Eddy Says

Eddy Says: The Shikari Effect

By | Published on Tuesday 24 January 2012

Enter Shikari

This time last week, Enter Shikari’s third album ‘A Flash Flood Of Colour’ was outselling all others in the UK. Its blend of metal, drum n bass, punk and dubstep was ahead of Adele, Coldplay and Ed Sheeran. And the band managed to keep those three at bay for most of the week too. It all came down to the Saturday sales, and that’s where the competition was won, putting Enter Shikari at number four when the official chart was compiled on Sunday. Here Eddy reveals why Enter Shikari are his favourite band – and proves it with maths.

So, Enter Shikari ended up at number four in the album charts this week, after spending the best part of the week at number one. This truly independent album just could not realistically compete with the parent and teeny-bopper supermarket purchases on Saturday, where huge numbers of Adele, Coldplay and Sheeran albums get put into shopping trolleys with the same emotional attachment as a tin of peeled plum tomatoes.

I’ll not try to hide my disappointment, but at the same time we have to look at this positively. These are three great artists with three great albums with a great deal more money behind them, therefore we have a moral victory for a band on their own little label, with a distribution deal through PIAS, that manages to punch way above its weight and go toe-to-toe with EMI, Warner Music and the Beggars Group.

Enter Shikari have a special place in my heart, as I explained to them on the show this weekend. Mathematically speaking, I love this band more than any other – stick with me here.

When Enter Shikari first appeared, I recall a few listeners saying: “Eddy, you should love this band, they mix dance with rock so literally”. But, while I had to give them massive kudos for being the first ever unsigned band to sell out the Brixton Academy, their music at the time filled me with horror. They had taken my least favourite genre in dance music – trance – and my least favourite genre in rock – hardcore metal – and fused them together like a train wreck. There was nothing for me here.

But fast forward a couple of years and, of course, dance music had changed, the way it does, immeasurably. Trance had fallen from grace and the kids were onto different sounds, drum n bass had crossed over from the underground and dubstep was about to blow. Enter Shikari’s sensory input from the world of dance suddenly shifted, and those awful preset keyboard sounds from Ferry Corsten records were replaced with the booms, squelches, scrunches and wobbles from a world where the sub-bass was as important as the top-line.

Suddenly I was faced with the unthinkable: an Enter Shikari record I actually liked. I always try to be objective and open about these things, and so I ended up playing this record on my show, while slightly in shock, and feeling a bit awkward about it. I remember their plugger, a lovely girl called Hayley, equally incredulous of the fact I was now suddenly supporting them. We joked about it on email, and she said something like: “Haha, you’ll be having them on your show next!” But hang on, there’s an idea here, I thought. Everybody loves a good turn around. If I’m my usual honest self, and they reciprocate in an equally honest way, this could lead to a ‘radio gold’ situation.

So, I made Hayley a proposition: Invite Enter Shikari to do a DJ mix for my show, then get them to come in and we’ll meet face to face, I’ll tell them I hated them, but they’ve turned me around with this new single, and let’s see what happens.

Hayley, bless her, did exactly that, and reassured the band and their management that this would be a good thing to do, and that it wasn’t some kind of post-modern media trap. The boys did the mix and two of them, frontman Rou and drummer Rob, came in, with nervous smiles, to The Remix on Xfm one Friday night. I told them – honestly – how I felt about them, and they accepted my opinion with incredibly good grace, while I listened to their mix as it was broadcast. The DJ mix was a triumph. We got on really well, and vowed to DJ together at a club or a gig in the future as they left the studio with big smiles. They were such good sports, coming into a potentially hostile situation, and turning it into the exact opposite, I’ll never forget it.

This next record proved to be a massive one for them. I heard it all over Radio 1 daytime, and remember them playing The Other Stage at Glastonbury that year, the same year as Pendulum blew up, both taking that stage by utter storm. The blades of grass in that dairy field had never felt the air move like that before.

I was mesmerised by them live – great musicianship, incredible energy and an explosive amount of passion all gelled together to astonishing effect. From that point on, Enter Shikari had become one of my favourite live bands ever.

Musically, they grew stronger, they dropped those trance influences and replaced them with those of dnb and dubstep, mutating their hardcore sound into something uniquely wonderful and alluring.

Rou came back on my show, this time with guitarist Rory, on Friday. In the whirlwind of press, radio and TV they did last week (including an interview with CMU), we only had time for an hour’s co-host, but the boys promised they’d be back for more, and you can hear that hour all this week on www.xfm.co.uk.

Normally, you love a band, or you hate a band. It’s not rocket science. I love NIN. I hate Muse. There. Easy. You love some bands more than others, in a measurable way. You can imagine a calibrated, straight line, with bands plotted all the way along. But the fact is, I hated Enter Shikari, therefore the distance between those two points is vast, and if a journalist was to now ask me “what band do you love the most?” then by the laws of mathematics, I would be bound to answer: Enter Shikari.

I wanted them to make it to number one in the album chart for so many reasons. They are such nice guys, and are surrounded by such nice people too. For them, for the underdog, I wanted to see them hold that number one position, but faced with the combined weight of three incredible British artists, who themselves started as Xfm backed underdogs, that was not to be this time around. But my gosh it is heart warming to see a band like this vying for the top slot in a world that is becoming more corporate, more globalised and more homogenised.

To the band, their management, crew, friends and fans, I take my hat off. The chart in my heart has a clear number one this week.

X eddy