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Enter Shikari's Rob Rolfe: An Exclusive Interview

Written by: Laura Chan

Britain’s boldest, most boundary-pushing band of this generation are back and ever-ready to set heads turning with fourth album, The Mindsweep (set for UK release January 19).

Self-dubbed ‘neuropunk’, ENTER SHIKARI offer aggressive yet rebelliously liberal tunes backed up by intellectual and socially conscious lyrics. It’s a vague term for any act as ever-changing as they are, so PULP gets drummer Rob Rolfe to shed some light on the much-awaited release.

A Flash Flood Of Colour had a lot of political themes, whereas The Mindsweep seems to focus on the concepts of health and science. Can you tell us more about the underlying ideas behind this album?

There are a lot of things wrong with the world and as much as it`s very important to identify them it is also important to be positive and understand that there is a lot of good things in the world. We are living in very exciting times and The Mindsweep tries to represent that. This album addresses both the symptoms of the system we live in and it the root causes. 

The Mindsweep tracks available for listening at present are all novel, yet retain certain parts that one could still deem familiar, or very much Shikari-sounding. Is keeping a fair bit of both something you guys intentionally do in order to avoid alienating listeners, or does this just come part of your “make what you like” formula for success?

Definitely the latter. It has been 3 years since the last album, we have grown as people and matured and have had an abundance of new influences handed to us over those years. We constantly are trying to push our music forward and write new and exciting songs. At the same time we are the same people and would have to try extremely hard to not retain what made us Enter Shikari in the first place.

As one of the most innovative and progressive bands around, but also having been in action for over 10 years, how exactly do you guys manage to keep things fresh every time you put out a new release or embark on tour? Is this a conscious effort or do the ideas just kind of come to you naturally?

A bit of both I think, we get bored very quickly so are always looking for new sounds. We are always listening to new music whether in the Dance or Rock scenes so are constantly getting inspired by what is around us.

Given Shikari’s aim to defy genre boundaries in creating your unique sound, do you ever make a song and decide it sounds too much like something you’ve already heard before, and scrap it for that reason?

It doesn’t happen very often. To be honest if we write a song that sounds similar to something else, if it’s a good song then it is a good song and we will release it, but maybe it won’t be a single.

 Rou’s AP opinion piece about not charging fans for meet and greets drew a huge response. So, apart from paid VIP packages (and the like), is there anything else Shikari will never do – be it in the business sense, musically, or otherwise?

We will never write a Country and Western album, you can bet your life on that! We really try not to restrict ourselves with anything musically (other than C and W). The meet and greet thing is very much our ethos as people, we don’t see ourselves as above anyone else so would feel embarrassed to charge them just to meet us. We are all people. 

Having “been there, done that” with human pyramids and record-breaking waves of crowdsurfers, what’s a new thing you’d like to see happening in a Shikari pit?

Ha, who knows? We try to engage and interact with our audiences in many ways, the next crazy audience participation idea could come from them! We played a gig on a boat not long ago where we got everyone to run from side to side and literally ‘rock the boat’.

 Do you have any particular favourite songs to play live? If so, which one/s and why?

Zzzonked is an old favourite, for me in particular it’s quite an easy song to play live so I can concentrate on rocking out. We always love playing our newest material live because it feels the freshest so are very much looking to playing more songs from The Mindsweep.

It appears you don’t get very nervous before shows anymore. But since this band’s albums tend to be drastically different from each other, do the nerves ever kick in before you release new music?

Not so much nerves, just excitement. We are very proud of this album but only ever write music for ourselves so if other people like it then that is just a bonus.

Pulling influences from all over the place, it would be a waste of a question to ask you to pinpoint them exactly. Instead, can each member name one current and one all-time favourite band/artist of theirs?

Rob - Habstrakt and Rage Against the Machine
Rou - Modern Life Is War and Radiohead
Chris - Father Son and Biffy Clyro
Rory - Marmozets and The Prodigy

A limited edition remix of Baby Godzilla’s ‘The Great Hardcore Swindle’ was released via your own label, Ambush Reality. Do you plan to actually sign bands to Ambush Reality later on?

I’m not sure if we’ll ever sign a band properly but we certainly have plans to release more music in the same way we did with Baby Godzilla. There are a lot of bands that are new and exciting at the moment that we would love to help release music.

Finally, do you have any message for your fans in the Philippines?

Thanks for all the support and I’m very sorry we haven’t been over to play any shows there but we will try. I hope you enjoy the album. Peace out. 

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