Enter Shikari

Photo by Tom Martin

Calling English band ENTER SHIKARI restless is almost an understatement. There are few other bands that are as eager to incorporate contrary music genres such as post-hardcore, heavy metal, trance and drum and bass. Officially founded in 2003, the quartet has constantly expanded its innovative and distinct crossover style. At the same time ENTER SHIKARI show an exemplary awareness of social evil and political and economic decisions that threaten our society and our planet. Their fourth record The Mindsweep is set to be released next year on January 19. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION met frontman Roughton ‘Rou’ Reynolds and bassist Christopher Batten to talk about the new songs, Band Aid without Bono and the purpose of punk.

How would you describe the sound of ‘The Mindsweep’ compared to your prior records?
Rou: We are influenced by a real wide range of music, so it’s quite diverse and dynamic. We wanted to push ourselves and make sure we conveyed every possible emotion a human can have within the music. And for the first time we got a string quartet.

What does a mindsweeper do?
Chris: For us it’s about stepping outside of the box and thinking about things in a different way. Flushing out the old ideas and start again. Each song has a different theme. There’s one about climate change, one about racism and so on. But the overall album and the majority of our music is mainly about unity, about bringing people together.

There are indeed many problems the songs focus on. Aren’t you afraid that this could be too much for your fans and that they will switch off?
Rou: It can be overwhelming, definitely. But that isn’t a reason to give up. You can listen to our music just as music, you don’t have to analyse what we are talking about. We try to put a bit of either comic nature or irony to keep it not too serious. We’ve got a song coming out in December and it’s about getting angry when you are at a restaurant. It’s just like stupid.

One of your new songs is called ‘Never Let Go Of The Microscope’ and it says: ‘Atrocities go untouched under the guise of culture’. What do you mean with that?
Rou: The song is about making sure we analyse everything. We’ve worked with a charity called ActionAid against female genital mutilation. That’s one of the most disgraceful things, it’s still practised quite a lot in the world and we can definitely say that this benefits no one. All it does is trauma, pain and suffering. Regardless of how many years it’s been done, regardless of history and tradition, it should just be banished. But there’s still a lack of willingness because the people say it’s their culture.

enter shikari the mindsweep

‘The Mindsweep’ album artwork by Luke Insect

If you could solve one of the problems you sing about – which one would it be?
Rou: They are so linked. The main thing that is damaging so much is just the way we structure our world through capitalism. The fact that we put profit ahead of everything else is so damaging to the environment and to social trust. It affects everything. That would be the one thing I’d like to change.

There are not that many bands that communicate their opinions so perseveringly. Why aren’t there more artists who try to tell their fans what’s going wrong, especially in other genres?
Chris: I think it’s the worry bands have of isolating people. Maybe they don’t want their fans to lose touch with them or it’s just something they don’t care about.

Rou: Coming from a hardcore punk scene, for us that seems to be one of the main purposes of punk: Just to be a voice for the voiceless, to stand up for the oppressed, offer alternatives and get people thinking and unifying. That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be other types of music that are just there for escapism or for beauty or enjoyment. And pop music in general is so obviously there to make money and not to do anything else.

At Christmas there was Band Aid as usual. Would you join in if Bob Geldof would ask you?
Rou: Oh, if Bono was involved, no. Or I’d say: ‘Bob get rid of Bono than you can have us’. Bono is the most hypocritical, slimy twat. But I do actually like a lot of U2‘s albums, mainly their older albums.

You want to inject hope into your fans because you know what it feels like to realize that the world can be an evil place. Was there an event that disillusioned you when you were younger?
Rou: We used to promote shows at this youth club in our home town. And we had struggles with our local council because they did everything they could to just shut every gig down. They did not support anything that had to do with youth at all. And the really annoying thing is that they just didn’t give any reasons. I guess they just thought it was like a haven for drugs and probably didn’t understand the music. That was really frustrating and I think that gave us a real distrust of authority.

Are there songs that give you your hope and passion back when you feel frustrated?
Chris: Finding new stuff and new talents is always quite hopeful and refreshing for me.

Have you discovered interesting new bands recently?
Chris: There is a Scottish band called FATHERSON and we are really into them.
Rou: There are bands we toured with last year and they are now starting to get quite big: BABY GODZILLA, ALLUSONDRUGS, HACKTIVIST. Music in general is the one thing that can change your mood instantly. It has so much power over us.