“Oh Theresa, baby / We’ve been going for a while / But I think I want more than your sideways smile.” Charlie Steen, front man of South London post-punk band Shame, is sat to my left spitting out lyrics to ‘Visa Vulture’, a crude love song to Britain’s home secretary Theresa May, that may or may not make their next demo cut. “Oh Theresa, honey / Know I mind the gap with my chargrilled meat inside your butter-bread baps.” He catcalls over four other Shame members attempting to drown him out around our dilapidated pub bench. “No one wants to hear your fucking lyrics, especially to that fucking song,” screams drummer Charlie Forbes with a mouthful of overcooked meat.
But they do. As we gather roadside in Deptford, the stench of sewers made sweeter by happy hour pints, these punch-drunk, punk-blues teenagers are gathering pace as one of the most watched and crucially most talked about live bands in London. They predictably balk at the attention and prefer to discuss Theresa May’s urethra (we’ve skipped that lyric) or the imposing EU Referendum (didn’t end well, did it). Guitarist Eddie Green’s thoughts now seem bittersweet. “They were saying that the last General Election, despite it not really going our way, young voter turnout was much bigger than it has been in decades and it is only going to grow. Tomorrow is going to be so close. We are preaching to the converted but we feel we have to put our voice out there and vote remain.”
The outspoken Forbes wades in again: “A lot of fucking indie bands are more interested in selling records and don’t want to divide opinions.”
Not afraid to rock the establishment, Shame’s recent live video for their Fall-esque song ‘The Lick’ repeatedly challenges the music industry’s tendency to be “relatable not debatable.” This lyric dominates a noticeably chorus free-song and typifies the band’s conformity. “We were just desperate to get something out there; Mica Levi got involved after coming to see us and asked to film it,” explains Steen as Josh continues. “It was important for us to do something visual – it makes people want to come and see us live because that’s what we are about.” The introduction of Levi (or Micachu, as she’s professionally known) behind the camera has given Shame artistic clout to add to the cannon. “She doesn’t care about any of the bullshit, she’s not a socialite or after money. She just genuinely really likes music,” enthuses Charlie Steen, his passion pouring out.
Mica, like many others, was startled by Shame’s growingly notorious live presence. Eddie sums up the experience best: “It’s quite funny playing a gig and looking at peoples faces in the crowd,” he says. “Half of them are loving it and the other half are thinking what the fuck is this?”