"I wanted to broaden our palette of sounds" – INTERVIEW MIT ENTER SHIKARI

Von Jennifer Distler und Sarah Weinberg | 27. Mai 2020

Am 17. April veröffentlichten Enter Shikari via So Recordings ihr neues Album "Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible". Drei Jahre nach der letzten Platte (The Spark, VÖ: 2017) präsentieren die Jungs aus St. Albans das wohl spannendste Gesamtwerk ihrer bisherigen Karriere. Im Interview mit Old Vinyl spricht Sänger Rou Reynolds unter anderem über das neue Album, seine Verbindung zu Deutschland und Philosophie.

Foto: (c) Derek Ridgers
Foto: (c) Derek Ridgers

Enter Shikari sind schon lange kein Geheimtipp mehr. Die britische Band hat sich in den vergangenen Jahren eine große Fanbase rund um den Globus aufgebaut, tourte neben Europa schon durch Russland, Asien und Nord- und Südamerika. Jahr für Jahr sind sie außerdem in unzähligen Ländern gesetzte Acts auf den größten Festivals.


Mit ihrem neuen Album "Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible" setzen die Musiker nun einen neuen Meilenstein in ihrer Karriere. Die 15 Songs der Platte könnten verschiedener nicht sein, bilden aber ein beachtliches Gesamtwerk, das vom Anfang bis zum Ende unheimlich durchdacht ist. Songs wie "The Great Unknown", "The Dreamers Hotel" und "modern living..." bringen die schnellen und harten Enter Shikari Sounds mit sich, während "Elegy For Extinction" ein rein instrumentales, klassisches Stück ist. Egal ob schroffe Gitarrenriffs, schnelle Drums, sanfte Violinenklänge oder elektronische Beats – mit "Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible" übertreffen sich Enter Shikari selbst und präsentieren sowohl musikalisch als auch textlich eine energiegeladene und unglaublich facettenreiche Platte.


Hello Rou! Thank you so much for answering some questions for us. How are you doing these days?

Rou: I’m healthy and busy, so I cannot complain! I am certainly missing my friends and family though. I’m lucky to at least have my cat for company.


Your new album “Nothing is True & Everything Is Possible” came out a month ago and hit #2 in the UK. The record includes so many different music styles and is one of the most powerful albums we have heard from you. Since it unites so many different styles: Has the recording process of this album been harder and more complicated than the production process of the other records? And what were the differences compared to your last album “The Spark”?

Rou: Certainly. We put more time and effort, sweat and toil, into this album more than any other. It’s the first album I’ve produced completely by myself so I wanted to really take the production up a level and broaden our palette of sounds. This album was still emotionally led like 'The Spark' was but it has a bigger sense of freedom to it. For 'The Spark' I was almost coerced into writing those songs by the experiences I was going through. For this album I was in a much more stable place and that allowed me to experiment and explore new ideas. The main theme of the album became ‘possibility’ and part of that was asking ourselves what is possible musically. What can we, as a post-punk band from London in 2020, actually achieve in terms of pitch, rhythm and texture?

You have always been wanting to spread awareness for certain topics. Your lyrics are distinctive. Which topics or stories inspired you when you wrote the songs for “Nothing is True & Everything Is Possible”? And why did you choose these topics, which messages do you want to send to the people out there?

Rou: Trying to navigate the world at the moment is so difficult because trust is at an all time low. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to grasp, decipher or ascertain truth. There’s tribalism, biases and ulterior motives everywhere in our politics, in our media, and in our discussions on and offline. This was the first theme of the album truth and trust (Nothing Is True). Possibility was the second theme. I looked at the duel nature or the current dichotomy within possibility itself. Possibility is now something of a threat, the future is quite scary. So the title itself is our most semantically ciphered and coded yet. The music is equally as layered.


Please let us know more about your song “Satellites” – what is the song about? What inspired you to write this song?

Rou: It’s a love song. It’s quite appropriate for now as we hide away in isolation because broadly speaking it’s a song about being forced apart from the people you love. We all have to contain our love for one and other to protect each other. “We refrain from touch we are satellites”. But when I wrote it - I wrote it as a thought experiment in empathy toward the LGBTQ community. It’s about the mental health effects of being afraid to show affection. I was talking to a friend about his fear of something as simple as holding hands in public. It really made me want to properly understand and feel that emotion. I think it’s important to try and extend your own empathy, sometimes it doesn’t work and you fall flat on your face. But often it brings you a lot of understanding and a sense of connection to others. Through empathy and through art we can keep calmly destroying ignorance.

The song “Elegy For Extinction” off your new album is a magnificent classical song. What kind of classical music do you enjoy listening to? And have you ever been thinking about the idea of actually conducting an orchestra?

Rou: The first instrument I learnt as a kid was the trumpet and playing in school orchestras was something I thoroughly enjoyed. I was lucky enough to have a small introduction to classical music from a young age. I remember dancing around our living room to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture as an 8 year old. I remember finding the melody in Vivaldi’s four seasons beautiful, I remember discovering Holst’s The Planets and being blown away. I enjoy all sorts though, from Stravinsky to Elgar, plus modern stuff like Terry Riley and John Cage. I think if we played this piece live I would either conduct, yes, or I’d join the brass section and play the trumpet.


Your new album's artwork shows “Hippocrates”; you have also mentioned and quoted philosophers in your songs throughout the years. What kind of connection with philosophy do you have? Which philosophers inspire you the most – and why?

Rou: Philosophy probably inspires my song writing and composing more than music or any other artform. I got into Philosophy through Bertrand Russel. His clarity helped me navigate the history. I then became obsessed with Ancient Greece from the pre-socratics to Plato and Epicurus. Much of my lyrics are inspired by Rousseau - I’m definitely on his side against the Hobbesian view that we’re all inherently brutish. And his “confessions” ‘justified’ real profound honesty in art and literature. I was so inspired by that and also Nietzsche (I must “write with blood" as he once said). Montaigne and Seneca are two other huge influences on me.

The new music videos for “The Dreamers Hotel” and “The Great Unknown” were directed by Polygon. Why was Polygon the right person to direct the videos and how was working with them?

Rou: Polygon first directed our video for 'Stop The Clocks' and we just really worked well together. We were able to help each other develop ideas and bring our thoughts to life. They have a really great eye for marrying the digital and the analogue and share the same progressive mindset. Plus it means trips to Paris (where they’re based) so that’s always lovely!


Since we are a German music blog. Which connection do you have with Germany? And which German festival you have played has been your favorite one so far?

Rou: I have a German Grandma so I suppose that’s my first connection. But Germany was the first country outside of the UK that we felt our music was accepted in and we’ve loved it ever since! The shows are almost always brilliantly high energy and there are SO many great festivals! Literally every year one of the definite highlights is playing German festivals!


Please complete the following sentences…

  • If “Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible” was a drink, it would be… A gas that hydrates you more than any liquid and is ‘drunk’ through your eyeballs.
  • Our biggest dream is to play in ... one day: Antarctica, for a penguin colony.
  • The first thing we do after a show is… Well, I almost always eat straight away! I stuff my face with a peanut butter sandwich or something usually.
  • If we were a death metal band, our name would be… The Cherubin’s Cunt.
  • The worst song you could have stuck in your head is… Anything by Azealia Banks I assume.


What is your last message to the readers?

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter” - MLK