Ep48: Rou Reynolds (Enter Shikari) on wielding music as a tool of unity – Transcript

Ep48: Rou Reynolds (Enter Shikari) on wielding music as a tool of unity – Transcript


SPEAKERS

Laura Kidd, Rou Reynolds


Rou Reynolds
We’re all vulnerable toward music. It will make you feel something. And most likely, it will make you feel a similar thing to the other person who’s listening to the same piece that you are. And that reminds us that, you know, to quite a large degree, we are the same. And in a world that’s increasingly divided and polarised, I think that’s quite a noble thing, really. So I take that relatively seriously.


Laura Kidd
I’m Laura and this is my podcast. Hi!

Attention Engineer is a show where I share deep conversations with fellow artists about creativity, grit and determination. My aim is to consistently remind you – and remind myself – that creativity really is for everyone.

Rou Reynolds is a vocalist, songwriter, composer, author and award-winning producer, best known for fronting Enter Shikari. Formed in 1999, the band are known for making outspoken, genre-spanning music accompanied by explosive live shows.

Sixth album “Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible” came out in April 2020, and has recently been followed up with “Moratorium (Broadcasts From The Interruption)”, a collection of beautiful reinterpretations of songs from the latest studio album plus some extra treats. Rou recently won Best Production at the Heavy Music Awards 2021 for his work on “Nothing Is True…”, and his latest book “A Treatise on Possibility: Perspectives on Humanity Hereafter” was published by Faber Music in July.

Some of the conversations I’ve had on this show were quick to organise, and others took a bit longer. This one was well worth the wait…here we go!


LK  

Hi, how are you doing today?

RR  

I’m all right, yeah. Er, actually, well, I’ve got a bit of sciatica, which is really annoying and makes me feel very old.

LK  

Is that the back one?

RR  

Yeah, like my upper back is, you know, like the nerve pain where it sort of shoots.

LK  

Oh no.

So that’s quite grim. And I’ve just got over COVID. So I’m sort of in the wars at the moment.

LK  

I did see on Twitter that you said to me about shedding and I just…I’m very thankful and lucky that I haven’t had it, so I didn’t understand the shedding thing. And maybe you don’t need to go into full details about shedding, if it’s as visceral as it sounds, I dunno…

RR  

Just shedding the virus like, you know, when you do a test, it registers how much like, you know, the sort of more…I don’t know whether you want this in the podcast –

LK  

We’ll see!

RR  

The more defined the red line on the lateral flow test, the more you’re shedding of the virus, basically. So my line was getting redder and redder as I tested each day.

LK  

Yeah.

And then it just suddenly sort of disappeared, and I realised that then I was no longer shedding the virus. So it was a good thing.

LK  

So you’ve been through it. So how are you feeling now, post COVID? Or just post COVID?

RR  

Oh, yeah, fine. Yeah, yeah, all good I mean, you know, I was very lucky, really. It was weird, because I got it just after my second job, so at first I thought it was just like, symptoms, you know, the side effects of the second job, but um…

LK  

Yeah!

RR  

…turned out no, it wasn’t. So I had not only the sort of fake COVID from Pfizer, I also had my own body dealing with the actual COVID at the same time so it was, yeah, it was intense, but no, it’s all good.

LK  

And the sciatica thing, to go back to that, have you got a decent chair? I want to make sure you’ve got a decent chair.

RR  

No, no, this is an awful chair. Yeah, I need to get a proper studio chair that actually allows me to…I like this, can the rest of this podcast just be about me moaning basically, about various stuff…

LK  

And I’ll just give you the advice you need, how about that? For free.

RR  

Sounds good, yeah yeah. 

LK  

I’ve got this wonderful chair, I don’t know if you can see it?

RR  

Yeah, that’s what I need. That looks like a proper designed….what are they – there’s like a word for it, isn’t it?

LK  

It’s Herman Miller…I think it’s a Herman Miller Aeron – and before anyone accuses me of having loads of money to spend on a chair, first of all, if I did, it would be a great thing to spend money on because we sit in these things all day long. Second of all, I actually got it off Gumtree for £120, so ha.

RR  

Nice!

LK  

It’s the one thing I think, or, one of the few things we should really be investing in.

RR  

Yeah.

LK  

As people who sit in chairs all day making music.

RR  

I’ve felt that for a while, to be honest. So I think this is going to be the last push I’ve needed to finally get rid of this, this crappy IKEA chair.

LK  

We can’t have that, we need you to be fit and healthy and making music, and you know, you need a decent chair. Anyway, we could talk about chairs for…no, actually, I think I have run out of chair anecdotes. So maybe we could…instead, could you introduce yourself to the listeners of my podcast in case they don’t know who I’m talking to about chairs?

RR  

Yeah, I am Rou Reynolds. I’m the singer in a band Enter Shikari. Songwriter, producer. Yeah, that’s about it, I suppose.

LK  

Human?

RR  

Human. Oh, author as well.

LK  

Yeah.

RR  

I keep forgetting to add that in. The longer the bio, you know, the better the human, apparently.

LK  

It’s a good one. The more likes on a photo, the better we are.

RR  

Yes, exactly.

LK  

That’s how it works. Well, congratulations on the book. Your fourth, I believe?

RR  

Yeah. Well, I mean, the others I suppose were more like groups of essays explaining the song lyrics where this, it’s more of like a proper book, really. So I kind of call this my first I think, really, I can’t claim the others as proper books, but yeah, no, thank you. Yeah, it was a bloody arduous project to do, but I’m really glad I did it, and it’s out and going down really well.

LK  

Good. And from what I’ve been reading, you’ve been saying that the book was something that you got into doing during lockdown and stuff, so it’s something that’s been your creative outlet through that time, or something to fill your time?

RR  

Yeah, absolutely. Because it was never meant to be like a proper, you know, non-fiction book of 300 pages, or whatever it was, it was just going to be another kind of accompaniment guide to the previous album and just explaining the motivations behind the lyrics and such. But yeah, with the pandemic, and with everything going on, I sort of felt…for a while, I’d felt a little bit of frustration about the limitation of a four minute sort of, you know, pop – ostensibly – track. There’s only so much detail or depth you can go into, so I was like, right, that’s it, I’m actually gonna, you know, talk about the same subjects that I’m talking about in my music, but actually delve into them properly. And so yeah, the project just expanded and expanded.

LK  

Yeah. I love that. I mean, I’ve released five albums, and I haven’t yet delved as deeply into my lyrics to explain them as you have done, but I find the way that you do things so interesting and inspiring as a fellow artist, because I think that there is so much depth to… Yeah, the words in my songs are kind of skating on the surface of obviously a lot of emotion, a lot of experience underneath them.

There’s definitely an argument for saying don’t overexplain lyrics so that you’re taking away from the listener’s experience and that they can bring to it from their life. But I think the angle that you’ve been taking, which is that you’re explaining or you’re writing about the world in which the songs were written, rather than sort of saying this song’s very specifically about this one thing, and if you don’t get that, then you’re wrong. It doesn’t seem like that angle at all.

RR  

Yeah, yeah, exactly. I think you always have to stipulate that, like, as an artist who puts art into the world, it’s sort of a gift really, even though of course we all have to act within a capitalistic economic system.

LK  

Yeah.

RR  

Once it’s out there, it’s not yours anymore. And it’s for people to put their own experiences, memories, nostalgia, meaning – everything goes into music that we all hear. So it’s then, you know, I don’t feel like I’m kind of explaining it to someone like, it has to mean this, you know, like, dictatorial with it. So, yeah, I feel like it’s my job to sort of say, well this is what I intended andthen actually explain in the books, it’s more about, like, why I wanted to write about these things. Not necessarily the nuts and bolts of exactly what I’m getting at, yeah.

LK  

Yeah, yeah, and that definitely comes across. It’s so interesting – so I remember, in the distant past when I used to play live shows, and I would always think, do I say “this is a song about blah, blah, blah”, because I always really hated it when someone’s kind of like, “this is a song about the day I went to the bus stop, and there was a man there. It’s called man at the bus stop”. And I’m like, yeah, I would have got that from all of the words you’re about to sing to me. But um, yeah, cos it feels like there’s a real nice, collaborative thing when the audience are bringing their thing to your song. But of course, yeah, you’ve got more to say. And I love that. I love that you’re saying more things.

RR  

Yeah, I think in this day and age as well, you could…one could argue that, when you’re writing music that is social commentary, or political – to use the P word that just switches all your listeners off straight away, probably, anyone’s listeners off not just yours I mean – yeah, to do that there is then some sort of responsibility to make sure what you’re trying to get across, gets across and people don’t mistake or misinterpret what you’re trying to say. Because, you know, there’s a lot of weight in that type of music, and that type of art, so yeah, I think for me, there is a sort of sense of responsibility, as well. But for the people who want to know exactly what our views are and what we’re talking about, then it’s there for them to delve into.

LK  

Yeah, absolutely. And it filled up your time during various lockdowns it seems.

RR  

It did. Yeah. Yeah, I’m sure I would have lost my mind if I didn’t have that to concentrate on.

LK  

But not only a book – a new album as well. You really kept busy.

RR  

Yeah. Oh, no, but that was before. So we finished that in…we mastered it in January, and then it came out at literally the start of lockdown.

LK  

I’m talking about the one that you’ve put out this year, though, I’m not uninformed [laughs].

RR  

[laughs a lot] Sorry, sorry, gotcha!

LK  

Have you forgotten?

RR  

Yeah, yeah!

LK  

Yes, you did put an album out in March 2020, but also…

RR  

I forget that’s even an album, yeah.

LK  

Well, it’s a collection, isn’t it – a collection of stuff you’ve done during the weird times.

RR  

Yeah. Yeah. So it’s all the the kind of acoustic tracks and live streams and the little bits and pieces. I like those – we’ve done a few in our career, those sorts of albums where it’s what would have been back in the day B-sides and rarities?

LK  

Yeah

RR  

That kind of thing, I enjoy those.

LK  

Yeah. Deep cuts.

RR  

Yeah, absolutely.

LK  

But they’re so beautifully done. So I think – I mean, I’m taking this from the way that I hear those words, which is like, live streams and stuff: I know they can be super high quality, and I know they can be a person singing into their phone with a guitar, and all are valid and interesting and can be potentially great. But, the production value of the stuff that you’ve put out is really high. So I think saying live stream could mean so many things, but you’ve made beautiful versions of the songs off your latest album.

RR  

Oh, awesome.

LK  

And there’s some live performances right, with the whole band, but you’re separately recording, and then stuff in the woods and there’s a beautiful cover of heroes. It’s a gorgeous collection of stuff. And to me, really interesting to hear that different side of Enter Shikari, you know?

RR  

Oh awesome.

LK  

Yeah, really cool.

RR  

Those kind of, you know, stripped back versions are such a big part of us now. I always enjoy like just showing – not just the bare bones of a song…a lot of bands will just settle for a kind of, they’ll play the chords, strum the chords on a guitar and that will be the acoustic version, which is, you know, obviously, that’s fine, and for a lot of songs that’s, that’s absolutely all it needs. And what I’m doing is probably overbaking things. But yeah, I like to sort of play around with the…I don’t know really…the real heart of the song and just deliver it in a completely different way, and use different chords and, and kind of yeah, put a different emotion into the delivery, I suppose.

LK  

Mm. But given that your band is well known for, real sort of genre defying productions, that’s what I find most interesting about this, because…I don’t know if anyone would listen to your music and be like, oh, it’s just a load of tricks cos, I mean, it’s not – it’s just interesting, and there’s a lot of different stuff going on and it really blends a lot of stuff together, which I think is great. But I think then when you can go “and yeah, I could play it by myself in the woods here”. So it is a real song, it’s not just a bunch of production, you know? I just think it makes it even deeper really, when you listen back to the…because I like listening to the deep cuts thing and then going back to the album going “oh yes, I can hear more things”. It’s really good.

RR  

Yeah, I think for us as well, it’s a good – or for me, I should say – it’s a good practice to try and get to the real skeleton of the song like okay, what drives this? You know, what melodies are important, what should be concentrated on? And I think that’s something that I’m not very good at, it’s often hard for me to make a minimal song or to strip things back. I’m always like oh, you could do this and this and, you know, I have to have to sort of rein myself in a bit, really. So yeah, it’s always good, good fun to do.

LK  

But it’s interesting that it’s come that way around. So when you’re writing songs for the band, is there not already a version that’s like these versions, that then you build upon?

RR  

It’s weird, it’s actually quite quite rare for me to write a song that is just me and the guitar like tinkering “Ooh, that’s a nice chord sequence, ooh that melody works”. And then like, I would just write a demo, you know. And that’s what I used to do as a kid, really. You know, I grew up with Britpop –

LK  

Mmm, me too.

RR
– and that’s how I knew that Noel Gallagher wrote, you know, he’d do the demo first, which was literally just him and a guitar and then they build it up and make it the full track. But for some reason, I don’t normally do that. There isn’t…certainly for the last three albums, there hasn’t really been a demo, it just seamlessly goes into the the track and you know, the first thing that may come may be like, a really weird, massively processed synth or something. So like, you know, some of the niggly detail stuff is done, possibly right at the beginning. So it’s, um, yeah, it’s a bit all over the place, really.

LK
Yeah. I used to have more full demos, acoustic demos when I wasn’t then recording my own stuff, producing my own stuff, because it just seems like well that’s just an extra step that doesn’t need to happen, because if I’m writing the song why aren’t I just recording it straight away?

RR  

Yeah, yeah.

LK  

Is that how you do things?

RR  

Yeah, I think so. I think the one detriment to it is that you can quite easily lose the broader perspective in terms of knowing what the song structure is, knowing the bird’s eye view of the track if you like.

LK  

Yeah, yeah.

RR  

But like, yeah, as long as you keep that in mind, then I think it’s, yeah, it does sort of just make sense, I think, just to start throwing stuff at it straight away.

LK  

Yeah, well it’s fun isn’t it, it can take you to the next bit that wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t have that mad synth that comes in. I’ve been reading a lot about storytelling, so books about stories – telling stories about storytelling books, storytelling books – about that kind of thing of like the skeleton of the story. So what’s the skeleton? And then you put the meat and stuff on…that’s a terrible analogy. It’s not my analogy, I’m just explaining it badly – I think you get my drift, which is that you have the skeleton and that means like, what are you actually trying to say? Then you can add all the fun stuff on top and put fancy clothes on it, but if you took the fancy clothes off and everything falls apart, then you don’t have anything in the first place.

RR  

Yeah, for sure. Oh, exactly.

LK  

So that’s the test of a song isn’t it? If you can stand in the woods with your electric guitar…I don’t even know how you recorded that, because it sounds so good in the woods, but –

RR  

My laptop almost died because right at the end of it – of the, which one was it, “The Pressure’s On” – it’s a real thunderstorm.

LK  

Oh, ok!

RR  

The video’s on on YouTube, but I was underneath a quite thick tree, so I was protected to some extent, but it was so heavy that it was coming through as I was like, “just gotta get to the end of the song!”, and I slightly speed up because I can see my laptop basically starting to get soaked.

LK 

But did you have everything just plugged into the laptop then? So you didn’t have an amp and stuff out there?

RR  

Yeah, no, I just had a little USB powered soundcard and yeah, just found a nice little place in a nature reserve near me. And it was absolutely glorious sunshine when I started.

LK  

You brought it on yourself really, didn’t you?!

RR  

Exactly, yeah.

LK  

Ha, brilliant. Yeah, it’s a really great collection, everyone should obviously listen to it.

RR  

Thank you so much.

LK  

Do you have a mission in your music career? Because you obviously like to use your time…I was gonna say time well, like that sounds like I’ve decided you’re using your time well, but it seems like you like to do things. So what’s that all about? What’s the drive for all that?

RR  

These are the hardest questions aren’t they, the most broad? I think there’s, I mean, there’s so many layers to it. Like, to some extent, it’s just an expression of me. I am quite an introverted person, so in a way, it’s communication. This is one way that I can communicate with people, with groups of people, with masses of people. And I get a great thrill out of that, you know, the process of writing a song: the thought that someone else will experience what I’m experiencing, the excitement, the rush, that’s one of the driving factors. But then, you know, I could be more sort of philosophical and grandiose about it.

I feel like I’m wielding a tool of unity. I think music, one of the great things about it, throughout the journey that our species has been on for millennia, it’s been one thing that’s been able to bring us together. It’s one thing that makes us feel our shared sense of vulnerability. We’re all vulnerable toward music. It will make you feel something. And most likely, it will make you feel a similar thing to the other person who’s listening to the same piece that you are. And that reminds us that, you know, to quite a large degree, we are the same.

And in a world that’s increasingly divided and polarised, I think that’s quite a noble thing, really. So I take that relatively seriously. But yeah, there’s so many ways in which it feels healthy and feels like a necessity for me to write music and to perform music. Yeah, it’s a difficult one to answer.

LK  

I always try and lure people in with a little bit of “Hey, how’s it going?” And then we’re like “Right, let’s do this!”. Cos I only do this show because I’m fascinated, because I have made music for a long time and I want to know why other people do it, how other people do it. It can be such a solitary thing – I’m a solo artist as well, so it’s incredibly solitary – so just to know that other people do things that are like this, and we’re all quite similar actually, is really good. And it’s interesting, you said about music being a gift. That word can mean so many things, but it’s only in the past few years I started thinking about songwriting as being a service.

Because before that, I suppose I had the impression that if I was trying to make music and share it, then it was all about me trying to sort of gain status and people to think I was cool or good or something. And I wasn’t comfortable with that, because I didn’t really want that kind of like acclaim or adulation. That actually makes me feel really weird right now, even saying it! It’s not that I don’t want respect, or I don’t want to have a career, it’s just that I don’t want it for those reasons. I never wanted it…I was never doing it to be cool – so if I’m cool, that’s completely accidental! – so when I started thinking of it though, as a service, so a songwriter has a place in a community, and they have a role to play in the community, and they give something to that community, it’s about contribution more than anything else.

And so when I saw that you did your own podcast just over a year ago about mindfulness and meditation, I just thought that’s so great, because that’s *only* about contributing something and sharing something with people. Because I can’t imagine that the idea behind that was to get really famous and rich, because podcasts do not pay for a start. So can we talk about that a little bit, about like, what was the idea for doing that? Because again, I think that’s a brilliant thing you’ve done. Well done.

RR  

Yeah, yeah, nice. Thank you. Well, yeah, I think I just felt like I had benefited so much from mindfulness meditation, and meditation more broadly. And even broader still, to be slightly reductive, “Eastern knowledge”. In the West, we are so adamant that everything that is of worth comes from Western history, and I think, you know, it’s very inward, I think, to think that. But we’ve been indoctrinated to some extent. And yeah, I felt that I’d gained so much insight and knowledge and learned tools that really, really helped me on a psychological scale. And I just wanted to be able to relay some of that information really, it was as simple as that.

I started doing Instagram Live meditation sessions, just on our profile, during the first lockdown which seemed to go really well. And I was still sort of slightly surprised just how little people know about it, and what they do know is often quite negative. But I think meditation has suffered for decades from like, the worst marketing campaign ever. A lot of people think of it as this sort of wishy washy, very unscientific, you know, people in baggy clothes and didgeridoos and mystical synths in the background and “clear your mind” and just a load of bullshit, basically. Whereas actually, the last decade, especially, we’ve seen science catch up with just how beneficial it is to our mental health, to our understanding of our own inner experience, really.

Yeah, so I just wanted to kind of encourage people, I suppose, to just give it a try, see if there’s anything there to help you. Because for me, it’s just strange that we’re not given these bearings as children at school, you know.

LK  

Yeah!

RR  

How to deal with our own minds, and all the inconsistencies and the way we ruminate on all the troubles we have with like, understanding things. It just seems to be, to me such a given that we should be at least given some direction.

LK  

Yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s funny, because there’s that saying about, like, it’s kinda like a thing from school that I remember, which is, you know, “If you get angry count to 10”. That’s essentially what meditation is, it’s giving yourself a moment before you react. And that moment can be tiny, or it can be a little bit longer. Meditation’s changed my life over the past three years, hugely.

RR  

Oh, amazing.

LK  

Yeah, so I love talking about it, especially on this because I think it’s good that people can learn a bit more about it. Because I never really associated it with any of the bad stuff, so I don’t know where any of that’s coming from. So when I talk about meditation, or I mention it to people, and I get this reaction I’m a bit confused, and I’m not really sure how to unpack it.

But it is that – if you get angry, you count to 10 before you lose your shit. Like, that’s kind of it, and also you don’t have to clear your whole mind, that’s impossible. And it’s just about sitting. Surely everyone could take 5/10 minutes a day to sit down and be quiet and breathe and put your phone in another room. And that’s essentially the start of it, isn’t it? Obviously it can be so much more.

RR  

Yeah. And we should make it clear that it’s fascinating.

LK  

Yeah.

RR  

Because on paper, it sounds boring. What, like put my phone down? What, just be alone with my thoughts? What am I going to do?!

LK  

What’s the point?!

RR  

Yeah, yeah. But I think that’s where the science and the studies that have been done really show the benefits. The psychological and mental health benefits are mad, but also I think what really encourages me is just having more insight and more understanding of our own inner experience and how our own inner experience is mental. I mean that in the sort of derogatively archaic sense, you know, it’s crazy. And we all think we’re a bit crazy, and we all just sort of either don’t talk about it or just we just try and hide things – 

LK  

Or we make songs.

RR  

Yeah, yeah. So it’s just a fascinating learning experience, I think.

LK  

Yeah, yeah, definitely. And I love the tone of the show. Everyone should also check this out, but you’re just so straightforward in it. And I love that. I didn’t pick up on any panpipe moods in the background –

RR  

Excellent, yeah yeah yeah.

LK  

– unless it was just sort of inherent, I don’t know, I couldn’t hear it. I had a really good conversation with Liela Moss from The Duke Spirit on this show about meditation as well, because she’s gone and done the Vipassana silent retreats.

RR  

Right, wow.

LK  

I had my finger hovering over clicking to book one, just before the pandemic happened. And then obviously, I’m waiting but I’m into the idea. So 10 days silent meditation: no books, obviously no phones, no electronics, nothing.

RR  

Yeah, it’s extreme isn’t it?

LK  

It’s apparently incredibly excruciatingly painful to start with and then yeah, kind of blissful. I don’t know.

RR  

Yeah, I think we all get a sense of what it may be like in a smaller way if we go on holiday and we just put our phone on silent, not just on silent – on aeroplane mode for a day. And you know, you’re just going on walks, or you’re on a beach and it’s just like your pace of life dramatically slows down and it is kind of blissful, isn’t it?

LK  

But isn’t it terrifying that airplane mode is the thing people could do. It’s ok cos it’s right there, but I can’t do anything, but it’s right there in case I need it, yeah, weird.

RR  

I’d love to do something like that at some point. The most I’ve done is like an hour session of meditation. But yeah, that’s a whole different ballgame. 10 days, blimey.

LK  

The last time I did an hour of meditation, I felt like I was floating above my body. It was amazing.

RR  

Yeah, yeah, that’s that stuff’s really weird. Yeah.

LK  

Not to put anyone off, it doesn’t normally happen. In 10 minutes that doesn’t happen to me. But I do get a really weird buzzing in my ears every time I do it.

RR  

Yeah, it’s like your body’s trying to recalibrate, to like, well what is there? What’s going on? It’s looking for something, isn’t it?

LK  

I just thought my brain was defragging or something.

RR  

Yeah, it’s fascinating.

LK  

So for me, I’ve been putting music out for 11 years now, and the whole time Enter Shikari has been this beacon of fierce independence to me, but on a far bigger scale than most independent artists usually get to enjoy. So I just have always found that to really, really a cool thing to look up to. So thank you for the inspiration, first of all, and I just wanted to briefly mention the whole MySpace thing, because again, in my mind, in my version of events that I’ve sort of soaked in from the atmosphere, the band started at a very particular time in social media history, where it was suddenly possible to gain a huge following on the internet.

But when I think about it now, I now know – having put records out and been around a bit longer – you only really hear sort of the headlines of what happened. So in your mind, was MySpace, this huge thing for the band? Was it a sort of a catalyst? Or was it part of – was there loads of other stuff going on and that was part of it?

RR  

Yeah, I think it was a big part. It wasn’t like it is today, where you can put out one TikTok  video and become world famous.

LK  

Yeah.

RR  

MySpace was more of a supporting vehicle. You know, it was basically a hub where for the first time people could come together and show their presence on a national and global scale, which we didn’t have before. You know, before it was just, you had the shows.

LK  

Yeah.

RR  

And that was it. The few hours where we were all in a room together in Nottingham was it, but now people in Nottingham could see people in Glasgow had also liked us, and were also hanging out on our page and all that kind of thing. So it was the first time where you have this visible base to everyone all the time. So you weren’t just relying on the shows to just make as much impact as you can, and then like, just go off again, and tour the other side of the country. So yeah, it was huge in that respect. And it was the first time that it felt similar to the shows in the fact that there was camaraderie, and it was a scene, and that was quite important.

For us, that’s how we booked a lot of our shows, you know, by connecting with bands on MySpace. You know, we’ll get you a show down here if you get us a show up there, that kind of thing. And so that all helped but still there was two years of touring before we even got anywhere on MySpace, and there were still countless horrible, difficult experiences so MySpace didn’t sort of alleviate us of an ascension – a slow, arduous ascension – but it did certainly help that, I think.

LK  

So how did it feel then when MySpace ended? Did you manage to pull people over from the MySpace page to everywhere else that you were, to your site, to your mailing list and things like that?

RR  

I can’t remember how it ended or when it ended. Yeah, I think it was just – the other social media platforms were like taking off so it just kind of blended slowly into the background. It wasn’t like a, “Ugh God! How are we going to do without this thing?!” It just sort of disappeared slowly.

LK  

Yeah. I just wonder sometimes because I had like, 20,000 MySpace followers, and I don’t have 20,000 Twitter followers. So it was like, where have you all gone? Who were you? Were they bots? Is anyone still with me from those days? I often wonder – not often, that sounds really weird, I’m not sitting around thinking about MySpace – but it was a very particular thing. It was so browsable. And I think really now the only similarly browseable by genre thing is Bandcamp.

RR  

Right?

LK  

Yeah, all the music in the world is on Spotify and stuff, but it’s not quite the same kind of browseability, the way that you go from one thing to another, I think it’s a bit different. So, I wonder about that stuff sometimes. And I can only imagine, you know, having been such a hit on MySpace and it being so big for you, that closing its doors might be quite a scary thing for a band unless other things are in place, you know?

RR  

Yeah, I think we were lucky in the fact that it never became our major or our only tool. It was just yeah, as I say, a supporting thing. So for us, it was still…the shows were everything, the performance was everything, and the music. A lot of those MySpace bands became just like so heavily involved in their own aesthetic, and that being the most important thing. To the point that they’re sort of like, I don’t know, indebted to their aesthetic. And when their major platform that they had to show their aesthetic disappeared, I think they had a lot more more trouble than perhaps we did.

LK  

Yeah. Do you think that kind of rise, or that – what did you call it? “Painful ascension” – you didn’t say painful… gradual? Your phrasing was brilliant.

RR  

Arduous, gradual ascension.

LK  

That one. Do you think that could happen on any single social media platform these days? I suppose TikTok, as you mentioned, could be a thing.

RR  

Yeah, I feel like it’s either quite instant, and dramatic or it doesn’t happen at all. Or at least it feels like those people who are having that gradual ascension, there’s a ceiling. For me, that’s what it’s felt like for a few years, there’s some great artists and great bands who have been slowly building up a fan base, but because, you know, less and less independent venues are with us, they’re closing down all the time, there’s less scenes, there’s less ways in the real world that you can support each other and discover new bands and stuff.

It seems to be that there’s this cap that you can only get so big. I don’t know, maybe it’s just in our world of whatever you want to call it, alternative music I guess would be the broadest term. But yeah, it’s interesting, but I think the very quick, dramatic “Hello, I’m now massive” seems to be the new way of being “successful”, and I’m using inverted commas, yeah.

LK  

Yeah, because that’s the thing – you don’t have to have 100,000 whatevers, on whatever platform, to have a creative career at all. It’s just that those numbers… I don’t know, it’s like when I, I put videos on YouTube every week, and some of them have 400 views, and some of them have 3.5K, and I think a lot of doing this, and consistently making work and sharing it with the world is about going, those numbers, I have to detach myself from those numbers, that doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter how many people have streamed your song, or how many people have…it does matter how many people have bought it, because that means you can buy food and things, but that’s a quantitative response to your work, it’s not a qualitative response to your work. So it has to be about more than that. And I do worry sometimes when I sort of get the sense that artists who are trying to keep growing – and they’re small in the same way that I am, and they want to grow – are spending maybe a little bit too much time tweeting, thinking that’s going to do it. Because I don’t think that’s going to do it, certainly not alone. So it’s a case of doing a lot of things.

RR  

Yeah, and you know, there’s a lot of danger, I think, behind being focused on the quantitative success, as you say. There’s so much interesting science there, things like how outside of music, for a first example, bonuses in the business world not only blunt our moral compass, but they erode our creative thinking and our ability to be imaginative, because the goal starts to slowly become just, you know, how much profit can you make? How much money can you make? How much power can you gain?

And it’s the same thing with…there’s a great book by Dan Pink called “Drive”, where he talks about internal and external motivation. As soon as you use you start getting profit focused, you will completely lose not only your creativity, but your motivation. So it can be really dangerous, and I think, you know, it’s happened again and again in pop music, that’s why pop music relies so intrinsically on the more niche underground genres because that’s where it gets its creativity from, because it’s impossible –

LK  

Because that’s where everyone’s trying hardest?

RR  

Yeah, and it’s impossible to be that creative and interesting, and sort of push boundaries forward when you’re a massive pop artist, because you’re a business then. And your motivation, and your focus has been, you know, at least somewhat polluted, even if the artist doesn’t realise it themselves.

LK  

Yeah, yeah.

RR  

So yeah, there’s definitely dangers with all that kind of stuff. But yeah, you have to just try and use all the tools that you’re given in terms of social media and everything, and just build yourself up to at least a point where you can stay afloat.

LK  

Yeah, exactly. And I think that’s a wonderful goal. I don’t think anything beyond that sounds that fun anyway. Walking down the road and having people yell at you seems like the absolute worst way to walk down the road to me, you know, and I was talking to Miki Berenyi from Piroshka and Lush in the last episode, we were talking about how when people get really…when people from the sort of 80’s / 90’s / whenever, who had massive songs or massive albums, they only really put out 12, or maybe 24 songs total. And then life was just so easy for them, and then you don’t hear any more music from them. And I think sometimes to myself, I hope they’re all right. Because having all of your self worth rest on 24 songs, or however many have come out sounds dreadful, because then you’ve got 24 hours a day to fill with other things for the rest of your life, what are you gonna do?

So I love that I’m not huge, that’s fine, because I’ve got plenty to do in my days. And I feel like I’m doing things that are useful, not just for myself, but hopefully for others. And yeah, you just don’t want it to be too easy, there’s nothing to write about, surely?  If everything was great, and we all had all the money we wanted or needed, and all the, you know, fun toys and stuff, not only would we be living what I would think to be quite a gross, luxurious lifestyle, when others don’t have that luxury, literally, but you know, I just think that your subject matter is like – what are you gonna write about? My food is cold, or my car got a scratch on it, or? I don’t know!

RR  

Yeah, yeah. It’s funny, isn’t it, yeah, when you see like – it happens in pop and hip hop, especially, where an artist has been all about their difficult lifestyle. And the lifestyle changes, and they have to make a decision, am I going to try and sort of fake writing the same music with the same, like, aggro to it, or am I gonna present people with a different kind of perspective? It must be a difficult decision.

LK  

Yeah. What stumbling blocks do you find you come up against creatively? And how do you deal with them? So I’m thinking about things like inner critic, or writer’s block or that kind of thing?

RR  

Well, I’ve had massive difficulty since the start of the pandemic. But I mean, normally, I find the most difficult stuff for me is the…I guess, it’s just a confidence thing. When I’m at the very start of writing, say, a new album, or new big project, you look back at your finished projects, and they’re these mighty bastions, and you look at other peoples’ music, and their finished projects, and they sound incredible. And then there you are, with just some rough ideas, and you’re like, “Oh, Christ, how am I going to do this?” It literally feels like you’re at the foot of a mountain, and you’re just looking up and you’re like, “How the hell am I going to traverse this?”.

That really fills me…still to the point where even before our last album, I was just full of anxiety. And I find that quite difficult and the relief, that eventually every time has come, when I start getting my groundings with an idea, or there’s one particular demo, you know, a bit of music that is starting to serve as a guiding light in terms of the instrumentation or the textures or whatever that need the album will be – that’s when I’m like, okay, phew, and then that begins to subside. But yeah, that bit of the cycle, I find it incredibly hard.

But yeah, so since basically the start of the pandemic, I haven’t written anything until about last week, is when I’ve started basically becoming a songwriter again after being an author, really focused on the book, and then we did a docuseries and that just took – I can’t say all of my time, because I still tried to write music and I felt like I just couldn’t. And that was annoying because that seemed to be – I felt like an anomaly there, it felt like over the lockdowns I’d just, you know, load up Instagram and like, oh, look at these artists in the studio being super productive and writing loads of stuff, and oh shit, I’ve got nothing coming.

Yeah, so the last sort of 18 months has been pretty weird. I’ve never gone more than maybe two months tops without writing something, so it’s very odd.

LK  

But when you write songs and music that’s about stuff, you can’t just turn on a tap and say a bunch more stuff. Because you say a lot of things on each album… I have this thing at the moment, I’m planning…well, I’m going to, I’m saying it here, so I’m going to…start writing my new album next week. I don’t know how long it’s gonna take. I don’t know what I’m writing about yet, because I haven’t started it. But I can see how the fear could be like, well, what am I going to say, though? And if I’ve got nothing to say, what’s the point?

I’m just going to start fucking about with synths and stuff because it’s fun, and then see what happens. But I think it would be quite a lot to expect everyone to be able to, say, write a song a week or something. I don’t really believe it when people say they write music all the time like that, because I’ve always done it in a kind of project based way.

RR  

Yeah, yeah. I did a lot of pop writing a few years ago, and that was really eye-opening, because it’s just a different process completely. It’s very much like you’re…I don’t want to be too disparaging of it, but you’re churning out music, every day you’re writing with new artists, and it’s very, sort of construction line. That’s what it feels like.

LK

You kind of write bits, don’t you, don’t you have like, there’s the melody person, and then there’s the…I dunno, there can be a lot of people in the room, can’t there?

RR  

Yeah, well, yeah, it can either be your producer and a songwriter or two with the artist, or it can be like, yeah, literally 30 people that the track gets passed round to, you know, one guy does the tambourine or something –

LK  

Second syllable’s mine!

RR  

Yeah, yeah, it’s all very strange.

LK  

It’s just a different thing, isn’t it? I’m not disparaging about it, either, I think it’s interesting.

RR  

Yeah, the only thing I find difficult with it is yeah, if you’re that prolific and that constant and consistent with your output, it’s not all coming from a place of deep emotion, then is it, because we don’t go through *that* much trauma…

LK  

Hopefully not!

RR  

…and we don’t go through that much glee to write about these experiences.

LK  

Or if we were, we wouldn’t have time to write the songs about them? I feel? Yeah, you’d have to be focusing on that. Dealing with that.

RR  

Yeah. So it does then become like a production thing, like a production line. And you’re just yeah, sort of going through the normal stages that you go through to write a song, and you’re not really putting soul into it. And, you know, and that’s why a lot of pop music is soulless, basically!

LK  

Guess so!

RR  

But, yeah, I just found interesting because it completely different, really, from how I write. But I think it’s important for any songwriter to understand that you cannot pressure yourself to be that constant with your output. Just as from the mindfulness world, just as we understand that we cannot be like angry for more than an hour, really – what happens, if we’re still angry after an hour, we’re just replaying things in our head, and we’re stoking our own anger, it’s manufactured then.

It’s the same thing with inspiration, you can’t expect yourself to be constantly inspired, just as you can’t be constantly angry, or constantly happy. Like you know [sings] “life is a rollercoaster…” [laughs] So it’s just, that’s what it’s like we have to be expectant of phases of just complete nothingness and not knowing what to write about and being stuck and lost. That’s to be expected; it’s all part of the journey.

LK  

Right. Yeah. And for me the idea that mindfulness and meditation is a practice, in the same way that you would practice…I don’t know, I don’t really practice things, I’m very bad at rehearsing – but in terms of practising meditation, so it’s not about doing the perfect meditation, it’s about practising meditation to then have a better day, a better life, not to do the perfect meditation.

Therefore, if I’m sitting down to write a song, I try to think of it as a practice; I’m not expecting to write the best song in the world, so I won’t be disappointed if I only just get a little bit done. But I know that if I sit there and I just keep doing it, there’s a bit of a war of attrition, if I can stop myself from getting distracted and wandering off downstairs to watch YouTube, for instance, then I can probably make something and then the next day I could edit that thing to be better because you can’t edit something that doesn’t exist.

RR  

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And, you know, that’s the the hardest bit isn’t it, exercising the demon from your brain. Oh, how do I make this reality, because it sounds so great in my brain, but it’s very difficult to extract, mm.

LK  

It’s dealing with that discomfort. That’s seems to be what most making most things is. It’s choosing discomfort over comfort.

RR  

Yeah, well I mean, there’s a lot disappointment, and there’s a lot of difficulty in songwriting as well. People think of it as just like a kind of lower, base thing whereas actually it can be really, really mentally testing, you know, you go through all sorts of self doubt and stuff.

LK  

I think also getting over the idea that it’s supposed to feel like a party. When I’m writing albums, I’m not having the time of my life. It’s not like going on holiday or something, or like, I dunno, I don’t even know what else I could liken it to. It’s not that it’s so deeply unpleasant I’m sitting here in tears or anything, either, but it’s work, it’s doing some creative work. And I love it, but it’s not a joy. It’s not like having a massage, or sitting in a hot tub, or…I don’t know what else, what other things do I like? I don’t know.

RR  

Yeah.

LK  

Eating a pizza…it’s something else! But what it is, is wonderful. And I love the feeling of having made something up that wasn’t there before. That’s the buzz I get, really.

RR  

Yeah.

LK  

And so that’s the thing for me, it has to be about that. Not how many people are going to say to me on Twitter that they loved it. It doesn’t matter.

RR  

Yeah. I would go back to the mountain climbing analogy, because, you know, it’s really difficult, at times scary, and can be, you know, very lonely, just you amongst this landscape. But it’s exhilarating, too. There can be real, you know – we talk about the flow state nowadays, and once you’re in that zone, and you’re like, oh, the idea’s starting to develop, it’s absolutely thrilling. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not scary and difficult and odd. And yeah, everything else.

LK  

Where are you on the theory that inspiration is kind of floating around your head and songwriters are conduits for that, and for ideas – versus the sort of perspiration, songwriting is work, you sit there and you sort of craft things, you’re sculpting things.

RR  

Ooh, let me think about that whilst I turn my phone on silent.

LK  

Saved by the bell…

RR  

I don’t know that’s very interesting. What did you call it? Perspiration or inspiration?

LK  

I suppose inspiration versus perspiration? I sometimes talk about it as a percentage, what percentage of your songwriting is inspiration striking you, and what percentage of it is crafting it to its conclusion? 

RR  

I sort of try and compartmentalise the two processes. I have my hats, my songwriting hat and my producer hat. And I try and make those two mindsets separate. You know, one’s very details focused, it’s sound design, it’s twiddling knobs and being knee deep in MIDI. And then, yeah, the other one is a bit more sort of floaty and yeah, like you say, you’re just kind of there as the – I usually say that…because usually, inspiration hasn’t been too difficult, especially musically, it’s a bit like a tap, and my conscious mind is just me with a bucket, just trying to catch the the good bits of liquid. Okay, that’s just weird now.

But, uh, the tap is always on, and I’m just there to, like, try and get bits here and there, and work out what’s good and what’s bad. Yeah, cos I feel like as humans, we are just sponges, we’re just walking around soaking up experience after experience. And that’s why everyone’s musical output is so different, because we all have different experiences and were brought up in a different environment. And, you know, that’s what makes it so interesting. So I don’t really have any sense of – what would the word be – pride, I suppose. Like, I have pride in the amount of effort and work and sleep deprivation, you know, everything that goes into it. But I am just kind of lucky to have had certain inspirations and influences and experiences that have made my music come out that’s interesting enough to to rise above the noise and be noticed.

But yeah, so I just feel like yeah, we’re just sponges and then it’s just there’s the two stages, the songwriter and the producer who’s trying to make what we squeeze out of those sponges listenable.

LK  

And somewhat gross! It’s interesting you were saying earlier about how you haven’t written anything for a while, or til recently. But even though you might sort of conceptually think “I don’t know how to write a song anymore, I may never write a song ever again” – because I think most songwriters have that moment – but because you have the proof that you have consistently done it, it can’t really be real terror. I mean, you must truly believe you will and you can write a song again, because you’ve done it so many times?

RR  

In those moments, it is terror.

LK  

Ok!

RR  

It really is! Because what I do, which is just weird, is I – you know, when I was talking about, like, when you’re at the very foot, the beginning of the mountain, and you look back at your past work, and it’s almost like it’s someone else’s.

LK  

Oh, yeah.

RR  

You know, you’ve forgotten what those songs sounded like when they were like just embryos.

LK  

Yeah.

RR  

So it’s almost like you push away that person that wrote that, and you don’t feel aligned to that person anymore in their output, and so it’s just as terrifying I think as listening to other people’s music.

LK  

Well, other peoples’ music sounds like real music, doesn’t it?

RR  

Yeah, yeah yeah.

LK  

It sounds like it’s been properly finished. It takes me quite a while to hear my own albums that way. 

RR  

Yeah.

LK  

But I’ve developed this thing – I’ll show you it, it’s quite funny – where I sort of have a Captain’s Log in my studio. So every single time I sit down to write any music, or try to write some music, I log in the date and the specific time – at 8:18am (it was a very early one this week), and then what I was doing, and then I’ll check in again – at 9.15 I had a break. But I’ve got up to this bit. And the next thing I’m going to do is this, this and this.

I think that’s what stops me feeling so scared, actually, because I know I can look back at least the last two albums that I did this for and be like, oh that’s how that song came about. It doesn’t really detail it exactly, but at least I can be like, okay, I clocked in that time, and I clocked out at that time, I put some hours in that day. And that’s really helped me actually.

RR  

That’s a brilliant idea.

LK  

I would recommend it to anyone listening, because it can really feel like you’ve done nothing, achieved nothing when you’re trying to make stuff. If the thing isn’t finished, and it normally wouldn’t be finished in like, 10 minutes, at least you’ve got some writing on a page. I wrote on a page today! Tick.

RR  

Yeah, I know a few people who’ve done that kind of thing, and I really need to do it. It’s just yeah, like a songwriting diary, I suppose, isn’t it? I mean, I’ve said to myself that I want to write an actual diary for years, and I just never have. I’m always like “oh, I’m too old to do that now, mucking about with a diary!”

LK  

“Mucking about with a pen and paper?” What?

RR  

I mean, it’s such, yeah, it’s obviously bullshit.

LK  

Just start one, it’s great!

RR  

Yeah, I think that now is probably an actual time that I can commit to it, because I’m just starting the next era of the band, the next project. So yeah, I think I might give that a go, because there’s also a great – I struggle with a great sense of annoyance and frustration when I don’t feel like the day was productive.

LK  

Yeah, me too.

RR  

And all I’m thinking about there, mistakenly, is what’s the finished project of that day, regardless of the effort. So I could work from like, 9am to 9pm without any breaks, but if I haven’t got something that I feel is, you know, it goes through to the next round if you’re like, okay, there’s stuff there, then I really go to bed feeling that was a bloody waste, you know. So I think if I had the diary, then at least you can look, and you see – no, look at the effort you’re putting in – and then maybe you may have learned things there subtley that will come out the next day or you know, whenever they arise. So it’s, yeah, it’s good to keep a perspective on these things.

LK  

Yeah, we need to score ourselves on the effort we put in, not what it produces immediately.

RR  

It’s not the winning, it’s the taking part that counts. Yeah, yeah.

LK  

Which three pieces of your own work would you recommend for people listening today?

RR  

I guess I’ll present the breadth of the band because I feel like that’s our USP or whatever, you know – the musical agility is kind of what I pride ourselves on. So I guess I’ll start with us at our most presentable and immediate, so “Live Outside” off our album, The Spark is our most anthemic, possibly our biggest song. It’s certainly a massive live favourite, it’s been the set closer for the last four years, whatever, no, more than that, probably.

Then secondly, I’d go for something heavy. There’s a song called “Hoodwinker” that’s not on an album, it was just a bridging single. It’s also my favourite video that we’ve ever done, it’s just us on a boat in the middle of the sea. I say a boat, it’s like this tiny, rickety old thing, and eventually it sinks. And yeah, it’s a great video –  very cold, very hard to film. But yeah, it’s also I mean, that’s one of our heaviest tracks. It’s just ridiculous. But there’s still melody there, and it’s like, you know, there’s an energy. And you know, it’s a bit – because it’s so heavy, it’s kind of tongue in cheek as well, but like, also a bit terrifying, like, so it’s quite fun.

And then at the complete other end of the spectrum, I’d go with “Elegy For Extinction”, which is off our last album, which is us at our most grandiose and ambitious. It’s an orchestral piece that basically – I always feel ridiculous describing this song – it’s so big! It’s a piece of programme music, which, for anyone that doesn’t know, it’s like a piece of classical music that tells a story just by instruments. So there’s no vocal in the track whatsoever, no lyrics, and it tells the story of life on Earth. So from the very beginning, throughout the Cambrian explosion, into the Anthropocene, into everything that we’re doing to the earth now. And so the piece is just this beautiful journey from busyness, and intrigue and what you’d, I hope, imagine the Cambrian explosion to sound like. All these new species coming out of everywhere, and evolution, like, being so broad and interesting. And it goes from that very light and, and sort of flurries of detail to, again, something quite terrifying. And then the piece just like, ends in just a mess, just really, really nasty, comes out of any key and just descends into silence eventually, which is the possible death. It just serves as a warning really, to the way we treat our ecology and our planet.

So yeah, those three certainly represent the breadth, I think, that that we do as a band.

LK  

Pretty big breadth there.

RR  

Yeah.

LK  

I mean, I’ve never wondered for a moment what the Cambrian explosion sounded like, so I’m glad that you have spent time doing that, because honestly, it wouldn’t have occurred to me. Also, I’m glad that you explained what that piece of music’s about, because – do you even think anyone could possibly pick that up unless you explained it?

RR  

Probably not. I mean, not to the detail. I mean, I don’t know – this is the one thing about the pandemic, I haven’t spoken to enough people about this album. Like I don’t really… you know, people can say in a tweet, “love the album”, or “this is my favourite song” or something like that, but I don’t know what people actually think of the tracks in any detail, so I’m not really sure how many people picked up on it, yeah.

LK  

But it’d be like, Rou, I love that bit where obviously this part about the Anthropocene bla bla bla…I’d love to hear that conversation. I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that.

RR  

[laughs]

LK  

I do have a question about creativity: if you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to be more creative in their own life, what would you say?

RR  

Oof, can I give lots of small nuggets?

LK  

Yes. Love a nugget!

RR  

I don’t really have a defining, big chunk of how I’d answer that question. But first of all, get over the fact that you’re not creative. As a species, we are creative, it’s one of our defining aspects, tenets, you know, it’s the thing that has kept us alive in the deserts, the savannahs of Africa, over the millennia. So it’s just a way of working out how you identify creative thoughts and how you develop them, you know, that the kind of thing.

I would say get back into nature. Try and reduce your stress, basically anything that helps out your hippocampus, which is the centre of your brain for imagination and creativity, stress affects that part of the brain more than any other. It’s particularly susceptible to cortisol, so it can shrink massively, and it doesn’t help in our world where we’re just constantly stressed, and we’re full of anxiety and all these difficulties that we each have to traverse. And getting back into nature is one thing that reduces stress levels immediately. So yeah, think of your hippocampus.

I suppose a more sort of obvious bit of advice is just to broaden your musical input, your inspiration. Really go on a journey, try and put yourself out of your comfort zone and listen to something that you wouldn’t normally listen to and analyse it. That’s something that I always say as well, don’t get sucked in for like “oh, music is just this magical thing, and we don’t know how it works” – no, analyse it. Go into its secrets, go into its detail. It doesn’t reduce it, it just gives you more questions.

LK  

Yeah.

RR  

It makes it more interesting. So yeah, spread your wings and listen to as much music as you can, and really soak it in…going back to the sponge analogy.

LK  

Yeah, be a sponge.

RR  

And then, yeah, when you release your sponge it will be a more interesting, flavoursome mix of juices.

LK  

Oh my Godddd.

You’ve been great. Thank you so much for talking to me.

RR  

My pleasure. Amazing questions, thank you for having me.

LK  

I’m so glad we made this happen, thank you.

RR  

Wicked, nice one. My pleasure, absolutely.


LK
Enter Shikari’s music, books, merch and tour dates are available on their website entershikari.com, and there’s an excellent video series unfolding on YouTube to accompany the latest studio album “Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible” so do check that out. There’s plenty to explore, and I’m always so interested to see what they produce next.

The deluxe show notes page for this episode is at penfriend.rocks/rou and features all the songs Rou mentioned towards the end of our chat.

My latest album “Exotic Monsters” is out now, and deals with many of the topics I cover in this show…with riffs and synths. Visit my website penfriend.rocks to pick up two free songs and browse limited edition vinyl, CDs and merch. Thanks!

If you’re new to this podcast, welcome! If you’d like to keep listening, I recommend Episode 16 with Nova Twins, who support Enter Shikari on tour soon, plus Episode 3 with Ayse Hassan of Savages.

Massive thanks to my Correspondent’s Club for powering the making of this show and all my music, and I’ll be back in two weeks time to share a new conversation with you.

Til then – take care, and thanks for listening.

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