© Tom Martin

Videó: „Budapest az egyik kedvenc városom az egész világon” – exkluzív interjú Rou-val, az Enter Shikari frontemberével

Rou, Rob, Chris, and Rory started the band Enter Shikari as a hobby in St Albans, England when they were just teenagers, and they would never have thought that more than 15 years later, they would be regarded as one of the hottest names in today’s rock scene. By now, they have taken over the whole world with their genre-defying music, toured in Hungary countless times, and what’s more, Rou says that Budapest is one of his favourite cities in the whole world.

Their lives will be all about touring for the next few months, as, after a 2-year-old pandemic-induced break, they finally started their tour this November, and will be on the road until April next year. They’re coming back to Budapest on November 10 as part of MTV’s Music Week, where they’ll shake up the A38 Ship with an already sold out show, so we sat down to chat with their singer, Rou, and talked to him all about touring and concerts.

Check out our interview where the frontman told us about their very first concert, the craziest thing that had happened to them on stage, we learned what advice he would give to his younger self and that he has more connections to Hungary than we might have thought at first – exclusive interview with Rou from Enter Shikari.

Alright, so first of all, how are you?

Yeah, good! We’re just rehearsing and getting ready for our first shows here in the UK next week. Or next week? This week. Yeah, I’m doing good, thanks. How are you guys?

We’re great, we actually have a little bit of a hangover, because we had a Halloween party. Did you dress up for Halloween this year?

Yes, yes, we had a party on Saturday. I posted a photo on my Instagram, we went as old people, because we thought that there’s nothing scarier than old age.

So, you’re coming back to Hungary in about a week, on November 10 as part of MTV’s EMA Music Week. How does it feel to be a part of this whole event?

Awesome! It’s gonna be our third show after, you know, the 2 years of pandemic and everything, so we’re still just gonna be I think in a euphoric state. There were points, especially the beginning of the pandemic, when it felt like we were witnessing the death of not just our band but live music completely. We didn’t know how long it would take to be able to play shows again. I think we feel so much gratitude just to be able to play live music again. And then to get to come back to Hungary, to Budapest, it’s one of my favourite cities in the world. I got so many friends there and we had so many great memories and times there. Yeah, we’re just really looking forward to getting back. Obviously, the A38 is always such a great, great fun time so we’re looking forward to it.

Let’s just take it back to the beginning a bit. Can you recall your very first show as the band Enter Shikari?

First show? Yeah, it was at our local youth club, and I can remember Rory had just joined a few weeks before. So we were a three piece at first, I was playing guitar, Chris was on bass, and Rob was on drums. Rory just joined and that’s when we became Enter Shikari. So we had this show in the calendar, well, we had like 3 shows in the calendar for a few months, and we were rehearsing and getting ready. And then literally the day before the show, Rob, our drummer, broke his collarbone while skateboarding. We were like, oh my God, Rob, you twat! We were like, shit, is there any way we could still play the show? So we actually had a friend of ours to step in and replace Rob and play the drums the last minute. It was really stressful trying to teach his the songs with such little time but we still managed to play it. And the funniest thing was, Rob, he actually came to the show with his plaster cast on his arm and he was in the mosh pit! We were like, oh my God, what are you doing, you’re gonna break your other arm now! Yes, that was pretty crazy.

Right, so you just mentioned a crazy story. Is that the craziest thing that happened to you while being on stage, or do you have a crazier story than that?

Oh God, so many!

What’s the craziest?

Craziest… Oh, God. If I stick with Rob, I think one of the craziest thing that Rob did was not just breaking his collarbone the day before our first show ever. I can remember once we played a show in the North of England in a place called Doncaster. In between our songs, this was like, 15 years ago, or 13 years ago, I used to play little interludes just on my electronic setup and Rob was like, as you probably already know, quite a crazy guy, and he was climbing on the lighting rig in the venue. At one point, where I was playing some drum and bass, jungle stuff, and I looked up, and saw Rob right above me and he actually fell. He fell right onto my electronics, my sampler, and broke the sampler, and that was basically the end of the show. We couldn’t continue ’cause I had no synths. We’d only played about 4 songs! Luckily, he was okay that time, there were no broken bones, but lots of broken equipment.

© Tom Martin
And what’s one thing that you cannot go on tour without?

Hmm… I don’t know, really. I’m not a very materialistic person. I mean, I like writing music all the time. It’s a bit of a boring answer, but my laptop, so I’m just able to write music you know, when I’m on the bus, when we’re backstage at the venues and stuff. So that’s pretty crucial for me. Otherwise I would just say my yoga mat. I love doing yoga on tour. It keep me energised and keeps me feeling… keeps me feeling young, you know, when you’re an old man like I am. Yeah, but that’s about it, really. Some books, some booze, that’s it.

And what’s your favourite city that you’ve ever performed in?

Uhh, that’s a tough one. I don’t know. I mean, I miss playing in so many cities right now ’cause we haven’t toured in 2 years. I love Japan, it’s just so different from anywhere else in the world. So playing Tokyo or Osaka… really just amazing cities, really interesting. But then, like, I know you would expect me to say this because it’s lame but like Budapest is, I already said it before in the intro, honestly one of my favourite places. I have so many great memories from there, especially on the A38 and along the Danube. So many good times. Yeah, we’re looking forward to come back.

Do you have a pre-show ritual that you guys always do before every concert of yours?

Mate, we just like, put some music on and sort of dance. I think the main thing is loosening up, not just our muscles, but also our minds because sometimes on tour, you can just be sitting down all day, writing music or reading a book or you can be fixing some equipment. There’s a lot of stillness, basically, sitting down. It’s almost like being at an office job, or something. So before the show, we have to sort of trying to get the blood pumping, trying to get us feeling energised and confident and silly so we’re just dancing stupidly and slapping each other in the face to get the adrenaline going. But that’s about it, really. I do yoga. I find that really helpful, especially if we’re halfway through a tour and I’m not sleeping well and feeling knackered and missing home, or having throat issues, I find that yoga just makes me feel… I don’t know, it gives me good perspective, it’s good for my mental health I think, as well as my physical health.

The next one will be I think a tough one. Which song of yours would you show to a person that doesn’t know you yet?

Yeah, it’s difficult for us because our music is so diverse, there’s such variety in it so each song sound quite different from the next. I guess it would depend on what music that person likes and trying to think about what they might like in ours to try and draw them in. I usually go for one of the most recent things. I think any songwriter like the thing they just had been working on the most. So maybe I would go with „{ The Dreamer’s Hotel }”. We were lucky enough to play a pilot festival over here when the government was testing live events again in the summer, we got to play the first outdoor festival since the pandemic. That was so much fun. And… shit, I can’t remember what I was saying. What was the questing?

The question was, which song of yours would you show to a person that doesn’t know you yet?

Oh, yeah, yeah, sorry, yeah. So when we played that festival, „{ The Dreamer’s Hotel }”, that was the first time we’ve ever played it live, and it was just so much fun. It had such raw intensity to it. Real energy. So yeah, I’d definitely pick that one, I think.

Alright. And what’s the most memorable thing that a fan has ever said to you?

Oh, wow. I mean, one thing I really love about touring and that I really miss in my soul, I really miss speaking to our fans. Some of my best experiences, obviously, on stage, there’s an energy and intensity and it’s amazing, but sometimes, when you’re just speaking one to one with a fan and you’re speaking about music and perhaps how our music has affected their lives or has inspired them some way, that’s just amazing. It’s like fuel for me, it makes me wanna continue, which is why I think I’ve found is so difficult to write music for the last 18 months. Every time I try, I’m like, this doesn’t feel right, I don’t feel motivated, just something feels wrong. I think it’s just because I haven’t had those moments of just connecting with people. I’ve had conversations with people where their whole outlook on life has changed or they decided to take a particular course at university, or study this particular topic, or changed jobs. All these crazy things that we’ve had influence on their lives so there’s many, many cherished conversations I’ve had with people. I’ve got this, hold on, how do I turn this around… this is a piece of artwork by a fan that they gave me. It’s a lyric from one of our songs, „nature is the only dictator that I respect and obey”. I remember that conversation just so well because they were so passionate about our music to the point where as an artist, they based a lot of their art on our stuff. Things like that, I think, if we’re inspiring people to be creative it’s just awesome because so much about people’s lives today, there isn’t that much creativity in it. You know, we all do very repetitive, boring jobs, even if we’re lucky enough to have fun jobs, then we’re still only allowed to do that. We’re not allowed to explore other things in life. So I think creativity is such an important thing to concentrate on.

And if you could go back in time, and give your younger self just one piece of advice, what would it be?

I was a very shy, diffident person so I would like to inspire some sort of confidence, really, just to have. You know, I overthink things, ruminate worries and anxieties around and around and around. Oh, should I do that? Should I do this? Very indecisive. And I’d just like to sort of instill a bit more confidence. These things that you think really important now, no, they’re not really important next week or next year so it doesn’t matter. Just do your best and… yeah, I think those kind of things are quite important.

And where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Pfff… I don’t know, I mean this was always a hobby, you know, playing in a band. I’d never thought we’d get this far so if we’re still playing as a band in 10 years I’ll be very happy. I think very surprised, as well. Yeah, I’m not sure. I always said when I’m 40, I’ll start a Motown band ’cause I love soul music. So maybe I’ll be touring in a Northern soul Motown band. But yeah, I’m not sure.

Alright, we’ll take that. You’ve performed in Hungary many times before. I’m wondering, did you have the chance to explore the country a bit, and do you have any favourite sights or any memorable stories from here?

Oh, wow, yeah. We played so many festivals. Rob and Rory actually went to Sziget before we were even a band. They did like, a travelling around Europe thing. I remember Rob coming back from that when we were like 15. We were in a band, but it wasn’t Enter Shikari. He was like, ah, man, I went to this amazing festival, it’s like, just as cool as Glastonbury, maybe even cooler. He was really talking about that, so when we finally got to play that festival, it was just bit of a dream, really for us, I think, ’cause we heard Rob talking about for all these years. There’s usually a lot of drinking when we’re in Hungary. All the locals usually persuade us to do a lot of drinking. I feel very grateful I think that we’ve been able to play so many festivals there. We’re lucky that our music is, because it’s so much variety, we can sort of fit in on a metal festival, we can fit in on a pop festival, we get all these opportunities and that’s definitely happened in Hungary.

And the most important thing: have you ever tried any Hungarian dishes?

Yeah, so many over the years. I had a girlfriend for 7 years who’s from Budapest so she’s made me try all sorts of things. I mean, we’re still really good friends now. I’m trying to think of some of the words. Obviously, a lot of Hungarian food is quite meat-based, and I’ve been like, well I’m vegan now, but vegetarian for a long-long time, but like, even when I was, I’d still attempt to try food that even had meat in it because I thought it’s good to try these things. I’m trying to think now of something specific…

I think you must have tried the goulash, right?

Oh, of course, yeah, yeah, yeah. A classic.

Yeah, a classic. And finally, is there a message that you would like to share with your Hungarian fans?

Yeah, I can’t wait to see everyone. It’s been so long. I know it’s a really difficult… Every country in the world has so many problems and it’s really difficult at the moments and I know that’s the case in Hungary for a lot of people. There’s a difficult sort of political situation there. So we’re just really enthusiastic about our shows, our gigs being a place where you can just leave all of your fears and worries behind and come in and we can celebrate unity. Indiscriminate unity. We can come together, we can listen to music, we can connect and we can forget the division and the fury and the outrage and all the sickness of society at the moment and we can be together as human beings and celebrate all the good things.

Alright, so that’s all we planned for you today but before we let you go, we would like to teach you something, so you can take away something from this interview, as well. So I’m wondering, do you know any Hungarian words?

Oh, geez, so many, I’ve forgotten them all, though. We always like, we tour a country, I learn loads of phrases, and then we tour the next country, and I learn loads of phrases there, and I forget those. I remember… You know, the pronunciation is so hard. I remember this phrase, I think it’s quite offensive maybe? I don’t know. It’s like „parasztvakítás” or something like that.

Wow. It’s not even that offensive.

Oh, okay.

Is it okay for you if we teach you how to say I love you in Hungarian? A much less offensive phrase.

Yay! Yeah, yeah, that sounds good. I’m sure I already know it but remind me.

Alright, so it goes like this: szeretlek.

Szeretlek, yes! Of course.

Alright, Rou, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. Honestly just have fun on tour and can’t wait to see you in Budapest.

Awesome. Thanks very much for having me, really looking forward to it.

Follow Enter Shikari on their official pages below.