Enter Shikari have always been out to prove a point. Never ones to shy away from political and societal issues, the UK post-hardcore foursome have tackled grand themes concerning everything from nuclear fallout to climate change. Even from their early days playing local youth clubs in their hometown of St. Albans — much to the dismay of local council members who wanted to squelch the DIY music events out of fear of underage alcohol and drug use — the band has always used their music to entertain ideas of revolution.
"From those very local fights, it just kind of opened up our worldview," said singer and guitarist Rou Reynolds. "We then felt a sort of sense of responsibility."
That self-imposed responsibility grew into lyrical discussions that weren't exclusively UK based, either, but ones that reached a broader audience.
"I try to write with sort of a global scale," Reynolds said. "I don't write about something that's specific to England or specific to the west."
It might seem like a heavy burden to bear, to be so socially conscious when "Buy U a Drank," "Party in the U.S.A" and "Call Me Maybe" were all making a profound musical impact during the years Enter Shikari released their first three albums (2007, 2009 and 2012, respectively). But Reynolds has always felt more of a pull to explore the topics that might get overlooked.
"I understand the sort of catharsis from writing music like that," he said of more traditional pop songs. "For me, that seemed a little too narcissistic. I don't know, because of the power that we had behind the music, I felt that we needed to approach hard hitting subjects."
Also crediting music's ability to get hundreds, even thousands, of people of varying backgrounds together at one time, Reynolds sees live performances as the exact spark to ignite a positively charged ideal within audiences. And when that sentiment carries over into a face-to-face exchange with a fan, those are the moments that make long tours and time away from home worth it.
"If someone comes up to me at the merch desk and they tell me the band has gotten them through some sort of bad thing that's happened to them — huge, huge things that're really surreal when people are telling you them — I need that," he shared. "I don't think I could be in a band that sung about personal issues, or a pop punk band that sings about of nothing. I need that extra incentive."
If you're thinking it sounds exhausting to be a member of Enter Shikari — full of ideas, full of desire for social change, full of depth — you'd be right. They hear that a lot. But it would be unfair to categorize the band as stern and serious all of the time just because their music is. Man never incited a revolution without a smile, after all.
"I think especially when you talk about changing the world and all these big subjects in society, it's more important to keep a sense of the comical," Reynolds said.
On tour now in support of their fourth album, The Mindsweep, released in January, Enter Shikari are taking the new songs out for the first time in front of North American audiences. While concertgoers shouldn't expect a wave of in-your-face post-hardcore activism, global crises will be passionately mentioned. The music, Reynolds says, is designed to be individually interpreted.
"There isn't a box to tick when it comes to music that it has to be sort of socially conscious," he said. "Music has so many different utilities really."
Enter Shikari play the TLA (334 South St.) on Saturday, April 4. Tickets are still available.