Shame have been together just over three years and in that time have become the most viscerally thrilling new band in the UK. They will release their highly anticipated debut album at the start of 2018.
South London school friends Charlie Steen (vocals), Sean Coyle-Smith (guitar), Eddie Green (guitar), Charlie Forbes (drums) and Josh Finerty (bass) formed the band in a practice space at the infamous Queen’s Head in Brixton. Given three long months – rather than the usual six weeks – to fill in June 2014 after their AS levels, starting a band seemed the best use of that time for everyone.
The Queen’s Head was a lawless space where The Fat White Family rehearsed. “We kind of just took refuge there,” says Forbes. “The Fat Whites didn’t really know we existed for a while until we started using their stuff as we didn’t have any instruments.”
It was the filthy incubator that shaped the band and opened their eyes to whole new ways of life as the much older freaks, dropouts and misfits of South London who frequented it treated it like a freewheeling community centre. “You could do whatever you wanted there,” recalls Steen. “Nothing was off limits.”
A pivotal show at The Great Escape in Brighton in 2016 was both disaster and triumph. First, they were threatened with a bill for £700 for damage to a venue. “I tore down a chandelier by swinging on it Adam & The Ants-style,” admits Steen. However, JD Beauvallet of Les Inrockuptibles saw them at that show and wrote an effusive two-page feature on them that helped get them booked at Pitchfork Paris in October and land their first TV appearance on France’s Le Grand Journal. “It was so surreal doing live TV,” says Forbes, “but that was the moment it dawned on us that we might be onto something.”
Warpaint, having seen them at Pitchfork Paris, gave the band a support slot on their UK tour in March 2017. As a band that is rarely off the road, they have played over 47 festivals this year and “well over” 130 shows in total. “We have always wanted people to talk about the show after they have watched us,” says Forbes. “If you are talking about it we have done something right.”
After fielding multiple record label offers, Shame signed with Dead Oceans in early 2017. They recorded debut album Songs Of Praise in Rockfield in Wales in 10 days. At just 10 tracks and a run time of 39 minutes, it’s a compression of everything they are about. “We wanted our first album to be concise and to the point,” says Steen. “No bullshit.”