POST-hardcore fourpiece Enter Shikari are renowned for the intensity and energy of their live shows.
The band return to the Midlands during December fresh from receiving a gong at the AIM independent music awards for their third album, A Flash Flood of colour.
Drummer Rob Rolfe, languishing, due to visa complications, in his native St Albans as his bandmates tour the United States, spoke to Mail reporter TIM FLETCHER.
ENTER Shikari entered the belly of the beast — and they didn’t like what they saw.
The Hertfordshire four-piece, who release material through their own Ambush Reality label, ditched their distribution deal with entertainment behemoth Warner Music before releasing last album A Flash Flood Of Colour, finding the corporate shenanigans not to their taste.
“We’re glad we did it just so we can say we definitely don’t want to do it that way,” drummer Rob Rolfe tells the Mail.
“You can’t hate something until you’ve actually experienced it.
“It’s just the bureaucracy of it. It’s a big machine which churns everything out in the same way and it’s difficult to get anything done without it being okayed by about five different people.
“The final person always seems to be the accountant and the answer always seems to be ‘no’.
“Now, we’ve got so much more control and if we decide we want to do a music video we can just do it, instead of having to get permission from everyone else.”
The independent approach paid dividends as the album stormed to number four in the UK charts on its release at the start of the year, and has just earned the best independent album gong at the AIM independent music awards.
“The reaction to the album was better than any of us could have expected or hoped for,” says Rolfe. “We’ve got an extremely loyal fanbase who have always been fantastic to us.
“With our music you never know how it’s going to go down live but as soon as we started playing all the new songs at gigs it really kicked off and there was a real excitement and intensity in the audience.”
The band are currently touring the United States but Rolfe was speaking to the Mail from his gaff in the band’s native St Albans, the US immigration service having taken exception to his having been arrested for some minor misdemeanours some years ago.
“I’m disappointed to miss it and it’s a horrible thing to see the rest of the band go out on a big tour,” he says.
“It feels like missing out on a huge part of my life, but then America is the most difficult country to tour, so every cloud has a silver lining.
“The drives are horrendously long and venues can be quite uncomfortable. They often don’t have showers so you’re just sleeping in all your sweat from the gig.
“Having said that, there are some amazing people and amazing bands in America and they can be some of the best times you can have touring.”
Travelling distances and lack of washing facilities aside, what cultural differences has Rolfe noticed while touring the globe?
“A lot of European countries are very similar to America, which is very similar to Australia, but the place that really stands out is Japan,” he says.
“There, they go absolutely nuts during the songs but then inbetween songs you get this respectful silence and they listen really intently if you have anything to say.
“We don’t speak a word of Japanese and they often don’t speak much English so it can be a bit awkward at times.”
The band’s forthcoming December UK tour, which calls at Nottingham and Birmingham, will coincide with the release of a new live album, Live In London W6, Bootleg Series Vol 4, recorded at the famed Hammersmith Apollo.
The album, released as a vinyl LP (ask your dad) and as a download and DVD, aims to capture some of the mayhem of the band’s riotous live shows for posterity.
“We’ve always been a live band and we were touring for about three years before we ever recorded anything,” says Rolfe.
“We’ve always tried to recreate that intensity which you get in our live shows for something people can take away and keep with them for a while, as opposed to it being a one-night thing.”
So what should Midlands gig-goers expect from the Enter Shikari live experience?
“A lot of the time we don’t know what to expect ourselves,” says Rolfe. “Usually it’s very intense, loud and sweaty. It’s kind of impossible to go to an Enter Shikari gig and not get involved somehow.
“There’s a lot of crowd-surfing and a lot of dancing. We go out there to have fun and the audience have fun with us.”
Enter Shikari appear at Nottingham Rock City on Wednesday, December 12 and Birmingham HMV Institute on Friday, December 14 and Saturday, December 15.
Tickets are available online at www.entershikari.com/shows and via the usual agents.