“Some people make music to divert or distract. We make music to confront and to attack” – and every time you leave an Enter Shikari gig, you understand the truth in this bold statement from the band’s front man, Rou Reynolds. The multi instrumentalist and lead vocalist of Enter Shikari is, without a doubt, one of the most important and influential voices in the current music industry.
As a band, Enter Shikari are monumental with their genre-breaking tunes – from the gut wrenching electronic beats of ‘Juggernauts’ to the slower, emotive tones of ‘Dear Future Historians’, all impeccably performed with one of the most impressive productions you’ll see in rock gigs today. But the one thing that hasn’t changed throughout almost a decade of discography is the underlying messages they convey with every song. Whether singing or screaming, I’m always amazed at how intensely Rou can communicate such important issues with his fans. Yes, some people may listen to Rou’s shouty declarations of “we’re sick of this sh*t” as just some angry nonsense, but it’s that vehement outburst that helps to highlight the issue, because in reality, the important problems in our world are worth shouting about.
Personally, I was never really into politics. For me it was always a boring topic that I would never truly understand because it all seemed so unjust, unfair and to be honest, a bit ludicrous. However, in this day and age where artists can take to social media and outpour their thoughts and feelings, it was only a matter of time before I started to take note of Rou’s strong political twitter presence. As I read his thoughts on everything from the privatisation of the NHS, to environmental activism, to feminism, I started to pay more attention to what was happening in society around me, and realised that it was actually worth learning about. His social media influence doesn’t stop there, he also maintains a blog and writes articles on high profile issues for major music magazines such as Rock Sound. Add that to his charitable side project of Step Up Ethical Clothing, which provides a walking advertisement for positivity, sustainability and progression – I genuinely can’t think of a better role model, and I know that he certainly inspires me.
Politics is not the only topic Rou likes to explore. When I saw the band play in February 2015 I almost thought I was at an astronomy lecture as I listened to Rou’s mid-set monologue on the insignificance of us on this spinning planet, which certainly satisfied my galactic fanaticism. The cosmos has been a recurring theme throughout Shikari’s albums and continued with their most recent single ‘Redshift’ – I mean, how can you not be impressed by a band that have a scientifically accurate music video (you know, apart from Earth imploding into a black hole, that’s not happened yet). Admittedly, ‘Constellations’ is probably one of my favourite songs of all time. Rou’s poignant lyrics are almost unrivalled in today’s music scene. Sometimes in life, your world comes crashing down, or you might just be having a terrible day, but there’s always a song or two that reminds us how lucky we are: that we’re all just made from the remnants of stars, and the fact that we exist – intelligent, aware, articulate and unique beings – is a radical, random blessing in this infinite universe, but yet also reminds us how strong we can be together. So many of Rou’s lyrics encompass this and Rou has even said himself, in an interview with Kerrang!, that he thinks Enter Shikari stands for unity, for the greater good. Some people argue that lyrics aren’t an important aspect in music, but some of Rou’s words resonate so strongly with me and have helped cheer me up on my worst days. Saying that, although his lyrics may be out of this world, Rou is also one of the most down to earth musicians I’ve met – you have to be to take the piss out of yourself sometimes…[clap, clap, clap].
He’s my musical hero, because everything he does, he does with such passion. As well as being an extremely talented musician, he continually reminds his audience that he’s not just here to entertain, but to communicate and enlighten us of some of the most important issues in the world, while simultaneously making an incredible cacophonous riot for us all to jump around to.
There’s only one more thing to add. Rou has even taught his beautiful cat Freya to give him a paw. Now if that’s not heroic, I don’t know what is.