Enter Shikari let rip in the quiet of suburbia

Enter Shikari

Enter Shikari - Credit: Archant

Four piece born out of St Albarns get ready to shake Alexandra Palace

How do you sell hardcore to Hampstead? Perhaps it’s a fools errand; the former is a violent, sweaty, unrelenting vestibule at the heart of punk, most probably incompatible with the vast majority of over-30s in north London.

Yet, as Enter Shikari discovered 10 years ago, even the most unlikely areas can play host to a dirty, pulsating underworld.

“We were quite lucky when we began,” says Rob Rolfe, the four-piece’s uncompromising and passionate drummer, “In that St Albans was teeming with live bands. It seems like a very quiet, middle-class town but, certainly back in the day, it had this thriving underbelly.”

It was this scene that Enter Shikari built their name upon. Having gigged and toured for nearly four years before they even sat down to record anything, the band enjoyed an immediate breakthrough with the eventual release of their debut record, Take To The Skies in 2007.

With their difficult-to-place combination of post-hardcore, metal and electronica, the boys from St Albans soon gained a reputation as one of the most exciting live acts on the summer festival circuit.

“One thing that really brings us closer together is the energy that we have on stage,” Rolfe says, not just of his relationship with the band but also the fans. “The audience feeds off it, then we feed off that, so they’re crucial to our live set.”

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Now enjoying the last few shows of their tour for their third album, A Flash Flood Of Colour, the band are coming to Ally Pally this weekend as part of the Vans Warped Tour 2013. If you hadn’t heard about it, you can bet that kid down the road with the 12amp speaker system has.

“The fans are predominantly between 18 and 25, but I do get surprised sometimes in St Albans,” says Rolfe. “Every so often, you’ll get this 40-year-old man in a suit who walks out of an office and shakes my hand, saying he really likes our music.”

Their sound, he continues, is hard to pin down and tends to evolve with each album. Despite the prominence of heavy guitars, electronica plays an equal part and is a key reason why Enter Shikari have been able to carve out their own niche.

DJ act

Recently, their love of dance and other diverse genres has seen them even establish a DJ act to run alongside the main band. Still formed of the same four members – Rou Reynolds, Rory Clewlow, Chris Batten and Rolfe – Shikari Sound System made their debut at Reading Festival earlier this year and serves as a good way for them to explore their other musical passions.

When it comes down to playing live, though, Rolfe believes there’s no substitute for the sort of mayhem that saw one of their audiences set a crowdsurfing world record back in 2009.

“Live, hardcore has a passion to it that’s difficult to get out of any other kind of genre. An energetic, raw bitterness that that you can’t get elsewhere.

“If I’m not at a gig, I often stick on my iPod and listen to some dance, some classical, some jazz. But when I go to a live show, I want it to be loud, in my face, with the audience running and jumping around.”

As they look back at the last 10 years, Rolfe admits it’s hard to know where the time has gone. Having arrived on the musical scene during the dawn of iTunes and illegal downloads, he adds that their willingness to embrace the internet was the main reason why the band became “a hobby that got out of hand”.

“We used Myspace to get in touch with local promoters and other bands. If they were up north, they’d help us get some gigs around there and we’d get them some down here. Especially when they don’t live near you, you can forget about a band unless they’re constantly on your laptop or computer.

“I think the internet has made it hardest for the bands around in the 80s and 90s, who were used to having a constant income from their back catalogue. But you’ve got to work with the fact that most of your money these days comes from gigs and merchandise.”

How do you sell hardcore? Maybe I’ll never know, but at least there’s one band that does.

Enter Shikari play Alexandra Palace this Saturday and Sunday. For details, visit www.seetickets.com and search ‘Enter Shikari’.