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Enter Shikari

 

Hailing from St Albans in the UK, alternative metal band Enter Shikari is a tough bunch to pin down, style-wise. Sure, they’re a bloody heavy mob ­– exhibiting the bombastic flair of metal with the speed of thrashing hardcore, these guys will certainly get a mosh-pit going! But what their fans find so endearing about their sound is that they mash electronic subgenres into the mix, in the process becoming a completely different beast altogether.


Vocalist and chief electronics man Roughton “Rou” Reynolds was recently on the phone from his home in England to talk about their third studio album A Flash Flood Of Colour (AFFOC), released in January, his band and what makes them tick.

 

Before Enter Shikari, they went under the moniker Hybyrd, and they were solely guitar-driven. Reynolds then moved over to electronics and they became the band they are now.

 

“I think we were just getting interested in such a wide range of musical genres,” Reynolds explains. “I wanted to not be so held back by guitar – I had really started to get into electronic music. We were just developing a new sound in those early days. It was still very much straight-up in terms of rock or post-hardcore but we added in these atmospherics and then we just grooved on from there, really.”

 

This writer makes the supposition that with electronics mixed in it’s much harder to pin down the sound and gives greater scope for exploration. Reynolds agrees. “Yeah, definitely,” he says. “Obviously we have a completely diverse amount of textures and instrumentations at our fingertips, and it gives [us] more freedom to sonically experiment.”

 

One central theme that runs through Enter Shikari’s oeuvre is a complete and utter distrust of government and authority. Whilst they don’t stray too far into anarchic tendencies, the message is out there: Don’t Believe What The Bastards Tell You. Growing up in St Albans (about 35 kilometres north of London) gave Reynolds his first taste of what incredible douchebags town councils can be.

 

“Yeah, when we were growing up, we were lucky to have an amazing scene with thriving punk, hardcore and ska … we got involved with that, and actually ended up promoting ourselves at the local youth club,” Reynolds reminisces. “But the local council, for some reason, made it clear that they wanted to shut down anything that the youth could do! And then we had to fight with them to actually put on any shows at all, so it gave us a very early lack of respect for the local authority!

 

“We were lucky enough to be right next to London, so we could pop down when we were reaching 18 [years of age], so we could get into clubs and stuff and get into trouble!”

 

Naturally, I cannot resist asking him about his thoughts on the current state of the world, and how useless the political systems around the globe have become. Surely there’s a boon of inspiration for some serious music making?

 

“Yeah, very much so!” Reynolds agrees. “I mean, the main thing with this band – when we first started out it was just music for music’s sake as a hobby … and then it got completely out of hand! Before we knew it, we found we have all these people coming to shows, and actually listening to us and shouting lyrics back at us, so I immediately felt a sense of responsibility, especially when the musical landscape and popular music [in general] is very, very bland and almost mind-numbing with its lyrical content.

 

“So for us, with us running around the stage every night like headless chickens and me shouting my head off; it’s got to be about things that we really, really believe in and believe are important, things that need to be shouted about!”

 

We begin to talk about their new album AFFOC, which literally came out three days before our conversation. I ask about the recording process; did they approach it differently than with the previous album, their sophomore effort Common Dreads? Absolutely, admits Reynolds.

 

“With the other albums, we’d played the material live for years, really,” he says. “But AFFOC is probably the first album that really feels fresh to us – everything on it is no more than a year old. With Common Dreads, we’d written most of that on tour. But [AFFOC] felt really exciting and fresh for us, and we were lucky to have quite a bit of time to write the tunes and really experiment [with] them.”

 

Recording their previous two albums, according to Reynolds was more an exercise in trying to find a theme for the music. Not so with AFFOC. “We’ve always had that thought in the back of our minds: ‘How are we going to do this live?’ And that does kind of limit the creative process. But with this album, literally for the first time we treated each song as its own individual entity.

 

“We didn’t have to hold ourselves back for anything!” Reynolds laughs triumphantly, and it sounds to this writer as if 2012 is going to be a great year for Enter Shikari.

 

BY THOMAS BAILEY


ENTER SHIKARI play at the soldout Soundwave Festival at the Melbourne Showgrounds on Friday March 2. They play a Sidewave at Billboard The Venue on Tuesday February 28. A Flash Flood Of Colour is out now through Liberator.