Ahead of their second venture into the United States for The Mindsweep Tour, MEB Writer M.J. Rawls recently caught up with lead vocalist/programmer Rou Reynolds of Enter Shikari to discuss the upcoming U.S. presidential election, the status of protest music, and more.
MEB: Now, I couldn’t have an Enter Shikari interview without asking about the elephant in the room. I know you guys have spoken out on political issues. I’m not sure if you’ve been keeping up with it, but can you comment on the U.S. Presidential election?
Of course. This is the first time for a while where the normal apathetic argument of “who cares? they’re all the same”, is now invalid. To use that argument would now be ignorant.
Bernie Sanders is actually offering a concrete alternative. I may not agree with him on absolutely everything, but he is by far the most appealing candidate and the main bulk of his ideas are what the world needs right now.
Donald Trump is basically a troubled little boy. A bully and a spoiled momma’s boy sent to military school after a disconnected and unloving upbringing. That germinated all sorts of psychological complexes. The frightening thing is he genuinely believes he has the ability to be a president. Even with his poor intellect, lack of experience, his knee jerk, immature, loudmouth way of communicating and his archaic and blinkered outlook.
Unfortunately, (because of Trump perhaps) Ted Cruz has received less discrediting than he perhaps otherwise would of. He is a f*cking religious nutcase – arguably just as dangerous as Trump. Just look up Dominionism (his sect of Christianity) to get a flavour for his views.
If Hillary Clinton wins the democratic vote, I would certainly vote for her, but it is clear she isn’t “one of us” so to speak. She’s a serial liar and appears quite power hungry to the point she’ll say whatever will please her current audience – no matter who.
MEB: With the recent tragedy in Brussels, what would your particular message be to people who have many divisive tones of rhetoric?
A hateful reaction to terrorism is understandable, but it is the easiest of all reactions because it requires no effort, no thought, and no perspective. To lash out in a divisive way, generalising all in a religious group for instance, that’s a jump into idiocy and is so very damaging. Community is so important. Especially after attacks like these. Offering nothing but hate and division will only breed more hate and division.
MEB: Rage Against The Machine is one of my all time favorite band and one of the reasons why I naturally gravitated towards Enter Shikari’s music. You guys aren’t afraid to speak out on political issues and I think that’s missing in music, somewhat. Do you feel that “protest” music is dead and that music is still a powerful medium to disperse that energy?
They were one of our favourite bands too growing up! Protest music isn’t dead. There’s great socially conscious music in modern punk, folk, pop, hip hop and spoken word. There’s always the danger of repetition and cliche within any genre, but each new generation needs protest music, if only for the fuel to keep speaking out for progress. Music can affect us emotionally like nothing else. You can galvanise enthusiasm for anything through music. The question to the musician is what do you want your music to point people towards? A lot of mainstream music instills or celebrates narcissism and greed. With so much going on in the world today, we need protest music more than ever.
MEB: You guys are about to head back to the U.S. on the Mindsweep tour during April and May. To me, this album is the perfect storm of all your influences. Drum and Bass, thrash and even a piano ballad thrown in. With this being album number four in the band’s discography, did you feel that this was the album that personified who the band is up to this point?
Thank you. I think with every album you aim to personify who or what the band is. We’re enthused by so much different music that our sound just ends up naturally being quite diverse I suppose. We don’t set out to purposely flaunt musical diversity, we just enjoy making music of all types. All different types of music that reflects and conveys many different emotions I’m bored with metal albums that convey nothing but anger – there’s a whole world out there, boys.
MEB: I wanted to talk about “Redshift” which is one of my favorite song/video combos for the band. The song itself shows the band’s more melodic side, but as the end of the video shows with the huge part at the end, you don’t need to be so “in-your-face” to have a powerful message. Do you feel like this song in general showed another side within the band that you’ll explore in future albums?
Possibly! I think science has always been a huge influence on us lyrically. Melody has always been at the forefront of most of our material. We like pushing ourselves in different directions as it keeps the music honest. You can tell when a band is excited about music and when they’re just churning out another identical album of music they aren’t overjoyed to be playing anymore. We’ll always have melody – we couldn’t be a straight up noise core band or something, but we’ll always have passion and dynamics too.
MEB:There’s Shikari Sound System (Enter Shikari’s dance sideproject) who is playing a full set at Slam Dunk Festival this year. Are you looking forward to that and is there a chance we could see that in the states?
Yes, it should be a good time. Nothing planned for the States unfortunately. The drives are often too big to justify hanging around to play aftershow DJ set or anything.
The Mindsweep tour with support from Hands Like Houses and The White Noise starts on April 15th in Seattle, Washington. Check the band’s website here to get your tickets once they roll towards your city.