Miles into their maiden trek around the UK in support of the massive new record Common Dreads, St. Albans’ Enter Shikari take a stop in Newcastle, and George is lucky enough to grab the boys for an interview. They chat about the new album, what Sonic game surprisingly shy frontman Rou Reynolds owned in his youth, and if Rob Rolfe did indeed take a shit in Wal-Mart…
George: Can you say your names and what you do in the band?
Rou: I’m Rou, I sing and play electronics.
Rory: I’m Rory, and I play guitar.
Chris: Chris, I play bass.
Rob: Rob, I’m the drummer.
George: You’re quite a way through your tour, how’s it been so far?
Rou: Really good, it’s been very easygoing, very fun! The last tour we did before this was in America, and it couldn’t of been more of a contrast really. It was kinda like a horrible slog in a tiny little van, horrible drives, and this is just like, a lot more chilled out, more fun.
Rob: Lot of partying!
Rou: [laughs] Yeah, a very party-rich tour.
George: How have people been warming to The Devil Wears Prada and True Tiger?
Rob: Differently, really. Some places, True Tiger will go down a storm, the crowd will absolutely love it, other places haven’t been so kind, and they’ve had a few sort of, nasty chance, only from like a select handful of the audience, but it’s mostly been good for True Tiger, and The Devil Wears Prada have already got a pretty good fanbase over here, so they’ve been down really well.
Rou: I mean the only time True Tiger really had any problems was when they first of all started off playing quite a long set, they were playing like 50-minutes, so we’ve changed that and they’re playing about 30-minutes now, and everyone seems to be enjoying that a lot more, it’s testing the patience of everyone.
George: What’s Enter Shikari been up to this summer?
Rory: Festivals, we had two American tours, we released an album…
Rou: Lots of partying, lots of good times.
Chris: We’re heading off across Europe with The Prodigy in November, which is gonna be ace!
George: Rob, you didn’t go to America last time, and apparently you took a shit in Wal-Mart, did you?
Rob: [laughs] No I didn’t, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Wal-Mart, every time these guys go to the states without me, they think up a new story each night, so…
[The band laugh]
Rob: Just to keep people guessing!
George: You recently released Common Dreads, are you pleased with the acclaim it’s recieved?
Rou: Yeah… [pauses] …Pretty unreal really.
George: What’s the album about? People say it’s political, it’s a message…
Rou: Not primarily, I mean the tunes were written about stuff that’s going round in my head at the time, so yeah there’s a lot of meaningful lyrics on there, more than the first album, and it’s a lot more just sort of “arty” and ambiguous, but yeah.
Rory: As a band though, we didn’t wanna go sort of too deep into preachy and inverted comma’s, we don’t wanna become one of “those bands” we still want it to be about the fun, and the music and everything, but if you’ve got a voice that people are gonna listen to, then you may as well say something worth saying.
George: It seems a lot more experimental than Take To The Skies, what influenced it?
Rou: I think because we had a lot more time in the studio, some of them were written at least six months before we went to the studio, some of them are years old. Sorry, You’re Not A Winner must be about seven years old now or something ridiculous. Whereas this time it was fresh, and we went in and had time to experiment with a load of different instruments and try out a new sense of stuff, it was just more of an output of the environment, we hadn’t been listening to anything different, we’ve still got quite eclectic music tastes. [laughs]
George: Do you feel like you’ve matured as a band since the last release? The music sounds a lot more well put together and stuff…
Rob: Well, I think to be honest, we were probably more mature as a band than the music we put down on our first album, when we were recording our first album, because our songs had been written for so long. We were obviously constantly moving and changing, and a lot of the stuff on there was like three years old, so to gain three years from that, we’ve not only grown physically, but also mentally as people and musicians, and yeah, I think we’ve definitely grown.
George: Is it the work you’re most proud of to date?
Rory: Common Dreads, definitely. I think it’s the most, I think we’re all more proud of it than anything else that we’ve ever done, really.
George: For those who don’t know, what is a common dread?
Rou: Something that, it was supposed to be written very subconsciously, on a global scale, things that everyone unites against, things that affect everyone.
George: Like global warming?
Rou: [laughs] Yeah!
George: What are your individual dreads?
Rob: Spiders. [laughs]
Chris: Going down the phobia line, I guess I’ve got a bit of a phobia on crabs.
Chris: I dunno, I just hate them.
Rory: He only seems to sleep with girls that have got them most times. [laughs]
Chris: Yeah, both kinds. [laughs]
Rory: I’ve got a phobia of… [pauses] …Nah, it’s just…
[Everyone laughs again as Rory puts his face in his hands]
Rory: …Mashed potatoes. It’s probably the weirdest phobia I’ve got, I just can’t stand the stuff.
[Everyone looks at Rou for an answer…]
Rou: [pauses] …I don’t really know! [laughs]
George: What’s with the intro to The Jester? It’s absolutely mental!
Rou: Yeah! [laughs] We always wanted to re-create authentic jazz sounding, old y’know, record or something, and we spent ages with effects trying to make it sound like a crackly record, yeah, Andy did the recording with like, an old honky-tonk piano in the corner which we used, and we had the flute, and the trumpet, and we just sorta went mad, really. [laughs]
Chris: It’s just one of those examples of what can happen when you kinda get locked away for too long, with too much at your disposal to play with! [laughs]
George: Do all the spoken word bits have any meaning, or are they just random ramblings?
Rou: [laughs] Erm, they do, I mean Zzzonked obviously, is gonna sound very random, very weird, and yeah, to a certain extent it is, most of the spoken words are a concious decision because when you listen to someone scream or shout, or whatever, it doesn’t exactly make out what they’re saying, but spoken word, it’s pretty hard not to understand. [laughs] The words that I’m saying, people tend to listen a bit more. So yeah, I suppose they have that sorta texture.
George: Hectic – Do you play Sega Mega Drive, Bowling X and Sonic all day?
Rou: I have done, yeah!
George: Which one, out of curiosity?
Rou: I only ever had the first one, actually!
George: What’s each of your favourite songs to play live from the new album?
Chris: I’d probably say for me, Step Up has always been a really fun one to play and I still have a really good time.
Rob: I’d say Hectic for me, ’cause it’s got a big energy to it, it’s not difficult to play, so I can just be like go all out and get into it a lot, and it’s good fun.
Rory: I’ll go for Zzzonked then, always good fun!
George: Do you prefer to play newer songs or older songs live?
Rob: Newer. Definitely. Fresher, more fun.
Rou: I was always the one trying to drop the old songs in, in our arguments before we play, but when we haven’t played any songs for a while, you always feel like you get that energy boost, we keep it on a sort of cycle. [laughs]
George: Apparently, you’re influenced by both sides of hardcore; the punky side and the happy side.
George: …What side do you feel more inclined to, if any?
Rob: Us as a band?
George: Yeah, do you feel more like a kind of hardcore in the punky sense, or in the more techno-ey kinda sense, or slap bang in the middle?
Rory: Yeah, pretty hardcore.
Rob: Well which one? [laughs]
Rory: The punky one, because when you think about it, The Jester‘s the only song that’s got a bit of happy hardcore to it.
Rou: They’re both big influences, but we grew up on the punky side of it really, so…
George: Did you ever start out playing without electronics?
Rob: Yeah, we actually started out playing Beatles covers. [laughs]
George: What changed your mind?
Rob: Nothing changed our minds, it’s just something that progressed as we grew as a band, it’s not like one day we said, “Right, we’re gonna start doing dance tunes”.
Rory: Just before I joined, Roughton used to play guitar as a three-piece, and they bought a little chaos pad to add in some little added effects, and I came in to play guitar so he could do that.
George: Rout and Sgt. Rolfy played a DJ set at Slam Dunk festival, will the DJ sets be making more appearances in the future?
Rob: Yeah, we’ve done quite a few this tour, actually, like all the after parties that we’ve done, we’re always looking for other stuff to play, not just our own, and DJ sets wherever we can, so it won’t be the last you’ve heard of us!
George: Rou, I noticed on your Twitter a while back, you tweeted people on how to pronounce your name…
[The band laughs]
George: …Here’s the chance for you, is it “Roo” or “Rou” (Pronounced like thou or cow)?
Rou: It’s Rou. [laughs] Yeah, there’s a certain point about a year ago where I just stopped correcting people because it was happening so much, and it kind of really escalated after that, so it was driving me crazy with people. [laughs]
George: What’s next in store for Enter Shikari?
Rob: Prodigy tour!
Chris: We’ve just announced, kind of a homecoming gig, it’s on December 19th, Christmas party, which will be our last gig of the year, which is in Hatfield.
Rou: We’re recording two new songs at the end of this tour, hopefully they’ll be released sorta January/February time, and we’ve got another tour going as well. Can’t remember where, are we doing Newcastle?
Chris: Which one sorry?
Rou: In February…
Rou: Middlesbrough, yeah! You’re better than us. [laughs]
George: Change the record, who should we be listening to?
Rou: Mong Hang.
Chris: Maximum The Hormone. They’re both kinda crazy Japanese bands.
Rory: We could list off a load of bands people know, but…
Rob: There’s no point in that, because everybody knows them!
Rory: Yeah, yeah, but…
Rob: It’s all about checking out new bands, init?
Rory: Yeah, exactly.
Chris: The Quemists are quite good. With a Q…
Rou: I can’t actually think…
Chris: The King Blues!
George: Ahh! I didn’t get that, when Kerrang! reviewed your album, it said for fans of The King Blues, and You Me At Six. I didn’t get that at all!
[The band laughs]
Rou: It’s nuts, [laughs] it’s quite out there.
George: Probably because you can’t compare anyone, really.
Rou: Yeah! [laughs]
George: Is there anything you’d like to add?
[the band pause]
Rob: Come to the Christmas party!
Rou: Yeah. [laughs]
Rory: It’s gonna be fun!
– George Cannings.