Having been a fan of Shame for almost a year after seeing them support Slaves at the Barrowlands at the end of 2016, I was hyped to have the opportunity to see them once again at the more local, more intimate and generally cooler venue of Sneaky Pete’s. The gig opened with a great show of Edinburgh’s talent in the form of post-punk 4-piece Bluebirds, with a huge sonic barrage of aggressive tunes. Next, the London pop-rap-punk duo The Rhythm Method brilliantly graced the stage with their weird and off-kilter but oddly fantastic brand of music. Tunes like ‘Home Sweet Home’ and ‘Something For The Weekend’ are undeniably brilliant and so danceable. Upon Shame taking to the stage, beautiful havoc ensued in full formation; the band thrashed through their best tunes (such as ‘Tasteless’ and ‘Concrete’), the crowd burst playfully into mosh pits, and the enigmatic Charlie Steen jumped in and out of the audience putting all of his energy into spitting his insightful and eloquent lyrics into the microphone whilst maintaining the attention of every soul in the room. You couldn’t complain about anything (apart from perhaps its inevitable ending) – it was all perfect: tight drum grooves neatly interlocked with pumping bass lines while interchangeably melodic and abrasive guitar licks flowed over the top, leaving just enough room for an incredible vocal performance. After the show I sat down with the band to discuss the London scene, literature and bad pre-gig fish & chips…
Great show tonight guys, was fantastic. Even better than when I saw you at the Barrowlands.
Charlie Steen: That [Sneaky Pete’s gig] was a really fun show, man.
Sean Coyle-Smith: That was the coldest stage we’ve ever played on. I got the worst fish and chips I’ve ever had in my life about 40 minutes before we played that show [2016 Barrowlands gig].
One thing that I’ve noticed at both of your shows is your charisma. You guys have so much of it. Does that come from anywhere in particular or is it just natural?
C: Eh, well, I think it’s like an elevated persona, so like with a sort of element of reality behind it.
S: I think it also comes from, like, we played so many shows before we recorded anything so like, our whole thing was just being a live band. Like that’s our thing: the live show. I think it’s a bit of a cop out when you see bands and there’s not many people there or they’re not really getting into it as much as they’d like and they just stand there looking a bit surly. We just treat every gig like it’s Brixton Academy.
You’re definitely a live band but on top of that, your recordings are great too. I love the new single ‘Concrete’, and ‘The Lick’ was definitely one of my favourite songs from last year.
C: Aww thanks man. Wait ’til the album. It’s coming out in January and we recorded it with Dan Foat and Nathan Boddy who are techno producers so it’s their first time working with a guitar band. They’re really obsessed with Martin Hannett’s production who worked with Joy Division and Happy Mondays and they’ve worked with Factory Records bands. We wanted to treat the recordings differently from how we sound live.
S: We didn’t just wanna do a guitar record.
What would you guys say are your main influences?
C: I think it varies between us, because there’s no one person in the band who writes most of it. Everyone sorta writes their own parts. So I guess like Iggy Pop, Ian Curtis, John Cale. We’ve got an eclectic mix of influences, but the foundations are maybe The Stooges and The Fall too, but there’s others like Eddy Current Suppression Ring and…
S: The Smiths
You got any particular favourite up and coming bands?
C: The Duds.
S: I’d say the London bands at the minute are HMLTD, Sorry, Dead Pretties, eh, who else?
C: Hotel Lux, fucking Mōnk, Matt Maltese. There’s tons of different bands going on in that scene.
In Edinburgh we don’t have much of a DIY scene going on but we’re trying to set one up, got any advice?
C: We started the band when we were 17, we’re 20 now but when we started it none of our friends our age liked the same music as us, but we were lucky enough to start playing at a venue called The Windmill in Brixton which is the cornerstone of culture in London at the moment. So when we started playing there we started meeting bands and meeting people into the same music as us. So I think it’s just about meeting people and keeping on playing music.
Your lyrics are fantastic. I was wondering if you had any particular literary influences?
C: Recently I was reading Making of a Whore and after that, Art, Class & Cleavage [by Diana Russell and Ben Watson respectively]. Irvine Welsh – when I was 14 I read The Acid House and that changed my whole opinion on literature. Also, just listening to loads of different lyricists and how they describe things. It’s not always about going to the main obvious point of the subject of love or death or whatever; it’s going to the smaller crevices that create fascination.
Image: Holly Whitaker