Tim Hakki meets the DIY post-punks who are deeply immersed in east London’s queer community and take aim at capitalist culture in their playful songs
East London trio Shopping formed from the ruins of a band called Covergirl, a group who only had one single to their name, the anarchically titled ‘Paris Burns’, released on Captured Tracks in 2011. It was a deftly delivered letterbomb of authentic and irreverent DIY post-punk, and the fact that Covergirl didn’t keep going for longer would have been a tragedy had Shopping not materialised instead.
Drummer Andrew Milk, bassist Rachel Aggs and vocalist/guitarist Billy Easter have changed their aesthetic since Covergirl. It would be easy to paint Shopping as an inherently political group. Their name references consumerism, their self-released debut LP was titled ‘Consumer Complaints’ and littered throughout their music are scathing references to capitalist instant-grat culture (“Why pay for what you never really wanted?” goes new single ‘Why Wait’), but they insist it’s not as intentional as people have interpreted. “It becomes self-conscious when we do interviews,” insists Rachel. “We’re not anti-consumerist, we’re a part of it like everyone else.” Billy adds: “We’re contributing to it by releasing music that we want people to buy. We don’t plan to, but we sing about it a lot.”
Shopping come from a very grassroots queer punk scene. All of them are actively involved with east London venue Power Lunches, from putting on nights, working behind the bar and DJing there. It’s a space that has held the door open for a community of likeminded DIY groups espousing queer or feminist ideologies. “Power Lunches happened quite organically,” says Andrew, “it found its own identity over time, through having a very anti-sexist, anti-discrimination ethos, things that should be obvious for every venue – like creating a welcoming environment that strives to be free from prejudice.”
Now though, Shopping are DIY alumni. They’ve signed to Fat Cat for their next album, ‘Why Choose’, which is released on October 2 and boasts a similarly danceable aesthetic as early Bloc Party with less ennui. As they gear up for their first tour of America, they’re aware that they’re starting to attract a buzz. “Someone described us as a hip young band,” says Andrew. “I’m 45, so it’s not quite on the money.” Despite their self-deprecation, whatever Shopping are manufacturing – on record or stage – is bound to be highly consumable.
SHOPPING: NEED TO KNOW
FOR FANS OF: Gang Of Four, Bloc Party, ESG
BUY IT: New album ‘Why Choose’ is released on October 2
BELIEVE IT OR NOT: Andrew says, “All of us have our own fabulous drag alter ego – I’m Ruby Waters, Billy’s Henrietta Regatta and Rachel’s Rags Tariches.”