It’s 9pm on a drizzly Tuesday, but the pavement on Oxford Street is rammed with people braving the elements. No, not because the shops have decided to have a 100% off sale, but because the band being tipped as one of the best Britain has to offer right now are about to go on stage at the iconic 100 Club.
Songs of Praise — the snarling debut album from south London post-punk quintet Shame — marked the first great record of 2018. “My mum gave me a high five yesterday!” Frontman Charlie Steen chirps when I ask about the LP’s feedback. “To be honest, we don’t really read anything [about us] since The Guardian comment section.” This statement immediately has the rest of the band — guitarists Sean Coyle-Smith and Eddie Green, bassist Josh Finerty and drummer Charlie Forbes — sharing quotes they’ve memorised from the unforgiving article responses, including their personal favourites: “vacuous bags of wind floating nowhere in particular” and “at least they’re trying.”
The group all went to the same school “at one point or another” before deciding to form a band three years ago, after spending many teenage Brixton nights watching gigs at the Queen’s Head pub. It’s this time that informs the core of their critically acclaimed debut. “It’s the period of us being 17-20 and all the things that happened to us in-between,” Steen explains. “It’s all the early songs we wrote as a band,” affirms Finerty, “‘One Rizla’ was the first song we ever wrote, so it’s a collection of all the best stuff we could come up with in our three years of existence.” Green laughs, “So, if it was shit, that would be pretty poor.”
A striking LP, Songs of Praise electrifies with a gritty realness that has fully established Shame as Britain’s latest trail-blazing young guitar band. However, it seems the band are the first to refuse to believe the hype: “We’re not going to turn up to, like, Oklahoma with people taking photos,” Steen muses, “we’ve still got a long, long way to go. We might be confident in this little microcosm, but as soon as we step out and go to Australia and America and China or wherever, we’re a completely new band.”
Three days after we chat the band board a plane to Australia for the first leg of a huge tour which will see them head Stateside and then to Europe in the upcoming months. The plan to become known globally is well underway. What are they most looking forward to about performing worldwide? “We can watch iRobot [on the plane], like, eight times in a row!” Forbes exclaims. Good to know they have their priorities in check.
Taken from the Spring 2018 Issue; out now and available to buy here.