Enter Shikari

Enter Shikari

Enter Shikari are currently on a full tour in the UK for the first time since 2009.

We caught up with Rob Rolfe and Chris Batten at the Ritz in Manchester to chat about their politics, the PIAS fire, touring and their sold-out Astoria show.

-You're back on a full tour for the first time in a while. How is it being back on the road?
Well, to be honest, we've been on the road for a long time actually, just not in the UK. All summer we've been on the Warped Tour. That was a really long, hot summer, some ridiculous heat. It was good, all the shows were good.

Then it was Reading and Leeds Festival back home, and we started on our European Tour, which was really, really good. All the shows were busy, the fans were really excited about the new stuff and really energetic.

That's what you want really, but it's good to be back on home turf. It's good to be back and feel that buzz again from the home crowds.

-You mentioned the Warped Tour, which is a bit of a hybrid between a festival and a tour. Is there a different mentality going into those shows?
It's a weird thing. You wake up, and every day you're on stage at a different time. Sometimes we call it a touring circus, because there's so many people touring together. It's a f****** long tour. There's really nothing else like it in the world, or nothing that we've experienced anyway.

-You've built up a great reputation for your live shows, with the light show and your energy on-stage. When you transitioned to day-time shows and festivals, were you nervous having the production aspect ripped away?
Not really. Remember, we came up from touring through lots of small venues. We're more than happy with having a stripped-back show. We want to do that again. Like, a smaller tour where we don't take anything in. For us, it's a bit more challenging as well. You feel like you have to almost have to up your game, without that wow factor.

-From what I saw during the sound-check, it definitely looks like you're going all-out with the light show. Do you try to out-do yourself with each tour?
Well, I guess once you've built up a reputation for a spectacular show, you've kinda gotta keep up with it. We kinda have to at least keep on par with the level of the bar we've raised for ourselves.

At the end of the day, forgetting the lights, our performances are just as energetic. We put just as much into it every time. It depends on each person's different perspective.

One person could be stuck at the back, or got mugged earlier in the night, so they were in a bad mood and didn't enjoy the show. All in all, we do try to keep up a certain standard of showmanship.

-Is it hard keeping the set-list fresh? Over the years, you've dropped songs like 'Jonny Sniper'. Are there any songs you're a bit tired of, but have to play?
'Sorry, You're Not A Winner'. They way we deal with that kinda thing is we add changes to it. We've done a different remix to the end of it this time, a different structure, and just have fun with it.

-This is going back a fair bit, but how did it feel when you sold out the London Astoria as an unsigned band?
Surreal. The rest of the tour was 5 or 600 capacity venues, to jump up to 1,500 people was really weird. Like we were saying earlier with the production stuff, if there's a reason to do it and we can afford it, we're always going to put as much into as we can.

I remember we were so excited, because we had a big-arse lazer for the night. We had this big, euphoric build-up, then we all kick in with the track, and I [Rob] came in out of time.

The biggest moment of the biggest gig of our career so far, and I just f***** it up! You get caught up in the moment yourself, and I did it. Then I was out of time with everyone else, it was a disaster!

-With your music, you seem to take influence from everywhere, from dubstep to hardcore. Do you worry about defining it when people ask you, or is it just what it is?
People are constantly asking. We sorta sit here in silence. It's one thing we've never understand in music. Why people try to put boundaries on music, why there has to be set rules for a certain genre. We never saw it like that, you know? We never enjoyed setting boundaries ourselves.

-The new single 'SSSNAKEPIT' has been out a couple of weeks now. How's the reaction been?
It's been really, really good. It's one those times where you play a brand new track that no-one's heard before, but people are immediately getting into it and dancing.

Usually when you play a new song live, they won't be as crazy as they are for the rest of the songs, because they have to listen and get to know the song.

We're getting good feedback since it's been released from TV and radio, who are playing it a lot, which is more than we ever expected.

I never thought I'd hear that on daytime radio next to the likes of f****** Kooks, or whatever bulls*** is up next to it. It's really cool.

-Over the past few years, you've had a few stand-alone singles that weren't part of an album. Was that down to how easy it is to get tracks out there now?
Yeah, pretty much. There's nothing stopping anyone, it's easy. As well, we were aware that the album was going to be a fair time coming. We wanted to keep giving fans something to listen to.

-In that sense, has the internet helped the industry? There's been a lot of criticism recently because of the ease of illegal downloading.
The only people that criticise that we the ones that were around before illegal downloading. Whereas, bands who've come up from our generation, who've grown up for it, it's done nothing but help us.

Obviously, people are going to download our music freely, but at the end of the day - if it means they're going to buy into us as a band, and come to shows, maybe buy some merch and help us continue touring...in that respect, then f*** it, download it.

-On tracks like 'Fanfare For the Conscious Man', you explore a political side to your music. Do you think it's important to get those views out there?
Yeah, I'd say so. There's a lot going on in the world. There's a lot of music that completely ignores where we are at the moment, as a society and as a human race. There's a lot of f****** awful lyrics out there.

We have strong opinions, and we feel we should voice them. We're in a position where we've been put on this pedestal of people listening to us, so we might as well say something worthwhile.

-Related to the politics, obviously recently there were the London riots. During these there was the PIAS fire. How did that affect you as a band?
We had a lot of stock in there. Us being on our own label, I think it hurt the independent distributors and labels more. They're the ones who'll be out of pocket and have to re-make all their stock.  It's going to put a massive dent in a lot of artists and labels, for sure.

-Looking to the future, how's work on the new album going?
We just got the final mastered copy of it sent to us. It was getting mixed by a guy in Canada whilst we were on tour. It kept getting sent between us with mix notes constantly. Finally, it's done and sounding fantastic. It's gonna be out in January. We just can't wait for everyone to hear it.

-How was it worked with Mark Fraser on it, given his legacy?
Well actually, he only mixed it. He came into it with fresh ears. A lot of producers at his level mix it and go, but he knew we were very picky and hands-on, and he was patient with us.

-Is having that control important to you, given that you still self-release your material?
Yeah, definitely. We tried to sort of tap into the major labels resources with our last album, yet we kept our rights. We didn't completely sell ourselves to the devil.

I'm glad we saw that side of things, but now I'm very happy that we're not with them anymore. We're constantly releasing stuff, or wanting to get stuff out there, wanting to try new ideas.

Trying to force it through their machine, there was so much bureaucracy before we could just put a poster up or something ridiculous like that.

In that respect, we're happy that we're back releasing it ourselves. We're control freaks, so we're happy to have it back in our hands so we can do whatever we want.

-Well, before your debut there was a lot of interest from major labels. Did that make it a tough decision, between doing it yourself or taking the label offer?
Well, we spoke to them about it. We had a lot of free meals. By that time, we'd done the hard work. We'd set up the label, we were ready to go.

Then, they all came in right at the last minute. At the time, we were like...let's carry on with our plan. It did us good as well, because when the press got hold of that, they gave people a reason to get behind it and buy the music.

-What do you have planned after these shows?
After this UK stretch, we get an entire 5 days off, then we go over to America to support The Devil Wears Prada on a big US tour. Then, we come back 4 days before Christmas Day.

We get four days to do all our Christmas shopping, and then January our album will hit. Then, we're just straight back into the touring again. Non-stop really.

Check out our review of the Manchester show.

Female First - Alistair McGeorge

Enter Shikari are currently on a full tour in the UK for the first time since 2009.

We caught up with Rob Rolfe and Chris Batten at the Ritz in Manchester to chat about their politics, the PIAS fire, touring and their sold-out Astoria show.

-You're back on a full tour for the first time in a while. How is it being back on the road?
Well, to be honest, we've been on the road for a long time actually, just not in the UK. All summer we've been on the Warped Tour. That was a really long, hot summer, some ridiculous heat. It was good, all the shows were good.

Then it was Reading and Leeds Festival back home, and we started on our European Tour, which was really, really good. All the shows were busy, the fans were really excited about the new stuff and really energetic.

That's what you want really, but it's good to be back on home turf. It's good to be back and feel that buzz again from the home crowds.

-You mentioned the Warped Tour, which is a bit of a hybrid between a festival and a tour. Is there a different mentality going into those shows?
It's a weird thing. You wake up, and every day you're on stage at a different time. Sometimes we call it a touring circus, because there's so many people touring together. It's a f****** long tour. There's really nothing else like it in the world, or nothing that we've experienced anyway.

-You've built up a great reputation for your live shows, with the light show and your energy on-stage. When you transitioned to day-time shows and festivals, were you nervous having the production aspect ripped away?
Not really. Remember, we came up from touring through lots of small venues. We're more than happy with having a stripped-back show. We want to do that again. Like, a smaller tour where we don't take anything in. For us, it's a bit more challenging as well. You feel like you have to almost have to up your game, without that wow factor.

-From what I saw during the sound-check, it definitely looks like you're going all-out with the light show. Do you try to out-do yourself with each tour?
Well, I guess once you've built up a reputation for a spectacular show, you've kinda gotta keep up with it. We kinda have to at least keep on par with the level of the bar we've raised for ourselves.

At the end of the day, forgetting the lights, our performances are just as energetic. We put just as much into it every time. It depends on each person's different perspective.

One person could be stuck at the back, or got mugged earlier in the night, so they were in a bad mood and didn't enjoy the show. All in all, we do try to keep up a certain standard of showmanship.

-Is it hard keeping the set-list fresh? Over the years, you've dropped songs like 'Jonny Sniper'. Are there any songs you're a bit tired of, but have to play?
'Sorry, You're Not A Winner'. They way we deal with that kinda thing is we add changes to it. We've done a different remix to the end of it this time, a different structure, and just have fun with it.

-This is going back a fair bit, but how did it feel when you sold out the London Astoria as an unsigned band?
Surreal. The rest of the tour was 5 or 600 capacity venues, to jump up to 1,500 people was really weird. Like we were saying earlier with the production stuff, if there's a reason to do it and we can afford it, we're always going to put as much into as we can.

I remember we were so excited, because we had a big-arse lazer for the night. We had this big, euphoric build-up, then we all kick in with the track, and I [Rob] came in out of time.

The biggest moment of the biggest gig of our career so far, and I just f***** it up! You get caught up in the moment yourself, and I did it. Then I was out of time with everyone else, it was a disaster!

-With your music, you seem to take influence from everywhere, from dubstep to hardcore. Do you worry about defining it when people ask you, or is it just what it is?
People are constantly asking. We sorta sit here in silence. It's one thing we've never understand in music. Why people try to put boundaries on music, why there has to be set rules for a certain genre. We never saw it like that, you know? We never enjoyed setting boundaries ourselves.

-The new single 'SSSNAKEPIT' has been out a couple of weeks now. How's the reaction been?
It's been really, really good. It's one those times where you play a brand new track that no-one's heard before, but people are immediately getting into it and dancing.


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