The Leeds Scenester

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The Hot Seat

Backstage at the Leeds Festival, Anouska Semp from The Leeds Scenester caught up with Rou Reynolds and Rory Clewlow from Enter Shikari for a pre-show chat.

So then lads, what does a day in the life of Enter Shikari at Leeds look like?

Rou: Well, today we’ve just been rushed in. We were in Sheffield yesterday doing a rehearsal/production thing. We drove in this morning, got a bit wet, walked round a little, and did a signing. That was fun – it’s always good to meet the kids that are into your band. And then, yeah, came here. After the show we’ll watch a few bands.

So, do you actually get out and about amongst the crowds? You don’t just stick to side stage?!

Rou: No no, there’s this kind of misconception that back stage is really cool, with lots going, on but it’s actually quite boring. You know, we end up just going out there and getting pissed!
Rory:  I remember when I used to come to festivals I used to imagine that back stage there were swimming pools, free bars, all the bands were having a massive party all together and it was the best thing ever! But, it’s just like little portakabins and everyone just sits on their MacBook Airs!

It’s your third time playing the Leeds Festival. What’s so special about it?
Rory: Festivals just have more of a fun vibe you know – there are so many people here and everyone’s really excited...

Enter Shikari

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Photography by Lee Hamilton-Cooper

...I dunno, it’s just a cool place. Everyone lowers their standards of hygiene when they come to a festival – it’s kinda just like if you’re a punter at a festival or a punter at a gig, there’s a big difference and it’s kinda the same for bands. It’s just a lot of fun at festivals we find!

The last time we saw you, you were supporting The Prodigy at the Warriors Dance Festival in Milton Keynes…
Rory: Yeah, yeah, that was fun!

Yeah, you bounded onto that stage and unleashed chaos! The crowd went nuts! What can we expect from your set today?
Rou: We’ve had a few new songs since then – we’re gonna play a bit of old, a bit of new, and we’ve got a few new live remixes too.

You referred to the “kids” earlier – are these your typical fans? Do you generally get quite a young frenzied crowd?
Rou: It’s pretty varied to be fair - we get all ages really, and from all walks of life as well. I guess it’s ‘cos our music combines a lot of different genres.

Who are you looking forward to seeing this weekend at Leeds and Reading?
Rory: There’s pretty much only one band we really want to see after the set today which is The Streets. Your Demise are playing as we speak so we might run and catch a bit of them after. But yeah, Muse and Tim Minchin too.

So are you sticking around in Leeds tomorrow then?
Rou: No, I’m gonna head back tonight I think.
Rory: My family and girlfriend are staying at Reading so I’m gonna go join them tomorrow and camp there with them. Hopefully I’ll sleep well so I’m not too tired on stage on Sunday!

All this touring must play havoc with your personal life – do you ever actually find the time to have a social life?!
Rory:  Not as much as my girlfriend would like! It is kinda hard, but we basically spend about half the year touring and then take a bit of time off to do a bit of writing, or go into the studio to record a single or an album, so you do get those long periods where you’re off. There’s loads of stuff about touring that I love, but it can be for up to ten months on the go!

You’re pretty prolific giggers – you’ve just done America and are on the brink of a European and UK tour. Is this to coincide with the launch of your third live album, Live From Planet Earth? What’s happening with this album by the way – I’d heard that the distribution has been affected by the London riots?

Rou: Yeah, the storage facility got burnt down so a load of our live albums were burnt. But yeah, we’re not releasing our next studio album until January so we’ll be touring for another year and half yet!!

Like the BBC Introducing Stage, the Leeds Scenester tries to give a platform to talented up-and-coming artists. Can you guys remember the day it dawned on you that you’d made it pretty big? Did you have a moment where it was, like, wow?!

Rory: It’s kind of like when you walk up a mountain and you think you can see the top, and then you get to that point and you realise you’re not actually at the top! I’ve never really had that moment where I think now I’ve made it really big. I dunno, it never really feels like it. It’s weird!
Rou:  You’re just so involved in it, you’re moving so slowly, so gradually, there aren’t really any big steps.

You’ve had a little dabble with the big record labels, but have stuck to your own Ambush Reality label and remained 100% independent. Is it important to you to retain complete control over your creative direction?
Rou: For the second album we had someone do the marketing and distribution from, erm … Atlantic!! We got rid of them pretty quickly – it just wasn’t working. Yeah, I dunno, it’s just the way it works for us – everyone’s different - we play music that is not easy to work with, and we’ve just been lucky to build up a family from our stage crew, our management and people we trust, so it just works. There you go!

Do you have any advice for up and coming artists who might be finding it tough to get the recognition they feel they deserve?
Rory: For us, music was just a hobby and it just grew and grew and grew… and now it’s our career! Wow, it’s pretty strange!

Yeah, it must be pretty awesome to be doing what you love for a living!?
Rory: yeah yeah yeah!
Rou: It’s different for different bands - some guys will just strive to be really big and that’s it.
Rory: I would say, like, it’s all about the balance - if you really really wanna be big and you don’t really care that much about the music, then that’s not really gonna help you out and get you where you wanna go. As long as you just remember the fact that you’re in it for the music, that the music should be what you focus on, and that you continue to love playing the music. Everyone wants to get more fans, but as long as you don’t let that overshadow the most important thing which is playing music that YOU love.

You use lyrics from your latest track ‘Quelle Surprise’ as a tag on your website, and I understand that they’ll also feature as the backdrop to your set today - “If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything”. Are these lyrics meant as a political comment?
Rou: Yeah, I guess just a comment on modern society really. People are just sort of fed everything, and not very conscious of what’s going on around them. We write about society and I don’t personally believe in politics whatsoever. I think politics is completely obsolete. I mean politicians - what exactly do they know? Do they know how to solve world hunger? Do they know all the technological things that need to be done to improve society? They don’t really know anything; they just bicker about budgets. We as a band endorse a resource-based economy as well – I think that money is the root cause of all the problems in society, so yeah we get into that!

It’s been great chatting to you, and we’ll be heading up to the main stage in a few minutes to catch your performance. Before we do, one last question – does Britain have talent?
Rou: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Well, yeah, I guess there’s a huge amount of all sorts of varied talent! We have some great music and great artists.

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