Enter Shikari – Leeds Cockpit 7th December 2006
I always find that a great opener to any interview is when you walk in and are immediately offered a beer! The Enter Shikari boys wasted no time in cracking open a few cold ones while we got settled in! I had been looking forward to this interview for quite some time and was struck by how grounded, down to earth and polite the boys are – an absolute pleasure to interview.
Emma – First of all congratulations on your recent success, because you have really been doing quite well lately
All – Thank you
Emma – Things have been pretty crazy for the last twelve months or so…how do you feel about being propelled into the spotlight all of a sudden?
Chris – Pretty good, pretty cool. I mean in the last twelve months, well in the last few months its taken kind of a jump with all of the press and the magazines getting on board and stuff. If you think that maybe a year and a half ago we were still playing these shows and were getting good turnouts – it’s just been getting better and better each time really gradually, so that’s good but its nice to have a push as well. So it’s been really crazy since then!
Rob – Its exciting – we don’t know what’s gonna happen next.
Emma – you’ve released a couple of singles, and with Sorry You’re Not A Winner – I watched the video climb up some of the MTV video charts so quickly. I caught the Red Button Chart one morning and you were at number two then the same afternoon it had moved straight to number one – and it was all within a couple of days! How do you feel about that – was it just crazy?
Rob – Pretty mental yeah, its kind of the same as with the Kerrang Best Newcomer award – it was like “what, how did we get this?” and we just kind of jumped up and were like “well we haven’t really done anything!”
Emma – It’s all pretty much reputation based isn’t it?
Chris – I don’t think we really noticed the amount that they were playing it until we actually got told, ‘cos we’re not at home during the days and stuff…
Roughton – I’ve never had sky either so I’ve never seen it!
Emma- I got your mailing list email about the Scuzz competition saying that your video was gonna be on, and within a couple of days it was getting played on all sorts of channels
Rory – and we lost that competition! That was the ironic thing!
Chris – It’s weird as well, with the Mothership one actually, we had two edits of that –there was this one edit that was shot through like a peephole, a circle, and at first they told us that we couldn’t use that and they were never gonna play it. Then after the Sorry You’re Not a Winner video came through, now they are all playing the first edit that they were never gonna play!
Emma – and it was all shot in someone’s house wasn’t it?
Chris – yeah in my parents’ front room!
Emma – In the town we come from there are quite a few people that actually do hold gigs in their flats and houses – your video really reminded me of that.
Chris – my living room’s not been the same since!
Emma – Did you ever do that whole thing – playing gigs in people’s houses etc…
Roughton – We’ve done a few in people’s houses, yeah, like house parties. I remember doing a house party in Wales…
Rob – It was just a student house, and we played the shittest set ever! The drum kit that I had was just falling apart!
Chris – We really like the idea of really intimate crowds – just absolute mayhem – not too many people crammed into really tight spaces – its always fun.
Roughton – In one of the versions you can see the lampshade go tumbling across peoples heads and stuff and getting thrown about
Chris- It really was mental, that video!
Emma – So you have had quite a lot of label interest and as everything has blown up so quickly – I heard that there has been a bit of a bidding war going on between labels…have you been tempted by any of their offers?
Chris – Well yeah, of course we were tempted…definitely
Rory – Today we might be doing a signing to Vital Distribution – it’s basically like a distribution thing
Chris – It just enables us to stay independent and own our copyrights. Everyone who came to us – I think they really wanted us, ‘cos there were really good contracts that they were offering us, but at the end of the day we didn’t really want that
Emma – You’ve managed to maintain control for the last three years haven’t you?
Roughton – Yeah
Chris – We just thought – well why chuck it away, when they (labels) will just chuck money at you… and you’re gonna have to pay it back anyway!
Emma – When did you decide that you were just going to stay independent
Roughton– It was a long decision…
Chris – We were just going from side to side, again and again – I mean the original plan was to set up a record label and do some releases ourselves and see how it goes…which is what we did!
Emma – Well that leads me on to my next question, which is – tell me more about your label Ambush Reality. Did you just do that to facilitate your own single releases?
Chris – Yeah basically the plan was that we were just gonna put out a few singles and test the water see how it goes, and luckily it seems to have blown up a bit, which is cool. We had a lot of help from our manager – he’s run labels before so he helped us out with a lot of the administration and that side of it
Emma – So far with the singles you have released you have put out a limited number of copies on CD and vinyl format and the rest has been download only – are you planning keep doing that or are you moving more toward digital release?
Rory – We just thought we’re not gonna get into the charts with this single! But yeah, we were actually really surprised by how well it did so we thought why don’t we just make it a limited edition for our fans at the moment so they can go out and get it.
Emma – It was quite hard to get a copy too – after just a few days I tried to get a CD copy and everywhere I tried had sold out, so I had to get vinyl!
Rob – It was really annoying like in our home town St Albans there was only one copy!
Emma – Let’s go back a bit – you’re all friends from school right?
All – Yeah
Emma – Do you think that helped to give you a good grounding – like when things started getting crazy did it help that you are good friends to keep each others feet on the ground?
Roughton – Yeah – I think we have a pretty good friendship & relationship going on.
I think if we see anyone slipping out of line we can just tell them.
Chris – And I think because we spend so much time together, it’s like there’s no point getting pissed off about silly little things
Emma – I think you have a pretty unique sound going on – did you realise that there was a window for this type of sound and deliberately set out to fill it?
Rory – Not at all, it’s just been a natural progression really.
Emma – Was it an immediate thing or has it taken a while to build to the sound you are at?
Chris – Oh yeah, its definitely been building up , and especially if you think about the synths that we used to use in the early demos and stuff we did, a couple of them are pre-sets and stuff wheras now its all written and layered and we just keep adding more to it.
Emma – You have a bit of a reputation for having mad shows and things getting a bit crazy! Tell me more about that…
Chris – Cardiff! Let’s tell them about Cardiff
Rob – No…Dublin!
Chris – Dublin, yeah that’s the one!
Rob – By the end of the show there were six ambulances, a police car and a fire engine there!
Emma – nice!
Chris – People were just being carried out – like knocked out! And they only had one security guard! Just one! And they tried stopping the show…
Rob – I fought him off! They said turn it off – and I just said no!
Emma- It’s getting to the end of this tour now isn’t it really…when you are on tour what are the three most essential items that you have to take with you?
Roughton – Good question! We haven’t had that question before…right…
Mystery bloke joins in – Rou needs his make up!
Chris – Hair gel is definitely one!
Rob – Shower gel!
Rory – Febreeze!
Chris – Yeah, Febreeze is number one! Yeah the bad thing is we always forget it as well!
Emma- There must be more important things!
Chris – I think Febreeze because you cant take too many clothes with you and Febreeze just sorts them out
Rory – I’d say t-shirts, Febreeze and hair gel!
Chris – There would be music and stuff in there as well – we need more than three, can we have six?!!
Emma – I have been reading a few reviews where you are being branded as the “new rock gods” and “the best band in the uk”…
Roughton – yeah that was in Kerrang yesterday wasn’t it!
Emma – Yeah I saw that! What do you think about that – do you think that you are being put on a pedestal that might be difficult to live up to?
Chris – We like reading it!
Roughton – I don’t think we feel under pressure, I think the press has come along quite quickly but its still not like they are bigging us up that much…
Emma – I don’t know – rock gods?!!
Chris – It is kinda weird…we were sitting there and we were like “heeeeeey, rock gods!”
Yeah I don’t think we’re under pressure to live up to it though.
Rory – The way I see it is we’ve been doing what we’ve been doing for the last three years – people can say what they want about it.
Emma – You all ditched university to be in the band full time – if you didn’t have the band what would you do?
Chris – at uni I was studying a music course anyway – music industry – so I would probably end up working for a record label somewhere, just something involved you know…
Rory – I was doing guitar making and learning how to build guitars basically
Rob – I was doing photography – I’m kind of the odd one out!
Emma- Did you all start uni courses?
Roughton– yeah we all did a year
Chris – We all made sure we were within a hundred miles of each other as well so we could get back and do the mid week gigs we needed to.
Rory – It was really hard having to worry about the band, and worry about uni work and trying to juggle them. And trying to do course work between mid week gigs!
Rob- Yeah especially when we get back from a gig at like three in the morning in Newcastle or something and then we have to get up at seven to go to uni the next day
Rory – There was a lot of sleeping in the van – it was like you get to the van, sleep, get top the gig, play …
Emma – Let’s move onto next year – you have a few things planned for next year so I hear – is it right that you’re going to be supporting Alexisonfire and Billy Talent?
Chris – Yeah that’s right, and they are apparently really nice guys
Emma- Yeah Alexisonfire are really nice, you’ll have a great time! Do you feel really excited to know that you’re gonna be playing with some really high profile bands
Chris – Oh yeah, definitely!
Rory – I saw a great quote that The Automatic said – it was something like the small bands are the ones who are up themselves and the big bands are the ones who are always down to earth, and its so true.
Mystery bloke – Alexisonfire make you get a tattoo every night!
Emma – ah were you there for the Yeti?!!
Mystery bloke – I’m scared of the Yeti!! Rou’s gonna get a Yeti tattooed!
Emma – If you could choose any band to tour with, who would you choose and why?
Chris – that’s a tough one…
Rou – Prodigy
Chris- any band in history?
Emma – Yeah
Rob – Mozart!
Chris – Yeah he’d be fun!
Rob – Can you imagine playing to that sort of crowd!
Emma – What are you listening to at the moment on the tour bus?
Rory – Comeback Kid, he’s getting played a lot in the van
Emma – You must spend a lot of time listening to stuff in the van
Roughton – Yeah, we listen to mix compilations!
Emma –I would like to talk about this year’s Download festival – that was quite a big thing for you guys to pay, and the tent was packed fit to burst! Did you expect that?
Roughton – We didn’t expect that many people to be watching, the tent was overflowing – looking out from the stage there were just heads as far as you could see
Rory – and that was before we’d had any press at all!
Emma – Did you meet or check out other bands there and make the most of your backstage passes?
Chris – yeah, we were sitting next to the guys from Billy Talent, and we’re gonna be doing a lot more of that!
Rory – I had a picture with Nick Oliveri
Chris- I got a picture with one of the rangers from Starwars…
Rory – Sick Of It All were my highlight, but it meant I had to miss the Prodigy
Rob – Prodigy were my highlight
Emma – Do you plan to play any festivals next year?
Chris – All of them!
Rory – Hopefully we’ll get to play Download, Reading and Leeds, and T in the Park.
Emma – Describe Enter Shikari in one sentence
Chris – Good!
Emma – you can do better than that
Rory – An organised riot!
Rob – …of gargantuous proportions!
Emma – What would you like people to gain from your music?
Rob – To open people’s eyes – like for people that are solidly into rock music hopefully they’ll start thinking that maybe dance music isn’t so bad and vice versa. Making bridges!
Roughton – I think without realising we’re becoming quite environmentally friendly, so maybe that’ll be something we expand on.
Emma – Well that’s all, unless you have anything you would like to add?
Chris – The album comes out in March, buy it please!
Rory – Download it
Rory – Give us money!
We thanked the guys for a great interview and then made our way downstairs to a packed out room to watch the gig. Enter Shikari have received a whole lot of praise over recent months but they have worked so hard and deserve every word of it. The gig was mind-opening and was one of the best performances I have ever seen. Shikari kicked the shit out of so many other live performances I have seen and loved before and there is no doubt in my mind that they are going to blow a lot of those bands out of the water in 2007 – so watch out!