“Our live setup has really blossomed into quite a technical setup…”
When Oppikoppi organisers announced that UK genre-phobic superstars Enter Shikari would be performing at this year’s festival, local audiences freaked out (in a good way) that the dusty moshpit would be turning into a sssnakepit come August. Vocalist Rou Reynolds took a few minutes to chat to Muse about his preconceived notions of South Africa, their upcoming Oppikoppi gig, translating the new recordings into live settings, and beating Mario Balotelli.
When I say “South Africa,” what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
Rou Reynolds: (Laughs) Um…that’s a tough one (pauses). Sun? Oppikoppi festival?
Well, at least you’re being honest about the first things that come to mind.
Rou Reynolds: (Laughs)
Speaking of Oppikoppi, when it was announced that Enter Shikari was set to play at Oppi, there was [an overall] greater excitement for Enter Shikari than there was for Bullet For My Valentine, Eagles of Death Metal and the other international performers on the bill. What do you think of that? How does that make you guys feel?
Rou Reynolds: Yeah. Amazing. The online response has been incredible. Obviously, we’ve never been there before, so it’s always hard to judge if people even know of us – never mind if they’d be excited to see us. But yeah, a really incredible reaction.
Fantastic. Next question: Enter Shikari are noted for hanging out with their fans before and after shows. So, can your South African fans expect the same from your visit?
Rou Reynolds: Yeah. I would think so. We’re only there for a few days, so I’m sure we’ll be out and about, trying to see as much of the landscape and as many people as possible, really.
The band has become known for its music just as much as its hard-hitting lyrics [which delve into socio-political issues]. Do you follow what happens in South Africa, in terms of politics and all those sorts of things, at all? Do you follow the news about South Africa?
Rou Reynolds: No. I can’t say I do, really. I think, in terms of politics, I’m not massively interested in small-scale party politics and things like that. I’m more interested in things on a global scale and trying to think of it more from a psychological basis, really – sort of trying to encourage people to have perspective and think for themselves. So, no, I can’t really say that I’m exactly knowing of the intricacies of South African politics.
Fair enough. Whilst we’re talking about South Africa, have you guys familiarised yourselves with any of the South African performers who you’ll be sharing the stage with at Oppikoppi?
Rou Reynolds: No, we were actually talking about that the other day. We’ve got a meeting this week [about upcoming tours], so I think we’ll be checking out the line-up, definitely, and seeing who we’re interested in checking out.
As you mentioned earlier, you don’t have many shows in South Africa. Do you plan on organising more shows in the future, or does it all really depend on how the shows go when you’re out here?
Rou Reynolds: Yeah, I guess it depends on how it goes. I mean, it’s definitely a place we’ve been badgering our booking agent for awhile: [changes voice pitch] any chance of going to South Africa? (Laughs) It’s certainly one of those places we’ve been wanting to come to. So, yeah, hopefully it goes well, [and] we’ll be back and do some club shows.
Apart from the shows, what else are you looking forward to doing in South Africa? Is there anything in specific that you guys have already organised, or are thinking of doing?
Rou Reynolds: Well, a few of my friends have lived there for a few years, and they’re always saying what a beautiful place it is – with its landscapes and everything. Yeah, so we’re looking forward to trying to cram in as much as possible, really.
Cool. There’s another question I’d like to get to. I’ve been listening to A Flash Flood of Colour a lot recently. Analysing the songs, there’s a great deal happening i.e. plenty of effects and whatnots. Being 4 guys in the band, how difficult is it to recreate the same sound in a live setting? Do you need to adjust it quite a bit?
Rou Reynolds: Yeah. It’s definitely [quite a task]. I mean, throughout the whole recording process [for A Flash Flood of Colour], we didn’t pay any attention to how the songs would translate in a live scenario, which I think is the right thing to do, because it just made us completely creative and not get spun off on how things would work live. But yeah, after recording, we gave ourselves a bit of a hard job (laughs); it was a lot of work. Everything is quite intertwined – like a lot of the sounds you hear, which you perhaps wouldn’t think are coming from the guitar are coming from the guitar going through all sorts of effects pedals and vice versa. Like my sequencing setup controls a lot of Chris’ [Batten] bass effects as well. It’s the first album where our live setup has really blossomed into quite a technical setup; it’s enabled us to incorporate all the sounds you hear on the record.
So, does that mean that South African fans can expect you guys to do the Louis Armstrong voice at the end of ‘Sssnakepit’?
Rou Reynolds: (Laughs) Yeah, I would think so (laughs).
Okay, Rou, final question – and I really have to ask you this. You won Kerrang!’s “Hero of the Year” award for 2012. Now, forget about all the other guys nominated, how stoked were you to beat Mario Balotelli [Italian footballer and general oddball] to the award?
Rou Reynolds: (Laughs) Yeah, yeah, pretty stoked. It was a pretty ridiculous award, so I definitely appreciate being put with him.
Don’t miss Enter Shikari at this year’s Oppikoppi Festival!