Environment means everything in music. Put a Pink Floyd gig on at the 100 Club and you’re unlikely to hear anything approaching the regal majesty of ‘The Dark Side Of The Moon’ anytime soon. For aggro-punk five-piece Shame, things didn’t click until they set up shop at Brixton pub – and den of iniquity – The Queens Head last ummer, also previously home to Fat White Family.
“We used to practise in this detached mansion for a period,” says guitarist Seán Coyle-Smith. “The difference in what we wrote there compared to The Queens is… it was just drony, indie shit.” The Queens, sadly, has recently been turned into a gastro pub – something Shame are massively opposed to – but it gave them the start they needed. “Everyone was just flying around on a different type of Class A, walking into rehearsals going, ‘Let me play bass, let me play bass!’,” recalls singer Charlie Steen. “All our instruments would go missing and come back blood-splattered.” With songs like ‘The Lick’, recalling the brooding menace of cult punk heroes Alternative TV and The Ruts, Shame now find themselves at the forefront of a compelling new scene in the capital, with bands like Goat Girl, FISH and Happy Meal Ltd being courted by every notable record label in the country. For the first time in years, it feels tangible, too, as if it might gestate into something bigger.
“Putting Ministry Of Sound on the guestlist for Chimney Shitters was probably our funniest moment ever,” laughs drummer Charlie Forbes, referencing Shame’s crudely named and always-chaotic Brixton Windmill night, where most of the aforementioned acts played their first gigs. “There’s just no community any more,” laments Coyle-Smith. “There’s too much, ‘You have to support this type of band, you have to write this kind of song.’” With Shame, he adds, “the aim is to turn everything on its head – and everyone’s invited along for the ride”.
Shame: The Details
Based: South London
Buy It: ‘The Lick’ is on streaming sites now
London Old Blue Last (July 2)
Goldenvoice pop-up, London Hyde Park (7)
Chimney Shitters, London Brixton Windmill (9)
Paris Le Trianon (13)
Oxford Truck Festival (16)
Pikehall Y Not Festival (31)
September 3 London 1234 Festival (September 3)
Kent In The Woods Festival (3)
Fact: Shame “are very left wing and we’re not scared to say it”, according to Forbes