Shame’s Charlie Steen on the ‘mental and physical drain’ of touring life

"You spend most of the time staring at the wall"

Shame frontman Charlie Steen has opened up about the impact that touring life can have on an artist’s mental health.

The band are currently on tour in support of their acclaimed debut album ‘Songs Of Praise‘ (one of the best of the year so far). It’s a gruelling tour that’s likely to take them well into next summer. Echoing comments he made to NME earlier this year, Steen has said that while he feels he’s in a privileged position, the strains of life on the road should not be underestimated.

“Touring is amazing in a lot of aspects,” he told the Irish Times. “But it’s mentally and physically draining. It’s a world of excess. You spend most of the time staring at the wall in a dressing room – three hours fiddling your thumbs. Or you’re at a party. Or else you’re in a van with the same people you’ve been with since you were eight.”

He continued: “It’s hard work, constantly playing these shows and never making any money. You’re working your arse off all the time. But then I guess that’s the story of most people’s lives. It’s better than working nine to five.”

Speaking to NME for Shame’s cover feature, Steen said: “Any band that has to endure the mental strain of sleep deprivation and constant moving will experience that. We gigged and gigged until it broke us – and it eventually broke my mind.”

He went on to discuss the pressures of touring, adding that “this must be one of the only professions in the world where you’ll be shivering in the corner, you’ve thrown up 12 times in one day and you’re basically on the verge of tears – and then a promoter pokes you in the chest and says, “Go onstage, monkey, go onstage.’”

He added that the stigma of mental heath in society needs to be changed. “One in four people that you meet have anxiety,” he said. “It’s a prominent issue, and a situation that needs to be addressed.”

The charities Help Musicians UK and Music Support Org have been set up for musicians and artists struggling with mental health issues.

Shame’s remaining UK tour dates for 2018 are below. Visit here for tickets and more information.

Tuesday November 20, 2018 – LEEDS Stylus
Thursday November 22, 2018 – MANCHESTER O2 Ritz
Friday November 23, 2018 – NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Newcastle University
Saturday November 24, 2018 – GLASGOW O2 ABC
Monday November 26, 2018 – NORWICH Waterfront
Tuesday November 27, 2018 – OXFORD O2 Academy Oxford
Wednesday November 28, 2018 – BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Friday November 30, 2018 – LONDON O2 Forum

For help and advice on mental health: