Enter Shikari’s Chris Batten talks to Bay Radio

ENTER SHIKARI are back, with their fourth full-length album The Mindsweep hitting the UK on 19th January 2015 and the debut single ‘The Last Garrison’ stirring up a lot of hype for the new release online. We’ve been beyond excited for what the St. Albans genre-defying quartet have to show for their tenure in music since the release of Take To The Skies way back in 2007.

A couple of weeks ago, bassist Chris Batten took some time out of the busy schedule of programming and mastering the new album to have a chat with Bay Radio’s own Alex Cranshaw and Nathan Evans to discuss the band’s European tour, the direction of their new sound, the American reaction to their genre-smashing sound, and their online interactions with John Prescott.

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Enter Shikari Bassist – Chris Batten

The band had – up until recently – been scaling the Northern Hemisphere on their European tour, and they were particularly excited to be traversing the likes of Slovakia and Greece, as they’d never had the opportunity to go before. But it wasn’t all fun and games, as Batten emphasised making sure the boys knew that Enter Shikari were “focusing on getting the new record ready to play live.”

Q: Where did the idea behind The Mindsweep come from?

A: We never have a set idea of where we want to take things; it’s very much at that time and how we’re feeling. Lyrically I’d say Rou takes influence from everywhere, from travelling around the world and anything like that, but really it’s as and when we’ve been writing – it’ll kind of come out very naturally. We had a point when we had about 18 songs on the go and we had to whittle that down. We wanted to make sure there was a good representation of everything we do as a band and that’s when we can start thinking about themes behind the album and lyrics.

Q: Where did the idea behind the name come from?

A: The first track on the album is called ‘The Appeal and the Mindsweep’, so immediately that stood out just in the way it stands for a different way of thinking and that’s what this album means; to think outside of the box and that the current mind of thinking isn’t working for us, so it’s a bit of a shift-and-change in that thought process.

Of course, the Hertfordshire four piece are thrilled to get back into touring with their new material. Batten expressed that, that was something that Enter Shikari focus on quite heavily when creating their emotive pieces; how the tracks are going to transfer both on recorded format and to a live audience respectively. With that in mind, Chris promised that “come the February tour, there’s going to be a lot of new stuff on the setlist, and it’s going to be really fun.”

In terms of material, Alex and Nathan were very interested to see whether Shikari were going to be bring back some of their tracks from Common Dreams and Take to the Skies. “We always try to keep a bit of everything off each of the albums, and we don’t want it to just be an influx of new material that people don’t know that well” Batten was quick to reassure.

Q: Does the live show get tweaked for every album release and can we expect any more instruments and electronics for the shows?

A: That all comes from how experimental we’ve been in the studio; and we’ve been pretty experimental. There’s definitely gonna be new stuff, and we’ll have a new look for our shows with the stage lighting. In terms of instrumentation, myself and Rory are going to play more keyboards but there’ll be some excellent surprises, I’m sure.

Q: Do you feel that Flash Flood of Colour has had an effect on other bands with a socially conscious message?

A: To be honest, we’re always a bit surprised that more artists aren’t speaking out about things that we feel are important and we’re often quite confused that a lot of bands can churn out the same mind-numbing lyrics which don’t seem to be that true. It’s always great when people come up and say you’re very inspiring, but I wouldn’t say we’re the only ones doing it.

Q: Do you think that this sort of message is the direction music should take in recent years?EnterShikari (1)

A: It definitely defines us, since on the first album we realised people were listening to what we were saying whether we liked it or not, so we decided it was best to say something that had a positive influence on people. It’s a very big part of what we do and we’d like to see more bands doing it. Look at Russell Brand; he’s in the spotlight now and trying to put a positive message out to younger people using his stance to get the word out to people.

When asked whether they had a preference between stadium concerts and intimate gigs, there was a general consensus of enjoying elements from both aspects of touring. There is an interaction to the close quarter performances, the audience are more responsive – or at least the band are able to register their responses better – and when it comes to production they can be bigger and bolder than ever in their larger venues. Enter Shikari told The Courier that they are “lucky enough to have both of each to keep things fresh.”

Q: With The Mindsweep, are you shifting more towards electronics or instruments, which takes precedence in song writing?

A: We never really focus on it saying we want it to be more electronic or more guitar-driven; each song was its own things. I think the way we use instruments now is for textures and we want it all to be one piece, we don’t want it to be a dance track or a guitar track, so we focused on how best to use them to complement each other.

Q: How are you received in live shows outside of the UK such as in Europe or Warped Tour in the U.S.?

A: It’s generally very positive, it’s always strange when you go to a place for the first time and we never really know what to expect. They’re obviously never as big as the shows back here but it’s really just fun being able to play to smaller audiences and to give them that first impression which we really thrive on. I always remember when people used to see us in the UK for the first time and seeing people with a slightly confused look on their face, but we always strive for that reaction and it’s rare that we get to make a first impression.

If you were wondering what the whole John Prescott tweet was all about, well, so do Enter Shikari “we still don’t really know whether it’s him or the people running his Twitter, but we were definitely as surprised as you are.”

Enter Shikari kick off their UK tour on February 16th at the Portsmouth Pyramid Centre, be sure to keep an eye out for The Mindsweep this coming January and don’t forget to check out The Last Garrison on the band’s YouTube page.