Enter Shikari: “We wanted a rowdy one to start the tour and the Leadmill seemed like the perfect place.”
One of the most influential bands to come out of the late-noughties post-hardcore scene – a mob filled with one album wonders and bands you’ve not listened to since your MySpace days – Enter Shikari have again demonstrated their knack for boundary-pushing innovation with the announcement of their 6th studio album, touted as their most eclectic offering to date.
Ahead of their upcoming album launch tour, which sees them pay a visit to The Leadmill next month, Exposed’s Charlotte Stanbra caught up with frontman Rou Reynolds to discover what we can expect from the self-produced Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible….
Can you talk us through the inspiration behind the new album?
Each album we’ve done is different, but there’s definitely a new vibe and atmosphere behind this one. We wanted to write an album that felt like the definitive Enter Shikari album… you know, the one you’d give to your mate if you were trying to get them into our band.
Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible is its name. What’s the meaning behind that?
Overall it’s a reflection of how things feel at the moment. There are three main components: pain, understanding and compassion.
The first half of the title, ‘Nothing Is True’, focuses on how slippery everything is. The world we now live in is very tribal and polarised because everyone has their own opinions which can be very impassioned, very fixed and very cemented. With news outlets, their biases and advertising it’s very true to grasp what is true and what isn’t. The second half of the title, ‘Everything Is Possible’, is almost like a double entendre. “You can choose anything” implies choice, whereas “everything is possible” implies it’s possible and will be done regardless of whether it’s you that is choosing. It’s pretty much a reflection of what society feels like.
We’ve had so many shocks in the last few years, with Trump becoming President being one of those crazy and insane things. Now more than ever everything you can think of is possible and on the table. It’s quite terrifying. The album is centred on the theme of possibility and how that can be interesting, motivational, positive and also quite scary. With the music we tried to push ourselves as much as possible.
How have things moved on from your last album, The Spark?
The Spark was a defining moment in our run so far, as it really was quite something. We called our previous album our post-punk album because it was the moment where we were just fed up of being defined as a noisy band. You know, a punk band, an electronic rock band, whatever people want call us. We wanted to prove that melody is absolutely essential to what Shakari does – that was the focus for that album, whereas this album is us trying to hop back to everything that we’ve ever done. It tries to show off the full spectrum of Shikari. We’ve always said we’ve been lucky in terms of not conforming to a genre and feeling free to produce what we want. Growing up just outside London there was a thriving pink scene, but at the same time I was lucky enough to have a DJ as a Dad who touched on Motown and the Northern Soul collection and that was boosted into my veins from a very young age. I also studied classical at school, and one of the first instruments I learnt was the trumpet. Obviously, as we got older we got into the dance culture too; we listened to D&B, garage and house. We also had the ability to watch dubstep from its beginning in south London. All these things have seeped into us really. We’ve never been the type of people to define ourselves to one music genre. For us, music is this whole exciting palette and we want to use it all.
It’s that element of non-conforming which really sets Enter Shikari apart.
Yeah, I don’t really know how that happened. We count ourselves quite lucky really and I think now people expect the unexpected with us. We’re so thankful for it.
Why did you pick ‘The Dreamers Hotel’ as your first single release?
‘The Dreamers Hotel’ is one of the more energetic songs on the album and it felt like a proper slap in the face that says, “Shikari are back”. It just felt like the right track to use. I don’t think any of the tracks by themselves can be a representation of what the whole album is, as there’s just so much variety. I think it just ticks the box and it’s an exciting song so it was something we wanted to lead with.
I know you’ve been quite open about your mental health in the media. How did you find working on the new record?
Interestingly, it’s the first album that I’ve produced myself so there’s been an insane amount of hours that went into this album more than any other. Annoyingly our deadline got brought forward as well so the end of this album was really quite stressful, but we got it done and we’re all super proud of it. Music creation is a weird one: it can be really stressful, but it can also be just the thing you need to help you relieve stress. Creativity is a wonderful thing. The production of it has been a two-sided coin really. I’ve been a stressed about upcoming deadlines, but creativity also helps me to conquer that.
You talked about being on a time crunch. How long has it all been in the works?
We started it in spring last year and wrote it throughout the summer. We did a few sessions around Worcestershire in really beautiful old manor houses that convert into studios, as well as a little bit in Texas when we were on tour in America. There’s also an orchestral piece on the album which was done in Prague with a harmonic Orchestra – now that was incredible. The rest of it we did around mine in the studio that I have in my house. It was a long run, a gentle experience at first, and as we got to Christmas, especially January, it was absolutely insane. Lots of sleepless nights to get it done, but it was all so worth it.
Being a Sheffielder, I’m excited to see you’re doing a gig in the Steel City. Looking forward to playing the stepping onstage at The Leadmill?
We wanted this whole tour to be intimate. We’re quite lucky as a band that we can adapt to play the big arenas, but at the same time we can still experience the small places. We’re not afraid to be a punk band again by getting sweaty and playing those smaller places. We enjoy every size venue, each opportunity just the same as another. We wanted a rowdy one to start the tour and The Leadmill seemed like the perfect place.
What are the plans once the release tour is out of the way?
We’re still working on that at the moment. I think a lot of the summer with be us transferring the album to the live world. That’s one thing we never really think about while we’re in the studio, how we’re gonna do it live. It’s a good thing because it spurs on creativity, but now we’re at the point where we’ve got to work it out which can be quite a difficult process. We’re very lucky to have an amazing crew of engineers who help us get to grips with how we’re gonna do it. We’re not doing any UK festivals this year – I actually think it’ll be the first time in our career that we haven’t done any.
What’s the lead-up to the album release been like so far?
We’re a little bit anxious, but mainly excited. It’s 17th April so still a little way off yet. We’ll release another single before or around the same time as the album. We’re ready and raring to go.
Must have been nice to see The Dreamers Hotel crowned single of the week [17th February] on KERRANG Radio?
Everything like that is super helpful. I think when you go away, write for a while and bring out something new, you’ll always get a bit scared. You’ll always wonder if you’re still relevant and if anyone still cares. It’s been amazing; we always have a lot of support. We’re very lucky.
On that note, a big topic of conversation in the media at the moment is negative press and social media trolling after the tragic death of Caroline Flack. How do you deal with any negativity you may face?
We’re not celebrities so we never get hell, just the occasional couple of comments. One time, a few years ago, I did an article about VIP meet and greets, so when artists and bands charge extortionate prices to meet them. I got a lot of backlash from that because a singled out a few artists, Taylor Swift included, and oh my god, her fans. Very passionate. I felt the full force of her fans, but I just left Twitter for a few days. I think that’s what I’ve learnt: you have to balance these things out. I don’t use social media half as much as I used to. It really can be quite dangerous, so sometimes I just walk away or others I just make sure I’m not using it that much. I try to focus on the really world. I’m the sort of person that doesn’t like conflict.
Last, but most certainly not least, what’s your favourite lyric from Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible?
Let me get the lyrics up. There’s one song, the song that has the title of the album in it [Waltzing off the Face of the Earth] has got some of my favourite lyrics in it. It’s probably the most depressing song on the album, but it has a comical twist to it as well. I think that’s one of the best things about humanity, that when we’re in difficult situations we always have humour. It starts off with the verse “Regardless of what you feel this song isn’t real and the earth isn’t sphere and you’re not really here”. I quite like that; it gives sort of a strange opening.
Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible is out 17 April, and Enter Shikari play The Leadmill on 18 April. For ticket details head over to leadmill.co.uk/event/enter-shikari/