Enter Shikari’s Rou Reynolds: “It feels like picking one of your limbs over another”

This coming January will see St Albans genreless quartet Enter Shikari release their hotly anticipated 4th album, The Mindsweep. Ahead of its release and in the midst of a busy rehearsal period we managed to speak with vocalist Rou about the new album, playing it live and what some of its running themes are. Read on for more.

Your 4th album The Mindsweep is due for release in January, almost 3 years to the day that A Flash Flood of Colour was released. What was the idea behind The Mindsweep and how did it come to be the album it is now?
Like everything we do, we didn’t have some preconceived idea or organised vision of what this new album would be. I simply began writing music at the beginning of 2014 and after the initial familiar burst of anxiety over the daunting thought of creating another album, things began to take shape.

And were there many songs that didn’t make the cut?
Before heading into the studio we had to whittle down the songs dramatically. At one point we were working on about 50 sessions. One of the hardest and most emotional points in the whole album making process was picking the tracks that would make it. It literally feels like picking one of your limbs over another.

Some of the song titles have got quite clear references to science & health, something we’d not heard from you before. What are some of the main concepts behind the album?
The importance of the scientific method being employed in all areas of life is a main theme. For too long our society, our institutions and our behaviours have been left without analysis or criticism purely because they are ‘traditional’, thought of as immutable, or protected by those who profit from them. It’s becoming clear that capitalism is not conducive to maximising human wellbeing and environmental sustainability as profit is to be made to the detriment of both. This is one of the running themes.

Stylistically you’ve said that the album features some of the lightest music you’ve ever made, as well as some of the heaviest. Was it at all a conscious decision beforehand to make specific types of songs in the studio?
The first few months of 2014 was just pure freedom, creating all sorts of tracks, with all sorts of instruments, conveying a huge variety of emotions. By the time we got into the studio the only conscious decision to be made was picking the final set of songs. There was definitely a concerted effort to make sure we had diversity in dynamics, emotion and instrumentation.

I’d just like to focus on one song in particular for now, Anaesthetist. What is the story behind this song?
It’s a beat I had written for a while that we developed in the studio, it’s one of the only tracks that wasn’t completely ready to go but we had faith in it so it made the final cut, just! It’s one of the most vehemently delivered tracks on the album about the current climate of privatisation, specifically of healthcare services. I went to my first protest march at the age of 10 to protest the closure of a local hospital, the disbelief I felt then is still strong, but now it’s coupled with anger as I know the sordid reasoning.

You recently tweeted that you’d be writing an essay to accompany each song. What can we expect from these essays and why did you decide to do this?
I think it’s something I would appreciate as a fan; to be led through the tracks with the explanations and reasons behind the lyrics. One thing that’s happened with modern music is audiences learn the lyrics of their favourite songs but they have no idea of the concepts or meanings behind them (granted, often with pop there isn’t any, or worse, they’re soulless and banal). This literature is for anyone with interest in singing the lyrics with the same understanding and therefore the same fervent emotion as I deliver them with.

You kick off your UK/Euro tour in January, and currently you’re rehearsing for those shows. How are the rehearsals going, and what can we expect from the live shows?
Rehearsals are going well, thanks! It’s mainly programming at the moment, so a lot of staring at screens and playing with cables; all rather mundane. But really looking forward to be playing through the tracks for the first time live all together next week! We’re also working on new lighting and production for the upcoming tours so our show will have a completely new look.

You guys have toured relentlessly throughout your careers, and you recently did an extensive tour of Central Europe. What have been your 5 favourite cities to play in throughout your career?
We played Athens recently, that’s a city I’ve always wanted to visit as I’m a lover of Ancient Greece! Tokyo is definitely up there as it’s totally mad in a beautifully effervescent way and just so different from anywhere else we’ve been. I’m a big fan of Scotland in general as I used to live there so love playing anywhere there. I love the liberal feel of the US west coast in general and specifically San Diego, helps that the weather is always lovely too of course! We’ve only been to Auckland, New Zealand twice and it’s always been a flying visit but the ocean scenery is incredible there and everyone tells us that’s the worst place to see, so would love to see more of the country!

Enter Shikari fans are very dedicated, have you had any weird/scary fan experiences in the past?
Not really, we’re incredibly lucky to have such enthusiastic fans and they’re all really safe and just treat us like mates really!

The Mindsweep is released on January 19 via Ambush Reality.