There are a handful of universal truths in our world; things that are just bound to occur no matter what. Paying taxes, getting your heart broken, your inevitable death, and Enter Shikari touring Australia every two or so years are all bound to happen. Well, a new tour from the English quartet is upon us Aussies again with the band touring across the country once more, this time with Sydney’s Stories along for their final run, and the almighty Hacktivist in tow. As such, we sat down for a chat with Rou Reynolds and drummer Rob Rolfe while the band was in Melbourne earlier this week to commence their Australian Redshift tour. We have a good feeling that we’ll be reminiscing about this tour through the band’s new live DVD ‘Live At Alexandria Palace’ come November.
The first thing I wanted to talk about was a matter of perspective. This tour will be the last tour for Stories before they will be going on an indefinite hiatus. They’ve been a band for six years now and that’s a long time. But in that time, Enter Shikari has put out two albums, an EP, a remix album and have done so much touring in that time. When you see how much you’ve put into this and for how long, do you feel humble through all of your hard work or that maybe it’s just a matter of you being lucky? Maybe both?
Rou: We never downplay the impact that luck has had with us. We’ve certainly put every ounce of energy into everything that we do. Luck certainly plays a role, though. We have seen so many talented bands with such interesting, progressive music that have just had to split up because they weren’t’ getting enough support. We’re very lucky to be here after all these years.
Rob: It’s odd. You never see how far you get until you sit down and look at it. Everything happens so fast that you get so caught up in it all. When you can look at it from an outside perspective, you come to realise just how many albums you’ve put, the big tours you’ve played and how many festivals you’ve done. It’s like when you see your aunt at Christmas and she says how tall you’ve grown but you see yourself every day and can only see how much you’ve grown when someone else says it.
It’s interesting you put it like that because I think of one of Crown The Empire’s latest songs, ‘Hologram’. It’s about the band being on the road for so long and coming home and having to adapt so much to the world of their friends and family. It’s a weird thing to experience. Do you ever find that to be the case when you come home and have to re-adapt to your home life?
Rou: Yeah, it’s always weird but I find it to be the opposite when I come back, nothing’s changed that much. Maybe that’s the luck thing again [laughs]. I do have a really solid friend and family circle in my area, though.
Rob: I’m always disappointed when I get back and go ‘Oh, that shop closed down. I liked that one’, or ‘Oh there’s another Subway here’. That’s the one thing that changes for me!
[Laughs] fair enough. On that element of luck, I think of what Tom Searle (R.I.P.) said on the Architects DVD, One Hundred Days, about seeing so many of their peer’s shooting past them. Yet now that band has reached that level of success I find. Sp do you ever feel the same way about your own success within the industry in how you measure?
Rou: I guess that there’s a measurement of success that you can support yourself and carry on. There are plenty of bands that we tour with back in the UK who have day jobs because they can’t live off just being a band. I think we would still do that, as this isn’t a job – it’s not to get money – it’s something we’re so passionate about and something that we want to do. We would have to be next to no support and no time for us to not even be a band.
Well, I’m glad that that’s not the case, as I’ve loved the past two albums especially. On ‘The Mindsweep’ though, you have the Hospitalised remix. My favourite track would easily be ‘Interlude’ and with Erised taking just that – an interlude song and turning it this whole other beast – who wrote the lyrics for that song? Were they lyrics you had left over or did Erised take free reign on that?
Rou: No, it was all them, really. They are all of our favourite producers on that album, and we trusted them implicitly so to have that free reign. It was really cool, as they used some of the lyrics from Torn Apart, which goes into the Interlude. It’s really interesting, as Erised’s singer, she doesn’t speak any English. So she had to learn the parts phonetically.
Rob: Yeah, she didn’t know at all what she was singing.
Oh man, that’s really cool, actually! On that remix album, would there ever be plans to do that again with a new album or an old one? As letting other artists get a new perspective on those songs has turned out really well.
Rou: …not really!
Rob: We’ve always had remixes on our old albums and our music lends it so well to remixes as it’s so electronic. A vast majority of it is so quantized and I’ve often thought that one of the biggest compliments to our music is that gets other people’s creativity juices flowing enough to turn them into their own piece. That’s the beauty of music, it can be so fluid and it can be refaced so much. In the future, I’m certain we’ll get many more remixes done. As for a full album-
Rou: -that’s something to be talked about later on. We need to have an album to be remixed first [laughs].
Of course, but that’s good to hear, I look forward to it! With your music being so fluid I think of the ‘Chop Suey’ and ‘Know Your Enemy’ covers that you did. I find your music works so well for cover, different interpretations and maybe that’s because your music lends itself so well to being so varied.
Rou: Yeah, absolutely. I am very fidgety and I can’t just listen to or play one style of music. To define is to limit really. We’ve never tried to fit into any scene. Any label we’ve been given is either laughable or it just doesn’t work. We’re not just hardcore and we’re also not just drum n’ bass or electronica nor are we metal.
Well, you know that question that every band always get – ‘What does your band sound like?’ For you guys, you could’ve said the sound effects from Transformers meets SikTh’s sound, with the live show of The Dillinger Escape Plan.
Rou: [Laughs], well, that’s just it! You do the whole love child thing of ‘if Dillinger slept with Regina Specter’, it’s always funny to me.
Now, with the live shows, I take it that you’re all running to a click track?
Rob: Yeah, we all run in-ears with a click track. Or rather, the majority of it is to a click.
For sure, because there’s so much on the albums that you can’t play live without sacrificing something else. I’ve wondered lately that your shows wouldn’t be as engaging, as fun if for instance, Rou, you had to stand still and play as much of the synth parts as you could.
Rou: Oh yeah, it’s just such a prominent thing in my mind on how you play live. A lot of the tracks wouldn’t even be possible for me to play live because there’s like ten layers of electronics and so we’d another ten human beings on tour and that’d be economically impossible. So I guess it’s about playing the important parts and what stands out. But some parts are done on a sequencer so it’s often too quick to play or there are too many notes. For us, the line would be the electronics only on the backing track. I know a lot of bands that put vocals and guitar parts on the backing tracks, and that’s fine, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing it. I think it comes down to whether you want to be a traditional live band or embrace a wider pallet of instruments and textures. Even though we come from a DIY punk scene, we’re also quick to embrace more theatrical possibilities.
Yeah, it’s all about what represents the band and the album(s) the best when it comes to playing live.
Rob: That’s it. I was just about to say that it’s all about what makes it sound best on-stage. But…what would probably sound best would be to just play the CD [laaughs]. It’s just about getting a balance.
Well with the live sets, do you ever feel like you’re obliged to play some songs live? Because-
Rob: -Yep! Sorry You’re Not A Winner!
Ah, I was gonna bring that song up! I know with songs it can be like picking your favourite children, but that’s a cop out – parents do have their favourite kids.
Rob: Oh yeah…but we’d probably be sick of playing those songs, you know? If it was No Sssweat, we’d probably be sick of it by now. We’re of course grateful that that one particular song got us so far and we achieved so much popularity on it. If its people’s favourite song, we’d be disappointed if we went to one of our favourite bands and they didn’t play the song that got us into them, we’d be mad. As much as we may get tired or bored of particular songs, like Sorry You’re Not A Winner which we’ve played for almost ten years now, we do feel more excited about the newer material. But without that song, we may not be here. So it’s a love-hate relationship.
Rou: I find it funny when you get the…longer term fans who are more hardcore and “elitist” and who laugh at newer fans who say ‘play Sorry You’re Not A Winner’ who take the piss out of them. You start to get those inner fan groupings.
Oh man, I feel that way about those really big bands like Metallica, where you have fans that came on in at the ‘St. Anger’ point. Which is probably not the best time to come in for that band, but-
Rob: That’s actually the only Metallica album I like! [Laughs]
It’s got greatest snare drums tone ever – a trashcan hitting a wall!
Rob: Oh man, I love it, absolutely love it.
But I’ve seen those inner fan groupings at your shows, having seen you guys so many times live and it’s like, ‘Come on…there’s no need to be a dick’.
Rou: I’ve always felt that we’re lucky that generally our fan base has such a big sense of community. Obviously, that’s a very big part of our music so if anyone is coming to our shows to be a dick, they can be spotted and…dealt with. I don’t know where I was going with that [laughs].
Ah, there’s nothing quite like mob justice. So, with having Hacktivist on this tour, will you be joining them on-stage for them ‘Taken’, Rou?
Rou: You know, I actually haven’t spoken with them about that actually. We’ve done it a few times just in the UK so I presume they’ll wanna do it.
Do it for the boys, man!
[Note: they didn’t do it. Hacktivist’s Timfy James just sang Rou’s parts but he did it really well, as you’d expect from that bloke].
To kind of bring this full circle, with this tour, this must be the seventh or eighth time you’ve toured here. With so much travelling, do you start to find make those connections with certain cities or people, despite only being there every 18-24 months?
Rob: yeah, absolutely. Even though you are touring with your friends it can be a lonely place because you’re so detached, you can make some good friends when touring around the world to the same places. It makes it all feel so smaller, which is lovely. It’s so welcoming. There was actually a bar in Tokyo, Japan we’d go to every time we were there but it’s closed down, which was really disappointing.
Rou: Literally, as soon as I got here, I went straight to Lord Of The Fries! I love the sweet potatoes fries.
I was going to mention that, so many international bands love that place. Their burgers are okay, but there’s a reason they’re called Lord Of The Fries and Lord Of The Fries AND Burgers. But anyway, we’ll have to leave it there, guys, thanks so much for your time today.
Rou: Oh no worries, thanks for having us. We’ll see you at the gig.
Rob: Yeah, cheers man!
Wednesday, 21st September
The Metro Theatre, Sydney
Thursday, 22nd September
The Gov, Adelaide (All Ages)
Saturday, 24th September