Enter Shikari: Earth vs. Earth
When you think about it, this universe is pretty fucking incredible.
That was an early thought for English electronicore hellions Enter Shikari, and as such, it’s been the focal point of a fair few songs in their ever-expanding discography. “Redshift” is the latest tune to find itself a part of that, a celestial beast both topically and in its ethereal sound. The quartet recently announced an Australian tour in support of their new single, bringing along with them fellow outspoken shred unit Hacktivist and the local legends in Stories.
As we anxiously gear ourselves up for the run, BLUNT caught up with frontman Rou Reynolds to vibe on the future of both Enter Shikari and the universe they inhabit, as well as the band’s place in their political landscape, the ethical shitstorm surrounding asylum seekers in the media, and the power of Twitter.
So of course, this September, we’ll see you on Australian soil for the Redshift tour with Hacktivist. You dropped in for a bit of a yell on their track “Taken” – can we expect to see you blokes bash that one out live on this run?
I haven’t actually spoken about them yet! If they’re playing it, then yeah, for sure. I’m definitely up for it. I mean, almost every time we play with Hacktivist, I end up coming onstage to do something with them.
Collaborations are few and far on your own LPs, but are there any plans in the pipeline for a full-on Hacktivikari tune?
[Laughs] No. We remixed their stuff with Shikari Sound System and I’ve done the ‘feature’ thing, so I think that’s enough for now.
Let’s dive into the song “Redshift” itself – what’s the background behind this banger?
In its simplest form, it’s about recognising how lucky we are, really, to be alive at this point in the universe’s lifespan. Basically, after doing a lot of research into the progresses made in 18th, 19th and 20th century Cosmology – learning about everything that the discovery of redshift enables us to find out about our situation here on Earth… There’s two main themes to the song. The first one is about recognising that we’re living in a universe that is not only expanding, but accelerating in its expansion. So any kind of species that evolves to the point where it can look up and out and ponder – as we can – in the future, they will see a very different cosmic landscape to the one that we can now. We’re very lucky to have all of these galaxies around us and all of these instruments to measure everything throughout the universe, whereas, say two trillion years from now, any species that looks out will see a completely blank canvas – each galaxy will have travelled so far away from each other galaxy, as the universe expands, and it’ll (meaning the universe) actually be travelling beyond the speed of light which renders it invisible. So even the most intelligent of civilisations in the future will still deduce that they are completely alone. There literally won’t be a star in the sky; there’ll be a completely different worldview – or universal-view, if you’d like – and there’s sort of a sadness to that, y’know, being so far away from every other possible lifeform. Whereas, today, we’re very lucky to be able to look out and wonder, and hopefully one day make some sort of connection with another lifeform.
Realistically, do you think we might one day actually come in contact with some form of extraterrestrial life?
I don’t know about, in our lifespan, finding a species that will ‘wow’ us. But very small micro-species and things that people who aren’t, like, astrogeologists might find slightly boring – I think that will be the first sort of thing that we find. But hopefully, at some point in the future, yeah! Absolutely!
“I’d like to write about mental health. It’s something that doesn’t really get brought up much in rock music – especially in this kind of ‘punk’ scene, or whatever we’re calling it these days.”
Musically, the song is a bit of a change in pace for Enter Shikari – celestial, wondrous and atmospheric. Is this a style that you see yourselves exploring further on future releases?
I think it’s just about being in the moment and going with what seems to be surfacing there and then. There’s certainly no plans to write an entire album like that. With our albums, we tend to have lots of different styles and vibes, and have songs that convey all sorts of emotions, so I don’t think we’d ever just go down one particular path, sonically, anyway. But we’re staring to write at the moment, and it’s kind of all over the place [laughs].
So obviously Enter Shikari will continue to experiment with sounds and styles you’ve not used thus far?
Yeah, definitely! I mean, we’ve been lucky enough to forge a career around doing just that, and I certainly – on a sort of personal, almost selfish level – wouldn’t want to change that. Being such a fidgety person, creatively, I think I’d always want to keep pushing ourselves, and be at the forefront of the vanguard, I suppose, of the music and art.
Of course, the message behind the music is the centerpiece of it all – what are some of the things you want to yell into the void about on LP5? Are there any hard-hitting topics you’d love to jump into, but haven’t been able to thus far?
Honestly, I think it’s probably a bit too early to say. That’s always the very last thing that will get done – I like to let the music dictate the lyrical concepts or vibes, really. I’m not sure where it will go, lyrically, but I’d like to concentrate slightly more on… Not quite ‘the personal’, because we write about personal stuff – it just so happens to be as global as we can make it – but I’d like to write about mental health. It’s something that doesn’t really get brought up much in rock music – especially in this kind of ‘punk’ scene, or whatever we’re calling it these days, where there’s often remnants of this ‘macho-ism’. In Britain, it’s about the whole “stiff upper lip” thing, just bottling things up and taking then in stride, and I thing that’s quite dangerous. I don’t think any sort of alternative scene should feel that it can’t approach any subject it likes. But yeah, other than that, we haven’t really thought about it. We’re still just getting the early musical ideas out and going with the flow.
“We use social media for unity, to spread a cause, and promote or propagate things
that are worthy of promoting.”
A lot of your songs directly address the monumental shitshow that is modern day politics, and even certain politicians in specific. Have you ever been approached by, or received a response to your music from a political entity?
Yeah, a few times! It’s usually quite surprising stuff. There’s a now-retired Labour politician here in the UK: John Prescott. He was in Tony Blair’s government, who back in the day, y’know, we were quite outspoken again. But it turns out he’s actually quite a big fan [laughs]. He tweeted us when we released The Mindsweep and congratulated us on the release – I’m not sure if he has kids that are into it, or if he himself is into us, but that was really interesting. We like to sort of make ties with journalists as well; I know Ann Jones is doing some great stuff in the UK – we’re friends with her.
It’s a bit of an old one, but I want to bring up “Meltdown” from A Flash Flood Of Colour, because in that song, you proclaim that, “Countries are just lines drawn in the sand with a stick.” I’m not sure how much attention it gets in UK media, but at least here in Australia, there’s a prevalent focus on asylum seekers, and how refugees are often detained in torturous conditions for up to decades. With that projected narrative of the world being one divided artificially, what are your thoughts on the treatment given to those seeking asylum from such tyrannical bodies of authority?
It’s heartbreaking. Once you break through the media’s… Not quite insults, but even just the word ‘refugee’ or ‘migrant’ – you’re straight away beginning to head down that path of dehumanisation. It’s just a weird thing where, y’know, we have people literally fleeing the worst things that people can experience in life – war and famine; stuff that you wouldn’t wish on anyone – and we can’t look after them, or we can’t open our doors and try to help… That should be one of the most defining characteristics of a modern civilisation: to be civil, and offer people a safe and civil place to stay. It’s incredibly frustrating. The UK is one of the worst countries in Europe for taking in people who really need that help and are struggling with basic sustenance, and it’s really disappointing when that Western interventionism is still poking at the fires of the wars that those people are running from. We have a certain amount of a hand in causing these problems in the first place, and then we sort of turn our backs on these people. The most frustrating thing for me is that we have normal people – your average, hardworking people in society – who the media really just brainwashes into thinking that migrants are enemies, when there are these people: the 1 percent, or whatever you’d want to describe them as, who are just filthy rich – more rich than anybody could ever need to be – and these are the people who we should be angry at and throwing vile names towards… Not people who are running from almost certain death.
Outside of the band, you’re remarkably vocal on Twitter – most recently with about Donald Trump and Azalea Banks, who are both just monumentally shit people. Especially as the outlets evolve, would you agree that social media has the potential to become a legitimate platform for social protest and activism?
Well, I mean– [loud clunk] –I just dropped my phone! I think it already kind of is. We use social media for unity, to spread a cause, and promote or propagate things that are worthy of promoting. It’s a tool that can be used for spreading nasty ideals – like those two aforementioned people do – or it can be used to rally the troops for progress, unity and peace. It’s weird, because you certainly can’t imagine life without Twitter and other social media channels – it’s a very different world that we live in now – but I enjoy the connection.