"This would have been something I would have loved from the bands that I listened to growing up, and would still love from bands I listen to now." - Enter Shikari frontman Rou Reynolds.
Enter Shikari frontman Rou Reynolds has today announced the details of his brand new book 'Dear Future Historians: Lyrics and Exegesis of Rou Reynolds for the music of Enter Shikari 2006 - 2019'.
Dear Future Historians is compiled of his two previous works, with expanded chapters and covering previously left out Shikari tracks. It's set for release May 28 through Faber Music, and is available for pre-order now.
We caught up with the man himself to talk through the reason behind the release of the book, and what's gone into the mammoth task of writing it.
We also have five signed copies to give away, each with an exclusive t-shirt! Scroll to the bottom of this story to enter.
So, let’s talk ‘Dear Future Historians’. How did the idea of putting together a body of work such as this first pop into your head?
“I think it was really just the simple thought of that this would have been something I would have loved from the bands that I listened to growing up, and would still love from bands I listen to now. I’m very much an all or nothing person, so if something captures my attention and zest I will want to dive so deep into it. I will want to know every nut and bolt and aspect of it. How it was formulated and any techniques that were used. From there it was wanting to incorporate that into my creativity. I think that anyone who shares the same intensity for our music will appreciate having this piece of literature to fulfil the desire to know absolutely everything.”
It’s almost like you have to interpret so much about a band’s music when they don’t give you the total explanation of something.
“I do feel like the world today is so divided and everybody’s opinions are thought to matter and regarded in the same way as facts are - interpretation can be really dangerous. We’ve seen this from the million ways that you can interpret the holy book of any kind. You can find the things that you want to find in any religion, be that violent or peaceful aims. I think that in the last five or so years, the whole political landscape has changed and the rise of nationalism has also spurred me on to make this. I understand that art should be open to interpretation and I’m happy for it to be, but I also feel obliged to specify what we are trying to achieve and what are aims were and are rather than just leaving it open.”
What emotions are conjured when you look at this body of work that you have produced within the pages of this book? How is it for you having a document of this scale actually exist?
"I’m not usually the sentimental type, but to put myself in the mindset of me from 10 years, even five years ago, the idea of having a book is bewildering to me. I can’t believe that we have actually done it. I’m very proud and with the amount of time and effort that went into it, I’m incredibly happy to just have it out."
How was it going back to albums such as 'Take To The Skies' and 'Common Dreads' as the Rou that you are today, with the outlook and perspective of the world that you have now compared to then?
“When I first started I was a bit intimidated by the size of the project that I was about to undertake, but as I got into it the more I became interested. I also became more surprised. I don’t listen to our music once it is out there in the world, I’ve heard it over and over again enough times in the creation stages. The same is with lyrics. I’ve never really gone back into the notebooks and looked at how they were formed with the stories and the inspirations. So that was almost like rediscovering parts of myself and eras and experiences that I had completely forgotten about. This was especially the case with ‘Take To The Skies’. That really interested me because I had almost taken on the oversimplification that the media had made about our albums and what they were.
"The classic way of describing our growth is that ‘Common Dreads’ was all of a sudden very political, whereas ‘Take To The Skies’ wasn’t and I had taken that on as truth. Now going back that was one of the most interesting things I found, almost like a detective. The little embryos of wanting to say something but maybe not having the confidence to do it. From ‘Mothership’, which is basically an allegory about climate change, ‘Jonny Sniper’ is about the world and our eco-system, ‘OK Time For Plan B’ being about human nature and our quickness to jump to war. Even looking back at the track ‘Enter Shikari’, to read the lyrics is almost like reading a bit of fantasy fiction. Going back to the notepads it was about the importance of unity and how to survive we have to rediscover our common heritage, which was a pre-determent of ‘Common Dreads’ really.”
It’s interesting when you say that you almost took on the persona that the media gave to you and the band even though you always knew that was the exact path that you were going to take.
“Yeah, it’s almost like doing a psychological analysis on yourself, which is really interesting when you have such a bad memory as I do. It goes so far back as well. To stick with the song ‘Enter Shikari’ as an example. I wrote that track when I was 16. To hone in on the ‘we’re not hiding’ line, which repeats a lot throughout the track, which was always about not hiding your identity for anybody. It was a case of realising that there was this depth there that I was shrouding in this fantasy world and rediscovering so much about myself.”
As the book progresses, it feels as though us as the reader learns and develops along with you which is a truly incredible thing.
“I was very conscious of the fact that it could read like a very egotistical self-psychoanalysis. It was difficult to keep an eye on that and work out what the best voice to use was. It’s not a very colloquial informal book. I try to take it quite seriously because throughout Enter Shikari’s career humour and silliness have been quite central. A lot of people find it quite hard to deal with when you’re trying to make a proper point. Humour is something that is thought of as something completely separate from serious subjects. Bands who are often presented as very serious entities are actually quite silly behind the scenes, like U2 or Queen or Joy Division. Humour for us also stems from that British need to be self-deprecating and not able to take yourself too seriously all the time. For once it was us not shying away from anything because sometimes you have to lose that tendency to down play everything.”
How did the knowledge you have picked up over the years from your own personal readings affected your approach to your old lyrics and ideas?
“I think it was definitely the biggest influence on the format and the way that the book is laid out and presented. It’s more like a reference book similar to the non-fiction books that have inspired me. It’s got references, it’s got footnotes. We talked about all of the different ways it could be written. If we wanted this work to be taken seriously it has to be presented in that way. The reader also gets more out of it that way."
How does it feel to look at both the most distant and most recent points of the band in terms of songs and truly see how far you have come?
“They are other worlds. It always just makes me feel grateful that we have had the time and the resources to grow where so many other artists have slipped by and aren’t doing this anymore. We have had a loyal fan base that have grown with us and then the people who have only just joined us have enabled us to keep on exploring different ways of expressing different ideas. That is my favourite thing to do in the world so my zest for that will never dry up. I’m just grateful to still have that platform and even more grateful to have this incredibly diverse catalogue.”
What is next for you in terms of your own writing in this manner? Do you have a taste for going further into being an author?
“I don’t think I would ever do fiction. Something I’m trying to work on a lot lyrically is storytelling. I don’t do a lot of that. Our lyrics are very statement based. I’m not really sure I have the skill set to really get into fiction. I remember that back at school my report after parents evening with English was ‘Rou can write great stories but he never knows how to end them’ and still happens quite a lot. I’d like to do a lot more non-fiction though. I really enjoy the quiet solitude of working out an idea but very vigorously and in an in-depth way, which this book has enabled me to do.”
Dear Future Historians is set for release May 28 through Faber Music.
Rou Reyolds will be hosting a series of in-store signings and acoustic sessions to coincide with the release of Dear Future Historians - check the full list of appearances below:
28 - OXFORD Blackwell's (5-6pm)
29 - MANCHESTER Blackwell's (6pm)
01 - BRISTOL Rough Trade (2-3pm)
02 - NOTTINGHAM Rough Trade (2-3pm)
We also have five signed copies to give away, each with an exclusive t-shirt! Enter below: