In The Middle With Shame
Causing havoc up and down the country, post-punk band Shame know how to put on a show. Starting out playing in South London pubs at the age of 17, three years on their success is taking them places they could only have dreamed about before. Marrying intrinsically political lyrics with a unique, well thought-out sound, the band have achieved much in a short space of time and are only set to get bigger and better. I caught up with outspoken yet eloquent vocalist Charlie Steen to talk politics, live shows and always being on the road.
If there’s anything Shame are good at, it’s keeping themselves busy. “We’ve just done 47 festivals this summer”, Steen says “and we had a little break, 9 days off in London where we’ve been finishing a load of shit. And we’re on this England tour then in November we go to America and Canada. Then in December we’re touring Germany and then we’ve sort of signed our lives away for a year or two.”
When asked about touring, Steen is particularly enthusiastic about the European tour dates. “I enjoy playing more in Europe because England is shit, not in terms of the crowd but it’s just if you’re a band and you play England a lot, when you go to Europe you’re actually treated like a human being.”
The band is known for their wild performances, drawing comparisons to such bands as Fat White Family for their live shows, and attracting similar fans. It’s clear they’re aware of this, and use it to their advantage. “When we started the band 3 years ago when we were 17 our whole thing was just to play live constantly as much as we could, kind of in like an old school band way of just sort of touring and gigging and stuff like that. I mean we love sort of like playing live and going out, and it’s just funny to interact with people isn’t it? Recording was something different, we went through 7 different producers until we found Dan and Nathan who did our album which is coming out in January. Playing live yeah, fucking, it’s a laugh.”
Also similar to Fat White Family, the band are known for being outspoken politically. I was interested to find out whether this was an intentional goal, or something that came later. “We never set off to be this sort of, it was never meant to be this political band,” Steen offers, “it was something that came quite naturally and subconsciously, and I don’t really think at the moment, especially if you’re this age and being in this political situation that we’re in as a country where we don’t really have a fucking government at the moment. I think it’s hard to avoid it in my eyes, and I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to address the situations that are affecting everyone. Just speak your fucking mind.” It’s hard to argue with them on that one!
South London has been the home of a thriving band scene for years now, and had a large impact on the way that Shame have been able to create their sound and hone their craft. “The South London crowd has sort of been labelled as a scene, but we don’t really like that word cause it sort of like confines everyone into one category when we think every band is quite individual in their own way. But the bands we’re mates with like Sorry and Hotel Lux and Dead Pretties are all roughly the same age and from roughly the same areas in London and so just meeting people who are interested in doing the same thing..all our mates fucking hate the music that we grew up with and through the band we got to meet all these people that like the music we do. So I think it affects our music in a subconscious way you know, you write where you are, and South London is a fucking great area. There’s a lot changing it as well all the time.”
Shame also draw a lot from musicians further afield, Steen informs me. “My mum would always play me Bob Dylan and the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and my dad would play me Django Rheinhardt and Elvis Presley and Tony Bennett, so I grew up with kind of like the foundations, the root of a lot of different genres and then you know growing up in the band and meeting these people and getting exposed to bands like the Fall and the Stooges. I always knew who Iggy Pop was and I always loved Iggy Pop. I think our favourite band is Eddy Current Suppression Ring, a band from Australia and they’re fucking amazing, they broke up but they’re so fucking sick. We don’t just listen to rock or punk or indie music or whatever, we listen to a lot of fucking different stuff as well. It’s an eclectic taste.”
When asked if he had anything else he wanted to say, I was met with the eloquent response of “Buy our fucking merchandise.”. You heard the man.
Photo Credit: faroutmagazine.co.uk