I’m going to be sincere: ENTER SHIKARI is one of my favorite bands. I’ve been listening to their music for more than seven years, and it’s one of the two bands that have the ‘privilege’ of being hanging in the wall of my bedroom (the other one is HAMLET, if you were willing to ask it. By the way, I’ve also got posters of Vince Carter and the Bilbao Basket roster of the 2012-2013 season). But let’s talk about music. Subterráneo Webzine gave me the chance to ask Rou Reynolds, frontman of the british band, because of the release of their latest album, The spark, whose review you can read HERE. In this interview, we talk about his mental health, the events that have sparked their creativity when writing this album, and even politics.
Subterráneo Webzine: You’ve been touring the US recently. How has your experience been so far?
Rou Reynolds: Great. There’s so much passion from our supporters out there, it’s always a great experience when we tour the United States.
Subterráneo Webzine: If I’m not wrong, it’s the first time you tour the US since Donald Trump is the President. Have you noticed something different?
Rou Reynolds: No, not much seems to have changed in terms of people’s daily lives. Obviously though there’s a more toxic atmosphere and a bit of a disconnect socially between Trump supporters and the rest of the population, or simply ’the sane’. Most people at our shows just seem embarrassed really and feel the need to apologise for him, which I find funny and endearing. But outside of our shows it’s just disappointing that public discourse is kind of halted and it’s just arguments about the most recent stupid thing Trump has tweeted.
Subterráneo Webzine: Let’s talk now about The spark. In the interview you gave to Kerrang!, I read that you’ve gone through a very difficult time in your life before writing this album. How are you doing now?
Rou Reynolds: I’m good, thanks. I wrote the album during a very tough period in my life but I’m in a far better place now, that’s for sure. I’m very happy to have the album out and so pleased to hear it’s connecting with so many people.
Subterráneo Webzine: Lyrically, is your most intimate and personal album. Do you think that you needed to have this kind of album to show that you’re more mature?
Rou Reynolds: No, I don’t think so. I have no need to prove my maturity. I think it shows I’m more confident and willing to address and broadcast more parts of myself though. Perhaps that is maturity? I don’t know. I think I had to go through what I went through to be able to open up properly though, so I couldn’t have written an album like this before 2017, even if I’d tried.
Subterráneo Webzine: Musically, instead, we appreciate a very important change, because it seems that now you’re more oriented towards writing structured “songs” instead of the madness and havoc that we can appreciate in your previous records. Do you agree with this?
Rou Reynolds: Yes, I’d say so. I wanted to concentrate on the vocal, the melodies and the songwriting especially on this album. I’ve learnt a lot about my voice over the last two years and I’ve increased my range and found much more confidence. So I wanted melody to drive this album. I wanted also to concentrate on lucidity. So the songs are more focused and controlled.
Subterráneo Webzine: I need to ask you this: what kind of music have you heard while writing The spark? I’ve noticed some influences of DEPECHE MODE, THE PRODIGY, 70’s space rock…
Rou Reynolds: The record is influenced by a vast swathe of music, from post punk and synth pop to drum and bass to modern classical. Some of the biggest influences were BLUR, DAVID BOWIE, GARY HUMAN, RADIOHEAD, NILS FRAHM and THE HUMAN LEAGUE.
Subterráneo Webzine: Let’s talk now about the music videos for ‘Rabble rouser’ and ‘Live outside’. Could you explain what the concept behind these videos is?
Rou Reynolds: Both are set in a dystopian future and exaggerate some of the current failings of our society, be it mindless jobs, the striving for fame above all else, lack of connection and the withholding of emotions, lack of creativity and homogenisation.
Subterráneo Webzine: And talking about music videos, I must confess that I’m a huge fan of yours. How important is for you to make videos to share your ideas or the concept of the songs?
Rou Reynolds: Music videos are a fucking ballache to be honest. I love the creative side of it and giving the songs a visual concept but they’re always a rush and a stress. When it comes to a visual representation of the songs I much prefer working on our live set and the lighting and production.
Subterráneo Webzine: In your Twitter account, and even in your songs, we can see that you support Labour Party. Seeing what have happened in Great Britain this year… In your opinion, what does the Labour Party need to do to have more support?
Rou Reynolds: To keep getting the message out there that an alternative society and an alternative social mood from what we have now is attainable. The left is beginning to realise it must use emotional language, it must speak of compassion and community. All the right have is emotion, as they rarely have a sustainable vision but emotion is often very persuasive, moreso than logic, so they often gain people’s trust.
Subterráneo Webzine: Jeremy Corbyn even appeared in the covers of Kerrang! and NME because of the electioneering. What did you think when you saw this?
Rou Reynolds: Music and the arts in general has always been a space where community, creativity, togetherness, empathy are the drivers. This puts us at odds with the norms of capitalism, which is self-centredness and individualism. And that is the current norm so the music media getting behind progressive ideas is an absolute must, and something it has always done. I was glad to see the tradition continue.
Subterráneo Webzine: Let’s talk now about your natural habitat: the stage. How have the people responded to your new songs on these last concerts?
Rou Reynolds: The response has been great, everyone is already singing the words back with ample passion, it’s an overjoying feeling to hear and the songs seem to have such an energy in the live arena.
Subterráneo Webzine: Your concerts have always been so intense and passionate. This new album, instead, is more relaxed and ‘laid-back’. How are you combining these two attitudes? How do these new songs suit perfectly with your standard set-list?
Rou Reynolds: I think there’s more intensity and emotion in these songs than much of our older stuff. It just conveys a wider range of emotions, and deeper, richer emotions too. Often we’ve been propelled by discontent, which is beautiful and something that will always inspire my art but I think the live set will now be more interesting, more raw and more powerful.
Subterráneo Webzine: And, from your point of view and experience, what’s the main difference between the ENTER SHIKARI of 2007 and the ENTER SHIKARI of 2017?
Rou Reynolds: We’re spicier now.
Subterráneo Webzine: If I’m not wrong, you love Spanish crowd. Are there any plans for coming to Spain in 2018?
Rou Reynolds: We will definitely be coming to Spain at some point in 2018 but no proper plans yet.