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Last Updated: Friday, 5 January 2007, 14:44 GMT
Sound of 2007: Enter Shikari
By Ian Youngs
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

The BBC News website's Sound of 2007 poll highlights some of the brightest new music talent for the next 12 months.

Enter Shikari

More than 130 UK-based critics and broadcasters have named their favourite new acts, with the results compiled into a top 10.

One artist from the top five will be revealed every day this week, with the winner and full list published on Friday.

Enter Shikari, at number five, have built up a huge, passionate live following with their mix of hardcore rock and trance.

"I think there were six ambulances called throughout the gig," says Enter Shikari drummer Rob Rolfe, recalling a recent gig in Dublin. "And a fire engine and police."

The youthful heavy rockers from Hertfordshire have spent the last three years touring, building up a fervent fanbase who unleash mayhem at every gig.

Enter Shikari
The band have played more than 500 live shows in three years
They have played more than 500 shows up and down the UK, travelling in the back of a faded ex-Royal Mail van, under the radar of the mainstream music scene.

But now the crowds for their hybrid of heavy rock and thumping dance have become too large and fanatical to ignore.

The music industry really took notice when Enter Shikari became only the second unsigned band to sell out the London Astoria. The first was The Darkness.

And their energy and passion - and the raucous and reckless reaction from the crowd - have shot Enter Shikari's gigs straight into rock legend.

"You should be careful if you're at the front," says Rolfe.

"Like last night [in Luton], there wasn't any kind of barrier and there were people getting their ankles crushed onto the stage because it was quite a low stage.

There aren't ambulances and casualties at every one of our shows - unfortunately
Liam 'Rory' Clewlow
Guitarist Liam "Rory" Clewlow adds: "Everyone goes so crazy that everyone gets pushed forward.

"After two songs yesterday, there was a row of seven bouncers standing on stage in front of us, keeping everyone off. So we spent the whole night standing on the monitors.

But parents of teenage rock fans should not worry, he says. "There aren't ambulances and casualties at every one of our shows. Unfortunately."

And they have found an unusual fan in 79-year-old actress June Brown, who plays Dot Cotton in EastEnders and has been to several Enter Shikari gigs.

The band's popularity has spread through word-of-mouth and the power of the internet.

EastEnders actress June Brown with Enter Shikari
EastEnders actress June Brown has been to several Enter Shikari gigs
As well as their stage presence, they have also been hailed for the way they weld together rock and dance.

"It's the passion of rock and hardcore mixed with the euphoria of trance," says singer Roughton "Rou" Reynolds.

Bands like the Prodigy have combined the two and put the emphasis on dance - but Enter Shikari say they put rock first.

And some bands use the two genres against each other, creating a "clash", Clewlow says.

"Whereas we try to use them together, and we try to have a lot more melody to our music as well."

The reaction prompted a flurry of offers from major record labels - but the band turned them all down. Instead, they will continue to release music on their own label Ambush Reality.

Enter Shikari
The group will release their debut album on their own label in March
A groundbreaking deal with distribution company Vital will provide marketing muscle while allowing the band to keep control of their music.

"They were really good offers," says bassist Chris Batten.

"But the independent route meant we have a lot more control and a lot more to do with everything - packaging, manufacturing, artwork.

"We get a lot more involvement, which we're happier with.

"To be doing everything yourself over the last few years and then suddenly you're not included in decisions and to have things done for you - we didn't think it was the right way for us."

Rolfe believes the group have already done much of the work of a major label - like building support and recording an album.

A lot of major labels don't see longevity and development in bands - they just go for the immediate cashback
Rob Rolfe
"So if we can get there by ourselves, why would we need a record label?

"Vital provided us with everything we wanted - a marketing budget, for instance, to help promote the album - stuff we were looking for from a major but without any of the really bad connections."

"With the Vital deal, we keep hold of all of our copyrights," adds Clewlow. "All of the music is ours."

Seeing other bands being dumped by major labels for failing to shift enough units was a powerful lesson for Enter Shikari.

Reynolds explains: "We'd seen loads of our favourite bands sign major deals, put out an album, and just because it doesn't sell a million records they get dropped. It's not worth it."

DIY ethos

Rolfe adds: "A lot of major labels don't see longevity and development in bands. They just go for the immediate cashback."

"We don't know if this is going to work," continues Batten. "But if it does, we hope it can be a model other bands can come along and use.

"Bands can actually get out there and do it themselves. There's no stopping them now."

It seems not much can stand in the way of Enter Shikari and their army of fans. Ambulance crews of Britain, you have been warned.

  • More than 130 impartial UK-based music writers, editors and broadcasters took part in to the Sound of 2007 poll by naming their three favourite new acts.

    These tips were weighted to take account of each pundit's stature, genre and record in previous polls, as well as the order in which they ranked their tips, with the results compiled into a top 10.

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