May this year me and a colleague of mine were invited to interview Shame, a great UK band. As the venue was pretty small and there was no quiet place for us to go, we decided to catch some sun and “fresh” air, sitting in a parking area behind the building. There it is:
How are you feeling about tonight?
Eddie: It’s gonna be a long night, we’re going to get a plane at 4 in the morning.
Sean: Back to London.
Josh: With WizzAir, worst airline in the whole fucking world!
I thought AirBerlin was the worse.
Sean: I’ve never been on AirBerlin.
Josh: We’ve taken WizzAir on the way back from Off Festival and the seats were literally facing forward.
Eddie: I’d call it 85 degrees. And it was also around 4am.
Sean: It was horrible.
Rock star life, what can you do.
Sean: I don’t think they serve champagne on WizzAir.
Don’t think so.
Eddie: Do you know the band IDLES? They were on the same plane and their guitarist is a dentist. He literally had to go to work after we landed. We were flying from Poland at 3 in the morning and he had to be at work at 10 am.
Charlie: (exiting the building) We’re talking about Off Festival?
Josh: And Wizz Air.
Charlie: Aren’t we taking Wizz Air today?
Sean: I think their planes are the ones that used to transport convicts, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but when we went to Off Festival, they had those little things for hooking up ankle cuffs into the seats. No more fear of flying.
So, you’re experiencing a proper déjà vu right now, I guess?
Eddie: It’s a pretty different situation, but you can say so (laughter)
Josh: It was a great festival.
Sean: Yeah, it was.
I’ve heard, wasn’t there though.
Josh: I remember it was really really hot. We’ve only seen sun in Poland.
Really? Today’s weather is great, just the right amount of warm.
Sean: Well, I still got a little sunburnt yesterday.
Josh: Last time we went to the park, we also got burnt. What was the park?
Eddie: A park with a palace.
Sean: But what was it called? Something with K. It’s near the old town, a massive park.
Oh, right, Park Krasińskich!
Sean: That’s the one!
Ok, let’s get down to business. How are you guys doing, second show in Poland.
Josh: Very good.
Charlie: We’ve got a day off here yesterday. We could properly relax and see the city this time. We’ve seen the old town, walked around and shit. Sometimes all we see is the inside of the van and the inside of the venue. It’s tiring.
Sean: It’s quite depressing.
Charlie: It’s nice to see the city, it’s a really nice place and it’s fucking cheap.
You can actually go around and no one’s bothering you.
Josh: It’s a cheap and nice place, well maybe not for Poles.
No, it’s not the cheapest for us, Warsaw is the most expensive place in Poland.
Charlie: Not for us. (laughter)
Sean: Prices here are less than half the prices in London. We had this extravagant dinner last night.
Charlie: No, that’s the tourist trap.
Sean: We’ve been in a fancy place in the old town, had the pork knuckle thing. And it was like 800zł.
Charlie: No, it was 67 pounds.
Ok, so 67 x 5, more or less.
Charlie: It was under 600zł.
You’ve done this before, arriving a day earlier? It was New York City, was it?
Josh: It was an extreme version of it.
Charlie: We’ve went there in November. It was our first American Tour. None of us has ever been to New York before. We just said, we want to be able to see it, have a little bit of holiday there.
Eddie: If we turned up like late a day before the show, we would be horribly jet lagged.
Sean: It was amazing. New York is just a ridiculous place, like London on crack. It doesn’t ever stop. Which is obviously a massive cliché, but it’s true, it’s a 24h city. You guys actually have it here, with the 24h alcohol shops.
Sean: That’s pretty good.
You don’t have it in London?
Charlie: We have 24h off-licence shops.
Sean: There’s only maybe a handful of 24h bars.
Josh: I don’t know if I’ve ever been to any of them.
Charlie: There are some clubs.
Eddie: Mosquito bar. That’s the only one I know.
Sean: It smells like vomit.
Eddie: But you can get a curry out there.
But your vodka is not as strong as ours.
Sean: I’ve had some really nice vodka yesterday. Żubrówka. It’s the one with the bison on the label.
Charlie: You can buy that in London.
Sean: You can find it, but it’s a copy. Not a real one. Looks similar.
You need to go to Polish shops in London.
Eddie: There’s a Polish deli near my house. I always get a ham there.
Charlie: I get the bread.
Sean: Polish shops are great. They have crazy strong beer as well. Like the black Tyskie.
Josh: All of our friends drink Tyskie and Żywiec.
Sean, You’re actually really good at pronouncing polish words.
Sean: No, I’m really not. My mom’s best friend is Polish. She tried to teach me something, I was like “oh this is really hard”. It’s fucking hard.
Yeah, I know. Fortunately for us, we don’t need to struggle. According to statistics, the more difficult language than Polish is Chinese.
Sean: Me and Charlie get Mandarin lessons at school. And we were so bad at it.
Charlie: So bad. The writing is like an art.
Sean: Speaking is one thing, writing is another.
For me personally it would be impossible. I can’t draw at all.
Sean: Exactly. I would write something and the teacher would be like “no, you need to write it the other way around”. For fucks sake, I can’t do this. (laughter)
Josh: It’s like learning to speak again.
Sean: You remember the story of a woman, who went into a coma, when she woke up she could only speak Chinese. She’d never spoken a word in Chinese in her life. I don’t understand how it’s physically possible, as she went to coma and now she can only speak Chinese.
That’s a real problem right there.
Josh: She probably had Chinese television playing.
Sean: There must have been something that was just feeding her Chinese into her head. Cause now she can’t even speak English. The interview’s kind of hilarious. (laughing)
How can she not remember any word in English? That’s just sick. Speaking of which. May is the Mental Health Awareness Month and I wanted to talk to you about how do you cope with endless touring. You’re so young.
Sean: Everyone has their sort of breaking point. If you’re touring constantly it’s easy to just keep going until it’s too late. Bad things can happen, but you’re just learning to not to push yourself too far.
Josh: It’s almost quite helpful, how much we’ve done it. Cause we’ve all learned what not to do.
Charlie: Everyone has their own coping mechanism. Just like anything in life. I’m 20, the rest of the guys are 21 years old. So to be able to see the world in an unorthodox way and still do what you love is incredible. But it’s like Josh said, we’ve learned how to do it.
Sean: Everyone’s learning from their own mistakes.
Eddie: When we’ve started doing it, it was quite easy. Being in a new city everyday, getting free booze. You kind of feel the need to make it out of wherever you are, as much as possible.
Sean: You also need to sleep. It’s funny, cause we’ve played gigs with bands with members quite older than us. They’re kind of where we were the first stages, when we’ve just were like “let’s get fucking hammered”. People get kind of confused, when they see us not partying. You just can’t do that every night. You can try. (laughter)
Charlie: It works short term.
Eddie: It always ends and ends in tears.
Isn’t it easy to just give in? With drugs and alcohol?
Charlie: A lot of people use it as their coping mechanism.
Sean: Which can be quite destructive, but maybe works for a bit. I think one thing that was quite formative when we started was The Queens Head Pub in Brixton. Which had a lot of people going to that pub, that were just like fucked by the music industry, a lot of them had problems. And the thing that was scarring in an interesting way was a lesson about personal limits.
Eddie: But also at the same time we would be there, trying to rehearse, we would see Fat White Family, once a month or something. They were at the same point we are now. They would go away quite fresh faced and were coming back kind of disheveled.
Josh: I think we’re better in dealing with touring.
Sean: Not that it’s a competition. (laughter)
And what about critics?
Sean: I find some of them really funny. Cause there are some people, who get very creative as to show you exactly how much they hate you. A very recent example, our KEXP session just went up online and one of the top comments on our YouTube video is “this is gonorrhea in audio form”.
Charlie: With a barf emoji next to it.
Josh: I thought it was a good thing.
Sean: No, it’s not a good thing. The Guardian article that was written about our album, the comment section was just about 700 comments of pure abuse. Start to finish.
Charlie: I think the end of the day we don’t really give that much shit, because at the end of the day we never dreamed we would be in the position we currently are in. All the comments are humorous to us.
Charlie: We’ve had all the criticism before from being in Queenshead, doing years of gigging with everyone around us. Our mates not really liking our music that much, our parents wanted us to do school, our teachers wanted us to do well in exams. We all had to do jobs. So in the end of the day it’s paying off, being able to go around the world, touring, selling out shows, having an album out, stuff like that, it’s an accomplishment. We’re not writing our music for anyone but ourselves. We’re not trying to impress anyone apart from ourselves.
Josh: The fact, that we are where we are right now, it’s crazy enough.
Sean: Criticism is always funny.
Eddie: It’s also funny, because regardless if people are saying good things, or saying bad things, at the end of the day, people are still paying attention. That’s what matters really.
Josh: Unless everyone picked at us. It would hit me a little bit, if everyone thought we were terrible and we were big, because people laughed at us. That would be another level of any press is good press. I think we get a decent press.
Sean: The thought of an old white dude sitting on his laptop, writing “I fucking hate those little pricks” just makes me laugh a little bit. And there are plenty of those people around. Warms my heart.
Were you ever playing for one person?
Sean: So many times.
Charlie: Yes. For a year. Three gigs a week. And I was working and doing my A levels at school.
Josh: We were never a really cool band. We were never a band that would turn people down. We got an email and were like “Oh shit, we gonna play this barbecue!”
Sean: You’re having a party by the river? Let’s do it!
Charlie: We gigged so much when we started.
Sean: We didn’t say no to a single gig ever. And a lot of bands, who actually want people to think they’re cool, just decline most gigs.
Josh: I think it’s a good tactic.
Sean: It works for some people, but for us, we were just like, well we kind of suck, so if we get as much practice as we can, it only gonna be a good thing.
That’s true. You learn while performing.
Sean: We’re still doing it. We probably need to book another tour, we’re still not good enough.
Eddie: At least that’s what our booking agent thinks. (laughter)
Sean: Someone’s gonna kill us.
We’ve came to a point where we should discuss politics, don’t we? Wanted to talk to you about Brexit a bit. Your song directed to Theresa May is the worst love song ever. It’s not a bad song, don’t get me wrong. But if I had something like this written to me, I would think there’s something seriously wrong with me.
Sean: We got attacked in a really terrible tabloid a couple of days ago. The Sun.
Josh: It’s the best tabloid to get attacked by. (laughter)
Sean: We’ve got a message from our management, just to let us know, The Sun is going for us today. We saw this article and it was like “Shame on you!”, then they had the lyrics to Visa Vulture and they were saying how we did receive the grant from the government.
Charlie: They’re saying Shame to Teresa May for giving us a grant. They’re saying shame on you to the minister.
Sean: I don’t think she knows we’ve even received this grant and it was definitely not her decision to give it to us. (laughter)
Josh: We’ve written this song long before Brexit was even a thing.
Eddie: That was when she was home secretary and was basically trying to deport as many people as possible.
Josh: That’s when we wrote it and then she became prime minister. We still haven’t released it. So we thought, fuck we have to do it now. It’s kind of sad, we didn’t do it before. We could be like “hey, look at us”.
Sean: It’s not because she’s a prime minister. We’ve always hated her! And that was quite funny about the newspaper. I couldn’t really believe that.
Josh: We should show people demos with a date on it. Like early 2015.
Charlie: Fucking Brexit.
Sean: Yeah, Brexit. I don’t know how many more times I can bring myself to talk about it.
Eddie: It’s just a shadow.
Sean: Yes and it’s not going anywhere. I wasn’t expecting it to happen immediately. But I was expecting like 2 years on, maybe some things might have happened. Nothing happened though, since everyone’s realized, it’s not gonna work. It was just this sort of hyped wimp idea. They just randomly called a referendum and everyone was like “Yeah let’s do it!”.
Eddie: And it’s basically bullshit. That the NHS is going to get more money if we leave. We left and they realized it’s gonna be the opposite. Everyone just went “Oops”.
Sean: They are targeting the working classes. Almost every nurse in the country is a nurse from an EU country.
Eddie: And then people start complaining. If they want to go to Belgium for example, you have to pay like 7 pounds for a visa and everyone’s like “This is outrageous!”. What did you fucking expect?
Sean: The funniest thing is that The Daily Mail, which is another awful newspaper, they were promoting Brexit so much and were well in favor of Brexit. And because now it affected something like travel to the EU and the front page of The Daily Mail like 4 months after Brexit was like “Outrage!”. And seriously, what do you think it’s about? We want to leave EU, but we still want a free access if we want to go on holidays and stuff. We sustain ourselves largely from touring Europe. And the European Union. It’s easy at the moment, we can just drive to France and when we’re in Europe, we can play and do, what makes a small part of our living. If it ends up with us being forced to get a visa, it can get a lot worse, with restrictions for us going there.
Eddie: I don’t. (laughter)
Sean: He’s lucky, ’cause he has an Irish passport.
Eddie: No Brexit for me.
Sean: Ireland knows they can’t do that. With all do respect.
Eddie: It’s peak for the Scots as well, cause they voted to remain in the UK under the condition that they will remain the part of the EU. And obviously England voted to leave.
Sean: And it was basically just England. Northern Ireland and Scotland they don’t want to be a part of it, they hate us.
I’ve heard some rumors.
Sean: They fucking hate us. No one really likes us.
Well, we like you.
Sean: Thanks. (laughter)
Eddie: Two Polish people like us!
Sean: People in Poland are friendly to us. Americans just think we’re some mystical creatures. They are super enthusiastic about everything. You say one thing like “I’m gonna get a beer” and they are like “OMG I love beer!”. Yeah, me too man, how crazy is that… (laughter)
Thank you for a talk, get some rest before the show!