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Enter Shikari A Kiss For The Whole World 2023 Interview

20 April 2023 | 4:09 pm | Mary Varvaris
Originally Appeared In

"Maybe this is just gonna be the album that's full of bangers."

(Pic by Jamie Waters)

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Enter Shikari are known and loved for their brand of genre-hopping, thrilling rock and metal music. Since forming in 2003, the four-piece have released six full-length albums while garnering ongoing industry acclaim and multiple awards for good measure. 

Armed with high-octane lashings of punk, electronica and alt-rock palettes, personal lyricism, and often politically charged thematics, Enter Shikari remains one of the most magnetic forces in the modern musical landscape.

With support slots for The Prodigy, Linkin Park, 30 Seconds To Mars and more under their collective belts over the years as well as an eye-watering amount of shows on every sized stage imaginable across the globe, the band closed out 2021 with an extensive tour in the UK; an utterly sold-out affair, including a fourth headline show at London's 10,000 capacity Alexandra Palace. 

2022 saw Enter Shikari throw down in North America, Germany and, of course, Australia, with a mind-blowing tour in November.

Tomorrow, Enter Shikari return with their seventh album, A Kiss For The Whole World, a collection of songs a bit less surprising than their 2020 effort, Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible, but just as fascinating and far more positive.

A Kiss For The Whole World was created with community and connection in mind, with the band coming out of Covid-19 lockdowns re-energised, ready to embrace their fans again. 

Upon announcing the album, vocalist Rou Reynolds said about the reggae-tinged first single, (pls) set me on fire: "Honestly, I thought I was fucked. I’ve never felt so detached from my soul, my purpose, my fucking spirit. I didn’t write music for almost two years. The longest I’d gone before that was two weeks. I was broken. 

"It’s almost as if my brain had asked: 'What is the point in music if it cannot be shared? What is the point in writing music if it’s not to be experienced with others?' and then promptly switched itself off. (pls) set me on fire grew out of that desperation. This song is a projectile vomit of positive energy. Every emotion trapped inside me for two years, finally set free."

The album, meanwhile, was recorded in a farmhouse that only used solar power in a move that Reynolds calls "back to basics." 

How exactly did Reynolds pull himself out of the darkness? “It was a long process,” he admits over Zoom just days before the album’s release. “The turning point was the first show we played after the lockdown started easing. I realised that I'd missed that sense of purpose and human connection.

“The passing of energy from us to the crowd, all of that stuff, is basically fuel for me as a songwriter,” he adds, recalling his mindset at the time: if you can’t share music in a physical space with people, what’s the point in writing? Getting back on stage saved Rou and helped him gain his confidence back.

The Sorry You’re Not A Winner singer continues, “Once we started to play shows again, it wasn't like a tsunami of creativity... It was a very slow process. At one point, I can remember thinking, halfway through the pandemic, maybe I've got to my mid-30s, and that's it. All my creative years were behind me or something. 

“I genuinely thought, maybe I'm not going to write music anymore. It was a pretty terrifying prospect, to be honest. Coming out of it, I can't really describe the relief and the sense of gratitude. I was like, Oh, my God, I can still write music. Thank fuck [laughs]. It was wicked. And consequently, all the music I was writing came out very upbeat and energised, so the album was a real joy to make.”

A Kiss For The Whole World is vibrant and zips by in no time - this is Enter Shikari making a “straight-forward” record, and yet, there’s nothing by-the-numbers about it. The thrilling new LP, recorded with a solar-powered studio set-up in a shabby farmhouse, was undoubtedly influenced by nature (and the sun itself), lending new, beautiful kaleidoscopic colours to the album.

“It was one of the boxes we wanted to tick off with this album - to record in the most sustainable way we could,” Reynolds says. 

When the band found the farmhouse, they knew they had found the perfect place. “It was just perfect; it was in the middle of nowhere and tranquil. The house was quite a dilapidated old place without any central heating, completely off-grid, but it was exactly what we wanted. We wanted this raw, pure space; just us in the middle of nowhere, no distractions, focused on the music.”

Enter Shikari felt more at ease, knowing they were burning far less power. They had power-sucking modules, guitar pedals and other equipment typically hugely energy-consuming, “but it doesn’t matter because it’s just coming from the sun,” Reynolds confirms. To me and Rou, the record's colours feel like a companion album to another Enter Shikari album, their third record, released in 2011.

“It's interesting you say that the album sounds colourful to you because, for us, it almost feels like a sibling to A Flash Flood Of Colour,” Reynolds muses. 

Their third album’s title was exactly what the band wanted out of the music - colour - and A Kiss For The Whole World delivers in a similar fashion. “The album title is a description. A Kiss For The Whole World is supposed to be full of energy and affection and a sense of togetherness. I really want this album to make people feel empowered, you know, make people feel vibrant.”

Rou Reynolds started writing music every day when he was 12 or 13 years old. After living there for a few years, his family moved back to England from Scotland, and he quickly discovered that songwriting was completely instinctual for him. “[My parents] were trying to get me into this school, but it took about six months to process, so I was out of school for six months,” Reynolds shares.

He continues, “And I just remember, the whole of that summer, I was either out on my bike, or I was in my room writing music because, of course, all my the friends that I still had from when I was younger were all in schools. So my only way of communicating was through writing music. That's always what it's been to me, like a way to communicate with the world.” 

At 11 years old, his uncle handed Reynolds a CD of The Prodigy’s Music For The Jilted Generation. “The Prodigy have been one of our major influences since day one,” he admits. “Imagine being 11 years old and being handed that album [laughs]. It just blew my mind. And we got to tour with them; we supported them on an arena tour in 2007, I think it was (it was 2009). And that was such a joy. Keith [Flint] especially was the nicest guy. He was so lovely. They’ve been a foundational influence to our band.”

Anything drum and bass, anything to do with high-energy dance music fused with some combination of metal music, is music Reynolds wants to hear. “There are so many newer bands like Northlane doing so well. It's great to see that other bands are fusing genres,” he notes before continuing with a chuckle, “When we started doing it [blending genres], it was pretty much blasphemy. 

"People from the metal scene would just… I remember gigs where they'd just stand up with their middle fingers up at us. There was so much hate back then if you dared to play music that wasn't pure metal or pure dance music from both sides. So it's great to see how much things have changed now and how different bands are taking music in different directions. It's growing!” And Enter Shikari have fostered that growth.

“I was so relieved and so grateful to be able to write music again that the whole process was such a thrill,” Reynolds says, circling back to the magnetic single, Bloodshot. “Therefore, everything is quite high tempo, quite upbeat, quite energised. That was just naturally how it [new music] was coming out because I was genuinely so excited to write music again. 

“It got to the point that we even started joking; as the first few songs began to be finished, we started to say that maybe this is just gonna be the album that's full of bangers [laughs], and it was a joke at first, but it kind of has come out like that,” Reynolds continues. 

“There's a real focus; the songs are short and sharp. I think we're not afraid to let a melody shine now, whereas before, there wasn't the confidence to say this song is all about this melody. Before, we would make songs that go on massive journeys and have millions of layers, sub-melodies, and all kinds of things going on [laughs]. Whereas now, there's more focus and more confidence in what we can do.”

Perhaps an underlying theme of A Kiss For The Whole World is personal growth. After seven albums, 24 years in music, and years on the road, Enter Shikari have grown in ways Reynolds could have never imagined. 

“The first thing that comes to mind is that I’m not drinking anymore; I’m drinking four litres of water and doing yoga every day,” he shares. “I think we've always had that drive to put on the best shows possible. 

"We've been a very ambitious band when it comes to live music - we've broken down all sorts of barriers in terms of the stuff that we've done, like the quadrophonic surround sound and various ways that we do the lighting and things. And I think now there's just there's almost a renewed sense of feeling rewarded.”

A Kiss For The Whole World is out on Friday, 21 April. You can pre-order/pre-save the album here.