Enter Shikari on Winnipeg, Dystopian Futures and Envoking a Change in Culture
By now it’s been a couple weeks since the start of the North American leg of Enter Shikari’s tour. That’s a humble 15 or 16 shows deep and appears to be as good as half way, until you go back to when they started the European leg in November… That’s when you take a moment to humble yourself and appreciate the calibre of artists this band of brothers is. Though not through genetics, brothers in every other sense.
Since their fourth studio album The Mindsweep, it feels like a whole lot has happened in the world. That same feeling is what spurred Rou Reynolds to pick up the pen and initiate an honest dialogue with the voice of the zeitgeist. The Spark is a step towards the centre way, less static and more of a focus on melody that envelopes the messages laid out in the lyrics. As an album, it navigates through on trend topics traversing dystopian realities brought about through social media as well as political and economical trigger points such as Brexit and Donald Trump.
Sometime between their endless touring schedule, Rob Rolfe took a second to speak to us about life on the road, The Spark and understanding the hallowed space they sit in as a 15 year old band with lasting success and relevance.
Omer: How’re you doing Rob?
Rob: Pretty fucking tired mate. Haha.
O: No doubt, you’re how many days into this tour?
Rob: I don’t know mate, let me have a look at a tour poster one second… Well… And if you’re counting us starting off in Europe back in the middle of November…
O: Damn, let’s just go with a lot
Rob: I’m good with that.
O: It’s a pretty relentless schedule you’ve got there, given you’ve been major figures in the culture for so long and active in the music scene with tours and festivals, how have you managed to physically last?
Rob: Yeah I mean we definitely have learnt best practices for touring just to make sure you’re not going in too hard and blowing out 2 countries in to a worldwide tour… but that just comes with practice.
O: Who’s the bandmate with the worst habits on tour?
Rob: We’re like family, we went to primary school together so it’s like going on tour with your brothers. there’s some nuances but we’ve been doing this for 15 years so we’re used to each other now… Nothing will ever escalate to the point where it’s gonna split the band or anything… hahaha
O: I can’t relate but I can appreciate that. What’re your life hacks for lasting a tour with Enter Shikari?
Rob: Not partying too much, obviously have some fun here and there but make sure you’re eating right and staying up on fluids. The key is to last the whole thing.
A big part of touring is also downtime so we just really try to chill out and rest when we get the chance. Obviously I try to check out the places I’ve never seen before but yeah, rest is essential.
Hydration is so important and the whole diet aspect is something we’ve also been on top of… it’s those small changes that add up and they help keep you going at 100% at shows.
Above all though love what you're doing and make sure you're having fun otherwise it's pointless... We're so blessed to be doing something we love day in, day out, and for a living. It's like going around the world with a giant family and sharing with the people that put us in this position - it's amazing honestly
O: Speaking of shows, let’s bring it onto the music for a second, congratulations on your latest studio album, The Spark!
Rob: Cheers! We’re thankful that it’s been so well received
O: You guys are legends in the rock scene, did you feel some type of way about changing your sound at all, were you worried about how your fans would receive the new project after straying from your post-hardcore territory?
Rob: For a while it seemed the rock scene was stagnating. We’d go on Warped Tour and it just felt like you were hearing the same thing show after show and it started to get a bit tiring.
With this album we decided to lighten up the sound a bit to invoke a change. We wanted to shake things up a bit.
O: Though softer in sound, the themes visited are of the dark realities of the current state of affairs and dystopian future we appear to be looking at. It’s in the music, on the news…
Rob: Yeah I hate to turn on the news because it’s just a one stop shop for getting depressed nowadays. Obviously with Trump happening then Brexit it kind of looked like a chain of events and all that just makes you feel like the world is going to shit. But I try to really peel back from the large scale and bring it to an individual level.
O: Exactly, even though the world might be a bit shit you can start making a difference to your immediate environment.
Rob: Be good in your day to day life and find happiness in the little things. It’s about leaving an overall positive impact.
Every day you’ve given plenty of chances to be good, earlier we found a phone on the ground - so instead of cracking on with our day, we picked it up, dialled the most recent number and the owner ended up being round the corner and we were able to luckily re-unite them together.
O: There you go.
You guys are utter legends in the rock scene - I just wanted to let you know that I grew up listening to you and even caught you at my first festival back in 2010. Thanks for honouring me with your time
Rob: Where is it you’re based?
O: Vancouver, are you stopping off here?
Rob: I’ll see you at our show on the 16th [February].
We’re excited to come to Canada, we actually tend to get such a warm reception out here, even more so than shows in America so we’re really looking forward to that segment.
Not so excited about the minus 20-something degrees in Winnipeg though… That’ll be interesting.
O: I heard if you fall over drunk out there, you’re pretty much dead
Rob: Jheez, noted.
O: One last thing I wanted to pick your brain over is the mainstream emergence of Hardcore/Screamo Rap as well as the Emo Rap genres made prominent by the likes of lil Peep, RIP.
Rob: Rest in peace...Yeah it’s awesome. Earlier on there used to be much more divide in music and genres, and quite stupidly in my opinion. It’s amazing we’re finally getting to a place where the walls are getting broken down and there’s true cross over.
You’re getting a more varied crowd at all types of events and we love it. The days of the “rap crowd” and the “rock crowd” and them staying away from each other is outdated and old and we’re thankful for it.
O: Me too
Enter Shikari will be at Vancouver's The Imperial on the 16th February. Buy tickets here.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity
Words by Darc Jacobs