Enter Shikari announced their new album 'The Spark' yesterday. We spoke to frontman Rou Reynolds from the studio to find out what to expect...
WHEN DID YOU START WORKING ON 'THE SPARK'?
Says Rou: "I can barely remember now, it’s all a blur! But we first went into Angelic Studios near Banbury in January. It’s this really cool old barn that’s been renovated and made into a state of the art recording facility.
"Then we had bits and bobs of touring celebrating ‘Take To The Skies’, and from then onwards it was on and off in London with David Kosten who co-produced with me."
WAS IT HELPFUL OR AN INCONVENIENCE HAVING ‘TAKE TO THE SKIES’ CELEBRATIONS INTERRUPTING PROGRESS ON THE RECORD?
“I found it really good actually. I was a bit sceptical going into it, but getting the chance to step back for a bit and let it all sink in to get a feel for the thing as a whole for the first time was useful. It was good for perspective.”
DID THAT RELAXED PACE AND ADDED PERSPECTIVE HELP THE RECORD COME TOGETHER MORE NATURALLY?
“It certainly helped, no end. It’s a big step for us, this record. So it was good to have that time to let the sound settle in and for it not to be such a shock for us, which enabled us to have a greater sense of it as an album.”
TELL US MORE ABOUT THAT ‘BIG STEP’...
“The main thing is its simplicity. We’ve always been a band that’s had a wide source of inspirations across the musical spectrum. Sometimes within one song there’ll be five songs kind of packed in. Being able to concentrate on one area within each song sets this one apart.
"The classic thing for me is waking up one morning wanting to write a symphony like one of Stravinsky’s, the next morning write electronica like Aphex Twin, and then next morning wanting to be in a Motown-like band.
"Music is my life, but in a very wide sense. This was more about concentrating on the song, the melody and not get carried away. It’s easy to get lost in that. This is the first time I’ve ever had an idea of the sound of a record before even sitting down to write any music. I had more focus than ever before.
"The best British bands we’ve listened to since the age of 12 up until now always seemed to have a great tension between the past, the present and the future and having that influence where the music should go. That’s what we’re trying to do.
"There was also a lot more hardware involved. We’ve used a lot of vintage synths, whereas the last few years it’s been almost all software. I’d never had the pleasure of playing with all those old instruments before.”
THAT MUST HAVE BEEN FUN. BETTER THAN PRESSING BUTTONS ON A SCREEN, RIGHT?
“It was, absolutely. Very hands on. It’s like that vinyl thing, where you can get that organic crackle, ever so slight distortion that makes everything sound a lot warmer and interesting. It was little things like that which made this so much more different.”
Check out photos from the band's tiny London show in this gallery.
WAS IT TOUGH TO GO AGAINST OLD HABITS AND INSTINCT TO REIN YOURSELF IN AND HONE IN ON ONE MAIN IDEA PER SONG?
“Once it was decided that was the approach, it was actually quite liberating. It’s the same for any creative endeavor; when you sit down with a completely blank sheet or canvas and the world is your oyster, it can make you freeze, which is terrifying.
"Having that direction and focus made this more exciting.”
WHAT INSPIRED THIS NEW APPROACH?
“A few things conspired to take us down that route. We’ve been a touring band for 10 years, and for a while now I’ve felt quite uninspired by metal and punk. I’ve found my inspiration from other worlds and genres.
"If anything, this is our most passionate album. Lyrically it’s more revealing. There are a lot of vulnerabilities being put out there into the world. It’s a lot more personal. At the same time, with everything that’s been happening these past few years on a social scale, this album is such a trip through so many emotions and I don't think we’ve ever done anything like it before. It’s our most intense yet.”
HOW COME YOU’VE DECIDED THAT NOW WAS THE TIME TO GET MORE PERSONAL?
“To be honest, it felt like the personal was in collusion with the social! As Trump got in, we had Brexit and in my life, there was so much going on.
"There’s a quote from Oscar Wilde that gave me the inspiration for the lyrics. It goes: ‘discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.’ That adversity and seeing the benefits from adversity helped.
"There’s that famous Shakespeare quote, ‘Sweet are the uses of adversity’ which I could relate to!
"It felt like as everything was going to shit socially, I had a lot of stuff to contend with personally. My remaining two grandparents died, I had a split from a long-term relationship, which was a big shock to the system.”
IT’S ADMIRABLE THAT YOU FOUND IT EASIER TO FOCUS THIS TIME, GIVEN THE FLUX SWIRLING AROUND YOU...
“There were a few months were I definitely felt overwhelmed by everything and didn’t know what was going to happen, but there was a common theme that started to emerge of getting through adversity; especially here in the UK with the whole movement behind Jeremy Corbyn and the awakening of hope and the death of apathy.
"That felt reminiscent of everything I’d been through on a personal scale.”
IT’S INTERESTING HOW THE PERSONAL AND POLITICAL WORKED IN TANDEM, OR YOU AT LEAST FOUND PARALLELS BETWEEN THE TWO AT THE RIGHT TIME.
“I think that’s what we do as humans. We try to put everything in boxes so we can understand it. Maybe I did... subconscious shoehorning going on!”
IT’S OFTEN TRUE THOUGH THAT FROM CHAOS SOMETHING BETTER THAN BE CREATED, EVEN IF YOU DON’T ALWAYS SEE THE END IN SIGHT WHEN YOU’RE IN THE THICK OF IT...
“Absolutely. That sums up the anxiety disorder that’s been the story of my life; being completely shit scared of something, ruminating over and over it and then actually benefiting from it or it opening some perspective.”
ARE YOU FEELING READY TO REVEAL A MORE PERSONAL SIDE OF YOURSELF?
“I think so! The last few years I’ve become a bit more assertive. I think there’s a climate of that in general. I was inspired by a lot of philosophy as well as being able to broadcast to the world what you’re going through, even if it’s something that’s quite specific or esoteric that only a few people will get something from it.
"Lyrically, it’s a lot harder to force anything in any direction other than the one it naturally will go, because of what you’re going through and what’s on your mind. I write for myself, bits of lyrics or poetry now and then and it became very obvious early on the album would be much more assertive in displaying the various experiences I’d had.
"This isn't an album we could have made at any other time in our career. It’s very timely.
"It goes to every corner of human emotion. There’s a lot of anger, fear, vulnerability, positivity, hope, excitement and confidence.”
Enter Shikari's new album 'The Spark' is out on September 22.
The band tour the UK with Lower Than Atlantis and Astroid Boys later this year.
16 - LIVERPOOL Arena
17 - CARDIFF Motorpoint Arena
18 - NOTTINGHAM Motorpoint Arena
19 - NEWCASTLE Metro Radio Arena
21 - MANCHESTER Victoria Warehouse
22 - BRIGHTON Centre
24 - BIRMINGHAM Barclaycard Arena
25 - LONDON Alexandra Palace