High-flying band Enter Shikari goes back to its roots

PUBLISHED: 16:59 30 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:37 06 May 2010

The band hand over the cheque to Pioneer Club chairman Eddie Johnson

The band hand over the cheque to Pioneer Club chairman Eddie Johnson

MUSIC success story Enter Shikari went back to their roots this week with rehearsals at the venue where their high-flying career first took off - the Pioneer Youth Club. And while they were at the club in Heathlands Drive, St Albans, the band also handed

MUSIC success story Enter Shikari went back to their roots this week with rehearsals at the venue where their high-flying career first took off - the Pioneer Club.

And while they were at the club in Heathlands Drive, St Albans, the band also handed over a cheque for £1,800 which was raised from their last homecoming show at the Alban Arena.

The money will fund a new music rehearsal room to help aspiring musicians follow in the footsteps of Enter Shikari whose enormous success has seen them play to sell-out crowds across the UK and the world.

Pioneer Club Chairman Eddie Johnson said the new room was a key component of his five-year plan for the site in which he hoped to develop music performance opportunities that would enhance the extraordinary flair that all young people harboured.

Enter Shikari - made up of 22-year-olds Rou Reynolds, Chris Batten, Rob Rolfe and Rory Clewlow from St Albans - started out playing gigs at the Pioneer after forming in 2003.

Although they have come a long way since then, the band still care passionately about the club and remain closely linked - Chris' dad Andy has just become the licence holder of the venue which will enable live music gigs to be reinstated after a break of nearly two years.

It was hit by licensing problems and St Albans District Council concerns over community safety but Andy and club chairman Eddie Johnson are determined to give rising bands the chance to perform locally and the city's young people the opportunity to enjoy live music again.

Enter Shikari hit the local headlines two weeks ago after accusing the district council of not doing enough to support the area's younger population after they imposed strict security measures ahead of their next gig at the Alban Arena.

Similar restrictions, which included the presence of plain-clothes police officers, were introduced at their last gig there and this year the council announced a ban on alcohol which it later revoked.

Despite their anger over the situation Enter Shikari are determined to reach their local fans, many of whom have followed them from their days at the Pioneer Club.

Speaking during a short break in rehearsals for their 28-date tour on Monday, Rou said: "After they put on all the restrictions on the last gig nothing went wrong. The restrictions were ludicrously over the top and they go and do it again. There are so many bands from St Albans and in the surrounding area, there is so much talent, but there is nowhere locally for it to be developed."

He added: "I think the really annoying thing is we were born and bred in St Albans, our songs are about St Albans - we love it, its history and everything about it."

Chris added: "It got to us a little bit. We play all over the country and then our home town show is the only one we have the problem with."

Enter Shikari have played at most of the major UK and European music festivals to great acclaim and last year they were awarded the John Peel Award for musical innovation at the NME Awards and picked up two gongs at the Kerrang! Awards.

They have toured the UK and remain under their own independent label despite big offers from music companies.

Rory said: "We have toured so much it's just a big blur and it feels like it has always been like this." One of his main highlights so far was playing at the Download Festival last summer when they were the main support to Korn.

The band are planning to tour Japan and America next year following a stint in the studio before Christmas to record their new material, which they have described as more experimental than their last album.

"We are still using the same blender but we are putting more things into it," explained Rou.

Enter Shikari's will be raising money for the Grove House Hospice at their forthcoming gig at the Alban Arena on Wednesday, October 8.

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