Shame: interview: "we like a bit of beef between bands"
We talk to guitarist Eddie Green about Twitter jibes, the French being closet anglophiles and Shame's marathon run of gigs last year.
Last updated: 7th Mar 2019. Originally published: 4th Mar 2019
Image: Tom Van Huisstede
South London alternative outfit are a well known name on the live music circuit, and so they should be. In 2018 the band played a mammoth 150 shows, travelling 166,353 miles in the process (according to Songkick) and in the process established themselves as a ferocious, snarling, crowd surfing, high octane act.
The lengthy run of dates accompanied Shame's debut album Songs Of Praise which received rave reviews across the board from publications such as DIY, NME Clash, and The Line Of Best Fit.
Their powerful punk ethos in both their music, stage presence and online demeanour presents the band as a strong left wing alternative to overblown rockers or saccharine pop acts that dominate the world of music, particularly in England.
That is truly where the appeal lies with the band , and when we caught up with guitarist Eddie Green it seemed nothing about the band was set to change any time soon.
Afternoon Eddie, how are you?
Not too bad, just enjoying the global warming right now.
It's both enjoyable and concerning in equal measure isn't it?
Where I am right now my concerns are largely put to bed...but we probably should worry really.
Are you in London then, with the band?
Yeah man, I’m with Josh right now, we’re about to start another writing session which has been going really well so far.
You played a hell of a lot of shows last year, so I guess the aim is to get back at it and keep that momentum going?
Yeah we definitely want to keep the momentum going and honing the live set and playing to as many people as we can. We’ve learnt over the last five years that there is a limit - in the interest of writing more tunes we can’t tour quite as heavily as maybe we did last year but we’re still going to be out there. We want to keep it going and keep giving people our output - we’re very excited for the next few months for sure.
Did you ever have concerns about burning out last year, because you played around 150 shows didn't you?
It was more occasions like when you’re in America in a van for 17 hours and then playing to like 12 it’s like what the fuck are we doing this for, what’s going on so obviously being young and being swayed to temptation you get the odd day where you’re like ‘ I need to start looking after myself a little bit’
It’s nice to do it when you’re young because you learn your limits early and you get your mistakes out of the way because the worth of stuff people are doing every weekend you're doing every night, so you need to learn your limits early.
Basically don't get pissed out of your head every night of the tour?
Yeah, or the last week will be hell.
I saw a video of you guys playing a festival somewhere in Europe, it looked really hot, and you walked out to the commentary of David Beckham's penalty against Argentina in the 2002 World Cup - I bet moments like that were pretty special?
Ahhhh I think that was in Holland. Basically, one of our friends is an insane producer, does live techno sets. He made a gabber remix of that football chant - you know the one that’s like der ner der ner der ner ner (Dario G ‘Carnival de Paris’) - apparently gabber is really big in the Netherlands so we went on stage to that because it was during the World Cup. The moshpits started before we even started playing so that was pretty jokes.
Outside of England, which other countries have taken to Shame particularly well?
We’ve done a few - the Far East is pretty mental, The way people consume music over there is so different. There is no middle ground when it comes to being a fan - you’re either not interested or really, really fucking into it.
A few European countries like France and the Netherlands have been really good us and also the U.S - places that are historically quite difficult for British bands to crack we've had relatively good luck in.
It’s nice to slowly pave the way for global domination which is of course what we’re going for.
Why do you think these countries have taken to you so well, is it the high energy shows do you think?
I think it’s a mixture of energy and the odd bit of good fortune and shit like that.
Stuff has worked in our favour - we were doing pretty big shows in France before we were in England - when we were 18 we got this Friday night slot on this TV show which was a bit nuts. A mixture of being in the right place at the right time and people just being into it.
The French are anglophiles in a way, they hate to admit it but they are...
What was the TV show you played in France?
Le Grand journal , the French equivalent of the one show. We did two songs on it and we were talking to the producers and they were like ‘last week we had Metallica and Kanye West is on Next week - so Metallica, Shame and then Kanye West. We were like ‘ who the fuck is booking for this show?’
I think there is less bias in Europe about how high profile you are and how esteemed you are. If people are into you they’re into you no matter how big or successful you are.
You said you were writing earlier, how much does this turbulent political time we're living in feed your creativity?
It’s almost becoming second nature all of that , things have been pretty fucked up for a while so if we were living in calm, stable times that would almost feel weird. I dunno how much of it would affect our output but i guess that's just what’s happening. In a way though we are getting fuelled by that.
It seems to me that a result of the political angst that is around is a love for bands who put a lot of energy into their live show - would you say this is even more important than the music itself, looking at yourselves, Blinders, IDLES etc?
Our crowd can either be a pissed off teenager who’s six cans deep or some bored old bloke who has just finished work and they need a way to let off steam. The social weight of that and being able to deliver that to someone, without sounding too over the top is a really important thing.
Then again, having a record as a tangible piece of music that you can keep forever... It's hard to quantify what is more important because it is good for there to be an atmosphere where you can let off steam.
Are there any performances you saw in your formative years that really inspired you to do what you do now?
One of the first gigs we went to as band members was Fat White Family, Childhood, King Krule and Jerk Curb at the Queen’s Head, the pub we would end up rehearsing in, and that show with it being such an eclectic line p and each artist having their own intensity and we’d started talking about being in a band a few times and we were like ‘yeah this is nice, let’s do this’ and then we started the band. We ended up doing our first gig there and put on a load of nights there too.
Taling of Fat White Family, where do you stand on their recent comments on IDLES and Sleaford Mods?
I’m pretty reluctant to weigh in on that to be fair. I have a lot of time for all three bands in question and to be honest with you it’s not my place to chime in on it. All three bands have their own merit, I’m not going to take away any band’s entitlement to have an opinion on another.
You could argue that a lot of it is posturing or in one case, trying to sell tickets. It’s not my place to say. I don’t think much more will come of it. Good on IDLES for staying of it.
What's your opinion on IDLES? I'd imagine they're a band you have a lot of respect for?
I’ve got a huge amount of respect for IDLES, we became very close friends with them over the course of the summer of 2017 because we were constantly bumping into them at festivals and airports and ferries. I’ve got a lot of time.
They're a band where a lot of it is from the heart, really and truly, which might seem cliched as much as not a lot of their music is my thing it has a lot of heart.
Speaking of band beefs - I saw some comments from your Twitter about Catfish and the Bottlemen...
That was kind of funny - I don’t think the individual who tweeted that from our account entirely anticipated what a backlash he’d get. Come on, everyone knows they’re shit we didn’t need to point that out.
It’s the antithesis of everything that guitar music is about - when that got posted on the NME it was (Charlie) Steen's face and then your man from Catfish... it was funny but it wasn’t either of us who made that tweet.
The rest of your Twitter is quite tongue in cheek so I wondered whether you were just looking for a reaction...
Our Twitter is tongue in cheek but we I don’t think we needed to point out that Catfish and the Bottlemen aren’t very good.
We quite like a bit of beef between bands, it’s funny. That band Sports Team have had a go at us on twitter a few times, I think it's good, it’s healthy.
Do you think bands need to use social media more to get their opinions across, as the music press perhaps doesn't give as many column inches to bands as it maybe used to?
I think it was a lot more savage back in the day. If it’s creative, and it's funny and its entertaining to watch then I‘ve got no problem with bands beefing each other.
You're playing Sound City this year - the city has a good alternative scene, do you have good experiences there?
Liverpool has always been pretty dope, we’ve had a lot of fun there. The first gig we did there was at a place called Magnet which I believe isn’t there any more. It was an amazing old, sticky jazz club and it was cool. Liverpool has a pretty unrivalled spirit so it’s always a laugh.
And beyond that, loads more gigs?
We’ll be about. There are plenty of gigs, we won’t be going anywhere.