Their latest album The Mindsweep won Independent Album Of The Year at the 2015 AIM Awards and on Thursday (Feb 18) Enter Shikari head out on their biggest tour to date.

We caught up with enigmatic frontman Rou Reynolds, 30, to find out more about the challenges of being on the road and carving a career without the backing of a big label.

What are you up to today?

We are heads down, beavering away programming our big UK tour which is now, oh god a week away. It’s starting to get scary.

Are you excited?

Absolutely. I can’t remember ever being this excited for a tour. Going into such huge venues with such big production and a new set list and remixes, it’s exhilarating. Rory our guitarist had a second baby so that put us out of touring for a few months so when we started in November we went a bit wild. We are using quadraphonic surround sound, so have to spilt it all up into four outputs, and I’m doing all the visuals as well. It’s very rock’n’roll sitting at the laptop nine to nine programming and coding. It’s been a bit of a learning curve but we have always been very DIY.

So what can fans expect?

Many of our songs have quite direct themes so they are easy to translate into visuals. A lot of the lyrics are very visual, there lots of metaphors and we talk about space and nature.

What’s the best part of touring?

The one thing that never changes where ever we are in the world, whatever our mood, if we are half way through a two-month American tour and missing home, if it’s repetitive and we are crammed into a little van and it’s feeling difficult, as soon as we walk on stage the emotion that people put into singing back our lyrics, when I see that, it always makes everything alright. It sounds a bit cringey but there is no better feeling than that.

How did your recent acoustic gig at Ally Pally come about?

We had done a few acoustic bits over the years but it was always in-store and at signings. We wanted to do something that we could put up and everyone would see and it would document that side of use because it has been underplayed a lot and not really seen the light of day but we really enjoy transforming the songs to be acoustic and seeing what emotions it changes.

How did you end up performing in its old theatre?

We went down to Ally Pally to check it out a few months ago ahead of the UK tour because the one thing that cares us about taking that step up into bigger venues is we didn’t want it to feel like people were walking into this big corporate show that feels soulless. We wanted to make the buildings our own. I can’t remember what the question was now. Oh yes the theatre, we got a tour around the building all the secret bits and they said the theatre hadn’t been used for 100 years and was about to be redeveloped and we send there and then let’s do something.

Where do you live now?

I live in north Finchley. I moved just over a year ago from Kentish Town after living there about four years.

What do you prefer about living in London compared to St Albans?

I like the hustle and bustle and knowing I can jump in a bus and be most places in London in 20 minutes.

What do you miss about St Albans?

Verulamium Park. I grew up near there and spent all my childhood there and then went drinking there and playing football and jogging around it. My parents are still there though, so I pop by quite often.

What’s the secret to Enter Shikari staying together for 12 years?

Yeah, it is a weird one, I often think about that as there are so many bands that have a revolving door scenario with members coming and going. I think we are all pretty laid back, not pushovers, but we don’t get pissed of too easily and even if we do we are not the types to get into an altercations. We are all quite peaceful. And it helps having not too many cooks when it comes to the vision of the band, I’m not quite a dictator but I’m not too far away from it. The most important thing is we were not thrown together, we stared it as a hobby and had no ambitions and it still is just a hobby, it has just got out of hand. It’s important to find people you are comfortable with and willing to share a very small bus with.

Who is the worst behaved on the tour bus?

Chris is so loud when he is p****d and no matter how many times you tell him he always says: ‘yeah, yeah I won’t do it again’ and then the next time it’s the same. And I am the lightest sleeper in the world and often think I’m definitely in the wrong job because I can’t sleep very well on anything that’s moving or making a noise. I have to have earplugs, eyemask and earphones so I can go into my bunk and listen to music. I’ve got into mindfulness in the last two years and that has been quite useful. It’s a simple form of meditation where you concentrate on the breath.

Has it helped your songwriting?

It supposed to help creativity but that is one thing I have never struggled with, I know that sounds horribly egotistical. I make a lot of utter s**t but the one thing I have never had trouble with is constantly creating something and then ten per cent of it will be usable.

Are you working on new songs?

Yeah, I started writing around Christmas but the tour prep is taking up every moment of my waking life at the moment. But more than any other album I have already started writing stuff that is very different from The Mindsweep.

What’s inspiring your songwriting at the moment?

Musically, a lot of northern soul and Motown. My dad was a DJ in his heyday and has a huge collection so I go back through that and listen to it. Also a lot of post-punk and electronica. The frustrating thing at the moment is I try and keep Enter Shikari a very global thing, not really about British politics but Cameron is making is extremely hard. We just want to write a whole album about modern day Tory Britain but I also don’t want to fall into that trap and become a political songwriter. Really I’m more interested in bigger and wider philosophical concepts rather than annoying everyday things.

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Is the rock’n’roll lifestyle all it’s cracked up to be?

I don’t know how many people have the clichéd misconception of the rock star life, I think they realise it’s not really like that anymore. It’s quite tedious, repetitive and boring. Yeah, you get to go to lots of places but you don’t get to see anything, you see s**t hotels and small buses and often pretty run-down venues in not very nice parts of cities. It’s not very salubrious and the whole sex, drugs and rock’n’roll thing has never been something I’m interested in. I’m quite frustrated by ‘the rock star’ I think it’s a ridiculous thing to aspire to. And we have spoken out about people doing paid meet-and-greets and putting yourself on another tier to people who listen to your music, I find it disgusting and quite an immature thing.

What’s been your most memorable moment on tour?

It’s always quite bewildering, almost frightening, when you make someone cry just by being in their presence. It’s only happened a few times, we are not pop stars who get frantically screaming girls, but to know you have such a huge emotional effect on young people is a strange feeling one with a sense of responsibility. We generally make ourselves very approachable though, we are still on the merch stands and do meet-and-greets during the soundcheck.

Is there someone you look up to in the industry?

The obvious things that come to mind are Lennon, Marley, Dylan, The Beatles who refused to play to segregated crowds in America.

Did you get any good advice when you were starting out?

Our parents were all very supportive, they could see things were growing, although it was a risk to pull out of uni. My dad used to drive us to gigs when we were 15 at weekends and he’s more punk than all of us and keeps saying ‘we can do that ourselves’ not in a cutting corners way but in a prestige way and that was a big influence. The St Albans music scene was a big influence, there were so many different bands and genres to be influences by and I think that’s why out sound is so varied and I will always be grateful to St Albans for that.

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

There would be a few labels I would say to think twice about signing to, especially in America, we didn’t have any infrastructure there so have dabbled with a few and none of them have been very good for us. Luckily we are 100 per cent independent now. I would try and instil some more confidence in myself and the band I’m not sure how. I’m not sure if it has held us back but we are very British and just never want to be too over the top and theatrical and in our punk, metal, alternative scene American bands are so grandiose and always go for the biggest, widest loudest option and that is something we have never done. Musically it has been really good because that is not us and it gives room for the delicate within our sound, we are not just a loud angry band, we have layers man. But having a bit more confidence and self-belief would have been good. I wouldn’t tell myself to avoid anything because we have learnt from our mistakes. In society mistakes are seen as a bad thing but they can be beautiful and teach you about the world. So I would say ‘try and make more mistakes and be more fearless’.

Enter Shikari will play at Alexandra Palace on Saturday, February 27 with support from The Wonder Years and The King Blues. Details:,