Enter Shikari Bassist Calls Thailand Album Recording Sessions ‘Amazing’
Enter Shikari's new album, 'A Flash Flood of Colour,' is slated for a Jan. 17 release via a new label, Hopeless Records. The inventive electro-spiked post-hardcore band accomplished quite a bit on their first two albums, 2007's 'Take to the Skies' and 2009's 'Common Dreads,' playing most of the A-level festivals from Australia's Big Day Out, UK's Leeds, Reading, Download and Glastonbury, Germany's Rock am Ring, and North America's Warped.
The new album was produced in Thailand and England, by Dan Weller, formerly of the band SikTh. The first single from the record is a track called 'Sssnake Pit.' Noisecreep hasn't had a chance to hear the album, so Karen Bliss interviewed bassist Chris Batten to find out a bit more.
I've never known a band to record an album in Thailand. Why did you end up going there and what were the facilities like?
It was absolutely amazing. The reason we went there in the first place was that our producer knew a guy who opened a brand new studio there and he was trying to get people to come over. So he got in contact with him and we looked on the web site and we saw these facilities and saw what they had to offer and it was like, 'Wow. Absolutely unbelievable.' And then it worked out to be pretty much the same price, and it was a no-brainer really. Yeah, why wouldn't we? Or we could commute into London on the really smelly underground every day and try and do it that way. Thailand was a much better option to us.
Had any of you ever been to Thailand before?
Rob [Rolfe], our drummer, had been. He's been to Bangkok and he'd been to some of the seven islands of Thailand, I guess where the tourists go, but where we were was a very remote kind of place. It was in the middle of nowhere and we had nothing to distract us. It was lovely."
Some musicians prefer to go away to record because there are less distractions, but if it's somewhere that beautiful or exotic, how can you want to get work done?
The thing with it was, as amazing as it was, everything we had was in one complex. We slept there. We ate there. They had a swimming pool there. So everything we needed was right there. All we had to do was concentrate on the music and to be honest, as amazing as Thailand was, nothing was more exciting than what we were doing in the studio. We were all hooked on that really.
Watch Enter Shikari's 'Sssnakepit' Video
And then you came back home and finished off little bits and pieces, overdubs, in London?
You worked with Dan Weller on the last album for guitar parts.
Yeah. [Dan] used to play in a band that we were big fans of when we were growing up, SikTh. He's got a great ear and he started doing rock producing. So on the second album we did, 'Common Dreads,' he came on down and started doing work with Rory on the guitar tones because the guy we were working with [Andy Gray] was more of a dance producer and we wanted to make sure we had the rock aspect covered with the guitars. We ended up working really well together. He's a really great songwriter too and one of the most talented musicians we've ever met. So for this album, we got him on board and he really added a lot.
Tell me about the album. I hate asking that question, but the label didn't have anything for me to hear yet, beyond the single.
It's just more extreme in every way, to be honest. It's got some of the heaviest material we've ever written and other parts it's got some of the most beautiful soundscape, really layered, that we've ever done as well. There's one track that we finished which is basically a ballad ['Constellations'] and it ended up being one of the most epic tracks we've ever written. It's the final track on the album.
Why did you choose 'Sssnakepit' as the first single?
"When you've got a whole new album's worth of material, you kind of want to kick back in with a bang, and 'Sssnakepit' was just the one that seemed to do that for us. We were aware that we were going to be releasing it quite a while before the album actually came out so we wanted something that crowds are going to be able to relate to, that showed some progression, as well as something that [says] 'We're still here. We're still doing what people like about us.' So that track had that all in it really.
Lyrically, is there a focus? It is socio-political or more personal?
Lyrically, it's very direct. Each song has its own theme really, current affairs, things that we care personally about as we were writing the record, so there are different themes that come up throughout the album. There's not a set theme.
I saw a track-listing on the Internet. It didn't include 'Constellations,' so not sure if it's accurate of course given the source. But can I run some of the more intriguing song titles by you and you can tell me about them?
I'll give it a go.
Is there one called "Gandhi Mate, Gandhi' on there?
Yeah [laughs]. That one was one of the most fun to record, for sure. It starts off with our singer having a bit of a rant. It's one of the lighter songs on the album.
I was going to ask if it's humorous.
Yeah it is. It's very lighthearted, but it's one of the most crazy songs on the album as well, musically and lyrically. It completely breaks down at one point because Roughton [Reynolds], our singer, gets so angry about what he's saying that he breaks down [laughs] and we have to tell him to calm down remember what Gandhi did and stuff like that [laughs]. It's a bit silly.
What about 'Hello Tyrannosaurus, Meet Tyrannicide?'
[laughs]. That one is one of the heaviest songs on the album. It's basically about all good things come to an end, meaning large corporations. Anything that goes so high has to fall, is the meaning behind that one. Our singer would do a lot better job at explaining the lyrics than I would. It's a really heavy song, was really fun to record and we really didn't have to hold back in any way for that one.
I won't go through anymore. Will wait until I've heard them. This is your third album. You did tremendously well on first two. What for you has been your biggest accomplishment?
It's really hard to say. We always say that this is just a hobby that got ridiculously out of control. Those festival appearances we've done, we'll be looking out over the crowd and it's been amazing and there was another point where I remember seeing our album in the shops for the first time, and that was an incredible feeling. Sometimes it's hard to realize and to remember what we've achieved because it all happened so fast. So I don't know if I could pick one moment. If I had to, there is always the Reading Festival, which is a festival we went to as teenagers, and we always imagined ourselves playing up on that stage. When we got to do that, that was a big deal.
'A Flash Flood of Colour' is coming out in January. The press release from Hopeless Records says Enter Shikari is a PRIORITY - all caps. What does that mean to you and what would be your hope with Hopeless?
We're so happy to finally have a label that actually wants to work with us. The first two albums we had nothing but trouble really because we were signed to Interscope, and other than Dr. Dre and whoever else they had on there [laughs], it was kind of hard for us to compete. So all of our business got tied up in the accountants and everything there and nothing ever got done. Hopeless are really into the music. They're a lot more like us in a lot of ways. They're an independent label. We feel a lot closer to them and they just seem really up for working the album. They love the music and that's all we ever really wanted.
07 Amos' Southend, Charlotte, NC
08 The National, Richmond, VA
09 The Fillmore, Silver Spring, MD
10 Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA
11 Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, NJ
13 Best Buy Theatre, New York, NY
14 The Palladium, Worcester, MA
15 Metropolis, Montreal, QC CANADA
16 Kool Haus, Toronto, ONT CANADA
17 Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak, MI
18 Bogart's, Cincinnati, OH