Enter Shikari's Rou Reynolds: the songs that changed my life

Rou Reynolds
(Image credit: Getty)

Whether it's classical ballads or gritty nu metal breakdowns, the eccentric frontman of Enter Shikari’s music tastes are as vivacious the music he makes. Who knew Beethoven was a great way to get pumped before lashing out some killer live shows? With their latest offering A Kiss For The Whole World hitting shelves and streaming services, we’re catching up with Rou Reynolds to talk about the albums that changed his life. 

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Glenn Miller - In The Mood

“It's a very emotional, nostalgic one. For a certain period of my life, my Nan lived with us in my house. She was into jazz and used to play that kind of stuff all the time. I think it was the first type of music I could remember properly having an effect on me. I picked up the trumpet as a nine-year-old because of Glen Miller. He was probably my first musical idol, so that was the first instrument I ever learned."

Hammer: And when you listen to it then versus now, how has it changed when you hear it?

Rou: “Oh, this is where it gets really emotional because it was also played at my Nan's funeral. So now it encapsulates my Nan. She was just this force of light, joy, and compassion. She was a Catholic in all the good ways. She was just that pure-hearted, always thinking of other people and she taught me so much.”

 Gloria Jones - Tainted Love

“I would love to cover this track, but I feel like we have because on one of our tracks off Nothing Is True – we basically ripped off the riff unashamedly. It was very 80s-sounding. It had an acoustic guitar, but not doing something tranquil, light and fragile. I'd probably feel a bit too much pressure to actually cover this one 'cause it's been done very well many times.”

Tchaikovsky - 1812 Overture in E-flat major, Op.49

“When I started learning the trumpet in secondary school in year seven, it was my first experience of being part of this mammoth communal sound, being a small part of a bigger thing. I love my memories of playing in an orchestra. Our music teacher in Scotland told me about Chaikovsky. To go in on Chaikovsky as a 12-year-old kid, I was particularly blown away by the 1812 Overture, which is just this so immense, it's so epic.”

The Prodigy - Firestarter

This was about the same time I was discovering punk and the alternative world. When I was about 12, my dad was a Motown DJ, so I loved vinyl. I was making my own little collections. But my uncle had a very different collection – he handed me Music For The Jilted Generation, and not long after that The Fat Of The Land. My puny 12-year-old brain was just absolutely blown away by the power, the rhythm, the groove, the intensity.

"I always hate it when people talk about their experiences with people that have passed away, but Keith was the nicest person we'd ever toured with. We toured with some other big bands at that stage of our career and didn’t always have a very nice experience. But Keith would just come in, sit down, have a drink and talk about music, about life. He was really funny and very compassionate. I was just taken back that someone of his stature could be so chilled, it blew my mind.”

Oasis - Supersonic

Oasis have this way of achieving vigour, but with just these slow, swaggering tunes. I was just immediately drawn to that. I can remember going to see them at Milton Keanes Bowl, I think it was my first proper gig as a 12-year-old or something, and just being blown away by the sort of majesty of the event, which feels like a weird word to describe Oasis with not very majestic, but just the size of it and the epicness.”

Radiohead - Pyramid Song

“It's one of those songs that just stops you in your tracks and you're just like, 'Whoa. I have all these feelings inside me that I didn't know were there, it's just awoken'. I love it when music does that. It just makes you realise that you've got these monsters inside you – I was utterly spellbound. Hearing that track I immediately had to go home and learn what that was, what those chords were, and why that worked. It opened up my horizons as a songwriter. By that point, I was learning the guitar and making little songs with Chris [Batten, bassist].”

 SikTh - Hold My Finger

“Sikth were our local heroes growing up, we were spoiled in Hertfordshire. We had so many good local bands, really technically proficient, and Sikth were to another degree. This was before mathcore became this properly ingrained thing in the scene. And walking into a local venue at 15,  seeing them play this track, I remember it well because they had no lighting apart from one fuck-off, powerful strobe. Every time they started a song it was just like that for four minutes, it was mental.”

London Elektricity - Billion Dollar Gravy 

This was probably the first drum and bass track I ever heard. Rory, our guitarist, his elder brother is a DJ and basically introduced us to UK garage. It was just another source of inspiration from an early age. But I remember hearing about this genre called 'liquid'. I was like, 'What's liquid drum and bass'? And it was just slightly more relaxed, more intriguing. I had a lot more depth to it, a lot more like melody and harmony. And often it had orchestral elements to it. I loved the emotion they always feel. They made you feel like you're in this broad landscape, very sort of like a vista was opening up in front of you. It was really endearing.”

Hundred Reasons - I'll Find You

"I remember coming home at lunchtime, watching Scuzz or MTV or whatever. This video came on, I was like, 'Oh my God, that's my new favourite band.' The melodies, the harmonies, Colin's voice. I think he's one of my favourite singers ever. I love the emotion, the control he has over his voice.”

Regina Spektor - Eet

“Seeing Regina Spectre live, I was so encapsulated by her voice. She has a great way of being very technically proficient without ramming it down your throat. I'm not a very technically proficient singer in that sort of respect, but she sort of just inspired me to try a little harder and kind of open my horizons a bit.”

Enter Shikari's latest album, A Kiss For The Whole World, is out now.