March 25, 2018
Gritty. Vicious. Disillusioned. These are the makings of South London post-punk band Shame, a group of young men devoted to being wholly themselves as they rise to critical acclaim in the ever-watchful eyes of music scenes around the world. After the release of their debut album, Songs of Praise, Shame has toured incessantly through the UK, Australia, and now, the United States, confronted by a culture whose understanding and appreciation of music and performance stands in stark contrast to their own.
“It’s been amazing, really,” guitarist Eddie Green said. His tone is exhausted, yet undefeated as he elaborates on the attendance and reception of Shame’s live performances after a day off from their tour. Green is speaking from Calexico, California, to where the band has returned after hopping the border for some true Mexican cuisine the night previous.
“It’s been a whirlwind of a tour. It’s been quite surprisingly positive, though. People seem to be traveling from far and wide to see us, so I’ve got no complaints,” said Green. He remains humble even when discussing the praiseworthy feat of selling out headlining sets in some of the most musically competitive cities in the States. “It’s always weird when people start catching on to what you’re doing and, you know, caring.”
So what makes Shame so special and how did they come by this meteoric rise so early in their career? Speaking to Green makes the answer abundantly clear. There’s no rock ‘n’ roll stardom clouding reality, no over-inflated version of self anywhere in sight and, to listeners who’ve been bombarded by faux-punk attitudes for years, that mentality is a much-welcomed relief from the norm – one that translates directly into their music.
“We want to be involved as far as we can. For as much as [we] have to delegate roles to other people, whether or not that’s in the form of having a label, or not self-producing or directing our own videos, we always try to maintain as much creative involvement as possible. That’s why we always try to work with like-minded people.”
Those “like-minded people” are the folks at Dead Oceans, the label that released Songs of Praise earlier this year, as well as those that had a hand in the production and direction of their videos for “Concrete” and “One Rizla” from the album. This dedication to maintaining a uniform directive within their creative circle became evident as Green spoke on how their record came to be: holed up in a remote studio in Wales for ten straight days with only each other and producers Dan Foat and Nathan Boddy.
“[Making the record] was quite a difficult thing to pull off. All of the songs on that record kind of have their own individual character. There are a lot of songs that you might not necessarily think would end up on the same album. That’s why we had to apply so much thought into making it work as a whole – making it flow all together. That’s the only way we could do it, a complete no-distractions environment,” Green said. “It was a very organic, natural experience. We couldn’t have really done it any other way. There was nothing that was forced. We just had these ideas, and all wanted to put them together, and that’s why we’re here now.”
That part of Shame’s presence is one of their most important. Nothing is forced. Their set at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC revealed that with stunning clarity as the band tossed themselves around the small stage, demonstrating an explosive effortlessness coupled with the respective mood of each song. Whether it was the ominous doom and gloom of “Dust on Trial” or the sultry haze of “The Lick,” Shame oozed comfort and confidence as though they were a band who had been doing this for decades.
As our conversation came to a close, Green remarked on the nature of defining his band by way of influences. Shame acknowledges The Fall and Eddy Current Suppression Ring as two of their major influences and, as for what the public has to say, Green remained pointed in his response.
“I think [influences] are just one of those things that you have to allow people to have their own personal opinions on. I don’t think it’s incorrect for anyone to say that we’ve been influenced by any specific band. You can channel influences from any group and not even realize you got it from them.”
This idea of defying definition spans the whole of Shame. No matter what anybody thinks about them – their unabashedly turbulent music, their raucous live sets, or their boyish nonchalance – they will hold fast to what makes them who they are. This tenacity is what makes Shame an anomaly in the face of modern music and is what separates them from the formula-driven playing of their American counterparts. Without a doubt, they’re a band to keep a close and careful watch on as they continue their rise to global prominence.
Check out the full 2018 tour dates for Shame.