Rou Reynolds von Enter Shikari im Interview

Enter Shikari live am 05. April 2023 im Knust in Hamburg
Foto: Peter Detje

Enter Shikari haben am 21. April ihr neues Album “A Kiss For The Whole World” (Albumreview) veröffentlicht und haben damit ein weiteres Meisterwerk zu ihrer erstaunlichen Diskografie hinzugefügt. Vor ihrer Show in Hamburg im April dieses Jahres haben wir uns mit Sänger Rou Reynolds per Zoom kurzgeschlossen, der uns Rede und Antwort stand.

I guess the trigger is being excited about writing music and I feel quite lucky that our audience allows us to have a very broad spectrum of music at our exposal which keeps it exciting because there is so much to explore and experiment with.Rou Reynolds

„Every band that is full of good people is wanting to reduce their carbon footprint.“

Hi Rou, thank you for taking the time. Your new album “A Kiss For The Whole World” is out and I read you recorded it in a farmhouse in England. What was that like?

Yeah, it was a farmhouse and it was very old and cold. Basically, I mean after the year and a half of not playing any shows and not doing anything – essentially not being a band, we wanted to go somewhere where we could just focus on the music, reconnect and feel like a band again, connect with each other. And also I´ve been reading Henry David Thoureau´s book “Walden” where he goes off into the woods and lives there for two years by himself and I was very inspired by that idea. That was why, first of all we didn´t want to go to the studio, we wanted to build our own temporary studio. Not be in some state of the art, nice building, I wanted to be a bit more rustic, a bit more real. So, this place was like a run-down farm house, it was completely off-grid, had solar panels, there was no central heating, so we had to chop wood. It was just the four of us and our engineer, George, and we were cooking for each other. It was just a very wholesome experience. Sometimes you can go into an expensive studio and you can be sort of boosted by all this amazing equipment, but sometimes it´s like – the amazing equipment doesn´t make amazing music. You have to ask yourself all the ideas first. I hadn´t written any music for a year and a half so I also wanted to focus on “Do we have the tunes here?”. I didn´t want to go somewhere where even bad music could be made to sound good. I wanted to make sure the skeleton was solid.

I also heard that you only used solar energy to produce the album. How did that go?

Every band that is full of good people is wanting to reduce their carbon footprint. We´ve done so much work and concentrated on the live things. The tour we made last year in the UK is where we made so many progresses on getting our carbon footprint down, it´s great. So then we thought how to do it with recording an album. So we thought to find a studio that is powered by renewable energy and there are actually not so many studios that do this. There´s a couple really good ones but then we had this idea of going into the woods, be away from everything and focus on the music. So we needed to find something that is off grid and has its own form of energy. And when we found this old farm house, we fell in love immediately and one of the reasons for it was because it had solar power. And all the recordings on the albums is sustainable, it´s a sustainably recorded record. We had quite some luck that it ticked all the boxes. It´s funny when I spoke to the owner, because it was just an Airbnb.. He was so shocked that we wanted it because he actually forgot that it was on Airbnb. Cause no one ever rents it because it is in the middle of nowhere, no central heating, pretty run down, needs some work. But we thought it was perfect.

„I always strive to have the music realistic rather than being overly positive or overly pessimistic.“

What is your process of thoughts before going into making another album after so many years?

I guess the trigger is being excited about writing music and I feel quite lucky that our audience allows us to have a very broad spectrum of music at our exposal which keeps it exciting because there is so much to explore and experiment with. It´s like a dog getting a scent, I see something that is really interesting, music or otherwise that inspires me to want to write something. And then that´s it, I´m on that scent, I can´t get away from it. The thrill of having an idea and getting it out of your mind and through some speakers, to me, that´s so exciting. So it doesn´t take much, I write music all the time, I´m quite easily inspired. Which is why it was so strange during the pandemic because I couldn´t write music at all. We probably could have forced ourselves to write something and record an album that we weren´t really happy with, but we didn´t want to do that. So what then? What do we do, we just wait? Is just the complete death of the band until I´m excited to write again, which may never come? So it was a very scary time. So it was quite clear to me the sense of purpose and human connection that I get from playing live music is the pivotal fuel I get as a songwriter.

You said your fans embrace different kinds of music that you produce and also live there are many things to experience from your band. How far do you think you can take it?

Of course there is always an element of fear that a sizeable percentage doesn´t like what you have done because what you have done is so different from what Enter Shikari has done before. There is some sort of limitation to what I do, but I am lucky, I can write music outside of Enter Shikari as well, so if I have a need to write some other style of music, I can fulfill that desire.

I love writing classical music, so on the last previous album, we put a classical piece on it. I feel so lucky that people accept this breadth and diversity. Because it is not easy, people get so used to music that is so watered down and so banal, sort of background noise, you put it on and it´s not surprising, it´s sort of a comfort. Whereas music that is challenging and going all sorts of places, is hard work and I am so happy that our fanbase allowed us to do this.

The song titles like “Dead Wood”, “(pls) set me on fire” and the artwork with the burned wood and firy figure makes me think of climate change. Is that what you were thinking of or what is it about?

There is all kinds of things going on and it´s always so interesting what people interpret on it. It´s hard to encapsulate the one theme of the album, because it´s two years of emotions, experiences and ideas thrown into 12 songs. There´s optimism and there´s pessimism on there, I always strive to have the music realistic rather than being overly positive or overly pessimistic. The cover of the wood burning down, that´s kind of what it feels like being alive right now. There is so much going on, so many crisis. The trajectory we are on is so scary. And as you said, climate change is the major struggle of our time, so it´s a very challenging time to be alive and just keep your sanity. So the flower on the artwork in the forest – it´s actually the same forest like on “A Flash Flood Of Cover” – what we wanted to do with it is to show that there´s always an ability to do something, there´s always a sense of hope, something to fight for. And this flower is from South Africa, which only grows after forest fires. So its growth is triggered by some biological reaction after the flora and fauna gets scorched. So even in this horrific landscape, some life and some hope survives. So what we tried to say with this album is that it´s so easy to feel nihilistic and fatalistic and people are just going to think of themselves, because what´s the point and that is a very dangerous thought process to fall into. The people in power, the people who benefit from the status quo, that´s exactly what they want you to feel. So hopefully this album should make you feel empowered and be part of a community and make you feel that you have the ability to change things.

„I love to be in a band that comes from a punk background.“

When you look at bands like Coldplay, how possible do you think sustainable touring is and where it is heading?

We set out to do a broad range of things. The main thing is transportation. It´s a big tour here in the UK, so we had an arctic truck and a tour bus and we managed to have both of them run on renewable fuel. And then for the lighting, we don´t use any high-powered lighting, it´s all LED powered technology now. And then we wanted to look at food, so all the catering on tour is majority plant-based. Which is a bit difficult because the people working the tour, that´s not the stuff they normally eat, but we tried to do it as respectfully as possible. And then things getting rid of plastic backstage, using renewable water bottle, all sorts of stuff. That´s about what a band of our size can do and obviously Coldplay are much bigger and therefore they have a bit more power to do and change things within the industry. But obviously our industry relies on so many other industries. If the transport industry is not going to make it possible to have smaller vans or have larger fleets of lorries and busses use this kind of fuel, there is only so much we can do. So I think it´s going okay. The music industry currently is struggling anyway, so it´s very difficult to make progress when the economy is going to shit, but to me, the main thing that the artists should be focused on is pointing the finger where it actually needs to be pointed. Because it´s pretty much pointless for the musicians and industry to do all to be sustainable if our energy structure is continued to be the same. So pointing the finger at the bad guys and pointing them out and making sure people know it´s the fossil fuel industry that are the bad guys, that´s the important thing. Until there is serious change coming from governments and the fossil fuel industries, we´re pretty much all fucked.

How do you go about making a tour better and better each tour?

Well it´s a very long and pain-staking process. We have a very high quality control, so we want each set to be new and exciting in some way. At the moment, we are planning our production for Slam Dunk festival, which is going to be our biggest and most ambitious headline show ever. It´s a lot of work, but you´re driven by excitement. I love to be in a band that comes from a punk background and therefore we can play the small shows, we can rely and sweat and energy, that´s great. But I also love being in a band that´s big enough that you can transform a venue, you can make it more than just an audio experience. It can be visual and something that elates you. It´s just so interesting. I love theatre, I love creating concepts that not just works through the music, but that is boosted by the visuals. So yeah, we always like to put in as much work as possible.

Thank you for your time!

Thank you!

Enter Shikari – A Kiss For The Whole World