Since exploding onto the rock scene in 2003, UK’s Enter Shikari have topped album charts, won numerous awards, toured all over the world, and played and headlined some of Europe’s top music festivals all while under their own record label – Ambush Reality. The hardworking and famously unpretentious group, comprised of Rou Reynolds, Chris Batten, Rob Rolfe and Rory Clewlow, create music that is so truly unique and innovative that it is difficult to classify under even a few genres. The band’s sound has been described as fusing metalcore, alternative rock, electronic rock and contains traces of dub-step, techno, electronica and trance, while their material covers a range of topics from the political to the personal.
Inception & Longevity
We have known each other as a band for fourteen years now. We all met in secondary school and basically started touring around the UK, building up a name for ourselves, and it kind of went from there. We released our first album Take to the Skies in 2007 and since then have released another four over ten years.
I think with a lot of bands they meet each other in college, or music school, or something like that, you know? They jump in a band just to jump in a band and they hit the road. I think quite often it might be too early, people can clash, it might not be the right fit and I think it can fall apart, whereas, for us, we have known each other for so long. Rou and I have known each other since we were five years old. For us, it is more like a family.
Inspiring political change & unity through music
The first key to change is education. I think the first thing is to try and make people aware of situations.
Our music has always been about unity, bringing people together, and not just speaking out on necessarily a personal level but matters that affect everyone.
Not just in England, but worldwide issues more often than not. I think that is the first step in creating change and I think that is what music is fantastic for. It can bring people together indiscriminately. It has always been a platform for us to say what we feel. Whether people agree with us or not, it doesn’t really matter – we feel that we are just being honest with ourselves.
Newly released record The Spark is the most personal record to date.
When we have gone into the studio in the past, we weren’t really certain about what was going to come out. We had some demos and a rough idea but we did a lot of experimentation in the studio.
For The Spark our vision was a lot clearer. This was the first time it had ever happened, we knew how we wanted the music to go. It was a lot more direct and a lot more streamlined. Rather than layering up ideas over each other, we wanted slicker guitar lines but less often – using simpler ideas that would take more of the focus. Rou had also been going through a fair bit with his mental health issues, his anxiety, and I think he found that speaking about his personal issues was something that was actually helping him. So I think that from that, he basically found a lot more confidence to do it through the lyrics as well.
Rou was also listening to a lot of bands like Depeche Mode who have quite upbeat music, but often quite serious and sombre lyrics, and that was the direction we got really inspired by. This music is a lot more for people to latch onto and for people to be compassionate with.
Personal playlists and other groups that push boundaries
Our playlists are quite varied. Personally, I’ve been listening to a band from the UK called Everything Everything. They just released a record fairly recently so that’s been high up on my playlist. It’s kind of like rock music but mainstream pop music as well. They are not your normal kind of pop band really, they are a lot more interesting and their ideas are not just churned out. I have also been listening to the new Arcade Fire album, that’s on my rotation. There’s also a band called Fatherson from Scotland, and another Scottish band called The Exerts, who have just dropped a new album, so I’ve been listening to that a lot. We also got quite into The 1975; their most recent record was really influential.
Advice to newcomers
If you are trying to be in a band, try to focus on something that feels different and fresh. Try not to repeat, if possible. Obviously, everyone is influenced by what is around them and what they hear, and it comes out in different ways. Don’t be afraid to try to be different and to try and write something that you haven’t heard before.
Along with that, you only get one chance to make a good impression so make sure you are well practiced and when you are, play as many shows as possible at first.
As told to Sharon Allman exclusively for Vancouver Weekly.