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Glasgow riff merchants Ikari ready to bring their "post hardcore for your mum" sound to The Tooth and Claw, Inverness for Earth-616 Promotions birthday bash

By Kyle Walker

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Glasgow post hardcore noisemakers Ikari line up their first show in Inverness – headlining Earth-616 Promotions' third birthday bash at the Tooth and Claw on Saturday night. Frontman Kris Renji spoke to Kyle Walker about the gig, the band – and cult Japanese animated show Neon Genesis Evangelion. Naturally...

Q You’re coming up north to play the Tooth and Claw and headline the Earth-616 birthday bash – are you looking forward to Inverness?

A I am! I know the guys are excited too. I’ve only briefly been to Inverness and we’ve never played there so I know it’s going to be a good one!

Q So tell me a bit about Ikari – how did the band kick off for you guys? What first brought you all together and started you down this path? And, just for my personal curiosity, is Ikari a reference to Neon Genesis Evangelion, by any chance? Or is there another meaning for you behind the name?

A It’s a bit of a long one so I’ll keep it brief! Tristan (Guitar) and myself had been jamming for years but nothing ever came of it. I had a bunch of songs built up and in 2017 we were lucky enough to get in a space with CY (Bass) and Jose (Drums) who wanted in on it! We all have a love for the same type of mid 2000’s post hardcore, so that was definitely our starting point!

The name definitely comes from Evangelion too! I’ve been a big fan of the series for far too long and I’ve drawn inspiration from it for years. It’s a pretty good subject matter and CY brought up the idea of just using Ikari as the name and I loved it!

Q How would you describe your music to somebody to whom this interview might be their first introduction to you? What do you try to achieve when you’re setting out to create a new Ikari song? And what are your influences as a band?

A Our old Twitter bio was "post hardcore for your mum" and I think that still holds true. We like contrasting atmospheres so jumping from crushing heavy to beautiful sparkly clarity is our thing! The songwriting tends to come in stages I think. For us anyway. I’ll maybe have an idea or a part, maybe even just a theme for a song and we’ll have some sort of starting point.

Sometimes it’s a chorus hook or an intro. Your Name started off as the "I didn’t mean to hurt you..." middle section and we built around it! Writing and recording is definitely my favourite part, so we spend a lot of time on it. Making sure we’re really happy with all the layers, start to finish and that it has context in the end product we’re releasing it in.

Influence-wise I’d say we have a pretty common ground with bands like Thrice, Fightstar, Deftones etc but we’ve all got different tastes that branch out into jazz, country, pop punk. I don’t think it’s noticeable but we’ve definitely added elements here and there!

Ikari. Picture: Paul Storr Photography
Ikari. Picture: Paul Storr Photography

Q How about yourself, Kris? What got you into music? And was there a particular band or moment that inspired you into writing and performing tunes?

A I started playing drums and guitar when I was about 13 years old. I was super into pop punk as a teen before I discovered Slipknot and it all went south – haha! I remember the "band moment" very well though. I was sitting in my gran's house on my PC when Seasons Wither by Machine Head came on Scuzz. It absolutely captivated me and the ending section with the big chord part and layered vocals definitely struck with me. I definitely blame it for my big focus on post chorus sections of songs haha.

Q Your debut album came out this year – congratulations! How did Shapes and Sounds come together for you guys? What were you looking to bring out in your sound throughout the album? And how do you feel about it now, nearly six months on from its release?

A The album sort of evolved from a string of choices that weren’t really part of the plan. We went from a planned EP to a Kickstarter project for a song people kept requesting following shows. We joked about the idea of just jumping straight to an album and we thought… well why not? We’re a bit older, we’ve followed the ‘process’ before so we decided to just go for it!

We’d worked with Steven Jones (Steven Jones Audio, Bleed From Within, From Sorrow To Serenity) before on both ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Ocean Waves’ so I think having a bit of familiarity of the environment helped us imagine how we both wanted and expected the outcome of the record to be, sonically anyway! We’d done all the preproduction ourselves so we spent a good amount of time writing and tweaking, not only for the song itself but the context it sat in the album.

It was a pretty ambitious tasks but I think I speak for all of us when I say we’re really proud of what we created. We all played some kind of part in it but personally I’m just happy for how the body of work sounds and the story told throughout the songs!

Q What has been your favourite gig together as a band so far? And what has been your weirdest gig?

A I think our favourite show so far might be a two-parter! We done a weekend of shows back in July and played the Dreadnought in Bathgate then the Depot in Cleethorpes. Both really long sets, both had a fair amount of hype around them and I think it was a nice step up for us to really challenge ourselves and work on the show. We had a lot of fun both nights despite the lack of sleep!

We haven’t really had any weird shows but we got to play a few with probably our favourite Glasgow band – Bear Arms. It was a little surreal as we’d been fans for years and got to just hang and play music with them. Great dudes, great music and I’d definitely recommend checking them out!

Q What can the Tooth and Claw expect from an Ikari live show? What do you always hope that your crowds take away from one of your gigs?

A I’m going to start with the take-away question first! One thing we really just want to put across with music is hoping that someone finds something they resonate with, regardless of what it is. That definitely applies to our shows too. If people want to jump around, sing along or stand with their friends and just take it in? Awesome. I appreciate anyone that spends time listening to our music and our message. From us? I’d expect a high energy show full of melody and crushing riffs! What you do with that is absolutely up to you and there is no wrong answer!

Q What are your plans for the rest of 2019 and beyond?

A We have a few shows left, announced and otherwise as well as a few projects including a single with our good friend Frazer of Werra Foxma studios! We’re doing a single with him for his Kickstarter album which should be available to stream from early 2020!

Ikari play The Tooth and Claw on Saturday as headliners for Earth-616 Promotions' third birthday bash (with Pandacar, Table for Four and Square Eyes). Doors open at 8pm and tickets cost £6.

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