Live music in a great venue is something which many of us took for granted back during the coronavirus pandemic. Rock band Enter Shikari were no exception, and by the time their 2020 album ‘Nothing is True & Everything is Possible’ was released the nation was in lockdown.
Eager to make up for lost time, the band announced a series of residency shows to accompany their upcoming 2023 record ‘A Kiss For The Whole World’. One of the chosen venues is KK’s Steel Mill, an intimate venue in Wolverhampton.
Ahead of their opening West Midlands show, I caught up with band members Rou Reynolds and Rory Clewlow to talk about a range of subjects including their visit to Wolves, the path out of the pandemic and their upcoming new album.
Sat in the dressing room of KK’s Steel Mill, I was treated to a coffee from Rory before we dived into a deep chat.
The joy of being back out on the road touring was first up, and Rory said: “It’s amazing. Post covid everything changed again and we won’t take it for granted anymore. It’s been really good, and this is the first time we’ve been able to play some new songs so it’s great. That’s what makes the set a lot more exciting.”
On the residency shows, which will see the Shikari play three shows in Wolverhampton, Rory said: “In the practice room, we’ve had to think about how we can’t play the same set every time. But it’s a little bit comforting, it feels almost like a day job, going back to the same office.”
Rou added: “It’ll be really interesting because we’ve never experienced playing a venue and then playing it again a few weeks later. I’m quite intrigued as to how that will feel, like will it feel the same? I’m sure things will happen which we don’t anticipate in terms of the atmosphere.”
Wolverhampton was chosen specifically by the band, as Rou said: “We do have a bit of a history with Wolverhampton. We’ve played a few venues around the city and from quite early on in our career. Usually you get to a certain stage in your career where you just play Birmingham, so it’s nice to play somewhere new.
“We’ve never actually played at any of the venues on this tour before so even though we’re playing them three times in a few months, it will still feel fresh because we’ve managed to find venues in each city where we’ve never played before.”
Rou: “It makes it feel like a European tour because it’s all foreign in terms of the new venues. If you play the same venue over and over again you kind of fall into this mindset of ‘well we did this last time, what can we do this time’.
Enter Shikari were one of three headliners at the pilot event of Download Festival in 2021. The event was one of the biggest post covid music events and was a start of the path back to festivals and big concerts.
On this unique festival, Rou said: “It was one of the most surreal gigs ever. We hadn’t played in a year and a half which hasn’t happened since 2003. That location [Download/ Donington Park] has so much history so playing there is so incredible anyway. When you add on that we knew half the bill as friends as it was just all British bands. The euphoria of the event was incredible. It was one of my favourite sets.
My favourite moment was when we played Dreamers Hotel for the first time. The passion in the crowd was just amazing to see. This time around we get to play the music immediately as it came out- back then we had to wait.
The band brought out their last album less than a month after the covid lockdown. This resulted in a long wait for them to be able to play new songs to fans.
“We made the decision to stick with the album release date. Most artists were postponing releases but we took the view of if there’s ever a point where you need new music its during a difficult time. If it’s a difficult time for everyone then hopefully our music might go some way to helping someone.
“It was horrible, I remember we had a Zoom call on album release day as like a celebration where we had drinks. It was so deflating after you put so much into an album, not just the band but the whole team, and not be able to properly celebrate.
The band has new songs coming our way very soon, and Rou described these tracks as “sck”, so you have permission to be excited.
The new album is full of tunes and can’t wait to perform live, with one track standing out to team Enter Shikari. Rou said: “We were speaking to one of our team last night and they said that ‘Leap into the Lightning’ is his early favourite. So we’re especially excited about that one, especially live.”
Rory said: “The Download Pilot was a magic atmosphere, totally different from anything I’ve experienced before. I was speaking to someone about this the other day and I was saying I think lockdown changed everything. We’ve all shifted slightly because of it, but I do think enough time has passed now to start to take it for granted again.”
The band have played other venues around the West Midlands, with another venue in Wolverhampton playing host.
Rou said: “We’ve played Wulfrun Hall and I think it was there that had a jacuzzi in the dressing room. We saw it and just through ‘we’ve got to get in that’. We tipped in a whole bottle of bubble bath so the whole room was full of bubbles. That was one of the most rockstar things we’ve done- a bubble bath. That’s about peak rockstar for us.
“The last time in Birmingham was a particularly good one. I remember standing out on the balcony for one of the songs and it was amazing. It was one of those moments where you just look around and see so many people enjoying themselves.”
Rou explained how he’d not even seen the stage of KK’s Steel Mill before our interview, “I assume that’s it”, he said, pointing at a photo of a band on stage which was pinned up on the dressing room wall.
Rory: “It looks like a really vibey room, not in a modern way but in a rock way. I think it’s going to be a fun rock show. We’ve brought some cool new production which we haven’t; had before. We’ve got lasers, light tubes and other little surprises.”
Enter Shikari play again in Wolverhampton on Thursday March 16 and Saturday April 15. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster