Enter Shikari Discuss Their Growth and the End of an Era with ‘Dancing On The Frontlines’

Enter Shikari Discuss Their Growth and the End of an Era with ‘Dancing On The Frontlines’

- By Creative Team

Frontman Rou Reynolds details the band’s never-ending drive for evolution, and how companion record Dancing On The Frontlines marks the end of an era.

Photo by  Paul Harries / Words by Maddy Howell

Defined by their evolution and their fearless crossing of sonic boundaries, for over two decades Enter Shikari have existed entirely in a league of their own.

A band founded on - and guided by - a remarkably pure community spirit, their marriage of punk, hardcore, trance, metal, and countless other eclectic sounds has long separated them from their peers. Music created by the outsiders for the outsiders, they’ll be the first to admit that they haven’t made it easy for themselves to conquer the airwaves. However, over the last two decades – they’ve done just that.

Scoring their first ever UK number one record with 2023’s A Kiss For The Whole World, the English band are riding the gnarliest wave of their lives right now. A devoted fanbase cheering on their every move, they’ve become the heroes of the underdogs, championing independence, solidarity, and togetherness with each step.

Celebrating the release of a companion record to their 2023 triumph with the recently delivered Dancing On The Frontlines, Rou Reynolds discusses the band’s journey to the top, his love of genre-smashing chaos, and how keeping things fresh has allowed Shikari to thrive over the last two decades.


Dancing On The Frontlines is a companion record to 2023’s A Kiss For The Whole World, which was your first number one album in the UK. How did it feel to finally hit that milestone?

Reynolds - “We've had a couple of number two albums, but to finally get that top spot was great. For a lot of our career, we've felt like underdogs. Every little bit of validation we get is like, ‘Oh, okay, we are a real band’. In the alternative world, I think everyone has felt that way at some point, because we’re often not taken seriously by the mainstream.

During the first four years of our existence, we were completely outside of the music industry, so we've always felt like we're in an uphill battle. We don't make it easy for ourselves though because our music is incredibly diverse and all over the place. Today, branding is the most important thing. You need a solid, consistent look, and that's the only way you seem to be able to break the ceiling, especially if you’re a newer band.”

Where did the idea to release a companion record come from, then?

Reynolds - “We did a live BBC session that we were happy with, and we thought that it needed its own place. I had also done the two remixes, which we were just going to play live to keep things fresh and interesting. When we listened back though, they were great, so we wanted to release them properly. It’s an album made up of disparate things we had lying around, alongside the singles that we released before and after the album, and it’s a way to mark the end of this era.”

It’s been a while since you’ve had the time to do much with Shikari Sound System, so what was it like to step back into those shoes for the remixes? 

Reynolds - “It was great because we haven't done anything with Sound System since COVID. We're passionate about dance music, and it’s a big inspiration for us, so to be able to focus on that side of our breadth is awesome. Hopefully we'll be able to do some DJ sets at some point soon because I love the remixes. They're fun to make, and they go down so well live. The cheer when we drop into it is amazing.”

Why were ‘Goldfish’ and ‘Bloodshot’ the prime candidates for remixes this time around?

Reynolds - “Often when I'm writing, we'll have a kind of central idea and then I’ll go off in various directions, which will all be saved. For the ‘Goldfish’ remix, the sketches of the remix were there when I was making the original song. As the songwriter and the producer, I'd heard ‘Goldfish’ a million times, so you're not only more attached to the tracks, but you’re also a little fatigued by them. It’s nice to let them have some space and then come back to it a year later because you feel a renewed zest about it. That song and ‘Bloodshot’ were the two most rowdy songs on the record, and the two most dancefloor based. They were clear Shikari Sound System tracks.”

You’ve been playing the reworked version of ‘Goldfish’ at your live shows already… Are you ever surprised by how readily fans take to remixes?

Reynolds - “You have to get the balance right, and the prime example of this is what we do with ‘Sorry You’re Not A Winner’. At the moment, we're playing half of the original version and half of our remix with Pendulum. People want the raw nostalgia of hearing the original track, but then we give them the remix for an extra layer of energy. Going back to ‘Goldfish’, it's also about the way you craft it. We play most of ‘Goldfish’, and you know something's coming because we speed up the chorus, but it comes out of nowhere. It’s about the subtle building of suspense and then the release that comes after it.”



Is it refreshing to know that this far into your career you still have those opportunities to shake up your live show?

Reynolds - “We're eternally grateful that we're able to be fidgety and constantly edit things. We're lucky that we've become known for doing that, and I think that comes from the bold step that we took with our second album. We made sure that it didn't sound much like our first album, and it was quite a leap forward. From that point onwards, people realised that we weren’t the type of band that releases the same album repeatedly.

We’re not aiming for consistency, which most people think is the goal for commercial art. People expect something different from us, and that keeps it interesting. We're doing new things all the time, so nothing feels sour, and nothing gets tired. That's what a music fan wants. They don't want a band that looks like they're just going through the motions, and that will never be the case with us.”

Collaboration is also a big part of this release, with the likes of Wargasm, Jason Butler, and AViVA featuring on some cuts that didn’t make the original album. When it comes to choosing who to work with and which creative minds will slot best into Shikari’s vision, how do those decisions take place?

Reynolds - “It's mostly friends. I've done writing outside of Shikari, where you're put in a room with strangers and expected to come out with a track six hours later. That’s terrifying, because it's not how I write at all. When it comes to Shikari, it needs to feel like there's a human connection on the track. Because of that, I'd only consider collaborating with people that I already know. It’s an instinctual thing, which is the case with a lot of the stuff we do. I’ll be writing a track, and I’ll start hearing a melody or a phrasing in someone else's voice. That's what happened with Wargasm, and it was probably because we saw them at the Download pilot event. Their vocal styles were probably somewhere in my subconscious, and I just started hearing the track in their voices. That’s often how it works, and we’re happy with the way those three tracks turned out.”

How important is the spirit of collaboration to Shikari?

Reynolds - “Interestingly enough, when it comes to the songwriting, it's always just me. I'm not the most confident person, so I need the others to be involved, but the initial ideas have always been me. Eventually I take it to the others where we push aside the stuff that no one thinks is any good and leap on the stuff that's exciting us. We develop tracks together, which is great because we all have our strengths, and we know those now.

I hadn't written music with anyone outside of Shikari before 2019, and that's when I started trying to push myself out of my comfort zone and get some experience there. Doing that gave me the confidence to seek out collaboration within Shikari as well, which I never did before. Sometimes it's scary enough just presenting ideas to the boys, so working with others hadn’t even crossed my mind. When it comes to alternative music, it’s often incredibly emotional, and the process is deep and instinctual. You’re letting people into your deepest emotions and thoughts if you're writing with someone, so it can be terrifying.”



The album also comes with recordings of two Shikari live shows. As a band who have been changing and evolving their live sound for over two decades now, do you think this is the finest form you’ve ever been in?

Reynolds - “Definitely, and we’ve only gotten better because we care. There was a period around The Mindsweep where we struggled with various things and our mental health wasn't great, so there was perhaps a dip around then, but in general it's just been an ascent. We've all improved as musicians, we've improved as performers, and our sort of self-esteem and confidence is better and broader.

We don't just get all our self-worth from the band now, which is a healthy thing. We work so well together. Rory [Clewlow, guitar] is now doing pretty much all our onstage visuals, I work with our lighting designer to do all the lighting, and Chris [Batten, bass] oversees all the audio onstage. It’s such a tight unit, and we're constantly involving each other in every aspect of it. The last arena tour we did was something that we were so proud of, and we’re doing things that no one else in our circle is doing.”

Being so far into this, and having grown not only alongside your bandmates but alongside your fanbase, what keeps you motivated to continue evolving this project?

Reynolds - “The motivations have never changed. We’ve never bought into the rat race that we need to get bigger, we need more fans, and we need to get a number one. Often artists can fall into that trap, and it’s a natural human thing to seek out success and validation. We've always managed to focus on the heart of what we're doing, rather than the exterior of it. It’s about achieving a sense of human connection, and building a space where it feels safe, unifying, and creative. It’s about people feeling emotions together and embracing vulnerability, whilst also feeling safe and bonded with one another. If we've achieved that, we've achieved our aim, and that hasn't changed.

We've only ever wanted to make music that's dynamic and passionate, and now we have a formula for that, even though there's an immense breadth within that formula. We've got this ability and allowance to write music of such a great breadth, and therefore we can write music that reflects life in all its variety. Writing music is the one thing I enjoy more than anything else, and doing it in the way that we do means that love never dwindles or fades.”


Dancing On the Frontline, the companion release to A Kiss For The Whole World is now available via SO Recordings. Get the album - HERE

Be sure to catch Enter Shiakri for the band's live in-store performance at Banquet Records in Kingston Upon Thames this week. in addition, the band will make a handful of remaining festival appearances like Pukkelpop in Belgium before taking on their North American tour this fall You Me At Six and Yours Truly.
See dates and cities below. Get tickets - HERE

Enter Shikari North American Tour Dates
10/9/24 - Dallas, TX, South Side Music Hall
10/10/24 - Austin, TX, Empire Garage
10/12/24 - Houston, TX, Warehouse live Midtown

10/16/24 - Washington, DC, Howard Theater

10/17/24 - Philadelphia, PA, Union Transfer
10/18/24 - Boston, MA, Paradise Rock Club
10/19/24 - New York, NY, Palladium
10/21/24 - Montreal, QC, Théâtre Beanfield

10/23/24 - Toronto, ON, Danforth Music Hall

10/24/24 - Chicago, IL, Metro
10/25/24 - Minneapolis, MN, First Ave
10/26/24 - Davenport, IA, Capitol Theatre
10/27/24 - St Louis, MO, Red Flag
10/29/24 - Denver, CO, Gothic Theater
10/30/24 - Salt Lake City, UT, The Complex
11/1/24 - Spokane, WA, Knitting Factory
11/2/24 - Vancouver, BC, Commodore Ballroom

11/3/24 - Portland, OR, Wonder Ballroom
11/4/24 - Seattle, WA, Showbox
11/6/24 - Sacramento, CA, Ace of Spades
11/7/24 - San Francisco, CA, August Hall
11/8/24 - San Diego, CA, House of Blues
11/9/24 - Los Angeles, CA, The Belasco

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