While the boys from Northlane were on the Impericon Festival run, we were lucky enough to have a chat with their very own Josh. Among other things we talked the EP they created together with In Hearts Wake, touring moments and what they'll be doing the rest of the year.
Northlane has a lot left in store for this year, and we for one are very excited to see what Northlane will be up to creatively.
Check our chat with Josh and get to know Northlane a little bit better!
Q: Do you guys have any pre-show rituals?
J: We just fist bump each other. We can’t walk on until we’ve all fist bumped each other, otherwise we can’t play. But that’s about it, we’re not that exciting, nothing too crazy.
Q: You guys recently released the EP with In Hearts Wake, how did that happen?
J: It’s a long story, ‘cause we’ve known them since before both bands got signed. We were playing floorshows for like 20 people and staying at each other’s houses and stuff. We always wanted to do something together and we just thought the time was right now and an EP just seemed like the right thing to do ‘cause of the amount of time we had to spend on it and how busy we all are. So we just got together and made it happen, most of the songs were already written before we got to the studio, but we collaborated on them and it was really, really exciting.
Q: If you could tour with any band, dead or alive, what would be you ideal line-up?
J: That’s hard, man, there are too many bands that I love. Maybe Deftones, I don’t know, the sky is the limit, right?
Q: You just started the Impericon Festival tour, how is it going?
J: Really, really good. Haven’t had a bad show yet. Good reception, we did Groezrock as well, that was very cool. We’re really happy with how everything’s going, it’s nice to come over here and not headline, have less pressure and just play a short set, it’s fun. It’s good to be back in Amsterdam too. We’ve never actually played Amsterdam, but we’ve been here before on a day off, but never played here.
Q: Is there anywhere you’d love to play, but haven’t been able to yet?
J: South America.
Q: Any weird or special moment that really stuck with you?
J: I could tell you one about us and In Hearts Wake. We were touring with them in Australia on a regional tour and we go to the beach most days before the shows and their drummer dislocated his shoulder while bodysurfing. This is like 2 hours before they had to play so Nic learned their set and they just went on there and played.
Q: What is your favourite song to play live?
J: That changes every night. I really like Quantum Flux on this tour, I like playing Scarab, I like the more difficult songs. It changes every night, ‘cause one night I’m like I killed that song and the next night it might be a different one.
Q: What’s next for Northlane?
J: Straight after this we have a co-headline tour with In Hearts Wake in Australia and that’s got Hands Like Houses on it as well. And this really sick band called Ocean Grove, you should check them out, they’re fucking awesome. And after that like 2,5 months off, ‘cause we’re gonna be writing for our new album, so spending a lot of time doing that.
Q: Do you write on the road as well or just in the studio?
J: We write on the road a bit, I mean we’re always writing. Not so much on this tour, we’ve just been having fun ‘cause we worked really hard and had a lot of writing done and now we had some time off.
Some tours we are just writing all day. When we’re in New York we just like to walk around and that’s my favourite place to tour outside Australia.
Q: Do you have any advice for starting bands?
J: Practice a lot and be prepared to work harder than anyone else. That’s the only way you’ll be successful.
Q: Do you guys have any pre-show rituals?
D: Not really, we spice each other up, but we don’t really have any rituals.
Q: In 2015 you released ‘Indian Summer’. Was the writing/recording program any different than the last time?
D: Yeah, we were a lot more prepared this time. We went straight into it the second time, because we did a lot beforehand. We recorded in Thailand and the first one there as well. From Australia it’s a 9-hour flight, but it’s the coolest place ever.
Q: How has the Impericon tour been so far?
D: It’s been sick, the first two shows has been Oberhausen and Leipzig, I think this is the 3rd show. We’re doing the Never Say Die tour as well. I’m very excited for today, we’re here and it’s awesome. I think here and Paris are my two favourite places to go.
Q: What are you biggest influences as a musician?
D: For myself Rage Against The Machine, they’re awesome, they’re a massive influence. I really like letlive., they’re awesome as well. Influences can go from 70’s, 80’s, really all generations.
Q: You guys are kinda new, two records. Hopefully, there will be a lot of people who haven’t heard from you who are reading this. How would you describe your music in just 5 words?
D: Energy, emotional, fun, vibrant and smiling, we’re always smiling.
Q: Is there anything in particular that inspired you to become a musician?
D: I grew up listening to music. Some kids grow up and wanna be a pilot or something. But kids who grow up listening to music wanna be a musician, so it’s kind of a dream come true.
Q: What can we expect from you later this year or maybe next year?
D: We’re putting out an album in July/August. We just finished recording that.
Q: If you could put together your favourite line-up, who would you wanna tour with? Dead or alive.
D: Rage Against The Machine is definitely one. Or Blink, Blink-182 would be sick as well. Or actually My Chemical Romance. We all love that.
Q: What's your favourite track to play live?
D: I really like to play 'Nottingham', that's my favourite track to play live. I like the songs that are a lot faster, but I love to play 'Nottingham'.
Q: Do you have any advice for bands that are just starting?
D: It's hard to give advice, 'cause you're always learning, everyone is always learning. Just don't give up. There might be dark times, but try to get through it, 'cause there's always gonna be great times and dark times.
Imagine you are on a beautiful remote island for a nice, relaxing vacation and while you’re lying in the warm sunlight, drifting in and out of sleep, sipping on some cool coconut water, someone suddenly pours ice cold water over your half naked body. That’s pretty much how it feels to listen to Enter Shikari’s music in this mindless soup of irrelevant mainstream garbage - while it hurts at first, you will soon enjoy the rush of adrenaline. Or to quote the band itself: “You stop, think, begin to revive.” When other bands try to circumnavigate the huge iceberg of having an opinion - and to actually stand by it - Enter Shikari just hit the ice full force and break it to pieces. On their recent album The Mindsweep they vent about a variety of topics: climate change, the privatisation of the NHS, religious small-mindedness, social division, the British class system, and capitalism, but instead of losing their popularity, their album was praised by critics and celebrated by fans. The band proves again and again that music can, no, should have a social value. That it should engage and not numb the mind. That it is refreshing to push boundaries.
Since the release of The Mindsweep, Enter Shikari has played a massive amount of 148 shows worldwide and still plays each show with an energy that is hard to match. The band is currently touring North America - right in the middle of a heated election battle between Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Reason enough for us to catch up with the band. Lyricist and singer Rou Reynolds shares his thoughts on speaking up as an artist, endorsing politicians, keeping up the energy during the tour, meditation, and what Enter Shikari fans can expect for the rest of the year.
Strife Magazine [Melissa Wilke]: You are currently touring the states for the 22nd time! How has America treated you so far?
Rou Reynolds: Christ that is a lot isn’t it! And just shows that word of mouth can still get you fairly far these days, even amongst the tumult of strident internet garbage. This tour’s been fantastic. The shows have been wild, the weather’s been lovely. Can’t complain.
SM: You’ve been touring relentlessly for over a decade now which must be quite taxing. What do you do to stay healthy? With your aggressive vocals how do you keep your voice in shape? Do you have any funky warm up techniques or remedies for a sore throat?
RR: Other than trying to eat healthily, (sticking as best to a plant based diet as possible) I have a few tools in my arsenal that keep me sane. Mindfulness meditation and yoga certainly help keep one’s mental health in check whilst away. Reading a book, i.e. doing ‘normal’ stuff that takes you out of the bubble of mayhem that is being in a touring band.
Vocally I really don’t do much though if I’m honest, I don’t really warm up for instance. I abstain from drinking alcohol excessively though 'cos that does the ol’ vocal cords no good, just a snifter every now and then is all. If I have a problem with my voice I just do vocal rest - that’s the only thing that actually works you see - shutting the hell up for 12 hours or so.
SM: You are an avid supporter of "mindfulness meditation" and even made a podcast about it with a short exercise for beginners (I actually tried it out of curiosity and for research, and got rid of a week long headache after only ten fucking minutes of this! Thanks, mate!). Does it help you during touring cycles and maybe even affect your songwriting somehow?
RR: Ha! Glad it was of some assistance, thanks for checking it out! Mindfulness has so many benefits, it still shocks me why it isn't on our school’s curriculum. It helps deal with stress, anxiety, depression, it can help with focus, anger management, emotional problems, loss, self esteem, the list goes on. And it’s all backed by vast scientific research too. It helps me on tour as it can be a bit of a roller coaster. Playing in front of thousands of people one minute, alone in a hotel room missing home the next. It helps balance and calm the mind I suppose. I use it on and off tour as a workout for the brain really, like going to the gym for your mind. I doubt it affects my song writing. I certainly don’t need increased focus for that, I often wake with an idea and surface from an intense writing session at 5pm realising I haven’t even eaten. But I suppose song writing in a way is a form of meditation anyway. You are very much in the moment, and focused on one thing.
SM: It’s no big secret that you’re intently following the US elections. I feel that for us Europeans, US elections are often such a nervewrecking spectacle because we can’t understand why some candidates with their archaic world views (like Donald Trump or Ted Cruz) are still in the run for presidency. Sometimes, it’s almost like watching a car crash in slow motion. Has touring the US given you a new perspective on this matter e.g. by talking to the locals and/or really experiencing America yourself?
RR: Well at first we meet and mingle with people at our shows, that doesn’t bring any new angles really, just solidarity, enthusiasm and people thanking us for emboldening their activism etc. But it’s when you begin travelling between the shows that you begin to see the vast swathes and towns and buttfuck nowhereswhere people truly live in this narrow-minded, undereducated world where Trump appears to have some hold. Unfortunately his playground style of politics, his bullying, his incredibly limited use of language, his unswerving devotion to ego, it entertains these people. I think experiencing these insular and culturally impoverished areas at least helps you understand how Trump has got so much momentum.
SM: Some people have organised a “Bernie Sanders for President Block Party” aka “Berniechella” in Coachella because they wanted to fuse music with politics and provide a space for concert-goers to get involved. Would you play at such an event or would it make you uncomfortable to endorse a politician so blatantly?
RR: I’ve no problem with using my voice to promote good ideas. In our archaic political system ideas come in the form of a human face, that’s fine. If this human turns out not to implement the ideas or at worst U-turns for no good reason, then similarly I’ll use my voice to denounce too. Some artists appear afraid to speak up whatsoever, refusing to have a voice on big matters, perhaps they think they’ll lose popularity? But that’s the nature of capitalism, it’s saturated by the ego (Trump, you could say exemplifies capitalism). Capitalism forces us to think in that dog eat dog manner, to constantly put ourselves first and to withhold unconventional or radical thinking in favour of conformity, as that’s safer and it keeps one’s nest un-rustled.
SM: You are known for your socially conscious lyrics. I’d say you play a big part in educating your fans (especially the younger ones) in topics such as politics, climate change, capitalism, etc. and thus enabling them to participate in a social-political discussion. Is this your main goal or just a side effect of screaming out your own frustrations?
RR: I don’t think education is our goal so to speak, probably more liberation if anything! As youngsters we grow up in a world full of divisive ideas and institutions, be it based on sex, class, creed or race. I see us as playing a small part in a wider attempt to combat these nonrealistic, antiquated and dangerous ideas. I see music as this great tool, that has been used to bring humanity together, indiscriminately, for millennia. Be it with flutes made out of bone, dancing around fires in the early dawn of our species; or in music festivals in the modern age. We are honoured to continue to use this powerful tool that reminds us that we are one.
SM: As far as I know,you have written all the Enter Shikari lyrics. Have there ever been attempts to involve the whole band in the writing process?
RR: I’ll often ask for their opinion on things but no. Because the songs (or the initial ideas) are mine, I think you have to keep a consistent stream of creativity from one base to keep the end product honest and undiluted.
SM: Some years ago, you launched your own clothing company “Step Up” which sells ethical clothing, meaning their manufacturing doesn’t exploit anyone, harms the environment and they also promote positive messages of social value. I actually bought a shirt there some time ago and was surprised how stylish and cheap the items are. So why don’t you use the same procedures for the Enter Shikari band merch?
RR: Step Up is a not-for-profit organisation. With the collapse of music sales Shikari’s main source of income (and that which enables us to continue touring) is merchandise sales. So unfortunately, it’s main aim is not completely identical to Step Up’s. That being said, Shikari obviously don’t use materials manufactured in a exploitative manner and use organic/carbon neutral where possible.
SM: Are there any plans to add new items to the store or even expand “Step Up”?
RR: Yes, this summer we’ve got a new release, at last! stepuphq.com
SM: I was one of the lucky bastards who attended your show in Cologne last month. The crowd was absolutely mad and you scored raving reviews for that show. Your energy on stage is truly incomparable. I’ve been to lots of rock concerts, but an Enter Shikari show is always a special treat. Honestly, what’s your secret?
RR: Thank you, that’s very kind. Energy is synonymous with a lot of our music. Our music is all about progress, both musically, defying genres, pushing music forward and lyrically, about social progress, about sustainability, it’s all movement, momentum. It wouldn’t feel honest playing the tracks live without delivering them with energy. It’s not a case of "how do we do it?”, it’s more a case of "how could we not?”.
SM: After your US tour, you’re playing a few summer festivals. Can we expect another tour announcement for autumn or are you gonna start writing the next Shikari record after the festivals?
RR: Yeh we have a few more tours after the festivals - Australia and Japan - and then it’ll be back into studio hibernation for the beginnings of the next chapter.
SM: Can you give us some details about the one off single you’re planning to release this year?
RR: Not really! Have a few things in mind (including a track we recorded alongside Redshift) but nothing is sorted yet.
SM: A while ago, you mentioned that you want to release another Phenakistoscope-like documentary about The Mindsweep. Is that still going to happen?
RR: Hopefully yeh. The idea this time is to include the full album cycle. So it’ll be a lot of footage to go through, the embryonic stages of writing, the recording, the touring… a big job!
SM: That's it! Thanks for taking the time. Enjoy the rest of the tour!
RR: Thank you. Thanks for having me mate!
Check Enter Shikari's official website for any news and tour updates. You can find Rou on Twitter under @RouReynolds! Also, make sure to check out our brand new review of The Mindsweep! Brand new, you ask? Why, you ask? Well, count back, fellas: when the album was released, Strife Magazine was just a vague idea before its birth as your most favourite music magazine seven months ago! The Mindsweep is so fundamental for the musical landscape of this millenium that we spontaneously decided to just pretend it was released yesterday. That's how we roll! Read it HERE!
Written by Melissa Wilke
On Neck Deep's most recent European headliner tour, we were lucky enough to spend some quality time with vocalist Ben Barlow and guitarist Matt West. While the both were seated in two very comfortable chairs, we chatted with them about their current tour, Mark Hoppus and Bring Me The Horizon among many other things. The guys were feeling chatty, it's a long one. We're sure you'll love it though.
Here's to your further Neck Deep education!
Q: Do you guys have any pre-show rituals?
M: We talked about this the other day and we don’t do anything.
B: We obviously get our stage gear on and I kinda walk around and yell and make noise and stretch.
That’s about it really. And then by the time we get on stage we’re usually pretty chill. Obviously if you
know it’s gonna be a good show, then you get more pumped up, but we kinda take it easy.
M: Yeah, I just walk around, have a bottle of water. But we don’t do a high five in the group or
B: We did that one time after the show in Manchester, that show was awesome.
B: I think it’s gonna be sick tonight (Amsterdam). It’s not sold out but I still think it will be cool either
way. Our shows in the Netherlands are always sick, like when we played in Eindhoven, that was probably
the best show on that tour. Utrecht was pretty sick as well, doing the All Time Low tour helped us a bit
in Europe. This time we’re getting a bigger and better crowd.
Q: You guys opened for Bring Me The Horizon a while back. Considering you are both completely different genres, what was that like?
B: We share the same fan base.
M: Especially nowadays, had it been years ago I doubt we would have gone down as well as we did.
B: People who go to Bring Me The Horizon shows expect it to be the same sort of thing, the similar sort
of vibe. I mean, at Neck Deep shows you’re gonna be bouncing around a bunch and getting involved, it’s
not like a stand there and watch kinda thing. We enjoy it when there’s mosh pits, so if people wanna
mosh, that’s sick. It’s a high-energy show, I remember London on that tour was really, really sick and
obviously watching BMTH is insane, their set-up and stuff and their show in general, you can’t stand
there and watch, it’s just insane. Yeah, it was cool.
Q: Who inspires you musically?
B: Blink-182. But I’ve got a few. My other big inspiration that isn’t pop-punk would probably be Dallas
Green, City and Colour, he is a big influence. Bonobo, that’s this weird musician. I like all sorts of music,
but mainly Blink, Green Day, Sum 41, New Found Glory.
M: Alkaline Trio.
B: Yeah, Alkaline Trio as well.
Q: You recently released remixes from Serpents and Can’t Kick Up The Roots by Mark Hoppus, can you
tell us something about that?
M: We just got a message one day saying he’d done ‘em and we were like “Pardon?”. Like, what’s he
doing that for?
B: Yeah, one day he messaged us saying “Can I have the files for these songs?” and we were like “Yep,
sure you can, that’s fine! For you, yeah, no one has heard the album yet.”
M: “Do you want all of my possessions as well, you can have them too.”
B: But yeah, we decided if he liked the songs enough to play around with them and he’s being creative,
trying to do something different and remix the songs, then that’s cool. Anything that he’s doing,
musically, I would be interested in, so it’s cool that he wanted to remix one of our songs.
M: It’s still insane that he is even aware that we’re a band. And mixing songs of ours.
B: Yeah, I’m still stoked on the Mark Hoppus support.
Q: Writing new songs, do you guys do that exclusively in the studio or also on the road?
B: With this album we did a lot of it in the studio, some of it was actually done on Warped tour. Some of
it was done at my house and we wrote a lot in the studio as well. So yeah, we like to switch up every
time we write. From the early stuff that was strictly done in my brother’s room, to then go into a studio
and work with outside producers and stuff. And yeah, maybe we’ll do it a little different next time, when
we get around to writing the next album.
Q: You guys recently put together a playlist on Spotify, could you tell us something about that?
B: It’s just a collection of songs that we all like and we think people should listen to. There’s a bunch of
small bands in there and there’s a few weird tracks in there. I can’t remember when we last updated it,
but yeah, it’s just tunes that we like. I think there might be a few weird ones on there, if Dani put them
M: He listens to some weird stuff.
Q: If you could tour with any band, dead or alive, what would your line-up be?
B: Blink, easily.
M: Alkaline Trio, direct support.
B: I’d love that, that’d be the best. That would be the dream, maybe New Found Flory as well. Put them
on there as well.
M: New Found Glory, Alkaline Trio and Blink. And Slipknot as well.. We’ll just play two sets and open for
Slipknot as well.
Q: What’s your favourite city or country to visit when you’re touring?
M: Japan. Japan is the best country in the world, for sure.
B: Just getting to see it is unreal, it’s such a different culture.
M: It’s the graveyard where everything you ever desired goes to die.
B: Anything collectable you can get there.
M: If you wanted something that came out in one shop in one city in one country one the other side of
the world for a day, it will be for sale in Japan for a reasonable price. It’s insane, you can just walk in
anywhere and get whatever you want.
B: Yeah, it’s crazy. Matt is probably the biggest collector of all of us. We all like to have a little collection.
It’s just interesting and fun.
M: Nothing else to spend money on.
B: So Japan is sick. Europe is cool too, but we haven’t really gotten the chance to see Europe yet. We’ve
only done a couple of tours here and I have the feeling we’re experiencing it properly for the first time
now. It’s really sick and I really like the Netherlands and I’m not just saying that because we’re here, but
yeah it’s sick.
M: It’s the most fun time we’ve had in Mainland Europe anyway.
B: Germany is sick as well, there’s some cool places in Germany as well. We go to Berlin tomorrow and
that’s a cool city, it’s awesome. It beats touring in the UK. The shows are bigger in the UK and obviously
As a popular band, who’s still growing, do you have any advice you’d like to give to bands who are
just starting out?
B: Just stick at it. Just practice, it sounds cliché, but just practice. Don’t get into it to become a big band,
but just do it because you want to do it and if it’s genuine and you do it because you love music, that will
show. If you’re trying too hard, it won’t work. So just have fun with it and do your own thing. Take it
easy, just work on always being a better songwriter and being a better musician. And play shows outside
your hometown as well. Play some hometown shows for sure, but as soon as you can, as soon as you
can start touring or as soon as you can start playing shows a little in different places, you should. And
put your music on the internet for free. Tell your friends about it and if people will like it then it will
catch on. People will know, people know the difference between what’s good and what’s not.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference and there are a lot of undiscovered good bands. A positive
attitude will help as well, don’t beat yourself up about it. Being in a band can be fucking stressful
sometimes. My brother loves music, loves writing music and he’s like “Fuck being in a band.”. Matt
knows the shitty side of being in a band.
M: It’s just crap for a while.
B: Just stick at it. Anything you do, you’re probably not gonna be awesome at it and it’s probably gonna
be a bit shit for a while but if you just push on, and one day you’re just like “Yeah, I’m pretty proud of
this.” And you’ll feel yourself getting better at it. That’s why I like writing music, ‘cause you’re always
getting better at it. So don’t focus on trying to make it big.
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