Interview with Rory Clewlow & Rou Reynolds from Enter Shikari
Welcome to Rockville 2016 4/30/16
Photo credit: John Curtis Hughes
Enter Shikari unquestionably has one of the most unique sounds I have heard in a very long time. They are innovative, diverse, and brilliant. The way they blend rock, punk, electronica, and metal together is mind-boggling and totally genius! Once it’s time to take the stage, their energy is so intense, interactive, enthusiastic, and passionate. You can’t help but share in the excitement and energy of the moment.
After coming down from their high energy set, I got the chance to talk with band members Rory & Rou. They told me stories about how it all started, pre-show beers and sharing their one of a kind sound while traveling the world. So let your hair down and open you mind! The ride or “The Mindsweep” that is Enter Shikari is nothing short of enlightening and exhilarating!
(Morgan) Can you tell me a little bit about how you guys met and got started?
Rory: Yeah we all went to school together. Rou and Chris went to primary school together, which is like from the ages of like 5 to 12. And they started a band when they were about 9 and then I joined when I was like 18. We’re all original members still.
(Morgan) I have to ask… How did you come up with the name of the band Enter Shikari? It’s very unique.
Rou: Well my uncle had a boat called “Shikari.” So I was aware of the word from a very young age and it just kind of stuck with me. It means “The Hunter” in various Indian languages so it’s Enter the Hunter.
(Morgan) That’s cool and very different! So you guys have “The Mindsweep” out now. How would you describe the general vibe of that album to someone who hasn’t heard your music yet?
Rou: Well it’s very diverse. I always find it quite difficult to describe the music just because there is so much going on. We’ve come at it with quite a punk mindset because we come from the hard core punk scene. We grew up around drum and bass, house music, all sorts of dance music, electronica. I also love and study classical music. So it’s just all sorts of stuff thrown in there.
I definitely noticed the rock meets EDM. I thought that was cool. You’re definitely unique. You don’t really hear things like that very often.
(Morgan) Can you tell me a little bit about what the creative process is like when creating an album? Do all you guys just sit down in a room and write? Or is most of your writing based off of life experiences?
Rou: Usually I’ll come to the guys with a kind of rough demo and we’ll just take things from there. Lyrically that’s will be the last thing. I like to let the music sort of dictate the direction of the lyrics and the theme.
(Morgan) So its not a certain person or event that inspires the lyrics?
Rou: It’s weird because our music isn’t like… its difficult to describe lyrically. It’s not that personal. It’s more global, and very grand talking about philosophy and politics and things like that. And yeah it takes a while to write them as well.
(Morgan) Since you guys are originally from England (Love the accent) Do your American fans differ from fans back home?
Rory: They only differ in the quantity of them. I mean generally if you’re an Enter Shikari fan wherever you are in the world you’re kind of quite similar. And I guess by that I mean when someone asks what kind of fans you have it’s just kind of people from all walks of life.
Rou: You have to be quite open-minded as well.
Rory: It’s more of a mentality than a scene. We don’t get just goths, or people that rave.
(Morgan) Are there any fun stories from being on the road that you can share?
Rou: I don’t know.. Just 10 years of blurred and good memories.
(Morgan) Well maybe you can tell us about someone cool that you’ve met or anyone you thought you’d never get the chance to meet on tour?
Rory: I met Tom Morello once. The guitarist from Rage against the machine. He’s my favorite guitarist. I was so conscious of trying to act cool. That I think I made him think I didn’t like his band. Even though its my favorite band. And he was like “YEAHHHH” and I was like “yeah.” I can’t remember what I said now but I remember being really awkward with him and almost made it out like I didn’t really like him.
(Morgan) Where’s your favorite place to play? I know you said you’ve been on the road for 10 years. That’s a long time and a lot of shows to play!
Rou: Japan just because it’s so different and such a culture shock. We’re always there for like 3 or 4 days max. We get there and normally play Tokyo, maybe Nagaya or Osaka. It’s just very intense I mean everything is like flashing lights and always a little jet lagged as well. It’s always a really interesting experience. Very full on.
Rory: Russia is always really fun as well.
(Morgan) Do you guys ever get nervous before a show? Do you have any pre-show traditions or rituals?
Rory: Chris will do a vocal warm up. I’ll drink a couple of beers. Chris always has to have a Captain Morgan and Diet Coke with ice in a big cup for stage for his stage drink. Rob will do drumstick stretches. He does this weird thing where he turns his arms like inside out.
(Morgan) How would you guys define success in the music industry?
Rory: For me. being able to do it full time. Not having to have another job and for this to be able to support me and my family is success for me.
Rou: Also, the little one to one personal conversations you have with fans. I know that sounds a bit cliché or cringy but, if someone’s saying that your music helped them to get through something that they had to deal with in their life that was really tough or something like that, it’s a real slap in the face like. This is real, you’re actually having a tangible effect on people’s lives. That’s when its like wow!
Rory: A mixture of things. I mean originally when first got our foot in the door. We’ve always felt like we’d been on the edge of the music industry. But how we first kind of got our leg up and start getting into the press and stuff like that was just from buying a van and touring around the U.K. relentlessly. We must have done about 300 shows over the course of two or three years in the U.K. Like loads of them where no one came or a couple of people would come and then eventually little by little it would be like 10 people there. And then the next time you go back 30 people would be there. And it would just grow and grow until eventually someone stumbled across us on the Internet, our myspace and saw we had all of these followers. But, he’d never heard of us because we weren’t a part of the industry at all. So he contacted us and introduced us to our manager and since then we’ve just been climbing the ladder.
(Morgan) Who are you most excited to see here at Welcome To Rockville?!
Rory: When I was about 14 me and Rob, the drummer were in a different band before I knew Chris and we used to cover Bro Hymn by Pennywise so I would love to see them.
(Morgan) Thank you so much to Rory and Rou for taking the time to chat with me!
For more about Enter Shikari check out their website http://www.entershikari.com/ and be sure to grab a copy of their album “The Mindsweep”