Enter Shikari will soon be back on Australian shores wrapping up the final dates of the Mindsweep tour. We caught up with the bands intelligent and outspoken vocalist Rou Reynolds to chat about the tour and his music.

SCENEzine
How’s 2016 been for you so far?

Rou Reynolds
It’s been good man. More of the same, loads and loads of touring. Our last album did really well so it’s been good, can’t complain.

SCENEzine
You recently released a documentary on your Mindsweep UK Arena tour. Does that tour rate high as one your are most proud of?

Rou Reynolds
Yeah definitely I think just the ambition behind it and the spectacle that it was with the quadrophonic surround sound and all the lighting. It was certainly the most time we’ve ever put into a tour. We had three months before hand just programming. It was our first arena tour as well. To be headlining arenas in the UK was just crazy. It’s certainly one that will probably stick in our minds forever.

SCENEzine
Do you think that a lot of bands would shy away from putting on big sound and light shows because of the cost involved?

Rou Reynolds
Well we’ve certainly always had the attitude of put everything back into the show. We pretty much just scrape by. The first headline show we ever did in London at the Astoria which is sadly no longer there our manager sat us down and said you can either spend your budget on lasers or just LED lighting. We were like what would happen if we spent it on both then he said well then we wouldn’t make any money. We were like ok cool (laughs). That’s something we’ve just always done. It’s important for us to make the shows as big as possible. Even though we come from a punk background and revel in playing in dark sweaty rooms we are very much not afraid of becoming a bit more theatrical. A bit bigger and a bit more grandiose. It’s good to have both of those sides to us when your playing the bigger shows you start to miss the small punk shows and vice versa.

SCENEzine
It’s now roughly a year and half since Mindsweep was released looking back are you proud of how it turned out in regards to your catalogue of albums?

Rou Reynolds
Yeah I’m very much of the mind that you shouldn’t release anything unless you think it’s the best thing you’ve done so far. I think that’s been the case with every album. The only album that was ever rushed was our first album. That’s kind of the only one that I’m not particularly happy with. I don’t dwell on that it’s not like I want to re-record it or anything. It had it’s time and place and served everything well. Every other album has been a process of not quite perfectionism because that’s not a real concept but just making sure we are really happy with the final product. The Mindsweep was no different I’m proud of the music and it’s really enjoyable to play it live. Now we are just getting excited to start the process again as we head towards the end of Mindsweep touring era.

SCENEzine
“Anaesthetist” is a definite stand out track from the album. You can lose yourself in the music or also delve into the powerful lyrics. Do you like the idea your listeners can take different things away from songs like that?

Rou Reynolds
Yeah I quite enjoy that spectrum of different things that people extract from it. I’m very much of the view that art is a gift so once you put it out it’s no longer ours. People take it into their lives and use it for whatever purpose they need it for and take from it what they will. I really enjoy that aspect of it.

SCENEzine
Our personal favourite track from the album is “Dear Future Historians…” it must be cool to have the freedom to be able to put songs like that on album. Whereas a lot of other bands coming from a heavy genre wouldn’t have a song that slow on an album.

Rou Reynolds
It’s something that we’ve hopefully really tried to push. We get very bored easily and I get fidgety if we are just doing the same sound. Even at a practice session if we have to play the same song over again to perfect some part of a track I get so bored. That’s always been the way. So I think it’s really good to be able to delve into different areas of music to try and convey different emotions. That’s also something that has confused us when bands just write angry metal songs.

Of course there’s a place for that and I love angry metal just as much as the next man but I also love sad music and elated happy music. I usually just compare it to food like say dessert. I love chocolate cake but I wouldn’t want to eat it every day. Once in a while I might want a muffin or an apple pie (laughs). It’s a similar sort of thing. A lot of people who live their life by one style of music are just restricting themselves really.

SCENEzine
I really loved the video for “Redshift”. Does the video convey the message of the song?

Rou Reynolds
Certainly it’s the right area but with video we just went all out and almost made it sort of Hollywoodesque in how it progresses. The video is very much relying on big cataclysmic visuals like the earth exploding (laughs) stuff like that. Whereas the song is much more philosophical and poetic I hope. It’s all about the progress of cosmology in the nineteenth and twentieth century how we found out that we weren’t alone in the universe as we started discovering other galaxies. Then we found out I say we like I had a part in it (laughs).

Humans found out that the universe is expanding and accelerating. That’s what the song really is about, what a lucky time it is to be alive at this point in the universe expansion because we can find these other galaxies and therefore we can search for other life. Whereas say two or three trillion years from now if we’d evolved at that point as a species on some other planet. Every galaxy would of sped away so fast because of the universe’s expansion that we wouldn’t be able to detect any other galaxies because they’d be travelling away from us at the speed of light. So we would then come to the conclusion that we are completely alone in the universe and there’s something so sad about that. So that song is about the lucky predicament we have to be evolved and alive at this point in the universe.

SCENEzine
With writing for the next album do you feel a lot of pressure lyrically since there is a so much going on in the world from politics, tragedies, terrorism and global injustice. Is it a case of thousands of fans around the world saying I bet Rou is angry about this can’t wait to see what he says?

Rou Reynolds
(laughs) Yeah it’s crazy especially on twitter. Almost weekly there will be people saying literally what you just said. Something we will happen in the world and they will say I bet Enter Shikari will have a track about this. Oh god there is a bit of pressure there (laughs). But also it’s difficult cause I never want to do anything predictable either. So who knows maybe the next album will be just about cats and rabbits and ponies (laughs).

SCENEzine
Soon you’ll be back in Australia touring. Are you excited to be bringing along Hacktivist?

Rou Reynolds
Yeah absolutely it’s always a great time when we are with those boys. I think they are a really interesting band combing hip hop and grime with metal. They are a great live band.

SCENEzine
You’ve been to Australia a few times are you looking forward to coming back?

Rou Reynolds
I always get frustrated because people say I bet you he says this about everywhere. But it’s not true I literally only say this about two places Japan and Australia. They are actually the only two countries we have left from this Mindsweep tour. So I’m really looking forward to it they are my favourite to places to play. Japan is so different and interesting. Australia is beautiful, everyone is so friendly it’s always such a good time.

SCENEzine
Do you feel Australian audiences seem to understand British bands more than American audiences?

Rou Reynolds
I couldn’t speak for other bands but for us definitely. America has been the one place we have really struggled with. I think because American culture is so big, bold and often quite simplified. Whether it’s their TV or advertising everything’s in your face, there’s little subtlety and irony. At least in mainstream culture and therefore it makes it very difficult for a band like us who have so many layers and intricacies in the music. People just kind of don’t understand it and therefore don’t like it. Or don’t particularly want to put in the time to understand it.

That’s one of the reasons why we are so close to our fanbase because we understand that our music is not the easiest middle of the road thing just to get into. You have to give it some time and thought. I think that gives us extra respect for people who listen to our music there’s more of a connection their. It definitely becomes difficult in America but I think Australia just feels a little closer because of the British background and a shared outlook. It feels incredibly similar we feel a lot more at home in Australia.

SCENEzine
You guys up in the Northern hemisphere are really spoilt with the amount of festivals you have. Do you think it’s sad that Australia no longer has big heavy festivals?

Rou Reynolds
Yeah definitely it’s very sad. Festivals really are the best part of this “job” in inverted commas (laughs). I think it’s so important in a world where community is being destroyed on so many different levels it feels like live music is one of the only few last bastions of community. Places where people can come together indiscriminately and listen to music and celebrate life and get to know one another.

With the downfall of religion especially music has stepped in as the last place where that can happen. I think any new festival is something to be celebrated. They are really expensive but hopefully we will see a resurgence in Australia. Here in UK there are so many now that it’s gone the other way. People are spoilt for choice and there’s too many in the market. But as a concept the festival is intrinsic to community.

SCENEzine
Going way back in time a huge crowd favourite and one of ours is “Sorry your not a winner”. Do you remember if that song came quickly in the writing process?

Rou Reynolds
It’s really difficult to remember I was about seventeen when we wrote that. The initial song writing process of chords, vague structure and most of the lyrics was done pretty quickly. But the fine tuning of the song took a little longer. Getting the initial melody was quite quick. That’s often the way.

SCENEzine
Did you have a feeling the song could go on to be huge or was it just another song at the time?

Rou Reynolds
No to be honest it was a song that we tried to bury. We wrote about three songs when we were seventeen as soon as Enter Shikari started and that was one of them. We’d been playing it for three years before we even started making our first album. We didn’t even want it on the album we were already bored of it (laughs). Which is now laughable considering we’ve played it in almost every show for over ten years. We ended up putting it on the album and to try and get rid of it we put it on the B side to the first single.

The first single was “Ok time for plan B” but radio started playing the B side “Sorry your not a winner”. That basically then morphed into the single because of radio much to our annoyance (laughs). In a way I guess that only helped us because that song became much bigger than anything we’d ever done at that point it helped us grow and grow. It’s funny because we were trying to get rid of it quite often (laughs).

SCENEzine
That song has been played at many alternative night clubs in Australia.

Rou Reynolds
The last time I went to an alternative nightclub that exact same thing happened I was cowering in corner (laughs). It’s so embarrassing when stuff like that happens. We actually stopped playing it for nine months because we had played it every night from 2003 onwards and it just felt like it was an act. All the initial energy and honesty of the track when it was recorded was no longer there so we had to rest it for a while. I think that was definitely the right thing to do because when we started playing it again it had that new lease of life. It felt like we were being honest again. That’s been something that’s been intrinsic to all that we’ve done since we started.

SCENEzine
Can you leave us a last message for your Australian fans and will you be doing anything special for the lighting?

Rou Reynolds
We are still working on the lighting trying to see what we can get but we are bringing our lighting guy who’s a complete genius. We are really looking forward to it. It’s going to be quite a varied set there should be tracks from almost every era. We are also doing a couple of live remixes from our remix album that’s always good fun live.
Should be a blast we are really looking forward to coming back.

Interview by Christian Ross

enter shikari

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