Rou Reynolds – Enter Shikari ‘Now Is Not The Time To Be Cancelling Art’

Zoom. Isn’t it a wonderful program? It is when you can chat face to face with one Rou Reynolds from Enter Shikari! The band released their album Nothing Is True & Everything Is Ordinary in April (our review here) amid the COVID-19 pandemic and have still had success despite their promotion period being totally cancelled. With a genius meerkat background we talked all things from virtual gigs to songs that didn’t make the album to veggie gardens!

Rou, hello! How’s your isolation going?

It’s going okay! I think I’m very lucky I have my health, most of my family has their health, and anyone that’s had it there’s no damage done, really. I’m pretty sure I’ve had it but been asymptomatic. Yeah, I really can’t complain and I’ve been very busy with promo for the album and stuff like this, so I haven’t had the other complaint (which a lot of people have had) which is boredom, so I’m looking forward to being bored when the promo dies down!

Congratulations on the release of your sixth album Nothing is True And Everything Is Possible. It’s been out for a couple of weeks now, how are you feeling after releasing an album and not being able to go on an album tour?

It’s kind of a whole flood of different emotions, obviously I’m exhilarated, relieved and just so jubilant that the album’s out and I’ve been so excited to see people’s reactions to it and their comments. I’ve been working on this album for a year, it’s my absolute baby and it’s the first one I’ve produced by myself as well, so I feel so connected to it. I’m over the moon to have it out and see everyone’s comments.

At the same time I can’t celebrate the release with the rest of the boys, with the rest of our team and our management. This is the longest time I haven’t seen them for 15 years! (laughs) It’s really odd, and at the same time we had to cancel all our release shows, all our signings and meet and greets, so I can’t even say a face to face thank you to our fans for supporting it, buying it and streaming it. It’s a really weird plethora of emotions.

Yeah and lots of other bands have decided to push their albums back I guess in the hope that the virus would clear up, but you guys didn’t, was there a big decision behind not pushing it back?

I think we were very lucky, our manufacturing was pretty much all done. Our fulfillment team – we use a very small family based fulfillment team – so they were able to fulfill it cause they were all isolating together. But at the same time I think we just didn’t want to postpone it. If we had our cynical and selfish business hats on we should’ve postponed it because the album certainly hasn’t had the reach that it would’ve. You know we had to cancel trips to New York, Moscow, all throughout Europe, and we were going to do all sorts of promo that had to be cancelled.

So yeah, the album perhaps hasn’t gone as far and wide as it would’ve but I think now, at a time of such hardship, globally we’re pretty much in the same boat at the moment. We’re all going through this, so even if people are struggling with the virus itself there’s all the mental health attributes of this situation and we just thought now is not the time to be cancelling art as well, you know, people need it now more than ever.

I usually use the metaphor that the world is this building site it’s dangerous, it’s noisy and art is like the hardhat that you put on. Music is that thing that makes us feel safe. It makes us feel protected and it also strengthens our feeling of community with each other because we can share our opinions and our emotions and things that we love about new music. So it just felt like it wasn’t really ever a question for us, we always just wanted to keep powering forward regardless of the circumstances. And I think it was obvious this wasn’t’ just going to be a few months, it’s a proper pandemic.

What do you think of the virtual gigs? Do you think, if the coronavirus doesn’t clear up any time soon it’d be something you’d think of doing?

Yeah, we’ve got a few things coming up, I’ve done a couple of little live-streams with just me and my acoustic which has been really fun. So we’re going to do a few more of those, and I’m actually going to be doing some DJ sets as well. So I just got some equipment through today and this little device that enables me to DJ from home! So that’s going to be fun and we’ll try to get living room raves going on for everyone. But I think we’re also going to do a couple of full band things if we can make that work, so just looking at ways we can bring the live music aspect to people.

And another congratulations on sitting at number two in the UK album charts! Especially with you producing for the first time, was that really nerve wracking and then so rewarding?

Yeah! It’s weird, the charts are strange because it’s like I never pay attention to them until we have an album out and then suddenly it becomes really important. I think it’s cool because it’s not just a victory for us, it’s a victory for interesting music and I know that sounds like such a grandiose sort of bullshit. But if you listen to the top 5 the top 10, our album sounds nothing like all of that. It’s a very niche, detailed, broad spectrum of music on our album and to have that number 2 – that’s our highest position ever. We’re so, so happy. And it’s quite unexpected really because we haven’t had the same promotion but it’s kind of nice in a way cause our whole advertising has been word of mouth! Just like a DIY punk campaign, which has been wonderful! Massive thank you to our audience, our fan base and friends who have been pushing this album out there which has helped us get to our highest placing ever, that’s awesome.

It’s been said that this is the definitive Shikari record and you spoke to Browny and Parente at Good Things Festival in December (relive the interview here) and said that this album has something for every level of Enter Shikari fans on this release. So, did you write this album for all your fans, or for yourself and it just so happened that it was a good mix?

As brutal as it is to say, I try to never really write for the fans. I include myself in this whether it’s as a fan of my band or other music in general, but a lot of the time an audience doesn’t know what it wants. It thinks it knows what it wants but that’s because its only reference is what it’s heard before, so it thinks it just wants more of that whereas sometimes you can introduce something the audience wasn’t even thinking of and sometimes they might hate it and sometimes they might love it. It’s a bit of a risk but I’m always led by my passion and emotion. So if a piece of music is enthralling me and coaxing me to continue writing it to the point that I don’t have a choice, ‘I have to write this oh my god it’s so exciting’, that’s how I write music. If I don’t get that feeling from it then I won’t write it. So it’s almost like I’m not in control, I’m not writing for myself. It’s like there’s a tap and it’s just on and I’m just there with a bucket trying to catch it! And if it’s giving me those raw emotions of excitement then I’ll write it and that’s basically it, it’s very instinctual.

Well, with an album that has 15 great songs, I imagine you would’ve had to cut that down and had countless backups, so what about the other songs the ones that didn’t make it, what were they like?

Oh god! So, what my kind of routine is before an album: the demoing and early writing stage will be about 3 or four months and I’ll write 50 solid ideas for songs. So when I hit 50 I’ll stop the writing process and I’ll then go into moving forward with some of the songs. So that’s the hardest thing, deciding what of the 50 are going to make the cut to be taken into the studio and be properly developed, because all of those songs are songs that already have made it that far so they’re ones I’m excited about and invested in emotionally. It was really difficult to cut down, there was all sorts of stuff, there were a couple of tracks that were jazz inspired that didn’t quite make it, I think they just didn’t get developed enough in time. There were some more down tempo stuff, and we normally have one sombre, down tempo, almost ballad but not, emotional moment which we don’t have on this album, so there were a couple of them that didn’t really get developed in time.

Just release a B side!

Yeah! Well I think in a few weeks when things settle down on the promotion of this album I’ll definitely continue writing those because I’m still really excited about them. And if they go in a good direction then they might be released as singles or on the next album.

And this is always an essential but over asked question, although I think at the moment it could lead to some interesting answers: what do you have planned for the rest of 2020 considering the music world is pretty much on hold. Do you have a DIY project that you’re finally getting to? Or something else in the works?

Well, a lot of the year is going to be taken up trying to work out how to play this album live. We never think about that in the studio, so it takes a lot of time to translate it and transpose it, all the programming and working out who’s going to play what instrument at what time. So that’s going to take a large portion of the summer really. Chris, our bassist, is really the main guy in that respect – he’s our Ableton wizard – so yeah he’s going to have a busy time but we’ll all be involved in that.

But outside the album I’m definitely going to write some different stuff, some stuff outside of Shikari. I’ve been threatening to do the cliché thing and make a solo record for quite a few years now so I’d love to do that. It’s the first year where I’m actually going to be home all summer, so I’ve actually properly planted a load of stuff in my vegetable patch. So I’m really excited about that! I’ve got all sorts of stuff growing this year. The last three years I’ve tried it and I’ve just had like onions and garlic and simple things and it’s died because I haven’t been there to water it properly. But this year that’s going to be a big focus!

Interview by Ebony Story

Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible is out now!
Grab your copy here.

enter shikari - nothing is true

Enter Shikari – Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible tracklisting

1. The Great Unknown
2. Crossing The Rubicon
3. { The Dreamer’s Hotel }
4. Waltzing off the Face of the Earth (I. Crescendo)
5. modern living…
6. apocoholics anonymous (main theme in B minor)
7. the pressure’s on
8. Reprise 3
9. T.I.N.A
10. Elegy For Extinction
11. Marionettes (I. The Discovery of Strings)
12. Marionettes (II. The Ascent)
13. satellites
14. the king
15. Waltzing off the Face of the Earth (II. Piangevole)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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