Often described as musical visionaries, Enter Shikari just released their stunning new album, Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible. Another colossal record from the Enter Shikari lads (you can read our review of the new album here), V13 had a chat with frontman Rou Reynolds about the album, his vision for the group, and why they could never have been a doom metal band.
The new album is due to drop in a couple of weeks but, as with every other band, plans have been put on hold with regards to promoting the album. You put out a song at the start of your career called “OK, Time for Plan B” so, on that theme, is there a “Plan B”?
Rou Reynolds: “[laughs] Well, there wasn’t at the start of all of this but now we’re just taking each day as it comes. Spitballing ideas around and see what we can come up with. We’ll definitely do something like live streams around the week of release where our release shows would have been. The difficulty with that is that we’re all isolated in our separate houses so we’re trying to work out a way of playing together but separately.”
For a band as visionary as Enter Shikari, it must be quite exciting to see what you could come up with to promote the record during these times though?
“Yeah, I guess it’s all down to what the technology could do I suppose? We’re certainly gutted though that we can’t play the songs in a live environment though. We’d started rehearsing about three weeks ago. We did a week before we knocked it on the head. It was just the four of us in our small practice room. Just us inside those four walls and there was such an atmosphere as the tracks were so much fun to play live. We were chomping at the bit to get out and play it but now we’ll have to wait a little bit longer.”
You were going to road test them in April with some, for Enter Shikari, really intimate shows?
“Yeah, now we’re going to have to go straight into this mammoth arena tour. That’s if that can still go ahead but we shall just wait and see.”
Those dates were literally announced a few hours ago. Have you thought about a concept for a live show based on the new album yet?
“We actually weren’t going to do any festivals this year at all. It would have been the first year in our existence where we didn’t do a UK festival. The reason for that was so that we could spend the time working out how we could play these songs live and plan out a full show for the November tour. Now we’ve got a lot more time planned, more than we had originally planned to have in fact [laughs] to work out the show. It’s classic us really. When we’re in the studio it’s all about the creativity for us. We ban the word live when we’re in the studio. We never want to worry about how we’re going to play these songs live it always comes at the end. Once they’re done we’re then left kicking ourselves at what a massive job we’ve left ourselves to do [laughs]. We’ve got more time than ever so the shows should be quite a spectacle come the end of the year.”
You’ve always championed the importance of science. Given the title of the new album Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible, what’s your take on the origins of the coronavirus?
“As far as I know it’s the classic thing that it comes from animals so when you’ve got lots of animals who aren’t usually in the same habitat as each other and they’re being slaughtered together in these markets that aren’t particularly clean, then you get these odd viruses. I think there is so much to learn as this is going and so much to change when this is all over hopefully this will be enough of a shock to the system to make those changes. I hope it will be but, as humans, we’re also very good at not learning from history [laughs] so we’ll see what happens.”
Onto the new record then, what was the writing process like going into this record. Did you do anything differently?
“We only finished the record in late January it’s quite fresh and I’m just enjoying the moment. It took over my whole life for an entire year. There is much detail in this album. There are more hours that went into this album than any other. Also, I produced the record by myself which, in itself, was a massive ordeal so, for now, I’m just enjoying it being done. The kind of stuff I’m writing at the moment is more acoustic and gentle.”
What inspired you on this record?
“All sorts of things really. There isn’t one particular concept running through the album. I’d say the only conscious decision we made about this album was that we wanted it to be broader. I think with the last record I was going through a year of real hardship. I hadn’t experienced a year like that where a lot of things were going wrong in my life. I hadn’t experienced that before so I felt compelled to write about it. I had to write about it. Whereas with this record I was in a much better place which was nice because it gave me a sense of freedom. I could take the time to think about what I wanted to write about rather than being coerced into writing about my experiences. I think that, because of that, it gave us more time and energy to just experiment and take things further. I think that is what this record has done. This record is much broader in terms of the instrumentation and the emotions we’re conveying more so that we’ve ever done before.”
“A few years ago I wrote a book called “Dear Future Historians” which is all of our lyrics then an essay for each song explaining the meaning and inspiration behind the lyrics. That was the first time I had actually looked back. As a band we’re so relentless in our progression. We’re always wanting to move forward so it was nice to look back at our journey and look at what we’ve achieved and that inspired us to make an album that sort of included every era of our band and make a record that was all-encompassing and almost definitive, like a signpost album. This is where we are. This album represents everything we’ve done before as well. I think this album is an album that, if someone is introducing us to their friends who haven’t heard us before, this would be the best album to start with.”
Given the diversity of your sound, how does the writing process work? Does someone just throw an idea into the mix and you see how it goes?
“Yeah, pretty much. I think with each album we feel more emboldened and very lucky, especially myself. I grew up with so many different influences. The first instrument I learned was the trumpet and that was thanks to my Nan. My Nan was massive on her Big Band jazz so that was a big early influence. My Dad was also a DJ. He DJ’d Motown and Northern Soul so that was a big influence so, already, I had a good sense of melody and harmony. As I grew older I became involved in our local punk and hardcore scene. Rory our drummer was a drum n’ bass DJ so that was a big influence from when I was thirteen onwards. In London, there were always new genres and things appearing so now, for us, I think it is just natural for us to want to write music. We don’t want to be hemmed in just writing songs from one slither of the musical spectrum. That’s never really interested me, I want to use the whole palette of what is available to me.”
You’ve been labelled as a musical visionary and, given what you’ve just said about wanting to write with the whole musical spectrum available to you, where do you see the sound going?
“I’ve no idea at the moment. I’d say the sound is broader and I’d say that what we’re trying to do is be realistic to life. We don’t just go around every day being angry 24/7 so we could never be a hardcore band but, saying that hardcore has been a massive influence on our band. At the same time, we don’t go around feeling upbeat all the time so we couldn’t be a pop group. At the same time, I don’t go around feeling pessimistic all the time so we couldn’t be a doom metal group. I think what we try and do is write music that has the variety that our lives have which is natural to us.”
Just to finish then, firstly, good luck with the album. You’ve been together as the same line-up for seventeen years now. Does the fact that you’re open to taking the sound wherever you want keep it exciting after all this time?
“Yeah, I think so. I approach it as exploration. There is a lot of links between art and science. They’re both forms of human exploration and that’s how I write music. It excites me when I’m doing something that seems slightly novel and that’s the way we’ve always written. The fact that we’re also the same four helps. Our characters don’t clash. We’re all laid back and we’re extremely lucky in that we all have a similar outlook in what we want to achieve.”
11/11 – Southampton – Guildhall
11/12 – Manchester – Victoria Warehouse
11/13 – Cardiff – Great Hall
11/14 – London – Alexandra Palace
11/16 – Middlesborough – Town Hall
11/18 – Edinburgh – Usher Hall
11/19 – Nottingham – Rock City
11/20 – Nottingham – Rock City
11/21 – Birmingham – O2 Academy