Shame have been together just over three years and in that time have become the most viscerally thrilling new band in the UK. Their highly anticipated debut album, Songs of Praise, is out now via Dead Oceans. They are currently on a North American tour to show off the new record with anyone who will listen, and if you’re in Portland, you have a chance to see them at Doug Fir on 2/19 for free!
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The Queen’s Head was a lawless space where Fat White Family rehearsed. It was the filthy incubator that shaped punk newcomers Shame and opened their eyes to whole new ways of life as the much older freaks, dropouts and misfits of South London who frequented it treated it like a freewheeling community centre. “We kind of just took refuge there,” says Forbes. “The Fat Whites didn’t really know we existed for a while until we started using their stuff as we didn’t have any instruments.”
Several tours later, Shame began fielding multiple record label offers, eventually signing with Dead Oceans in early 2017. They recorded debut album Songs Of Praise in Rockfield in Wales in ten days. At just ten tracks and a run time of 39 minutes, it’s a compression of everything they are about. “We wanted our first album to be concise and to the point,” says Steen. “No bullshit.”
Lead single into album is “One Rizla”. The track is about embracing insecurities, something which Steen had to do when the band first started playing live – taking his shirt off, getting right into the crowd, commanding such a ferocious live show. The standout moment from their live shows, “Gold Hole” leans heavily on a sense of disquiet – steadily building, dropping down to a sinister pant, finally erupting in a frenzy. “It’s the debate about the difference between exploitation and empowerment,” says Steen, “looking at sexual labour through a stereotypical tabloid perspective.”