Shame guitarist Eddie Green talks to Getintothis’ Will Whitby about drag racing Iggy Pop, pissing off Theresa May and breaking the shackles of the “next big thing” label.
The first we heard of Shame was their 2017 satirical rip into the then home secretary now Tory Witch, oh sorry I meant Prime Minister, Theresa May.
The track Visa Vulture set off Shame’s fearless writing and attitude off from the band’s get-go: “Oh Theresa, baby / We’ve been going for a while / And I think I want more / Than your sideways smile. Do you feel like a commoner? / Exposed and dominated / Have you gained a moral conscience? / Or are you not that degraded?”
Here were a bunch of South London kids calling out politicians and throwing a collective fuck you to everything that I thought London was.
Working class indie to the core, the band immediately caught my ear with their 90s almost punk vibe, bitterly intelligent lyrics and not a tinnie of Strongbow Dark Fruits in sight.
Yet the ballsy, tongue-in-cheek anti-love song gained an even more comic gravitas as Eddie Green discusses: “I can say on good authority that Theresa May doesn’t like us” he unashamedly admitted.
“We got given a government grant to perform in SXSW and a number of tabloids picked up on that. They drew reference to our lyrics about May and she found out when it had a pretty big spread in the paper. “Spineless PM gives government grant to an anti-tory band”- It was really funny; that was our favourite bit of press we’ve ever had.”
“The journalist who wrote it tweeted us and we just said we’d spend all the money on drugs” he added.
Shame are shouty and in your face and aim to support the unrepresented groups with their nu-London indie punk sound.
As some indie bands strive to make it onto the monotony of Radio X daytime playlisting to get noticed Green tears apart this easy ethos: “Some people think they are doing something far higher than they actually are,” he tells us.
“There is nothing worse than a guitar band thinking they’re changing the world, anyone who thinks themselves as that needs to have a think about where they’re going. No one is changing the world.”
As the first anniversary of their stellar debut album Songs Of Praise passed in January, Green recounts the immense reaction that the album has received in the past 14 months.
Released via label Dead Oceans it broke the Top 40 in the UK and finished top of Rough Trade’s album of the year list.
Their refreshing reinvention of what guitar rock and youthful controversy could mean in 2018 gave the album widespread positive praise across the globe. “It has been an interesting journey and its exceeded all out expectations as to how far it went, the reaction has definitely done the songs justice,” Green adds.
The age of the band is no longer an attraction for lazy journalism as the once late teenagers when they debuted are now all early 20-somethings and “no one gives a shit” Green said. “No one cares how old we are anymore which is nice. It felt like the fact we were young was secondary to us actually being any good.”
But the pressure of being touted as the next big thing is something Green and the group relished in. “The pressure is interesting. There is only so long we can be described as a hot new band. We came round at time where people seemed to care more about guitar music and that’s quite an easy and at times lazy way to describe a band.”
But with pressure comes constant criticism as “literally anything you do in or outside of your music is going to be scrutinised” Green told us. “The relentless critical culture we live in is unhealthy. It is damaging when musicians are young, reckless, hedonistic people who have their every move watched, I see why it goes badly for some people” he added.
However, this reckless status of unbridled youth has got Green and the rest of Shame into some interesting situations as while discussing how a classic rock star lifestyle just isn’t possible anymore, he then admitted to (partly) racing Iggy Pop down a French motorway.
“We played the same festival as Iggy Pop and we watched from the side. At the end of the show we had to leave and we just saw him get carried off the stage like a limp fish.
“We’re driving to our next destination and we just see this car with four other cars surrounding it. I look to my left and it is Iggy Pop with two very scantily clad ladies and we basically just chased him a few miles until our driver turned into a service station.”
For the time being, Shame embark on a USA tour as “lots of cultural appropriation is to be had” as they perform Coachella, “I’m more intrigued. Some people say it is the worst place ever.” Green adds.
At the time of the interview, their Philadelphia show was already sold out two months in advance as Green discusses the bands previous LA and NYC shows to have felt “just like London.”
Where some new UK punk-influenced bands outside of the punk musicsphere tend to fall short when they hit the US, Shame’s key demographics are equally the US’ disenfranchised, educated youth- Green continued to sarcastically remark that “the 6Music dads are our number 1 market in the UK.”
The band return to Liverpool in May for Sound City as Green looks forward to returning to Merseyside “We love Liverpool- the city has such a good spirit about it. We played The Magnet as one of our first headline shows outside of London; it is such a shame it got knocked down.”
The conversation drew to a close as discussion dragged to a disappointing bacon butty he had for breakfast, Green pretty much summed up everything Shame is when asked to summarise themselves finally in 3 words- ironically stating: “big big legends.”