Largely, it’s all smiles as the members of Enter Shikari reflect on Download Pilot, but frontman Rou is a little more philosophical as he recounts the band’s live return. The deep thinker and visionary among Shikari’s ranks, he’s not as quick or eager as the others to regale Kerrang! with his memories of that June weekend, and swiftly moves on to the more solemn aspects of the experience.
“It was great,” he says. “But it was such a little morsel. It was like, ‘Remember this? Well, now you can’t have it for another six months.’ That period essentially became an extension of 2020 – there was a lot of weirdness, a lot of thumb-twiddling, and a lot of questioning who we are, what we’re doing and what our purpose is.”
Rou’s words are accompanied by a nervous laugh that speaks to the emotional wringer that the band have been put through across the last two years’ worth of lockdowns. When we caught up with him at the end of 2020, he spoke of how the pandemic had led to Enter Shikari “essentially experiencing the death of the band”, his words echoing the impact of coronavirus on artists around the world. Countless stories have been told in recent months of the distress – both financial and mental – that the pandemic caused for musicians, with many naturally turning to songwriting as an outlet for their despair. Already, COVID-influenced songs and albums by the likes of Bring Me The Horizon and Wage War have emerged, but for Enter Shikari and Rou in particular, global catastrophe had the opposite effect. Twelve months ago, he spoke of how he’d “not written a single thing” throughout 2020.
“The more I keep saying it, the more it frightens me,” he admitted.
A year on, those fears remain very much present in his mind.
“I had the complete halting of creativity,” he explains. “That was something I didn’t expect. Things were bad enough, but to then suddenly realise that, ‘Oh, I don’t seem to be able to write music anymore,' which is something that’s always been there for me, it felt like a double-hit on top of cancelling the shows. That outlet of human creativity was everything to me, and then it was just taken away.”