lyri­cally speak­ing. In­flu­enced by all the crazy things that have


been hap­pen­ing, and it draws from all of them, be­cause it fo­cuses on this mod­ern phe­nom­e­non of echo cham­bers, and that’s been so ex­ac­er­bated by so­cial me­dia. Even on the level of con­sumerism, like: ‘if you buy this, you’ll like this!’ And it’ll be some­thing that’s very sim­i­lar. It’s like so­cial me­dia is al­most con­ser­va­tive in its na­ture, be­cause you have your friend­ship and your po­lit­i­cal cir­cles, and you have to go look­ing for new ideas, new philoso­phies, or to be chal­lenged in­tel­lec­tu­ally; it breeds a new level of trib­al­ism which we see on­line, and in com­ments or on Twit­ter, and then that plays out in the real world. So it’s the frus­tra­tion about that and just want­ing to re­mind peo­ple, and make sure we all try and avoid those mo­ments where we’re stuck within one frame, one sort of per­spec­tive, just to push our­selves and to en­gage. a lot of it was Brexit-in­spired.”


“This one is not speak­ing about any­thing spe­cific in my life, it’s just try­ing to har­ness ev­ery­thing that I’ve been through in the last few years, and use that to – I’m try­ing to avoid us­ing the word ‘spark’ here (laughs) – try and spark some hope in any­one else go­ing through some­thing. It ends with the lyric: ‘when the wind’s against you, re­mem­ber this in­sight: that’s the op­ti­mal con­di­tion, for birds to take flight.’ It’s that Shake­spearean no­tion of ad­ver­sity be­ing some­thing quite help­ful, or some­thing that you can put use into, be it cre­atively or be­cause it en­ables you to have a bet­ter grasp on the world or your emo­tions. It’s just telling peo­ple that ev­ery­thing is a state of flux, noth­ing is gonna last for­ever, and you’ll come through it stronger.”


“I can’t wait to play this one live! It’s ba­si­cally just a state­ment of what we do in the live arena. Just the may­hem, the sweat, the con­nec­tion that you get at our shows and in live mu­sic, and as a wider con­cept as for the line ‘I tor­ture rock­stars with pli­ers’, I of­ten go through a few weeks of get­ting so frus­trated with how stag­nant cer­tain mu­si­cal scenes can be.the most ob­vi­ous ex­am­ple is Warped Tour – of­ten we’ve played that and there’s been some amaz­ing bands who’ve in­spired us on it, but at least half of it is just an on­slaught of re­ally unin­spir­ing, ba­nal, re­cy­cled trash. And when you’re liv­ing that for months, it’s re­ally hard to not let it get to you (laughs). as a writer you’re in­flu­enced by ev­ery­thing you ex­pe­ri­ence, whether you like it or not, so if you hear some­thing that’s go­ing into your sub­con­scious, that’s be­ing logged. I find my­self hav­ing to dart from place to place [at Warped] to try and miss the on­slaught of shite that’s bub­bling out from var­i­ous stages. So it can be frus­trat­ing and it gets me down, but one of my tat­toos is about that – it’s a quote from [Ro­man politi­cian and lawyer] Cicero, who gets name-dropped on the al­bum in the first track. It’s just: ‘crit­i­cise by cre­ation’. So in­stead of be­ing that c**t who goes around call­ing peo­ple out and be­ing very neg­a­tive all the time, it’s about, ‘well, no, har­ness that and con­cen­trate on your own cre­ative out­put.’ Now ob­vi­ously ‘I tor­ture rock­stars with pli­ers’ isn’t har­ness­ing any pos­i­tiv­ity there (laughs). this song isn’t for deep, philo­soph­i­cal thoughts – it’s more for emo­tional, pas­sion­ate rigour.”


“[Which trans­lates as ‘for­est ther­apy’] is kind of cel­e­brat­ing na­ture and its health-giv­ing prop­er­ties – whether phys­i­cal or men­tal health, it’s so im­por­tant for both.and I feel like in our eco­nomic sys­tem and in our cul­ture, it isn’t cel­e­brated as much as it should be. It’s our lit­tle ode to na­ture and the beauty of it. Mu­si­cally, it’s quite dif­fer­ent for us – well, is it? I don’t know what’s dif­fer­ent any­more (laughs). there’s all sorts go­ing on in this song. I love words and phrases that don’t trans­late word-for-word, or there isn’t re­ally a phrase in English. an­other Ja­pa­nese word like that is ‘Yu­gen’. It’s for if you’re think­ing about the uni­verse, or the sheer ex­panse of it, and you hit a wall be­cause our fee­ble minds just can’t deal with it. Some­times it can be an all-en­com­pass­ing love for the uni­verse, or ‘How can it be this big?! I don’t un­der­stand it!’ – just a delu­sional be­wil­der­ment. that’s what the last line is all about: ‘we are the dust on the stained glass win­dows / Try­ing to com­pre­hend the cathe­dral.’ So just play­ing on those two lovely Ja­pa­nese phrases.”


“It’s mainly about per­cep­tion man­age­ment. Kids are grow­ing up not think­ing they con­trol how ev­ery­one per­ceives them. So­cial me­dia is the big­gest way that you can do that – you have your pro­file, you have your fil­ters, you put out into the world ex­actly what you want to put out, and you cre­ate an act, es­sen­tially. It may be real, and you may think it’s real, but it’s a thin slither of you, and it’s of­ten a very pol­ished ver­sion. that has lots of neg­a­tive ef­fects, es­pe­cially on a so­cial scale – ev­ery­one just sees the good points of other peo­ple’s lives, which then trans­lates in their minds as, ‘oh, my life is so crap com­pared to them.’

It en­cour­ages com­par­isons to oth­ers, which is some­thing that isn’t re­ally, on a men­tal health line of think­ing, a good thing to do. It’s want­ing to get away from that.the cho­rus – ‘Tonight I’m howl­ing with the wolves’ – is want­ing to get away to a slightly more raw and real life, away from all those pres­sures. It’s not me speak­ing down to those who use fil­ters on In­sta­gram – this is some­thing I do! And I ex­pe­ri­ence the pres­sure to feel like you have to con­stantly por­tray the best side of you. It’s some­thing we all deal with, whether we know it or not, and it’s want­ing to see the re­al­ness, and yearn­ing for real con­nec­tion. Mu­sic is one of the best ways to do that, so it’s nice to be able to ad­dress this whole thing with a song.”


“Is this me lit­er­ally talk­ing to atoms? yeah! Don’t you do that (laughs)? This one’s just a weird one, it’s kind of a sci-fi song. It’s about if atoms were sen­tient and ba­si­cally de­cided that they’ve had enough of hu­man­ity, and were plot­ting to dis­si­pate, which means ev­ery­thing we know would crum­ble in front of our eyes, or melt – I’m not sure how that would look visu­ally if the atoms just dis­persed… The very first synth riff that comes on is one of the ear­li­est synth riffs we ever made as En­ter Shikari, so back in 2004. I never re­ally felt like it was the right time, and it just felt right now. Be­cause it has that sci-fi na­ture to it, I was read­ing a lot of [Franz] Kafka at the time, so I was well into my strange, sur­real sto­ries that go off on weird tan­gents. Shortly af­ter writ­ing the lyric book [Dear Fu­ture His­to­ri­ans: The Lyrics & Ex­e­ge­sis Of Rou Reynolds] I re­mem­bered I used to write songs that cre­ate this big elab­o­rate world, that I’d cre­ate in three min­utes and it was re­ally fun, so I think I was in­flu­enced by that as well. In­flu­enced by my­self… what a dick (laughs)!”


“This is about, again, ev­ery­thing over the last few years – it’s about my nan… al­to­gether it’s about just los­ing what you thought was the in­te­gral struc­ture to what your life is. when you lose fam­ily mem­bers or you come out of a long-term re­la­tion­ship you sud­denly feel like you’re on stilts or some­thing. It’s all a bit dis­ori­en­tat­ing and scary, so it’s about those two things. about com­ing out of a long-term re­la­tion­ship – not in a nasty way, there’s still friend­ship and love there, but it’s still painful and scary and dis­ori­en­tat­ing.the line ‘I was so scared of con­fronting the world alone / Fear put me in a head­lock and dragged me back from the un­known’ is about stay­ing within some­thing that’s com­fort­able – in my case this re­la­tion­ship, be­cause even though you know it’s over, it still has some de­gree of com­fort to it. For me, in that sce­nario, the un­known – some­thing you can’t con­trol – is ter­ri­fy­ing. For some­one who’s spent pretty much his whole ro­man­tic life in two long-term re­la­tion­ships of seven years, the thought of en­ter­ing your 30s be­ing sin­gle is just like, ‘argh!’ (laughs). you’re go­ing on Face­book and ev­ery­one’s get­ting en­gaged and hav­ing ba­bies. So ‘If this is a siege, I’ll wait this out’ is the on­slaught of the world while you’re full of doubt. ‘i awoke with a face like a crum­pled plas­tic bag in a pud­dle’ is just you feel­ing so sad and com­pletely life­less, and feel­ing like you have no hope.”


“This is the same chord se­quence, but dif­fer­ent synths to the in­tro track.the end to An Ode To Lost Jig­saw Pieces just hap­pened to be in the same key, so when I re­alised I was like,‘oh my God, this is per­fect!’ The end of AOTLJP is the most hon­est, bare and vul­ner­a­ble I’ve ever been in the world – not just in mu­sic, but to any­one (laughs). what feel­ings does The Em­bers evoke? In all hon­esty, it just makes me cry! Es­pe­cially be­cause AOTLJP fin­ishes with a breath, which is quite fi­nal. It’s the sigh, like, ‘Okay this is all out now… I’ve ex­or­cised the de­mon.’ That was how [the al­bum] was gonna end, but hav­ing this ex­tra minute is a re­as­sur­ing cud­dle af­ter some­thing so bare and raw and dis­play­ing vul­ner­a­bil­ity. those chords are so pow­er­ful and so vis­ceral.” THE spark is out septem­ber 22, via play it again sam/ am­bush re­al­ity

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