Interview with Enter Shikari
By Michelle Turk - Links: Twitter
Behind The Scene Press: “In February, you released a 3-song live/acoustic album of songs from The Mindsweep, including “Torn Apart,” “Myopia,” and “One True Colour.” Enter Shikari has been writing music that mixes electronic elements with very experimental synthesizers and heavy rock music. An acoustic album is something very special for fans to enjoy and really accents the lyrics of these songs. What was the process behind picking these three particular songs to strip down and share?”
Rou Reynolds: “We wanted it to be something that felt worthwhile. A lot of the times when bands do acoustic versions, it’s literally just three chords, very stripped down. Which is fine but with us we tried to really make these songs their own, make them a completely different entity, starting with instrumentation. That’s why a lot of the chord sequences are slightly different with guitar licks and things of interest going on. It was a case of tinkering and playing around with the tracks and chords and just working out how we could change their identity but not too much, you know?”
BtS: “On Live & Acoustic From Alexandra Palace, there was almost a folk feel to the songs. Hearing the strings that are featured on “One True Colour” in a live setting brought forth a lot emotion. What kind of emotions did that bring up for you? How do you feel hearing your songs as something totally different?”
Reynolds: “It’s amazing. With the remix album, having people make their own take on our songs is always very interesting and doing stuff acoustic is the same. It’s kind of more personal and gives it a whole new sort of feel.”
BtS: “Here in the States, there is so much emotional turmoil for millennials like myself and the staff on Behind the Scene Press in regards to the upcoming elections. Your lyrics have always had a very deep meaning and Enter Shikari has had the objective create a voice for others about important topics. What advice would you give to young artists in America who are writing and creating art to combat the racism, classism, and ableism that run this country?”
Reynolds: “I guess I can only relay the things we’ve done. I don’t consider myself someone who is able to speak knowledge on this subject, but make sure that your music keeps your integrity and stays honest while at the same time isn’t so obscure or in depth that it isn’t going to appeal to people as well. You have to walk a fine line. Music can be one of the most powerful tools to unite people around the cause and really inspire and embolden people’s views. That’s really important. It’s an honor, really, to be able to write music that sort of helps people through certain struggles, be it personal, social or political. I’m not sure what more can I say than be honest? Be confident. Be assertive. Don’t be bullied into not voicing your opinions because there’s always going to be people that will disagree with you. It’s pointless to try and make music that pleases everyone.”
BtS: “In the past, you’ve mentioned a deep connection with fans in the United States, despite the fanbase being much smaller than in the U.K. where you play much larger arenas. The venues on this tour are very intimate. You’re stopping in New York at the Gramercy Theatre for your North American Tour. The Rock on the Range show in Columbus, Ohio is sold out. Any stops on this North American tour that you are particularly looking forward to?”
Reynolds: “Every sort of show in every state has its pros and cons. We are lucky enough to have built friendships with fans and bands, all sorts of people around America. It’s always good to visit a wide range of the country. It’s such an exciting time politically as well; it’s cool to feel and experience the different political energies in the different states and get a grasp of what a good amount of people think.”
BtS: “I can only imagine the difference between being in a place like San Antonio tonight and then being in like New York next week!”
Reynolds: “Yeah, it’s a whole world of difference. Even already starting in Seattle and traveling down the west coast. Now here we are in Texas. Interesting and different diverse range of people and cultures. It’s been cool.”
BtS: “Which song off of The Mindsweep is your favorite to play live?”
Reynolds: “At the moment, probably “The One True Colour.” We only started playing it this year. We held off on it for a while. But it’s such an emotional song not only musically but lyrically as well so it’s always really rewarding to play it live and have everyone singing back the lyrics very passionately. It’s really special.”
BtS: “I’ve heard that Muse is a big influence for Enter Shikari, what other influences played part of creating The Mindsweep?”
Reynolds: “A real diverse range of stuff. Our Biggest influences from day one are bands like Rage Against the Machine and Radiohead. I was listening to more obscure electronica, a lot of house. One of my favorite producers is Jon Hopkins. Other than that, I’ve been listening to a lot of classical. Of Neoclassical, Stravinsky is probably my favorite composer. A lot of drum and bass. As well as stuff that has been with us for a long time.
This is the first album where we actually had a live string section instead of doing it with just samples. That was really fun being in the room conducting a string section. It gave it a sort of a magic touch. It really brought the tracks to life. Me and my brother also did brass as well.
BtS: That wraps it up. Great talking with you!
Reynolds: Thanks for having me!
Read our review of Hands Like Houses' album Dissonants here.