Enter: full-blown excitement, with avant-garde UK rockers ENTER SHIKARI announcing a run of Australian shows this November, with some very special guests: fellow English groundbreakers Creeper and Aussie metallers Windwaker. Since forming back in 2003, ENTER SHIKARI have gone on to release six full-length albums while garnering ongoing industry acclaim, and multiple awards for good measure. And armed with high-octane lashings of punk, electronica and alt rock palettes alongside personal lyricism and oft-politically charged thematics, ENTER SHIKARI continue to be one of the most magnetic forces in the modern musical landscape. Rou Reynolds talks to Hi Fi Way about the tour.
There’s lots of excited fans looking forward to your Australian tour this November?
Mate, we’re absolutely buzzing. It’s one of our favourite places to play and it’s been far, far too long, we’re very excited.
Can you believe how much the world’s changed since the last time the band has toured here in Australia?
Oh, I mean, not really, let’s be honest who could have predicted these last few years of mayhem? Australia was actually the last tour we did before the pandemic broke out. We did the Good Things festival back in December 2019. Just as we were finishing making our last album actually, those memories of those shows were so good. The vibe was just incredible. They were some of my favourite shows we’ve ever played. That’s what kept me going really during all those months of just being stuck at home. Just the thought of being able to play shows with that amount of like energy and passion again. I couldn’t have predicted this. I think obviously if we had been listening to those telling us that pandemics are going to hit us more often and be more intense and we needed to do all these things, perhaps been a bit more prepared, but obviously other things got in the way.
The buzz around this tour and how quickly they are selling is exciting?
Yeah, it’s wicked! The atmosphere at the last shows seemed to be like a real step up. There seems to be so much excitement from this announcement. We’re so excited to get back.
How hard has the last couple of years been for the band and how did you navigate your way through this? Has there been many silver linings in there as well?
It’s positives and negative really. Over 2020 when we spent most of the year locked away I got to write a book, which is something to a degree ended up as something that I would have never have got to do. Being a recluse and being able to be that and spend all my time as an author made that possible. It was something that I’m so glad I did. I can’t see it ever happening again. A Treat On Possibility is what came out of 2020 for me. That was the one thing that like I can look back and be happy with and proud of. In terms of music, I found out a very difficult time because I was speaking to our peers and like looking online and seeing like everyone being super creative in the studio and working on things and making use of all the time off tour, all the spare time and stuff.
I just found myself not being able to write music at all. I don’t know what it was, whether it was the lack of human connection, the lack of like purpose from not being able to tour. But then also, the band had been approaching the subjects of like cracks in neoliberalism, the different things around the world that are going to cause us serious problems in the future. We’ve been talking about these things for ages, especially like healthcare and private healthcare and downfalls of that. So many of the things that like we we’ve talked about for years were like in 2020 came true especially in the UK, in terms of the corruption of the conservative party and the way they handled the pandemic and the PPE and all that kind of stuff. Add to that the healthcare and the downfalls of that, and the ways that we reacted terribly to the pandemic. I felt like, oh Christ, what can I write about? I was so frustrated. I didn’t feel inspired to write. I just felt a bit sick really. It was a very, very intense and difficult few years. As you say it was for everyone and I’m happy to be back in the studio now. Once we started playing shows again, I felt way more enthused and inspired. I have a direction now in terms of music.
Being able to write a book is no small feat. Was that something you have always planned on doing?
It just blossomed really. I’ve always done small essays about the lyrics to various albums and that’s always been great fun to do for people like me who are so enthusiastic about lyrics and who want to know what everything’s about. Those things have gone down really well. But for this album I started out doing exactly the same thing just writing about the lyrics, but because of the pandemic and the time that I had it just started like blossoming and blossoming and getting bigger and bigger, and I was going like deeper into things. Then it became an actual book. So it’s not even just about the lyrics. It’s a full analysis of the direction that humanity is heading it’s about human potential, it’s about sociology, it’s about the environment, it’s a whole mesh of stuff. It took so long to research. I was very grateful in a way that I had the time to give that project the energy that it needed.
How was the excitement of being able to start playing shows again? Were you a bit nervous? What was the energy like within the band getting back on stage and was it like the early days in your career?
It was absolutely surreal, like fucking orgasmic, especially that first show we did. We were very lucky that we got to headline the Download Festival Pilot here in the UK, which was basically the first UK music festival since the pandemic started. There was such a feeling of jubilation, relief and community about the festival. I remember the feeling that we all had walking on stage, it was just surreal. It was like, oh my God, is this actually happening? There were moments, especially during the height of the waves of COVID where you’re thinking like Christ will this ever end, like what’s going to happen? How are we going to deal with this and HOW long are we not going to be able to play shows for? It’s been absolutely incredible playing again, being able to connect with people, hear the roar of crowds and just like lock eyes with people when they’re screaming their lungs out. Just experiencing that passion again has been brilliant.
Is this tour going to be focused mostly on Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible?
We always try and have varied set list. For us it’s showcasing the breadth of the band. Musical agility is something that we pride ourselves on. It’ll always be a mixed-up set, but we’ll definitely be playing a good chunk of the last album for sure.
What do you look forward to most about touring Australia?
I don’t know, it’s difficult because all the cliche things come to mind, like the weather, the people, there’s more of a friendly carefree nature in Australia. I always find myself dissing America, but in America everyone’s much friendlier than in the UK it seems, but there’s an element of phoniness to it. Whereas in Australia you get the feeling that people like are quite genuinely interested in you, open and super welcoming. It is just always a nice atmosphere to, to be around. In terms of like favourite places, we just got the ticket figures through, and Melbourne is ahead of all the others by quite away, which is interesting. I think we’ve had some great shows there. I hate saying favourites, but we’ll have to see what this tour offers us.
It is an awesome triple bill with Creeper and Windwaker and no doubt will be one hell of a tour?
We’re really looking forward to playing with both those bands. Creeper we’ve known for a while, but we’ve never actually toured together. I think we’ve played a few festival here and there. They’re such a cool band, really interesting, really theatrical, and the music is really catchy. We keep hearing like about Windwaker and that they’re great band, really funny guys and cool hang with. We are really looking forward to catching them
Now that you have started touring have you started thinking about new music and what might be the next album?
I feel like I’ve finally got a little fix of live music again, that connection and that energy I was missing. Since those tours I’ve already been writing quite a lot and we have been in the studio, a makeshift studio down on the south coast for the last few months. Things are really starting to flow now. So, the ball’s rolling. Hopefully if all goes well, we’ll have a couple of tracks out this year.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Catch Enter Shikari on tour with Creeper and Windwaker on the following dates, tickets from Destroy All Lines…