Enter Shikari talk new album A Kiss for the Whole World and sold-out intimate residency tour
By Maddy Oxley
Enter Shikari have never been afraid to push the boundaries of what it means to be a rock band. They often combining elements of both rock and electronic music, and make it into something distinctly recognisable that can only be Enter Shikari. Now about to release their seventh studio album, and with over two decades as a band, there’s little sign of them running out of steam. I had the privilege of chatting to Enter Shikari’s Chris (bassist) and Rory (guitarist) about the new album and residency tour when they stopped off at Manchester’s New Century Hall on the March leg of shows.
When asked how the band approached the recording of the new album, Chris tells me, “This one was very different, the album before (Nothing is True) was the first time Rou (lead vocalist) took the lead into producing. We took away the comfort of having someone else at the helm. That worked so well, and we gained a lot of confidence doing that, and so this time round we took it even further.”
Abandoning the need for a studio altogether, Enter Shikari moved into an Airbnb, along with a friend who helped engineer the previous record. “We took a load of our own equipment, and just built our own studio”, Chris continues. “We were completely cut away from everything, we set up for three weeks and tracked the whole record”. Chris explains that the band did most of the song writing at Rou’s house beforehand, and moved onto recording when around twenty potential songs had been written.
When it comes to individual tracks that the band are most looking forward to fans hearing, Chris found it hard to pick. “There are so many different parts of certain songs that I’m so excited for people to hear. The production in ‘goldfish ∼’ though, as well as a song called ‘Dead Wood’ which sounds like nothing we’ve ever done before.” Rory adds on, “I’m really excited for (opening track) ‘A Kiss For The Whole World x’, it’s just super positive, which I think people need”.
On whether the album follows a running theme, Chris says “Every song is about something different, but generally, it is musically quite positive, there’s just no overarching concept to the album. We have just released ‘Bloodshot’ though which is probably one of the least positive!”. Nodding to the fact that the band aren’t shy to create politically-driven music, Chris continues “Rou’s always written about those large subjects, ones that anyone can relate to. It’s always been about uniting people”.
It’s truly impressive that Enter Shikari are still managing to be so original, and have such a clear drive to unite their audiences this far into their career, which is only proved further with their current residency shows. Doing shows in this way is unprecedented. The band are playing a show in London, Manchester, Wolverhampton, Bristol, and Glasgow every month for February, March, and April, with completely different setlists and support each month.
On the decision to tour in this unique way, Chris said, “I think it’s just fun to try and do stuff that feels different. It’s a challenge for us as well as we’ll be switching up the setlist each time, as well as turning around three different shows in relatively short time. It’s also exciting as as each month comes around, there’ll be a new single out that can be the excitement of that show”. Rory adds, “It’s fun as well as at the beginning of the tour each month, we know what to expect, as we did it before. It feels a bit more like a normal job that you’d go to every day!”.
When it comes to the difficulty of choosing setlists with such a wide discography, Rory said, “We’ve made 30 or so singles over the years so we try and pick a load of them, and then just throw in a few curveballs. We also try to have a point in the set where it chills out a little bit.” Chris adds, “There’s a lot we have to think about, we try and make sure we’ve got at least a song or two from each record, which is proving harder and harder as time goes on. Equally, you also want to give the new songs the time they deserve.” Rory admits that “sometimes it’s really difficult trying to choose, its just been like “that’ll have to do”, there’s too much to think about and at the end of the day you’ve got to make a decision.”
On whether Enter Shikari thought about playing any unreleased album tracks, in addition to the new singles, Chris said, “I don’t think we really thought about it. It’s that dilemma of what would you rather people hear first? The proper studio version that you’ve worked on, or do you want them to hear an uploaded phone video on YouTube?” “In the past we have released songs in that way though, I think ‘Stop the Clocks’ we played before ever releasing the studio version. But this time, because of the way the shows are organised, we’re releasing a new single in between them anyway, so it makes sense to just play them.”
To conclude the interview, Chris and Rory tell me about their most memorable Manchester gigs. “I remember one from the early days, at Satan’s Hollow, I got hit in the head with a pint glass”, Chris says. “It didn’t smash though!”, Rory adds. I, for one, am shocked to hear that once upon a time they trusted people enough to give them actual glasses in Satan’s. “We used to do a lot of shows at (now demolished) Sound Control, and they were great”, Chris says. He adds “Satan’s Hollow was the first place we ever played in Manchester, and then we started making a bit of a name for ourselves, and did about three or four gigs at Sound Control, they were always pretty manic.”
Photo: Enter Shikari ‘A Kiss for the Whole World’ Official Album Art
Enter Shikari continue their residency tour with the third and final Manchester date at New Century Hall on the April 14.
‘A Kiss for the Whole World’ releases April 21.