All posts by Ruby Price

An Interview with Chris Batten of Enter Shikari

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The music video for your single The Sights just came out. What was it like being the first band to perform in space?

[laughs] It was an experience, definitely. It was a really, really fun video to make. We got on really well with the director, we’d met before because there’s a fair bit of comedy in this video but we were a bit nervous that it would come across in the wrong way. I think after we’d met face to face we were very confident that it was going to come across well. So once that had happened, it was just really exciting and really good fun.

Was it the idea of the band or something the director suggested?

It was the director’s idea for the video to be set in space and then to kind of get worse and worse as it goes on and turn into a bit of a disaster. Yeah, it was really easy and one that jumped off the pages as we were reading it. For us it was just making sure that the comedy was going to be done in a way that we would have wanted it to be done.

It’s taken from your latest album, The Spark. Tell me about the album.

Well it’s a few weeks old now. It took us about eight or nine months from start to finish (write, demo, record) and really, the album is a big step for us. It’s our fifth full-length album and it’s probably the largest progression we’ve made as a band really. A lot of people are saying it’s not as heavy and it’s a lot more focused on structure and melody and really, we just wanted to focus on being able to write the best songs that we could.

The lead single Live Outside kind of set the tone as an album that wouldn’t be as heavy as your past discography. Was this what you set out for when writing?

Obviously, we never said ‘there’s not gonna be any guitars or no heavy parts or anything’. With the previous record, we’ve always gone into the studio and we’ve never known what was going to come out until we’d actually been in and experimented on the records. This record, we had a lot clearer idea of what we wanted it to be and that was simpler structures. We used to feel pressure in terms of trying to be the craziest band or the heaviest band or the most diverse band and we’d try and fit everything onto one album while with this record there’s still a lot of diversity on and we wanted it to be simpler and a bit more focused, so that was really our main objective.

Enter Shikari have the Shikari Family Facebook group for your listeners to interact with each other outside of a concert situation. Do you ever just find yourself looking through and seeing how they get on?

Yeah occasionally. Our fans are very vocal with us on social media, quite often we get tweets from them pointing out things that need our attention. So, it’s really nice to be involved and it’s amazing that this community is built off the back of people having a shared interest in music.

Do you think other bands would profit from having a place for people to interact?

Yeah, I think most bands would. It’s not so much for the bands really, it’s more for the people who like the music and so they can find like-minded people who they can start friendships with and yeah, I think it’s a valuable asset to have.

Over the summer, Rou launched something of a twitter tirade against Taylor Swift’s Verified Fan service calling it sickening and exploitative. Does it shock you that this was conceived as a legitimate method of battling touts and bots?

Yeah, yeah it did. I’ve forgotten the finer details of it but it seemed pretty preposterous to us all in all.

It was something of a throwback to the same argument against paid VIP experiences you made in 2014?

Again, that’s something that we’re totally, totally against. For us, it’s just a way to flog your fans that you’re supposed to be caring for and looking after because they’re the ones that really nurture the band. We shouldn’t be fleecing them and charging for meet and greets, setting up different tiers which is essentially just a rip-off.

You’ve got a tour coming up, in celebration of the spark. Tell me about what we can expect?

Well for the last two months, this tour has been our primary focus so we have been busy creating. Most of the shows are in arenas so we have got no real restraints on what we can do production-wise. We’ve been working a lot on the lighting and the themes that are gonna be running through the show, which is some very exciting stuff. We’re mixing the show in quadrophonic which is essentially a surround sound. We’ve just been working on lots of cool creative ways we can make an impact and give people a show that we wouldn’t normally be able to give them.

The first person we ever saw to use the quadrophonic sound system was Roger Walters at a festival called Coachella and we were just blown away, and since that day – and that was a long time ago now probably over ten years ago that we saw that – since that day, we’ve always wanted to do it. It’s taken us a while to get to where we can so we’ve been really focusing on that, should make the show really exciting.

Take My Country Back is probably the most overtly political song on the album. When I heard it, I was thinking Brexit and Trump? Were these the original influencers to the song writing?

Yeah definitely. Definitely Brexit, definitely Trump. The line ‘I don’t want to take my country back I want to take my country forwards’. That was the first lyric to go in that song. And that song is, on the record, probably most similar to our previous work. It’s probably the most aggressive song on the record so the lyrics really needed to be something poignant. It’s really focussed on hate-mongering and around the time there became a big influx about refugees and immigration, so really, it’s just in answer to that.

It’s a year since he was elected, do you think he’s gonna last the full term?

I don’t know [laughs]. I mean, I hope not but I don’t see anything happening that’s immediately going to change things. We can only hope.

Supercharge, your collaboration with Big Narstie came out shortly before the Spark. Was this meant to be a crossover point between The Mindsweep and your most recent album?

Not really. Not consciously anyway. We’d had that song, or versions of that song we’d been working on, for probably a year before we actually managed to get Narstie into the studio with us. It was something that didn’t quite fit with what we were doing at the time and wouldn’t fit on the record so we kind of kept it in our back pocket because it was definitely more grime than our previous stuff. We felt it was worth nurturing and waiting for the right person and the right thing to come along, which it did in Big Narstie.

We’re starting to get a few festival announcements for 2018. You guys headlined Slam Dunk this year, might we be getting any surprises for next year?

Our main focus at the moment is this tour so I think once we get that out of the way, we can hopefully focus on some festival appearances. Unfortunately, nothing to report at the moment.

Obviously, the Spark making the top 5 of the UK charts will have brought in quite a few new fans who haven’t heard your back catalogue, what would you say to these people?

Welcome essentially. If you’ve just heard the Spark, there’s a lot of our previous work that is worth checking out but really, I think they’ve come and joined us at an exciting time. The Spark marks a change in the way we write music and the way we want to put ourselves across and I think it’s a very exciting time to join.

 

Enter Shikari are currently on a UK tour with Lower Than Atlantis and Astroid Boys and you can get tickets here

Stray Weather – Ever Endeavour Review

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When even the press release is unsure of how to describe the Leeds-based, four-piece Stray Weather, how am I supposed to describe their second EP, Ever Endeavour? Am I supposed to use ‘alternative alternative’ or ‘electopock’? I think it’s fair to say that Stray Weather are eclectic enough to defy description and it’s reflected in the four tracks found on Ever Endeavour.

Starting the EP is the lead single Oh Reflection. Built around a developing motif and the repeated phrase “oh reflection”, the song just builds and builds until lead vocalist Mikey Brown can only scream the words. It’s simple but powerful. It’s followed by What Would Your Mother Say? A fast paced, EDM barrage of questions over heavy instrumentation that somewhat reflects the nature of the lyrics Brown raps. It’s a hard hitting masterpiece broken up by moments of contrasting silence that emphasise the weight of the lyrics.

Fairytales slows things down with a piano melody and a sampled female vocal that screams “nothing between us” and touches on unrealistic expectations with mention of fairytale clichés – “I will seal our love forever with an enchanted magical ring” being a personal highlight.

There is a noticeable difference between Ever Endeavour and Stray Weather’s debut EP, Tragedy and it’s mostly signified by the way the lyrics and instrumentation appear to flow in tandem on the new release – explained by Tragedy being written when Stray Weather was a solo project conducted by Brown. There’s a more personable note to the lyrics that show a vulnerability whilst also offering a hand to those in need with the “I’m here and I’ll always listen” lines in the chorus to the final track, You’re Not Alone.

Listening to this EP just once isn’t enough to satisfy your mind so it’s a good job that it’s worth listening to all over again.

★★★★☆

 

Stream Ever Endeavour on Spotify
Purchase Ever Endeavour on iTunes

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