Over a table strewn with cans of Aldi own-brand lager in a Liverpool beer garden, Shame are recalling on-tour war stories. “Do you remember when I got on stage and was sick all over Charlie Boyer & the Voyeurs’ keyboard as they played?” says the group’s lead singer, Charlie Steen. “I was just hallucinating, seeing eyes everywhere,” he recalls. There’re more tales – of being banned from a Dublin Wetherspoon’s because the staff mistook their tired, on-tour state as a sign that they were drug addicts, or “skags” as they were called before being asked to leave; of the 30p pints in a 24-hour bar in the Czech Republic that ended up in them encountering a homophobic club owner who extinguished lit cigarettes on his own hand because he was so angry with the band and their perceived gayness as they gyrated around the venue to the music of their friends band, HMLTD. There’s more hallucinating that involved almost eating a raw chicken believing it to be a freshly roasted one; Evangelical Christians trying to save and convert guitarist Eddie Green as he crashed into their tent in the black of night in the woods on an island while blind drunk and trying to make it back to the hotel; and there’s a heroic, convoluted, incredibly lengthy (and successful) plot of the band travelling to and breaking into Glastonbury Festival to play a gig there in 2016. All of Shame are barely out of their teens and have only existed as a group for a few years but they’ve made good, fun and mischievous use of their time so far.
Such tales paint a picture of a drug-addled, crazy and chaotic bunch who you’d cross the road to avoid making eye contact with – an image no doubt reinforced by their music: a snarling and seething blend of urgent post-punk, brooding atmospheres, guttural vocals and precision sharp melodies that feel born from 1970s Manchester but are funnelled through a contemporary sheen and political bite that feels unequivocally of the moment. However, in reality, Shame are an affable bunch and are nothing more than a group of very young men having a mountain of laughs in an industry they are already wise enough to know can be as fickle as it can treacherous.