Post-hardcore band: 'Our generation's got to fight to survive'

Issue 
Enter Shikari.

Politically progressive post-hardcore band Enter Shikari say they only have to look at their fans to get a sense that the world can change for the better.

“The past few years we've seen a huge increase in people that come up and thank us for singing about the things we do,” Rou Reynolds, frontman of the British band, tells Green Left Weekly.

“Usually, while standing at your merchandise table after a show you'd get 'great show, love your music’ and so on, but such a big percentage of people now also express gratitude and solidarity with our lyrical standing.

"This is obviously so encouraging for us. When we started this band it was just a hobby, but that hobby got out of hand.

"Now there is another reason, other than the fun of music as a hobby, for us to continue working hard at what we do: to be a voice out there for the people, and for progression.”

Enter Shikari tour:
Brisbane: Sat Feb 25, Soundwave Festival;
Sydney: Sun Feb 26, Soundwave Festival; Wed Feb 29, Metro;
Melbourne: Tue Feb 28, Billboard; Fri Mar 2, Soundwave Festival;
Adelaide: Sat Mar 3, Soundwave Festival;
PerthMon Mar 5, Soundwave Festival.

And there are plenty of people hearing that voice. The band’s third studio album, A Flash Flood of Colour, shot straight to the top of Britain’s album charts on its release in January, before ending the week at number four.

“We put up a good fight, holding that number one slot all week,” the band told their 500,000 Facebook followers. “But come the weekend and people are out doing their supermarket shopping and can throw a pop album into their basket, everything always changes at that top end of the chart.”

Enter Shikari are not exactly supermarket pop. The band blend anvil-heavy guitars with obesely fat bass and searing synth lines in a widescreen wall of sound.

When it is put to Reynolds that they are something like Western Australian stadium ravers Pendulum ― but with brains ― he laughs.

“I'll do the nice guy answer for this and say to get their production level they must have a hell of a lot of brains,” he smiles.

“Sonically they kill it every time. But I suppose we take in all sorts of genres whereas they're predominantly a drum and bass outfit, so we're pretty different really.”

Enter Shikari are pretty different, full stop. They mix up everything from grime, jungle, trance and dubstep to experimental metal and metalcore, but look like your average north London boys-next-door.

One minute Reynolds is rapping like British chart-topper The Streets, all laidback and lyrical; the next he’s roaring like he’s just gargled drain cleaner.

Enter Shikari’s diversity is showcased in the wildly oscillating dynamics of the climate denier-bashing “Arguing With Thermometers”, which rails against the lunacy of drilling for more oil under the melting Arctic tundra.

A mutant monster of a track, its twisting tentacles of sound bring to mind John Carpenter's classic Antarctic horror flick The Thing.

The accompanying video has Reynolds playing a comical-looking TV news anchor, but his spiel is deadly serious: “So let me get this straight: as we witness the ice-caps melt, instead of being spurred into changing our ways, we're going to invest in military hardware to fight for the remaining oil that’s left beneath the ice?

"But what happens when it's all gone? You haven't thought this through, have you boys?”



A recent Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism study found climate scepticism is mainly an Anglo Saxon phenomenon.

Enter Shikari tour extensively, so do they find attitudes towards global warming differ markedly around the world?

“Unfortunately we haven't ventured to places like those mentioned in the [Reuters] article ― Brazil, India, China ― so we haven't had first-hand experience of their outlook and public ‘opinion',” says Reynolds, who gets his news from the likes of The Real News Network, Democracy Now! and radical independent journalist John Pilger.

“I think it just highlights the outdated importance held with opinion. People seem to have this bloated arrogance with their right to hold their opinion. But at the end of the day why should anyone be interested in anyone’s opinion if it is not derived by solid scientific evidence? We should only be interested in fact and evidence, and not feel obliged to respect anyone’s ‘opinion’.

“At the end of the day, like we talk about in 'Arguing With Thermometers', it is usually the struggling scientists that are paid big bucks to clumsily create pseudo science to enhance social distortion on the subject of climate change and make people believe it is not factual or 'decided' yet.

“I think each country has its ignorant, easily persuaded and dogmatic individuals, but obviously the US and UK own most of the huge oil companies, so I’m sure that's where most of the contracts are made to reinforce climate scepticism, which therefore influences the media and therefore public opinion.”

On the stomping, bouncy anthem "Gandhi mate, Gandhi", which humorously urges listeners to control their anger, Reynolds sings about the folly of measuring progress through gross domestic product and "blindly consuming to support a failing economy and a faulty system".



So what sort of alternative system does Reynolds propose?

"GDP is always referred to as a good indicator of a country’s 'standard of living'," he says. "It basically measures how much money is being printed and exchanged.

“It does not go into any real depth towards the state of the physical or mental health of its citizens, its crime rate, its employment rate, the environmental health of its land, pollution rate, corruption rate and so on.

“All it measures is how much stuff is being made and sold. And on a planet of finite resources that makes no sense at all. It's saying it's good to produce more goods and sell them, even though we're running out of everything... no fucking logic there whatsoever!

"A real measurement of standard of living would be to ask 'how sustainable are we as a global society?'"

But Enter Shikari have faith that humanity will eventually see reason. The album's opening track "System" declares "our generation's got to fight to survive", and Reynolds believes it will.

"I think the younger generations have the advantage of not growing to be complacent with the current system just yet,” he says. “This usually solidifies once you fit in and get your job and house and realise you can live quietly and 'get by'.

“But with the knowledge available now at our fingertips with the internet, the younger generations are clear on the sheer importance of our actions to come."

It will be no easy task when the odds are stacked against them and the game is rigged. On the battering "Stalemate", Reynolds hollers about fortunes being made out of wars as the world is treated like a chessboard. 

Does he see any grandmasters as possible saviours?

"I think change will only come from the bottom up,” he says. “Hopefully we will educate ourselves out of this primitive way of living and look back and tragically laugh in the history classrooms of the future at our barbarity and shortsightedness."

Reynolds has been particularly inspired by the Occupy movement. "Don't be fooled into thinking that a small group of friends cannot change the world," he sings in "Pack of Thieves".

"The big changes in society have always come from outside the power structure or government," says Reynolds. "So we're trying to make sure people are enthused to want to help one another but always confident to believe in themselves.

"This is exactly what we've seen in the mainstream media with the Occupy movement. Constantly belittling it, disregarding it and laughing at it. In the words of Gandhi though, ‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.’"

But what does the Occupy movement need to do to win?

"I don't think I want to be one of the many people 'telling' Occupy they should be doing this and that," says Reynolds. "They're the ones out there in tents, not me. I've been lucky enough to visit the London and Bristol occupations here in Britain and met some great people.

“They’re doing a good job in getting their messages out through art, music, lectures and so on.

"I guess in Britain we're lucky enough not to have had the Occupy sites bulldozed and destroyed by police.

"I think to keep promoting the ideas through as many means as possible to as many people as possible is all that can be done. Once there is a critical mass, real change can be perceivable."

Reynolds will be promoting his ideas to Australians in an Enter Shikari tour from February 25 and the prolific songwriter will be using the long flight here to compose more music. It's a form of carbon offsetting that might actually work. Or maybe not.

"When I'm on planes I always end up composing string quartet pieces," laughs the serial genre-bender. "No idea why."



"System"


"Stalemate"


Comments

Wow, i could honestly say you couldnt be more right the goverment is so tied up with making money and wars in other countries that were not focusing on what we should be, like solving the global warming problem and how to create renewable energy so we dont make the same mistake again, you really are an inspirational band and i love all your music and the lyrics in your songs system and the intro of gandhi it really does sound like whats happening, prices of all fuel, oil and any by products of oil are already soaring which can only mean they cant supply for demand. but enough of my ramble :) might get a chance yo see you live in london this year and i cant wait :)