[MUSIC: Interview] Enter Shikari
‘Genre-defying’ is a term thrashed about so often it has little in the way of meaning or accuracy, but Britain’s Enter Shikari get pretty close to the essence of the concept. In fact, they don’t just defy genre labels; they completely obliterate the notion. Combining post-hardcore, metal and punk with electronic breakdowns, trance and dubstep could be a recipe for disaster, but frontman Rou Reynolds and co. have amassed an overwhelming following during the decade they’ve been together. Although the band had accumulated a dedicated niche following in their early years, their latest release, A Flash Flood Of Colour, debuted at #4 on the British charts and catapulted the band into a whole new arena of notoriety.
On top of preparing for Enter Shikari’s run of European and UK summer festivals as well as a world tour, Reynolds has just launched his fashion line, Step Up Clothing. “The whole premise of the company is about the resource and the moral side of the business, so it’s all fair trade, organic, and with minimal impact on the environment,” Reynolds says, as he walks home from a meeting through the streets of London. “The T-shirts have a 90% reduced carbon emission rate. All of the shirts are designed by friends of mine and represent different causes and charities.”
In the past, Reynolds has insisted that he and Enter Shikari are not political in any way, but the lyrical content of the band’s music – as well as projects like this clothing line – seem to contradict that position. “I think the main reason I’ve said that is that the second you mention the p-word, I guarantee about 50% of the people who are watching, reading or listening will just switch off,” he says. “They think it’s gonna be boring. When I think of politics, I think of old men bickering about budgets.” But what about demonstrations of youth solidarity – or even just a good old-fashioned riot? “Obviously that’s more exciting,” he laughs. “But I think we try and encourage people to just think about the things going on around them. Nature doesn’t respect any borders whatsoever, and when you think about it countries are just gangs on a larger scale. It’s a very immature and blinkered way of structuring society, and all of the psychological shit it brings – patriotism and negativity – creates so many problems in this world.”
By album number three audience expectation starts to become a weighty issue, but Enter Shikari have never made music just to please the masses; indeed, they seem to distance themselves from any external demands placed on their creativity. “It’s the whole first-album thing,” he says. “If we’d just stayed making the same music over and over a fair few people would’ve been really pleased, but most people would’ve been really bored. Particularly us. The whole reason you get into music is so you have that creative freedom and you’re not stuck at a desk or something, doing the same thing over and over again. You do it for freedom, and that is how we approach things.
“The music that we make is quite scientific, but it’s so simple as well,” he continues. “You just absorb the experiences and feelings you have every day and you churn them up inside you until they come out of this blender that turns out to be an amalgamation of sounds. We don’t think, ‘Oh we need some hardcore or drum and bass or punk’, nor do we think, ‘Screw you guys, we’re not playing this song or that song’ if we know people will want to hear it. But creatively, the songs just come out via whatever tools we have on hand. It’s what we did for this album and what we’ll continue to do.”
What: A Flash Flood Of Colour is out now on Liberator Music
Where: UNSW Roundhouse (lic. all-ages)
When: Friday September 21