Q&A: Enter Shikari Push for a Better World
Beyond Enter Shikari’s fascinating blend of post-hardcore and driving electronic music, the band has been on a mission since its 2003 inception to generate awareness about global issues related to the economy, environment, societal discord, and politics.
Last month, Enter Shikari – Rou Reynolds (vocals, electronics), Chris Batten (bass, vocals), Rory Clewlow (guitar, backing vocals), and Rob Rolfe (drums, backing vocals) – returned with their boundary-pushing fourth album, The Mindsweep.
Recently, Riffyou.com caught up with Reynolds to discuss the album’s inspiration, his politics, what the band’s ultimate mission is, his definition of a perfect world, plus much more.
RY: Congratulations on The Mindsweep! It’s a fascinating idea for an album title. Considering the political and social issues you discuss through your music, what’s the significance of said title?
Rou: “The Mindsweep as a concept builds on [George] Orwell’s ‘thought police’ in 1984. It’s the withholding, the discrediting, and the disparaging of new ideas, philosophies and alternatives by those in power – by those who benefit from things staying the same. The sweeping away of alternatives to what we have now. And the worse things get, the louder they tell us there are no alternatives, the louder they shout and the harder the sweep.
“We want to embolden people,” he continues. “It’s very easy to be born into this world and cower at the structures we have now as they appear so much bigger, older and grander than ourselves…they appear completely concrete and unchangeable. We want to fight this misconception and illuminate the now very viable alternatives.”
RY: There are obviously a lot of challenging, terrible, horrific and confusing events happening on a global scale at any given time. How do you determine what you want to talk about versus what you need to talk about it song?
Rou: “I’ve always enjoyed talking about the bigger subjects. So want and need don’t particularly clash most of the time. I think usually the music itself is the thing that determines the general emotion and therefore what subject matters would fit during the song.”
RY: As an artist that openly touches on politics, surely you’ve heard the point of view that music and politics should be kept separate. It seems that you disagree with that. Why do you think it’s important to marry the two?
Rou: “I’m utterly perplexed by such a statement. Exactly what song isn’t political? Even the most banal song with the most meaningless or vapid lyrics is still political. It’s political in its choice not to approach any subject worth talking about. Even the most repetitive narcissistic pop music is political, it’s political in it’s self-aggrandizing and it’s promotion of self-maximization.
“Now I’m not so sure if music and Politics (with a capital ‘P’) should be mixed, I certainly refrain from it as I’m utterly bored by party politics,” he adds. “But when it comes to the small ‘P’ and general social issues, I don’t think there’s a better forum than music. Music is innately social, it brings us together, it celebrates our shared vulnerability, we are all subservient to music, it can change our emotions in a second and there’s nothing we can do. It’s a beautiful and powerful tool. So what better thing to do than when in one of the last remaining truly social situations than to approach social issues? The two go hand in hand.”
RY: These days, there’s so much noise coming at the youth from all angles, which can sometimes shelter them from real issues. How important is it for you to generate awareness for those who would otherwise not be in the know?
Rou: “Regardless of the noise, everyone knows something at least isn’t right. We all have some area in our lives that is directly or indirectly affected by capitalism and its inherent faults. People avoid the subject though as if it’s taboo or they slip into apathy, as they feel unable to change anything. That’s why we promote unity above anything else. There’s never been a more pressing time for us to unite to build a sustainable future.”
RY: Would you consider Enter Shikari a band that’s focused on uniting people through song? Or is that too simplistic of a way to view your band?
Rou: “At our heart, I suppose that’s exactly right. Just as we are influenced by many different genres of music and bring them together in our music, we aim to use the truly indiscriminate tool that is music to unite people from many different backgrounds, to forget the artificial differences of creed, race, nationality, class and concentrate on the tangible and the reality of us all living on one big ass floating rock, with only one chance to thrive.”
RY: How much of a focus do you place on making sure you use your pedestal as the frontman of a band for good?
Rou: “I think I just try and be honest. And I never wanted to be a frontman, I never wanted to be in ‘rock n’ roll’ – this is just something that is being exorcised out of me. I want it out so I can become a marine biologist.”
RY: How much do you pay attention to the lack of social consciousness in popular music, and does that add any extra fuel to your fire?
Rou: “Well there’s certainly a lack of Dylans, Lennons, Marleys in modern pop music. But that doesn’t bother me too much because it makes us still feel like underdogs (like we always have musically as well), which is a very motivating feeling.”
RY: Even though you touch on serious issues, you seem to love what you do and have fun with it. Is there sometimes the misconception that you’re just a really serious guy that’s frustrated by a lot of things?
Rou: “Not really. I think we make it quite clear that we don’t take things too seriously. It is frustrating though that people seem to believe changing the world is serious business completely exempt from humour. Being stern doesn’t increase or promote your ideas.”
RY: What is your idea of a perfect world?
Rou: “Where science is put first and the scientific method is utilized for the good of our species and biosphere. Where we align ourselves with nature instead of either conceitedly ignoring it or selfishly pillaging it. Where equality is real. Where artificial boundaries disintegrate. Where sustainability is central to everything instead of just talked about.”
RY: What is Enter Shikari’s ultimate mission?
Rou: “To get people to dance. Oh and also the extirpation of capitalism.”
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