20 Avr Interview – A Kiss for The Whole Word, the new album of Enter Shikari 2.0
We sat with Rou Reynolds, the singer and frontman of Enter Shikari, during a promo day, talking about the new album A KISS FOR THE WHOLE WORLD coming out tomorrow as well as their residency shows in the UK, their creative process and their special relationship with France.
Sound of Brit: You’re currently doing a bout of tour in the UK, in intimate venues, coming back several times at the same place in a three month time. How did you come up with this concept of residency shows, where did the idea come from?
Rou Reynolds: We’ve always wanted to do, like, something different with touring and we were just trying to think about new ways. Obviously there’s not that much that you can do with production because it has to be intimate shows when it’s album release stuff. So, we just thought, how can we make it a completely different experience from the previous album?
So with Nothing Is True, and Everything is Possible we didn’t get to tour the music until like a year and a half later after its release, which was just horrible. You know, you don’t really know a song until you play it live. That’s where it reaches its final form. So not being able to do that was horrible.
This time we thought, well, how can we make it the opposite experience? For instance, we released Bloodshot, the third single yesterday, and now we get to play it in three or four days time. We get to play it. We’re just all so excited to be able to instantly feel how a song works like.
To what extent do you expect, for example, this third show in Bristol, to be different from the first one?
Rou: We’re doing some work to make sure that it’s at least a little bit different. The setlists are all different for each leg of the tour. But also I’m just quite interested myself in like, naturally, like how will it be different? You know, what’s going to happen differently? The crowd’s going to react differently or are we, as a band, going to react differently? It is really interesting because these places are all venues that we haven’t played before, so we have no history with any of these. This is something that I think will become apparent when we play them. Just how different the energy of the night makes it, you know?
Okay, so it’s a bit like an experiment, actually.
Today, I also read the NME interview you did, and you said there that this album is kind of a second coming for Enter Shikari. I was wondering what triggered this change, what did change for this new album? What is the thing that triggered this new period of time for the band?
Rou: Well, a couple of things happened. I mean, first of all, we brought out a biography. So towards the end of the last albums campaign or era, Luke Morton, who is a great writer, came to us and basically said, I want to write the first Enter Shikari biography. That was a really fun and interesting experience, but it meant that we were looking back a lot. We had lots of interviews with him so he could take notes and everything. We were thinking about the history of our band a lot during that period. So it felt like, « oh, well, that’s, you know, everything is now in that book up to here. Where we go from here feels fresh and new ».
Other reasons were that during lockdown, I basically wasn’t able to write music for a year and a half. I didn’t write any music, which is completely foreign to me. You know, I write music all the time and I have done since I was like ten years old. So this was kind of scary and kind of strange. So, when I finally was able to start writing music again, it felt like I just had this big gap behind me. Well, as I was writing music, I was so excited and it felt so new and so fresh. So it really felt like it was Enter Shikari 2.0. I was like, « okay, this is the next act ». It feels like a rebirth, really.
Does it mean that you write primarily for the stage, or the shows ? What’s your writing and composing process ?
Rou: I think, there’s certainly a part of me that’s always thinking about how a song will be received. When I’m writing, I sometimes just play back what I’ve written and I’m imagining that I’m in the audience and I wonder how does this make me feel? How does this make me want to react? So yeah, I think in a way I’m always thinking about the live scenario.
I suppose all it is, at the end of the day, is you’re trying to understand what it’s going to make people feel, because there’s nothing more interesting than human emotion. It’s so strange and you feel so powerful that you can change the way someone feels and the way someone thinks just through music. So I think it’s something that I’m always thinking about.
Something that always struck me during your concerts is the visual aspect of the creations. I remember from the tour in 2019, in France, you had this beautiful column of blue lights, all the stage production, Sparky, … I was wondering how much is it a part of your creation process. Do you think about the stage production that you are going to have later, on stage at the same time as the music creation, or is it thought about later ?
Rou: Well, I’m not thinking about that when I’m writing music, I don’t think. But then as soon as that’s finished, then yeah, it becomes the heart of our reflexion. What we’re doing now, for instance, is we’re planning our festivals, all of the headline shows we’re doing for festivals, we’re basically planning our production for that. It’s something that is very important to us. You know, we want to put on a show. I want to make it be a visual spectacle and not not just something to listen to, you know, it’s something to feel, something to watch, something to feel involved in all those aspects.
You also directed the music videos for the latest two singles. It was your first experience as a music video director. So how was it?
Rou: Oh, it’s great. I mean, it’s a lot of work. It was intense, but I’m really glad that I did it. We’ve just actually finished recording the next two videos as well. I’m glad it’s finished now because it was a lot of work but I think it enabled us to reflect the music more. As a Band, we know about the details of the music and the details of the lyrics, and it means then we can translate them into visual details. So I really enjoyed that. You know, I really liked creating a visual story, a location and all these strange little linking factors between the videos as well. It’s something that I’ve always been fascinated by, but luckily this time I had the time and I had the mental strength to be able to do it.
We talked with You Me At Six when they came to France to do a promo day, we talked about your collaboration, I’d love to have your take on this collaboration, also. So how did it come together?
Rou: Well, Josh just sent me a voice note and just said, « We’ve got this track » and they’d love for me to be on it and sent it over. Immediately I just really, really liked it. I think it’s probably my favourite on the album, although I think it’s a really good album. The song was just so full of energy, it really felt quite raw. We were actually in the studio recording this album at the same time, ourselves, I was thinking « Oh, Josh, I don’t know if I can do it that quickly because we’re like really behind schedule ». I was quite stressed. But as soon as I heard the song, I thought « I have to make time for this. This is great. » So, I just just sent him my vocal ideas. I did a little bit of production as well. It’s a great experience. They’re awesome guys. They’re so lovely. We actually did it live with them in London on that tour the other week, which was a lot of fun.
For this album composition and production, you worked with quite a small team, keeping things very independent and within the band. Is it something you will go for now ?
Rou: The Spark was the first album I co-produced, and then Nothing Is True & Everything is Possible was the first album I produced by myself. Then this album is the most DIY album we’ve got, it was literally just the four of us and our engineer, George, and that was it. So this is the least outside help we’ve had. I just, I feel lucky that we’ve been able to work with some great people over the years and we’ve learned so many tricks and tools and techniques and now we can utilise those as well as carrying on experimenting. Yeah, it just makes for a great way of working.
Finally we have some questions about your relationship with France and French fans. What’s your relationship with France, as a band ?
Rou: I think we’ve always felt really supported. Obviously, we’re much smaller in France than we are in other places. But that doesn’t mean that there’s less passion. The French audience that we have is really supportive, really passionate, and that’s all that matters to us. If people feel that they’re connected to the music, then it doesn’t matter if there’s just two people, we’d still want to come, you know? So yeah, it’s something that we’ve always enjoyed, I think.
Also, I think sometimes there’s a few countries that really boost their own nations music and their own language. And I think that’s totally understandable. I think we’ve suffered a bit in the fact that our music is very global. It is very European. We have lots of influences, especially our European influences. But I think sometimes that the French mainstream audience won’t really understand our music. Perhaps, you know, I’m too like British, I don’t know, haha
The French market is a bit weird, yeah. I think so too. I’m always wondering why some artists are so big overseas and I think they just deserve more in France. Enter Shikari really is a part of that kind of bands
Rou: It’s okay, those intimate shows are always just great because you just feel so connected to the audience. It is awesome.
At Sound of Brit, we’re also focused on discoveries, new artists. So do you have any recommendation of new bands, new artists that you’ve listened to recently that you would like to put forward?
Rou: Well, we just finished a tour here in the UK with No Offence. It’s really cool, kind of new style pop punk and also Blackout Problems, who are a German post-hardcore band, lovely guys, really interesting music. And then I suppose obviously the features that we’ve done, you know, Cody Frost is on the next leg supporting us on the residency tour and she’s incredible. We’ve known her for about ten years now. She’s been coming to our shows as a fan and she’s just got such a powerful, awesome voice, so much passion, such a such diversity in her delivery and her style is really cool. Obviously, also, Wargasm. They seem to be going from strength to strength at the moment. Brilliant Live. There’s a lot of really interesting fun new music.
Thank you for these recommendations and I think my time’s up. Thank you very much for the time and we hope to see you very soon in France !
A Kiss for the Whole World is out on the 21st of April 2023
Interview by Claire D.
Modified for clarity