After the COVID-19 pandemic hampered many of the band’s plans following the release of stellar second record, Drunk Tank Pink in 2021, Shame will be hoping for a bit more luck this time around as we approach the release of their highly anticipated third album, Food For Worms.
The South London band will head on a UK & Ireland tour following the new album release on February 24th, and if singles Six-Pack and Fingers of Steel are anything to go by, fans of the ambitious and creative post punk quintet are in for a treat later this month.
We spoke to guitarist, Sean Coyle-Smith, to get an insight into how the band are feeling in the lead up to the third album release. We discuss what fans can expect from Food For Worms, plans for the new and revamped live show, what the genre ‘post punk’ really means in 2023, and plenty more.
NC: Firstly, how are things, and are you feeling confident ahead of this month’s album release?
SCS: “Everything is going to plan so far. There will inevitably be some spanners in the works soon, I assume, but this is the most confident I’ve been about an album. The whole process ran pretty smoothly, we’re chilled out and excited to tour it.”
NC: We have to talk about Drunk Tank Pink, which was extremely well received but must have been incredibly frustrating not to tour and the strangest of circumstances surrounding the release?
SCS: “It was recorded just before the pandemic. I remember being in the studio recording the second album and hearing the news, thinking like ‘oh god, here we go’. It sucks for a lot of people for a lot of different reasons. For us it was anticlimactic. Playing the songs live is where you get the satisfaction after an album comes out. It was disappointing but like everyone else we had to find new ways to be present.”
NC: You did experiment with some live shows where fans were seated, including Parish in Huddersfield. What was that experience like?
SCS: “It was weird because we are kind of known as a live band. We like to be crazy on stage and the crowds tend to be crazy in return. It was quite funny because we were doing our usual thing and the crowd was just sat down obviously, but at that point we were just desperate for anything resemblant of a gig. We got to play lots of cool independent venues that wouldn’t typically be on the beaten track like Huddersfield and Derby, so it was definitely worth it.”
NC: The new record is out on February 24th, what can people expect and how does it evolve from Drunk Tank Pink?
SCS: “It is quite separate to the last album, I’d say. For the last record we were enamoured by late 70’s / early 80’s post punk. Bands like Talking Heads really inspired us and we got that out of our system on album 2. When it came to this record, it wasn’t the music we were leaning towards. This is more 90’s alternative inspired, I was listening to a lot of Jeff Buckley and Bruce Springsteen, music that was more melodic. Each song we wrote for this album was more heavily focused on the vocal melodies in the earlier phases of writing. I think this is the album we are most collectively proud of so I’m curious to see what people think of it.”
NC: Do you feel a pressure to be innovative and evolve your music and songwriting process, or does it just come naturally?
SCS: “In terms of the songwriting, it is very much a team effort, and I think there is a natural feeling when we’re sitting on an album before people have heard it of getting bored quite easily. We write so many different types of music, if something feels good we just go with it. As we get tired of playing and listening to the same types of music, our own music evolves in line with these changes.”
NC: You have been putting some work into the live show so what can we expect from the tour in a few weeks time?
SCS: “We want to take the live show to the next level in terms of the visual aspects. I’m kind of dreading it in a way because it feels like we were so young last time we toured properly, I hope we still have the stamina to keep up with it. To be honest, I am just excited to get back out in the UK and Ireland again on an album campaign. Having missed the opportunity on the last record, this will be the first time since the debut album, and I still remember the fun we had touring that. I am excited for the European tour afterwards too. We’re starting in Dublin, which promises to be a big one.”
NC: We’ll focus on a couple of dates and venues now. New Century Hall in Manchester and SWG3 in Glasgow, what are your experiences of these cities up north and have you picked out these venues specifically?
SCS: “We love playing Manchester. The further north you get, the crazier the shows get in my experience. There are so many great venues in Manchester and we’ve kind of played them all now. Our booking agent is amazing and recommended New Century Hall so it’s exciting that we get to play somewhere new. Glasgow shows have definitely been some of our best gigs, people tend to be less pretentious the more northern you go. London crowds, everyone is a bit too cool for school and can’t let loose. But Glasgow is always crazy, and SWG3 is one of the gigs we’ve played where I’ve genuinely been scared of the audience and glad I wasn’t down there.”
NC: You’re also playing Leadmill, which had music fans rallying recently to save the venue. How does it make you feel as musicians to see these iconic grassroots venues struggling?
SCS: “It is exasperating. There are so many great venues and there’s always something negative going on towards them, like someone trying to knock one down to turn it into a BrewDog or something. With Leadmill, it’s where the Arctic Monkeys started. The more of these places that close, the less opportunities there will be for local bands to succeed. You look at countries like France and these places are being protected because they understand the cultural importance of them. Does the world really need another BrewDog? I understand the objective is making money and that is the world we live in, but are we really going to strip away our culture to achieve this? I don’t want to live in a sterile England, I don’t think anybody does or anybody would. That is why places like Leadmill should be protected at all costs.”
NC: Shame were central to the re-emergence of post punk at the forefront of up and coming British music. What are your thoughts on the “post punk” tag as the modern evolution of the genre becomes more and more saturated?
SCS: “It is definitely over-used and is now an umbrella term to lump most guitar bands into, which is understandable because that always happens. I do think in the actual sense of post punk it has become over-saturated. Whenever you see new bands you hear it a lot. It’s funny, I think it is partly the reason as to why we moved away from it on this album. If you hear too much of a good thing you naturally become bored of it. I’d like to see some other terms branded around. I have heard some awful ones like ‘Post-Brexit’, and we can’t start using that!”
NC: But you must feel a sense of pride in the genre’s recent popularity with Shame seemingly being a catalyst for the revival?
SCS: “I’ll not lay any great claim to that. It was something we were all into at the time and it felt like it was our own, current thing we were doing. I still love it as a genre and lots of the bands still doing it. I especially love the last few Dry Cleaning records, they are really amazing and embody the best post punk spirit at the minute. I find the lyrics so funny and that’s what I always liked about the genre. The songwriters don’t tend to take themselves too seriously.”
NC: And finally, what is the one song from the new album that you’re most excited for fans to hear upon release?
SCS: “Orchid. I think like most of the album, from Charlie’s point of view it is about friendship. There are so many songs about the things you go through in romantic relationships but we also go through these things with friends. And there aren’t many songs about friendship.”
Food For Worms is released on February 24th. Head to https://shamebanduk.bandcamp.com/album/food-for-worms for more information.
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