Being different doesn’t make us any different. It might not be the mantra of UK-based electro-rockers Enter Shikari, but the ups-and-downs of its career thus far, including the lead-up to the band’s third full-length, A Flash Flood of Colour, would probably suggest otherwise. Though the band has a knack for lacing post-hardcore with lashes of techno, house and yes, even dubstep, the four boys from Hertfordshire find themselves in a particularly interesting situation this time around. Even as they sit in a chilly green room high up in Royal Oak Music Theatre’s staircase labyrinth, the feeling of warmth has seemingly been replaced with one of both internal and external excitement.
“We’re not used to being the lighter sounding band on the bill,” jokes Shikari bassist Chris Batten as he and vocalist/electronics master Rou Reynolds share a seemingly cozy, although noticeably worn couch. Enter Shikari is on their second to last date as support on the Dead Throne Tour, alongside The Devil Wears Prada, Whitechapel and For Today – a tour that has, according to the band, served them well.
“I think it’s kind of gone beyond what we expected,” says Reynolds, of the crowds who are beginning to hear a mix of old favorites and cuts from Colour. “Not that we ever sort of consciously sat down and thought ‘Well I think this bit will do well and this bit won’t’, but “Arguing with Thermometers” in particular, we haven’t released that yet, we’ve only released “Sssnakepit” and that seems to be going down really well live. If they’re singing the lyrics back already then they must have just been trolling YouTube or something.”
It is interesting to see that while the two are certainly parts of a whole, Reynolds is eager to point out the characteristics of the track – “It’s very sort of specific, different types of sounds. The parts in it are all quite different, so it’s quite immediate as a song so it works well live” – Batten’s reassurance is equally just as warming.
“It’s exciting for us, you know, that that’s going down well live, it does give us a really great feeling that people are going to enjoy the album.”
Enter Shikari’s journey to a third record started with a trip to Thailand, where they bunkered down with Dan Weller (ex-SikTH) to record and program the essentially already written tracks for A Flash Flood of Colour. Enter Shikari’s relationship with Weller has some roots to it though. Besides living in the same area as Enter Shikari, Weller did guitar production on the band’s last record Common Dreads and produced “Destabilize” and “Quelle Surprise,” both stand-alone singles from the band.
“Just having someone with a similar age as us, who comes from the same place, who we work well with together, who loves experimenting, and he let us do what we wanted – he just kind of put it all together,” says Batten.
The experience itself seemed different as well according to Batten. Quick to point out a level of comfort from the band actually having the desired time to complete the record this time around, Batten says the band’s preparations prior to recording also helped guide the recording process. “We set ourselves up at the beginning of the year, we took off three or four months for writing. By the time we went to Thailand, we had pretty much the songs all demoed and written, we knew what we needed to do, we just had to focus on making everything sound as great as possible. A lot of times we would experiment and it was just really exciting and refreshing.”
But for a band known more for trying to turn the tables rather than playing it safe, what’s to be expected of Enter Shikari this time around, given what we’ve heard from the trio of tracks already surfaced from Colour – “Sssnakepit”, “Arguing with Thermometers” and “Gandhi Mate, Gandhi”?
“I think people expect from us these days is what we’ve always done, which is not be afraid of anything really. I think they expect us to be kind of experimental and change a lot within our sound because that’s what we’ve always done,” says Batten, of the general idea of Colour. On a slightly different scale, Reynolds, aside from pointing out an increase of software as opposed to hardware and reusing much of the same equipment for electronics as he did with Common Dreads, recalls the structuring of the album as literally nonexistent. “This was probably the first album where we didn’t pay much attention to how it flowed as a whole. We didn’t worry about getting from one song to the next. Just gave us a bit more freedom to work on each song, just sort of by itself.”
Those who have listened to the already released cuts from Colour can hear Reynolds with a revitalized, often ‘call-to-arms’ mentality in the lyricism of “Gandhi Mate, Gandhi,” a notion he says is sparked from the intention of trying to create something, whether it was in 2007’s Take to the Skies or the newer material, that is both global and inclusive. “We always try and write things that work on a global scale. I don’t think we write anything specifically about Britain. That’s kind of conscious because we believe most of the problems today, the roots, the foundations of the floors are sort of systemic. They involve the way the whole world works, so I don’t think anything is specific to Britain. Obviously, a lot of the first and second album were mostly about unity and there’s so many things out there today that are just trying to divide us, or trying to use us to divide one another and fear one another, whether it’s religion or race or patriotism, nationalism. We’re just sort of trying to rebalance the scales and say ‘Look guys, we’re all one species, we’re all family, we’re all just people wanting the same things.’ It’s about time we started working together and were more cooperative, which is obviously the same sort of message that we’re seeing in the Occupy movement, and we’re seeing in the Zeitgeist movement. Things are finally starting to look like they’re going somewhere.”
Yet, as the band plans to emerge with a new album just after the beginning of a new year, their plans don’t stop there. With plenty of touring already in the works, fans who missed the opportunity to see them this time around are in for a real treat in the upcoming months. “We’re doing a headliner in April and May,” says Reynolds, “it will be our first, proper, full North American headlining tour. It’s been ages coming, we’re excited. It’s our first chance to do the Enter Shikari show properly, going to bring our lighting rig and everything.” Besides that, the band has plans to be in Australia for several dates of Soundwave, as well as some UK and mainland Europe dates in the books. Truth be told, it’s going to be a busy year for Enter Shikari – though Reynolds seems rather unphased by it.
“I’m sure it’ll be our downfall one day, but we’re not a very organized band, and we don’t really look to the future in any way whatsoever. We’ve never really set ourselves any goals. We’re not hugely ambitious. So, nothing really of what we do is very conscious. We just try to take it each day as it comes.”