shame Return to L.A. for No Picnic Debut

The British post-punk band’s Charlie Steen discusses the band’s rise to stardom, new music, and performing in Los Angeles

Back when I first moved to Los Angeles, I realized that I’d been led astray by a facade—the city which was known by East Coasters as laid back and breezy was, in fact, buzzing. Struggling to keep up, I would often ride around the sprawling Southland browsing through podcasts—from art history to true crime; it is what kept me grounded upon my entry into L.A.

At some point, I stumbled upon The Dave Rowntree Show, a radio show-talk show hybrid hosted by Blur’s drummer. It funnels some of Rowntree’s favorite tracks between an array of topics and themes. I remember listening to the third episode, when he set the tone for the next song, describing how more often than not, 1960s-influenced bands could sound really “dour” or like a “boring pastiche of their favorite bands,” but that this one he was about to play is neither. This was my introduction to shame and the eclectic, hypnotic sound of “Snow Day” on their sophomore album, Drunk Tank Pink.

Shame photographed by Sam Gregg.

That was back in 2021, still, two years after the band had made their last appearance in L.A. at The Roxy Theatre alongside Danish punk outfit Iceage. Now, shame—the post-punk quintet made up of Charlie Steen, Eddie Green, Charlie Forbes, Josh Finerty, and Sean Coyle-Smith—is set to play in front of thousands at the first installment of This Ain’t No Picnic festival on August 28, their much-anticipated return to the city.

Needless to say, they’ll be in good company, hitting the stage just before the likes of The Strokes, Phoebe Bridgers, and Beach House. They’re excited they’re here too, according to Steen, shame’s singer and frontman.

“Coming back to America and North America is an experience unlike any other you get when touring. We spent a lot of our time touring in Europe, but coming over here, everything is bigger; it’s more surreal,” Steen tells LAMag. “I don’t think we ever set out with the understanding that we’d be playing in Pasadena with The Strokes, but we’re very happy we can say that we are doing their things.

“This is the music we were listening to in our teenage years,” he playfully added.

During their set, shame will be drawing the best from their catalog as well as some new songs off their third album, which Steen says they’ve just finished recording. He was careful not to reveal the name of the new project while speaking from the back of the tour van. But he does seem excited at the idea of new music being released. After all, Drunk Tank Pink was a deviation from the sound on 2018’s Songs of Praise, taking a classic, devious charm and transforming it into a deeper, more adventurous record.

“[Songs of Praise] was all written in a small warehouse in London, and after touring we took a different approach to write Drunk Tank Pink,” Steen recalls. “That record was looked at in a way where people could spend longer working out their parts and looking further into the details.”

What, then, will come next from the band? As Steen explains, many of their latest songs were written at a breakneck pace.

“We took a challenge for this latest record, from our management, because we couldn’t write for ages,” Steen said. The band was tasked with having to play a set of entirely new songs for a show scheduled in two weeks. This new, condensed, and hectic writing schedule was “the catalyst for a lot of the new songs” off their upcoming third album, Steen says.

While fans of the group stir and ponder at the prospect of yet another left turn from shame, Steen says he is just happy to reflect on how the band got to this point. What started out as making music because the band needed to have songs to play live was quickly transformed into a journey into what the band can really do—its next step in their honest, raw, approach.

shame will appear at the Green stage of This Aint No Picnic festival on Sunday afternoon.

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