MEB staffer Ridge Briel and friend Anthony Matthews (who helped write part of the interview) recently caught up with Rou Reynolds and Rory Clewlow of Enter Shikari to discuss the overall message that their music consists of, what people should be doing to make the world a better place, the meanings behind their symbols, and about their newest album A Flash Flood of Colour more in depth.
MEB: You guys are still relatively new in comparison to other bands that remotely sound like you. What has it been like constantly touring and headlining all over the world for the past five years?
Rou and Rory: Well, it’s tiring to say the least. [laughs] We’ve had some amazing experiences, been to places we wouldn’t normally go to, and played for more people than we ever thought we would be able to play for.
Compared to your other albums, A Flash Flood of Colour isn’t, as you’ve stated in previous interviews, as politically motivated as the others. Can you elaborate more on this technological stance you guys have mentioned before?
After our other albums were released, we were labeled as a political band. It kind of makes us angry because we feel that they’ve really missed the point we’re trying to make. With Flash Flood of Colour, we’re trying to push forth a psychological and scientific sort of agenda. Just basically trying to concentrate on giving people a new sort of perspective and thinking of things more objectively. In terms of technology, we’re just trying to make people realize the possibilities we have at our fingertips in the marvels of science to make a completely sustainable world where equality and peace can be a very real and obtainable thing. I saw this video the other day on a Canadian news channel about this guy who has found the cure for cancer. This simple and inexpensive medicine that has been around for decades basically kills the very cancer cells.
Yes I just saw that recently as well. It’s been making the rounds on Facebook and Tumblr a lot.
It’s a really cheap and easy to make substance. His small-scale testing on rodents has been proven successful and he needs millions to put it to more broad-scale testing, but because the substance is so cheap and easy to make, the pharmaceutical companies don’t want to touch it because they feel they won’t make any money on saving millions of lives. It’s a big example of how technology and science can be held back by the greed of others.
You can view the video here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1ifXxbxhZc).
Because these days, people are in it just for the money and their own personal gain and not for the greater good of the people who are suffering. What is it that you want people to do and what message do you want them to take when they listen to your music?
The people’s perspectives is what about sums it up really. They can either listen to the lyrics or read the booklet and do their own research if they’re interested. The real first preliminary thing we want people to take from our music is a sense of unity that we are a biosphere planet and that this is the only planet we have. Everywhere, like in media, the first rule of governance is that they like to divide people to not realize that we are just one species. We all kind of want the same things in life but we really need to get back to progressing as a whole sense that manifests everyone in a positive way.
Is that what Common Dreads is about?
Yeah. That’s always been our main concern, of others trying to fight back against the device of nature and getting people to realize the strength we can have when united as one species.
So what made you guys kind of change from Take to the Skies to Common Dreads like that? The lyrics in Take to the Skies aren’t as political compared to Common Dreads.
Just the time in which they were written I guess. We were playing most of them for two or three years by the time we recorded that album as those lyrics were written when we were 16, 17 years old. We were still kind of forming our view of the world. Listening back, you can hear the embryonic stages of our band and our social views in songs like “No Sssweat.” Once we realized we had this pedestal that we were sort of pushed onto when the album came out, it kind of exploded, especially in Europe. We really felt this sort of responsibility of speaking about stuff that are quite urgent and important.
What do you feel, if there is one, is the difference between the fan base in Europe as compared to the fan base of the U.S.A.?
When in Europe, it’s a lot bigger as compared to over here, but it’s still getting there to that size. The way people act and the energy is quite similar. Japan is slightly different because, well, everything is slightly different in Japan.
So what exactly is the meaning behind the title A Flash Flood of Colour and the cover art that adorns it?
A flash flood of colour is what we want to inject into the world. Just a sense of positivity, variety, and diversity through our music. The upside-down triangle represents the opposite of society’s pyramid depiction of the classes. You have the lower class, which makes the majority of the world and therefore the biggest part of the triangle at the bottom, and the very few and rich who control what everyone else sees and does in their day-to-day life at the top. The power should belong to the majority of the people as they are the ones who hold up the triangle.
It’s too bad it didn’t have to do with the Triforce.
Ah yes, Zelda! [laughs]
So how did you guys all meet up together to form this band with such a powerful and meaningful message?
When we first started, that wasn’t really what we had in mind. We didn’t have any goals or aspirations, we just wanted to get together and play music. You could say it was a hobby that really got out of hand. Even now, that’s how it feels to us. As I was saying before, after we started getting that initial success, we started thinking “Wow, people are really starting to listen to us now.” So it kind of felt, not pressured, but just kind of moved into that form of using the music to shout and sing and talk about things that we feel need to be talked about instead of singing about breaking up with your girlfriend or having “tough” lyrics that are full of that faux revolutionism. To us, coming from a punk/hardcore scene, that type of music is built on absolute sincerity and honesty. You’re running around, you’re giving it everything you’ve got, and that’s what punk is all about. Passion and fighting against the oppressions. I guess it just felt kind of normal for us to do.
So is that what the song “Warm Smiles Do Not Make You Welcome Here” is about?
I guess that’s more specifically about… well yeah, more like the music scene and what people are listening to nowadays. How, especially recently, when you’re in a band that’s constantly touring like we have over the last few years, I’ve gotten to a point where I don’t really listen to metal or metalcore. I still like hardcore, but we get exposed to so many bands that sound exactly the same. It’s like there’s this willing to make a band and pick your favorite band and attempt to sound just like them and this mediocrity is just spreading through music and it’s like most bands that become successful don’t really push their music forward and certainly don’t excite us. But that could also be because we play music every day and that we have short attention spans and that we’ve become “elitists.” [laughs] It’s a stab at the media who don’t really help in any way and at the music channels that just play whatever they feel is popular and will keep their listeners happy. So you get this vicious circle of homogenized music and stations where that music just goes around and nothing progresses.
Because these days, especially on American radio stations, you can go to any channel and hear ten songs that sound exactly the same, even more so with contemporary hip-hop. It does get ridiculous about hearing some guy going to a club to pick up a girl to have sex and drinking Bacardi or something. It’s really refreshing to hear music from you guys with lyrics that have so much meaning behind them and actually have it mean something.
That’s the thing, I think if the media did actually support the more underground [bands] and evolve in music genres, not just from the punk side of things but also the electronica and classical stuff, that every single aspect of music would be accepted to a certain degree. But because we all grow up with a narrow view of music, it will seem strange when you hear a piece of music that doesn’t go with the whole “stick with what you know” sort of thinking. It goes back to that saying that it’s easier to sell something that people understand.
Do you think people are more receptive and open to new things over in the UK compared to America?
It’s certainly hard to get a proper gauge of that from album sales alone. The record company that released our first two albums signed us and literally did nothing with us. They hardly released the albums. We’ve sold more albums within the first week of Flash Flood than we have with our last two albums the whole time. Certainly, American radio seems a bit bleaker.
That I can definitely agree with.
Daytime radio in the UK is shit, but there are specialized shows in the evenings and some smaller radio stations as well that are pretty good. I hope to see this bleak sort of radio obsolete.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of SiKth. What was it like working with Dan Weller at the producing helm of your last two albums?
It was amazing. He actually did some of the guitars on Common Dreads. I remember when he first called me up, he was like “Hi, it’s Dan from SiKth.” I was a little bit starstruck to say the least. He grew up in the next town from us actually and we would go see his band and his friends’ bands all the time. He’s very much a part of our lives as an inspiration before Enter Shikari. He really has a great ear for good music. He’s essentially a fifth member of the band.
So tell me a little bit about Step It Up Clothing.
Step It Up Clothing can be described as ethical clothing. Using clothes to spread a message instead of just warmth or a random design. Each shirt actually means something. A percentage from the profits of a shirt goes toward whatever cause it supports. It’s fun, just some friends that do designs really. The online shop is down at the moment but it should be back up within a month or so.
So I know you guys are into the whole Zeitgeist movement. What message do you really want people to take from this and instill into their everyday lives?
It’s really hard to summarize that. The whole movement for us is just such a huge inspiration. It’s more education than I ever really received in the schooling system. There’s so many lectures and videos today that are all parts of what the movement stands for. It really steps outside of everything for people to look in and see what’s really going on.
Any last words for your fans and what people who haven’t seen you live yet can expect from your shows?
A lot of sweat, a lot of blood, ringing ears afterwards; people are really missing out. All of your senses will be destroyed. This tour’s been going great, I can’t really complain. Thanks to everyone who has supported us so far.