In music circles, talk of the South London scene is rife with the likes of HMLTD, Goat Girl, and Childhood making some of the most interesting music the country’s heard for a very long time.
Leading the charge is five-piece garage rock band Shame. A fresh take on the guitar music template, Shame are a politically-charged, full frontal attack. Rumbling, frenetic basslines and thick, urbane wall-of-sound guitars lay the perfect platform for the enigmatic performances of frontman Charlie Steen, whose depraved live performances, sharp lyrical wit, and deranged barked vocals make Shame one of the most exciting live propositions in the country today.
Like most bands blossoming in South London, they’ve got a deep-rooted connection to the Fat White Family. “Nathan (Saoude, keyboardist) is probably the member we know best”, explains frontman Charlie Steen, “we used to practice in the Queen’s Head, and we used to practice in the room Nathan used to sleep in.” Now though, reaching the end of a lengthy UK tour, they very much stand as their own entity, with Shame packing out venues from Glasgow to Guildford.
As you’d expect from debut single ‘The Lick’ - a trundling deconstruction of music as a formulaic consumer product - Shame remain apathetic and stoney-faced in the general direction of by-numbers indie. The band’s attitude is one of snarling contempt for anything plain, beige or boring. New single ‘Tasteless’ is a locked on nugget of garage punk that targets just that; Steen explains “it’s a comment on people’s indifference, and how people are a bit sensitive at the moment when they should really be focusing on other things.”
A refreshing take on the independent music scene, and a refreshing taste on music itself. Touring right off the back of recording their debut album, they’ve made a point of doing so in a way that’s both interesting and almost thirst-quenching in a climate of soundalike guitar bands; "before we were with trashy guitar producers who were like crank the amp up to 14 and then put a microphone five metres away,” guitarist Eddie Green says: “but the people we made the album with opened us up to a really interesting way to make a record."
“But Dan (Foat) and Nathan (Boddy, both of whom recorded ‘Tasteless’ and the soon-to-come album) mainly do techno, so it was interesting to see how they approached a guitar band,” Steen retorts; “so they focus quite heavily on the sound of the drums, the sound of the bass, because at the end of the day that’s the pulse of every song”.
Shame cope perfectly with the dilemma between aiming for world domination, and remaining a politically-charged, uncompromising band, avoiding cliches and “being able to bring our best buddies on tour”.
Spring 2017 has already seen Shame invade Stateside shores to play SXSW, and crash Spring Break “red cup-American Pie-sofa on the lawn” frat parties. Summer sees them play all the festivals across the UK and Europe. But in the paraphrased words of another Brixton boy, “I don’t know where (they) will go from here, but I promise it won’t be boring”.
- - -
- - -
Words: Cal Cashin