First of all, thank you for the interview opportunity. How are you all doing?
I’m ok thanks. Just about managing to hold onto my sanity in an insane world.
It’s now been more than six months since the release of your new album “A Kiss For The Whole World”. Where do you get your inspiration from to create this album that sounds like it’s inspired by your own previous works?
It’s hard to detail my inspiration because it’s so broad and constant! After all, we’re all sponges, soaking up our experiences and evolving because of them. There’s certainly always an effort to make our music feel like one big story though. I like the idea of creating a Shikari universe, where all our output is interconnected, be that obviously through repeated lyrics or themes, or subtly through melody and instrumentation. We also had our first biography made about us last year, which, for the first time, forced us to look back and relive our journey as a band. We are normally relentlessly forward facing so it was nice to be able to take some time to remember and celebrate where we’ve come from and what we’ve achieved. That must have had some influence, even if subtle, upon the album that followed.
How does it feel to have finally achieved your well deserved UK number one album with “A Kiss For The Whole World?
It’s about bloody time isn’t it!? We’ve been close a few times so it’s great to finally get there. We’re all super proud of the album and are so glad it’s connected with so many people.
We had the chance to see your incredible headline set at Slam Dunk Festival earlier this year. Your production and stage presence makes the public fully immersed in the whole experience, with on-stage fireworks, sparks, lasers, huge screens with mind-bending graphics… How much work is behind all this to execute a show with such precision?
A hell of a lot! It’s a real team effort that takes months and months to prepare. We like to make a show feel dynamic – sometimes theatrical, sometimes intense, sometimes fragile, sometimes seizure-inducing! So yeh it takes a lot of thought and a lot of trial and error.
You always have new surprises, mash ups, quickfire rounds or something up your sleeve to surprise your fans on each tour, like the “Sorry You’re Not A Winner” dance version this year. Do you plan to release a studio version of this? Or a follow up to your live album “Live At Alexandra Palace 2”?
We’re going to release the video and audio of the Slam Dunk set, yeh. It was such a phenomenal night, I’m so glad we captured it for prosperity.
How was the process of creating your new album in a solar powered farm with your own DIY studio? Did this help bring more positivity and colours to it, influenced by nature?
It was really important to us to do all we could to make an environmentally friendly album. Over the last few years we’ve made a lot of progress on the live side of things (using biofuels, plant-based catering, no plastic bottles etc) so it felt like we should do all we can with the recording side of things, too. The album is effectively powered by the Sun, the most bright powerful object in our universe, and I think that listening to it, you can tell. I think this also helped us feel more comfortable in the studio, we didn’t feel rushed, or like we were wasting energy or using excessive non-renewable resources. Even if that meant we couldn’t boil the kettle and record guitar at the same time!
Rou, tell us about the dream you had in which “It Hurts” was created. Was this the first time something like this had happened to you?
I’d always heard about songwriters having dreams where songs came to them – most famously Paul McCartney and ‘Yesterday’. But yes, until ‘It Hurts’ it had never happened to me. I was absolutely flummoxed at first. I woke up at 3am, with the chorus full formed, lyrics melody, chords – everything. At first, I actually assumed it was already a song! Something I’d heard the night before perhaps. But as I woke up more, I gradually realised that it was in fact an original creation of my subconscious. I quickly got to work in exorcising it out of my head and into real life. It was very exciting. And one of the easiest, quickest songs I’ve ever written! The video for the song uses strange dream-like themes to pay homage to the anxiety dream that the song was birthed from, but also other dreams that we’ve all had. Rob for instance cannot reach his drum kit in the video, this is an exact anxiety dream he’s had many times!
After having read “A Treatise On Possibility” and “Dear Future Historians” which make us fans connect even deeper with the songs and lyrics, by understanding the meaning and intentions of each track, I can’t help but ask if you are planning to release another book related to “A Kiss For The Whole World”.
I’m afraid there won’t be. ‘A Treatise on Possibility” was a huge undertaking, requiring a year of intense research and writing. I was able to do that because it was written during the peak of the Covid lockdown years. I don’t think I could do it again if I’m honest, it was an immense undertaking that would be hard to find the time for.
How does it feel to be back on the road touring the whole world again, after a long period of not being able to do that? And especially now with your biggest arena shows ever.
It feels wonderful. Human connection is why we do this so it is such a relief and a joy to be able to travel and connect with passionate people all over the world.
It’s been a while since your last show in Spain, sadly your previous tour dates here had to be cancelled due to covid restrictions, but you will be coming back to Tsunami Xixon festival in the north of Spain next summer, can we expect any headline shows here in 2024?
Probably not in 2024 unfortunately, it’s looking incredibly busy. But we really hope to get back for some headline shows at some point, because I love Spain!