Enter Shikari is a band challenging to classify in terms of a certain style or genre. You manage to blend elements of dance/trance, rock and metal into one 'musical hybrid'. Have you always strived for such innovation within your music?
Well, I was actually the last member to join. Before I joined it was just a three-piece of Rou, Chris and Rob. They played stuff like Muse, Radiohead, and slightly more experimental rock. I mean they've always been writing wicked songs. I remember when I went to see them before. I was thinking there was definitely something going on here, that they're gonna happen. It's never been that wildly different. We just used the electronics. That was pretty much when I started because Rou moved off the guitar and started focusing more on vocals. Then we incorporated a little bit of metal into it. It's a very organic process. It's just the way it's kind of developed. It's developed into being the heart of our music.
Personally, genre's seem to me to be almost too much a part of music at times anyway. Meaning it can sometimes be judged before even hearing a note, what with the constant need to label a band's sound perhaps overshadowing the actual music itself. With the increasing amount of sub genre's being created these days as well, what are your personal thoughts on all of these genre's and would you put your own music inside one?
We don't really like to classify ourselves within any particular genre. Purely because we're not in any particular genre. I mean we've got acoustic songs, drum and bass songs, rock songs, hardcore songs. Almost pop songs. We've got everything going and don't really like to put ourselves inside any particular box. Genre's are so broad nowadays. You could try and say 'this band is in this genre'. But there are so many different genre's out there now and everyone's trying to experiment. Apart from the purist metallers, or purist hardcore bands. There are so many bands out there that don't think that genre's mean that much these days really. I think they can sometimes be given through lazy journalism..
So would you be able to put yourself into a genre?
Well when people ask me 'what does your band sound like?' I usually say hardcore with trance, and drum and bass. It is pretty hard to describe. You can never get that sort of first impression yourself, whatever it is that hits you first, you know?
What sort of music do you enjoy listening to yourself?
I'm into Daft Punk, The Streets and I'm quite into The Dillinger Escape Plan. Bands that are being individual and are doing their own thing. Saying that I'm into my hardcore, like Comeback Kid. Then there's Led Zepplin, Jimmy Hendrix, Red Hot Chilli Peppers. I listen to everything.
There's definitely a keen sense of melody resting within the tapestry of your sound. Is it difficult to balance that with the need for experimentation?
Rou is the writing soul of the group. He's been writing songs since he's been like 9. So melody for him is not an issue. Something just clicks in his head and that's it. Once you've got that for a foundation, and melody is the foundation, then what you've got to think about how to make a cool song. Does it get the crowd going? Also, that you know what kind of mood you're trying to create. Melody has always been a major part of the sound.
Returning to the earlier days, when you first met and formed. Did you all share the same vision of what sound you wanted?
Well Rou is the main songwriter of the band, and we generally put in our own input. The things that Rou comes up with will end up being the foundation. It wasn't an immediate get-together and it all clicked. The other three grew up together so they were already gelled, so when I joined it was a bit more difficult for me. I remember in the first band practice and the first song I ever learnt was called Nodding Acquaintance. That's a really old song that they had just written it before I joined. I picked that up really quickly and I thought right, okay, I see where this is going now. When I first joined I just basically learned the whole set, before I started adding my own personality towards it. It was a fairly easy initiation because all I had to do was learn stuff that they'd already written. I didn't want to come in and destroy everything!
What was it like performing in the earlier days? Inside the cramped, intimate clubs and pubs when you first started out? Did you share huge hopes and dreams or was it more about getting the music out there to those that wanted to listen?
Back then it was just all about playing shows. That's pretty much all it's ever been about. Those days were great fun and these days are great fun. I do pinch myself sometimes. When you walk out on stage and there's all these people. Of all the bands in all the world they've come to see us. It's quite incredible. We've done it for so long now that the great thing is we've got that foundation, because we did all of those small shows and the toilet venues. It gave us such a nice grounding. So now we can walk out there and instead of being intimidated by that we can soak it up and appreciate it for what is it.
What have been the highlights so far on this incredible journey. Anything in particular that stands out?
Probably when we released the album and it got to number four. It's not so much that it got to number four, more that so many people bought it in the first week and that was such a suprise, amazing. Then there was the time when I got a call from Rou saying we'd just been offered a publishing deal. It's not a record deal it's basically the rights to distribute. That was like 'wow'. After three years of touring, someone's finally paying attention to us and wanting to get on board and help us. Then the first time we played Download. We played in front of five thousand people, the place was packed. I was absolutely shitting myself! The festival situation batters any kind of nerves that you have out of you because you walk in front of, what, twenty thousand strangers? Once you've done that a few times nothing can get you!
What plans do you have for the future?
We've got our album coming up in February. Well, we're going to try to write and record our album in February. There's Japan and Australia in January, and more touring.
Is there that pressure when writing the next album of expectancy? To show people that there is more to come from Enter Shikari, or do you take it as a source of inspiration?
We've never played to cater for other people, we've always played to cater for ourselves. So if we're willing to do the second album at the place where we are right now and if people don't like it, it's not our problem. We're just going to carry on doing what we're doing.