Enter Shikari drummer Rob Rolfe talks to Conor O’Nolan about their forthcoming album, touring Russia and having a social conscience
Early this summer, Enter Shikari began work on their third album. Having luck on their side meant they ended up recording the bulk of the album in Thailand with their producer Dan Weller. “We were initially recording in this dark, dingy space in central London. It was fantastic to be able to go over there to the middle of nowhere, almost in the middle of the jungle, with a fantastic studio with nothing to distract us.”
One of the main features of their previous efforts was blunt social and political commentary, from berating people for their collective inaction, to full-on calling politicians out over issues, such as in ‘Fanfare for the Conscious Man’; “Our gracious queen/should grasp her crown/and take a good fucking swing at Blair and Brown/for leading her countries to illegal warfare/and trying to pass it off that we’re doing ’cause we care.”
Rolfe suggested that the new album will be continuing in a similar lyrical vein “There’s still strong themes in it on a global scale, but it’s looking a bit more at the root causes and the fundamental causes of all the problems, as opposed to what Common Dreads was about, which was pointing out all the effects rather than the causes of a lot of problems in the world today.” Despite encouraging people to stand up and shout, with the band even taking part in the mass student marches against the introduction of college fees in London last year, there is a subtle irony in the fact that their record label’s warehouse was burnt down in the recent riots, along with a large amount of the stock of their recent live DVD.
The difference between their first album and their second is stark, not only in the aforementioned lyrical content, but also in the production value. The band self-produced their first album, the much loved Take to the Skies, which features some of their best known songs. When working on their second album they went from no producers to two, with Dan Weller as their guitar producer and Andy Gray (Music producer/composer who wrote the Big Brother theme) as their overall producer and mixer.
Recently their sound has shifted from straight synth and drum and bass sounds to using a lot heavily dubstep-influenced sounds. Rolfe elaborated, saying “It’s very diverse. It’s gone in many directions, not just any one. There’s stuff on there that’s the heaviest we’ve ever done and there’s some huge beats and massive synth lines, but there’s also some stuff on there that’s the most delicate, intricate and melodic stuff. Almost soundscape-y Sigur Ros type music”.
The band are also known for their intense touring schedule, playing wherever they can, whenever they can, from Japan, to more recently, Russia. “It was fantastic, we were playing in front of a few thousand people and the fans are so enthusiastic. All the people were so lovely. Russia seems to have a bit of a stigma about it, like it’s this Wild West and everyone is a bit scared of going there, but it’s just like everywhere else. It’s a perfectly fine place to go and we have a fantastic time every time we go.”
This summer the band took part in the three month long slog that is the Warped Tour, featuring a wide variety of bands from Paramore to Asking Alexandria. “Warped Tour is renowned as being one of the most difficult tours in the world. It’s basically just a really long hot summer, but at the end of the day, you’re doing it for the fans. Every day you’re playing in front of maybe a couple of thousand people, shouting back your lyrics to you, there’s no better feeling.”
Putting their social conscience to work on the Warped tour was easier than usual; the tour itself provides several initiatives to get bands doing charity and environmental work. “It was great, one of the best things about Warped tour was how socially aware they are. A lot of recycling happened on the tour, we got involved with that as much as we could. We did very rarely get a day off, but spending a morning helping a school build a padded park type area was really satisfying and it was good to know that you’re helping. It didn’t really feel like work, even though you’re doing hard labour, and there was no money involved, just doing a good thing for a worthy cause.”
The band is looking forward to their return to Ireland for the first time since 2009, “You can expect the usual Enter Shikari shenanigans, we’ve got this awesome light show that we’re bringing with us, and we’ll be playing some new tracks, the next single ‘Sssnakepit’ and another new one called ‘Arguing with a Thermometer’, so it’ll be the first glimpse of the album.”
Enter Shikari play The Academy on October 10th. Tickets are €25. Their new album will be released in early January.