After the release of their sophomore album, Drunk Tank Pink, 2021 has been a year that Shame will not forget. I had the opportunity to chat with guitarist Eddie Green about the venues in London that helped shape Shame, the success of Drunk Tank Pink and how far away Norwich is from everything.
Drunk Tank Pink is an album that sees the band go in a new creative direction beyond the post punk origins of their debut, Songs of Praise. The album has been incredibly well received with praise from NME calling them, “one of the most exciting bands at the forefront of British music.”
I spoke to Eddie about this success. He said, “it was kind of a year of stopping and starting. We recorded the album way back in January 2020 over at La Frette studios in Paris with James Ford producing it and it was scheduled for release way sooner than it actually did…It was quite frustrating having to wait on a completed album but when we were finally able to get out on the socially distanced tour that was really good because we hadn’t played any of those songs live with the exception of a couple. That was great to gauge people’s reactions and I think a lot of people were surprised with the change from the first record.”
This change in musical direction was something that Eddie talked about a lot, “we were keen to — not necessarily step away from the themes on the first record because there are still some themes that are common throughout both albums — but I think the progression in complexity was something we were keen to do. The older you get as a musician, the staler things become if you don’t necessarily challenge yourself and draw on more complex influences. It can all get a bit monotonous if you stick to the same influences.”
James Ford, famous for production with Arctic Monkeys and Last Shadow Puppets, took on the role of producing Drunk Tank Pink. I asked Eddie how this experience was: “on a personal level you wouldn’t realise just how prolific he was or the calibre of producer he is but working with him was an incredible opportunity. He’s the kind of producer that more or less joins the band for the four or five weeks we recorded the album, super hands-on, wasn’t shying away from telling us when something wasn’t working and he’s got such a wealth of knowledge across so many varying genres.”
Shame began their journey in the venues and pubs of south London playing at venues like The Windmill and The Queen’s Head. “It was cool because for a long time we were the new kids on the block and now we’re like the more established south London bands at the time like Fat White Family, Childhood, and King Krule. Our first few gigs at the Windmill, you’d pick out certain faces in the crowd and be like ‘oh there’s so and so’ and then gradually we became part of a scene that was more our own whereas at the start we were sort of tailgating on the back of a theme that had been there for a while.
“Hopping back to the present day, it’s quite funny because in the space of about seven years we’ve gone from being the youngsters to the old guys so if I go to the Windmill now, I’m like the oldest there! I think that’s just testament to how active the Windmill is as a roll to bolstering your music. It feels like an entirely new scene that merges out of that place on a pretty much annual basis. It’s great to see, but [it’s] bizarre talking to students about what it was like in 2016!”
The band are familiar with Norwich, having played at the Waterfront twice, in 2018 and November of this year. At the time of this interview, the band were about to kick off their latest tour so I asked Eddie how they were feeling about it, “It’s gonna be good! It feels a bit less daunting now we’ve done quite a few full cap performances. Until we’d had a few of those under our belt, I felt a bit nervous about it because the first couple of shows were really overwhelming in more ways than one. But [we’re] really excited about it now. I like [the Waterfront] a lot. We’ve played there once before. The last tour of the Songs of Praise campaign we did [Waterfront] but other than that I don’t think we’ve ever made it out that way. It’s one of those destinations on a UK tour that gets overlooked, it might be a geographical thing as it’s quite far away from everything!”
Although Eddie couldn’t promise a new album next year, the band have already begun working on new music with their latest single released last month.