Since starting out as school boys, this five-piece band has become notorious for stealing every stage with the outrageous, jaw-dropping performances that have become the shame signature. Their riotous two-year journey has included gate-crashing a Glastonbury stage, supporting The Fat White Family and Slaves, performances in Europe, Texas, a nomination for best new artists at the prestigious Anchor awards, headlining their own UK tour and releasing the double A-side single, Gold Hole/The Lick and follow-up, Tasteless.
Formed in the playgrounds of South London, Steen met guitarist Sean Coyle-Smith at primary school. They got together with guitarists Josh Finerty and Eddie Green at secondary school. Charlie Forbes –the drummer – was at nursery school with Green. Bonded by their precocious taste in music (one of their first gigs was supporting their hero Mark E Smith of The Fall) during their A level years they were hanging out at Stockwell’ s Queen’ s Head – unofficial home to The Fat White Family.
“We were sucked into this alternative world which just crystallised everything we thought about” says Steen. “There were drag queens and jobseekers; people who’ d been in bands, like Alabama3, The Ruts, and the bassist from Stiff Little Fingers – this older generation of people and they saw a kindred spirit in this little group of schoolkid runts.”Along with the Queen’ s head crew, The Fat Whites inspired and mentored them. “In a sea of mundanity the Fat Whites were exciting and dangerous,” says Steen. “It was like watching chaos explode in front of you.”As their foothold in the South London scene grew, shame instigated the daredevil club night, Chimney Shitters and creating a politically outspoken, DIY ethos reflecting a punk spirit in today’ s world.
“We are not puppets. Everything we do, we do ourselves,” says former Camberwell student, Steen. “From our songs to our clothes to the artwork for the singles, T-shirts, and fanzines. It’ s all us. We are about creating a movement – it’ s all our blood, sweat and tears.”shame’ s music is controversial, challenging, political and often unprintable. Visa Vulture (written two years ago) is a vicious indictment of Theresa May wrapped up in a happy love song. ‘ Gold Hole’ is a satire of rock narcissism, while ‘ Tasteless’ is about “Living in a world where nobody dares to say anything or do anything different.”.
But to be ‘ shamed’ you have to see them live. Their appearance at The Great Escape last May so knocked out the editor of French magazine ‘ Les Inrockuptibles’ that he penned a two-page eulogy prompting a wave of shamemania –a performance at Pitchfork Paris and on Le Grand Journal TV show in the slot usually reserved for the likes of Taylor Swift or Kanye West. A sign of how fast they are steaming their way to the top is this. Last year they gate-crashed Glastonbury (“It was insane, says guitarist Coyle Smith. “We got the directions wrong and ended up walking miles round the perimeter with our instruments before we found the right hole in the fence”) this year they have been invited to play by Billy Bragg on the Leftfield stage.
With a UK headline tour under their belt, 40-odd festivals this summer, their first album is being produced by Local Hero, aka Dan Foat and Nathan Boddy best known for techno music and work with James Blake. “As soon as we met them, it clicked,” says Steen. “They had ideas that a stereotypical person producing a guitar band might not necessarily think of. And we never want to be predictable. We always want to do something unexpected.”