Who’s have known that Enter Shikari‘s debut album ‘Take To The Skies’ would actually be explaining in short what the St. Albans quartet would be doing, and even further since the release of second full-length ‘Common Dreads’ earlier this year. Sadly though, it seems the boys have decided to take the weaker offering of ‘No Sleep Tonight’ from the record.
Sure, the single has the trademark Enter Shikari sound; the rock splashed with synth, and the catchy chanting chorus, but despite all this lacks the raw passion and energy that makes this band stand out from the rest. Undoubtedly it’s going to climb various charts and invade various music video channels on the television and radio stations, but we all know that the boys have much bigger gems in the treasure of ‘Common Dreads’.
With the St. Alban’s debut ‘Take To The Skies’, four-piece Enter Shikari brought mainly old songs which over time they had perfected and honed over years of shows, re-writes, and various re-recordings. So when album number two was coming along and the band announced it was going to have a political and economic driven influence aswell as having to write entirely new material, many had doubts as to how well the boys could pull it off. Come June 2009 and ‘Common Dreads’ is the end result, delivering exactly what the band had said they would in their post-hardcore/trance fashion. With the world in such a shit state right now, many bands are having their say about it, though no-one thought that Enter Shikari would be one of such bands â€“ but maybe they were always in some sense trying to deliver an important message in a more metaphorical sense.
The sound of Enter Shikari hasn’t altered much over the past two years, if anything they’ve only matured and expanded their capabilities. ‘Solidarity’ soars things off with a fast-paced trance intro taking us to frontman Rou Reynold‘s yelled “Here tonight I clock a thousand heads / Here to unite through common dreads”; summing up the whole albumâ€™s message in just one sentence, before galloping to a choir assisted climax. Lead single ‘Juggernauts’ contains much of the same properties â€“ the quick lead synth riff along with a balance of clean Mike Skinner-esque vocals, with little bursts of screams here and there. This time around, the band has even dwelled into much heavier and chaotic regions with ‘Zzzonked’. The more dub-step influence on the music along with it takes the band and their sound onto new yet familiar ground for them to work upon, and clearly showcases Rou‘s deep anger upon the world’s current state of affair. Where the synth is involved, things have clearly dipped into various different genres and chucking them into Enter Shikari‘s mix, and churned into different and experimental products â€“ which have all turned out in their favour. ‘The Jester’ is definitely a weird one that will stick out, bringing in a funky almost metallic sounding dance input halfway through. Combined with its heavy and aggressive nature, you get confused as whether you should dance or mosh along to it.
Just as much as the band have brushed upon heavier sounds, they’ve still got the more mellow and radio-friendly inserts; such as ‘No Sleep Tonight’ and ‘Wall’, though still based around the album’s overall message of current affairs. These two are definitely the more approachable and sing-a-long moments in the record â€“ though admittedly they don’t approach anywhere near the timid nature of ‘Adieu’ or ‘Today Won’t Go Down In History’ from the band’s debut effort. Fun memories of the member’s times past come out in ‘Hectic’, referring to going “To the multi-storey car park with our friends / Drinking from a bottle of White Lightning” and playing “Sega Megadrive, Golden Axe and Sonic all day” helps bring the tone of serious to fun for a short moment.
Enter Shikari claimed they’d deliver the goods, and that’s exactly what they did. ‘Common Dreads’ is a huge expansion and step up from their 2007 debut, and chucks in a load of new things whilst improving upon the old. In their own words, “Here comes another Juggernaut!”.
It’s always nice when something you get does exactly what it does on the tin, and ‘Juggernauts’ is one of such things – the first release from Enter Shikari since November’s re-recorded ‘We Can Breathe In Space…’ and the first to be taken from the band’s eagerly awaited upcoming album ‘Common Dreads’.
Fast-paced electronic synth lines from the first second drives the political and enviromentally aware-led anthem into a Mike Skinner-esque verse, speaking of the world as a home “Now don’t get me wrong, I love what you’ve done with the place / I just wish we had a chance to help build it / Instead of just moving into this home of disrepair / And expect it to work, prosper, and then share”. This slowed-down pace doesn’t last though, the band bludgeoning us with frontman Rou Reynold‘s yell of “Switch!” back into the synth and rock attack for the remaining two and half minutes of audio chaos. We only meet calm once again in the closing seconds of single acoustic and vocal chorus, making diversity as important and present as excitement in this effort.
For the protection of yourself and others around please keep your arms, legs, and everything else away from the speakers – Enter Shikari are back with a big one!
With a highly anticipated second album on the horizon, and a new single out in a few days time, Enter Shikari are once again a band that is hot on everyone’s lips at the moment, and tonight at Keele University they plan on engraving the reason why this is the case, playing the smaller venues on the current tour so they don’t miss out the little people out there.
Every few dates into the tour the band have a different band as their support act, and Keele are one of the few dates to have Scotland’s Flood Of Red (**) and their post-hardcore offerings. Maybe it’s the slightly more restrictive nature of the stage they’re on tonight, but compared to their usual efforts Flood Of Red are fairly tame – or maybe even so far to say as dull, and this is even shown in their choice of songs in their setlist. Sure, they played hard-hitting favourites like ‘Don’t Sleep, Swim!’ and ‘An Hour Away’, but for the most part their songs stayed on the mellower side of their material. They even shoved in a rather obscure drum orientated interlude in-between some of their songs, with every member equipped with sticks in their hand and smashing some form of drum or cymbal. None the less, despite their restrictive presence they put on a somewhat ‘entertaining’ performance.
An unexpected surprise is nice here and there, and for this one Enter Shikari have lined up a DJ set in the form of P-Dex (****). He’s simply warming the crowd up for tonight’s headliners, and boiling their energetic juices with a range of drum ‘n’ bass and dance/trance tunes to get them in the mood for the dance/rock hybrid band.
It’s not long before Enter Shikari (*****) come out with their guns blazing, playing tracks like ‘No Sssweat’, ‘Return To Energiser’, and ‘The Feast’, all the while the crowd is going absolutely ballistic and creating and frantic frenzy to this bands presence. The circle pits made are large and wide in size, and big with intensity and energy, sometimes occupying more than a few dozen people dancing the night away. At times this went out of control, and people were throwing themselves around like old rag dolls, but this didn’t downgrade the show put on by the band. Aswell as some oldies, Enter Shikari reveled some of the new album material on the way, including ‘Step Up’ and ‘Hectic’, which is already showing a whole new level above the previous work on Take To The Skies, and have obviously been worked on a lot to be played so well live already. Old favourites get the crowd pumping again, with words sung across the whole room to the likes of ‘Mothership’, aswell as the infamous clap moment featured in their hit-single, ‘Sorry, You’re Not A Winner’. The room literally is a total mess, and the floor is filled with tired and sweaty fans thirsty for more. For a very short while the band take off the stage, and return to begin an encore, yet bassist Chris Batten seemed to have damaged his amp speakers. However, after a short few moments of banter and jokes the band are ready to perform, bouncing straight into an electrifying shot of ‘Enter Shikari’ and the room just bellows the opening screams of “Shit! Shit!” from the top of their lungs, and everyone is dancing and flinging themselves around like fools again. The final song ‘We Can Breathe In Space, They Just Don’t Want Us To Escape’ is when everyone is making the most of the last few minutes they can, frontman Rou Reynolds even jumps from the stage to the barrier one final time to get involved and scream one final time at the crowd that gave Enter Shikari the reaction they so rightly deserve.
The Taste Of Chaos annual tour has quickly become a smaller, more versatile version of the US Vans Warped Tour, but bordering across more than just one country. As I Lay Dying are just one band on the bill during the UK leg of the festival tour, providing a traditional yet intense metalcore sound. After being guided to the band’s backstage dressing room, filled to the brim with members and crew from some other bands featured on the tour, DEAD PRESS! and guitarist Phil Sgorro are led to an outside corridor, away from the loud occupied room:
YOU CAN LISTEN TO THIS INTERVIEW HERE WHILST READING THE TRANSCRIPT BELOW:
The band’s tour manager (who also happens to be Rou Reynold‘s father) meets with DEAD PRESS! outside the Student Union shop of the venue before leading them upstairs to the band’s dressing room. Bassist Chris introduces himself, and kindly offers the journalists a drink or some food from their table. Guitarist Rory spends a minute or two choosing what he wants from the nearby take-away before sitting down and taking part in the interview.
Zach: How’s the tour been going so far? Chris: Good, good. We had a â€“ erm, warm-up show in Cambridge, which was a little ropey. Rory: In, er, London do you mean? Chris: Yeah sorry, Camden, Camden. Erm, yeah which was very ropey, but it was only a small show at the Camden Underworld, so it was kinda â€“ it was hard to play a tight set ’cause everyone was â€“ the audience were running onstage and just diving off, and like trampling all over our pedal boards and stuff, so a lot of stuff went wrong. But then we got into Cambridge, and the first proper show of the tour, and it’s all been going pretty smoothly since then really. Rory: Touch wood. Chris: Yeah, touch wood. We are due a massive, massive fuck up. Maybe tonight. Zach: Maybe. [laughs] Chris: Yeah, we’ll see.
Zach: Do you prefer to play small venues or music festivals? Chris: Erm, I dunno. Festivals are so different to like normal shows during this like – Rory: They’ve both got their good points and their bad points like, the small gigs like you’re right next to the fans so there’s a lot more like crowd surfing and fan interaction and stuff like that, and you get a buzz in that kinda way. But then big festivals you get the kinda playing in front of several thousands of people, like that kinda buzz. It’s different, you know. It’s good to do both really. Chris: I think what it is the smaller shows have a bit more of a like, a nostalgia you know, ’cause like it’s â€“ it’s very much like where we came from and what we always used to do, but â€“ well, for years before we got any real recognition sort of thing, so it’s always â€“ always when we get the chance to do those smaller shows it’s always like a trip down memory lane sort of thing.
Zach: You’ve got a new single coming out, ‘We Can Breathe In Space, They Just Don’t Want Us To Escape’, what made you want to re-record the song? Chris: Erm, well we never really released it, I mean like people have been getting a hold of it through like P2P sites but, erm, and we kind of thought it was you know â€“ we didn’t really wanna just let it fizzle out you know, just ’cause of the fact that people can download it, and that was just a demo we recorded in my garage, like years and years ago, so we wanted to get â€“ I dunno, it’s a good way to test out with working with a new producer, erm, in terms of thinking for the album, and yeah, it just came out really well and, I guess there’s nothing holding bands back from releasing random singles, or just whenever they write it just chucking it out there these days. It doesn’t have to be a part of a campaign or anything. Rory: Yeah, we’ve been getting a lot of complaints from people you know, saying “The old version is much better, why’d you re-record it?” and stuff like that. I mean, I mean we didn’t mainly re-record it for like the fans that we’ve already got, you know, we re-recorded for people who haven’t been on to LimeWire and downloaded everything that has Enter Shikari written next to it. Erm, just ’cause you know, we thought it was a great song and we just wanted like more people to hear it, you know. There’s absolutely no way we could’ve released that old version. I mean like it was pretty rubbish in a lot of ways, in production ways, and like a lot of vocals were like â€“ needed redoing and stuff. Chris: I mean we completely rewrote it, and like that’s what people don’t understand. The fact that it was just a demo, you know, it wasn’t even meant to be online at all or anything like that, it was just done three or four years ago, and we just put it up for people to listen to see what they thought when we were just going around touring, and it’s â€“ people seem to think that it was a proper release you know just ’cause it’s on LimeWire and stuff, so. People complain at us for re-releasing stuff. Well, they say re-releasing but it’s not even re-releasing, we never really released it, you know. Essentially it’s just a new song.
Zach: In the music video you dressed in tin foil spacesuits, how did the shoot go? Chris: Sweaty. [laughs] Rory: Yeah, it was quite an ordeal. By the end of it â€“ well I mean, Rob was alright ’cause Rob had like a fan blowing up his suit clearing all the air, and he wasn’t even sweating. For the rest of us it was just like absolutely horrendous, like – Chris: Yeah, once we got in the suits, it took so long to get us all taped up and everything, and all the gaps covered with foil and stuff that once we did it we had to just do, I dunno, about ten takes straight through and it was ugh â€“ that was the worst bit. Rory: It was worst like actually getting â€“ ’cause in the end there was only two people like doing the suits, so â€“ I can’t remember who went first, it was either me or you I think, and then â€“ but it takes about like 15-20 minutes to kind of actually get, you know, properly foiled up and everything. As soon as you’re actually foiled up you start sweating, so it’s just like, so. Chris: You’ve gotta wait like two hours before everyone else is done afterwards aswell, and then you go down there and run through and stuff. By this time you’re already steamed up in your masks, you know, so. Rory: And then you’re in the suit for like four hours or something like that. Chris: We spent the whole day before aswell foiling everything up which took quite a while. It was fun. It was worth doing it. It’s the kind of thing like at the time we were just absolutely sick of the idea, you know, but looking back at it now it’s kinda like we’re glad we went through with it. Rory: Yeah. Well, even at the time it was pretty hilarious. Chris: [laughs] Yeah. It was. Rory: Actually doing the takes and stuff you know, trying to pretend to play in the suits. Chris: Yeah. We got some great footage from, erm â€“ we’re just bringing out like a ‘The Making Of…’ video, and like in that â€“ like ’cause the real video’s got so many effects on and stuff, and it’s like you can’t really see how tongue-in-cheek it was, but in ‘The Making Of…’ you can just see how ridiculous it all looked, and how funny it was. It was a good day.
[frontman Rou Reynolds walks into the dressing room]
Zach: Is there anymore news you can tell us about the album? Like a release date, or album title? Chris: We’ve got neither really. We’ve got â€“ we aim, I mean like we go into the studio after this tour to record it, so I mean it all depends on how quickly we can do it. We’ve set aside like five weeks, erm, as an original timeline I guess to get it all done, and then we’ll get into mixing, so we’re hoping to release March/April time next year kind of, but yeah, no we’ve got no name yet. I guess we kinda wanna wait and see how it’s sounding and how it’s feeling before we decide on a name.
Zach: If you could tour with any band, dead or alive, who would it be and why? Rory: Erm, I guess it would be – it would be cool to see and tour with At The Drive-In, just ’cause every time you tour with a band that you ever see you’re influenced by them like performance-wise, music-wise, and stuff like that. To be able to see such an incredibly amazing live band every night would be pretty inspirational. Chris: Hmm… yeah, At The Drive-In, I wished I’d seen them before they split up. Yeah, At The Drive-In would be pretty cool.
Zach: If you weren’t in the band, what would you be doing right now instead? Chris: Woolworths. I used to work in Woolworths. I dunno, well, we all quit uni to come and to pursue the band once we signed our publishing deal, so we’d pretty much be doing nothing, yeah. I don’t really have many skills. Rory: I had a â€“ I had a pretty nice job actually in Dollond & Aitchison, the opticians. Sat making glasses and attaching the lenses. So that was really fun. Chris: Still be doing that? Rory: Yeah. Probably be onto contact lenses by now. Chris: Yeah, basically we’d probably not be doing much with ourselves, I’m sure. Rory: Well, we’d probably all be alcoholics by now.
Zach: You played the Projekt Revolution show earlier this year, how did you find that? Chris: That was wicked. That one of er â€“ that was probably our biggest, yeah it was our biggest gig to date, in terms of people you know. I remember being really paranoid before ’cause I kinda lost my voice just before the show, and I was really panicking. But I went out, and it was okay in the end. It was good fun. We didn’t really get to â€“ we didn’t really meet Jay-Z or anything, which was a bit of a shame. Zach: Oh well. Chris: But yeah, it was fun.
Zach: Last question, what can we expect from you guys this time next year? Chris: Where are we? What month is it? October? Rory: Everyone will probably be really, really bored of hearing the new album. Chris: Yeah. Rory: Because we’ll have just toured the fuck out of it, and â€“ Chris: Well we wanted to get back in the studio again, to re-record new stuff. Rory: Yeah, we want â€“ I mean, next year the plan is just to travel, and tour around. Chris: I think we’re gonna dedicate a lot of â€“ a fair bit of time this year and next year to going to the States, China. Work it over there a bit, try and build it up â€“ build it up over there. And yeah, and stuff like, I guess Japan and Australia and stuff. We wanna get out there again, ’cause we’ve only just started over there really, we’ve got a lot of conquering to do.
And with that, the members bid DEAD PRESS! goodbye, but not before offering them drink or food again. They ensure the journalists know their way back from where they came, and await for their recently ordered take-away meals before taking to the stage that night.
With it being a good while since the release and major hype of their debut album ‘Take To The Skies’, it’s about time they gave us something new to refresh our minds as to why we love Enter Shikari so much. As with all their previously released material, ‘We Can Breathe In Space, They Just Don’t Want Us To Escape’ as a slice of fun and energetic post-hardcore music fused with electronic input.
Though ‘We Can Breathe In Space…’ is fairly known anyway due to an old demo of the track floating around online, this reinvented and reworked effort revives and replenishes its old form and gives it a new face. Despite this though, it doesn’t quite seem up to scratch to what you’d expect, slightly lacking that huge kick in the face Enter Shikari is known for. But, it’s none the less welcomed with wide open arms as a bridge from the previous album to the next.
‘Common Dreads’ has most certainley sky-rocketed Enter Shikari up the charts and given the band a level of recognition they could never had achieved with their 2007 debut. The fact they’re selling out venues twice the size they were capable of a year previously, and the main Academy venue in Manchester is just one of them.
Dub-step group True Tiger (**) begin things to try and get people nice and warmed up with their synthetic dance beats and remixes intended to get the crowd moving fast and hard. What they reel out of their sleeves though is very tedious, repetative, and unoriginal, regardless as to how smooth each track flows into one another. The gang chants are very limited in a variety to, with more than enough “When I say ______, you say _____” being used, and the continuous mistake of calling the following band “Devils Wear Prada” is a tad annoying.
Of course they are called The Devil Wears Prada (****), and reflect more the heavier side of the night’s headliners as opposed to their dance/trance side from the previous act. Songs like ‘HTML Rulez d00d’, ‘Danger: Wildman’, and ‘Hey John, What’s Your Name Again?’ are batted out to the intense crowd, who’ve developed more than enough mosh pits in appreciation for the band’s UK return. Vocalists Mike Hranica and Jeremy DePoyster blend each others style better than before, and are clearly much stronger and confident within the band’s newer material than the older songs. Keyboardist James Baney is loving it too, coming up as close to the crowd as he can at any given oppurtunity, and when behind his instrument he rides it like a bucking bronco. Definitely overshadowing the failed attempts of the evening’s openers, whilst leaving themselve a tough act to top.
Still, Enter Shikari (****) deliver the goods to match, and perhaps even surpass that of the christian metalcore mob. Coming on the stage with matching band attire of polo shirts, the band shift through ‘Solidarity’ to ‘Step Up’ with precision and ease. The blend of extreme dub-step/trance/dance from one support band and heavy metalcore from another blends and transitions into the headliner more than well, and most definitely cleverly planned in advance. New material like ‘The Jester’ and ‘No Sleep Tonight’ entices as much crowd energy and participation as older hits like ‘No Sssweat’ and ‘The Feast’. Despite the freshness that has been added into the older material with the newer influences and approaches of synth the band have injected, some of the older material just seems to have sounded a lot better and bolder the way they were. Still, the buckets of sweat drenching the room from the thousands of people creating a minefield of moshpits and frenzied jumpers gives the band and extra confidence and edge. Frontman Rou Reynolds is as quirky as ever with his in-between song banter, really involving the audience. But you don’t see the full scale of this band’s impact until encore hits ‘Juggernauts’ and ‘Sorry, You’re Not A Winner’ finally make an appearance. The crowd surfers number triple and there’s little to no movement from the front to the back of the venue; evidence that their latest album is the start of more good things to come.