Shame are beginning a new chapter with ‘Food For Worms’
February 15th 2023
Shame land in a place of maturity and confidence on their third record. Ignoring their previous songwriting tenets of heartbreak and introspection, they take aim at the gritty world around them and embrace the togetherness of themselves as a band.
Shame’s guitarist Sean Coyle-Smith sat down with Lindsay Riley on Friday mornings to talk about the South London band’s fast approaching third album Food For Worms. Slated for February 24, the record will be a departure from Shame’s past work both sonically and thematically. Sean cited a songwriting rut as one of the reasons for the pivot:
“We were struggling for like six to seven months. Our management decided to book us in some shows under a pseudonym and said ‘ok, we want you to come up with a whole new set of tunes’. I think we had three or four weeks, we went on this writing retreat to the countryside and just wrote a flurry of songs, and I think five or six of those ended up on the album.”
A love of playing live combined with the ultimatum presented by their management ended up feeding into their recording process. Food For Worms is the first of Shame’s records to be recorded entirely live as a full band. This was partially due to the influence of renowned producer Flood AKA Mark Ellis (who has worked with the likes of Nick Cave and U2). He used this method of recording not only to capture Shame’s infectious live energy, but to wrangle the band’s unbridled energy into a streamlined operation.
“Flood was like, ‘I wanna capture the energy in the room.’”
“It was like three months later we were in the studio recording it, which was crazy. Usually for us it takes a good two years of laboring in the practice room before we get to the studio.”
Despite the pace of this recording method, Sean made it clear the band didn’t pick up playing live in the studio straight away. Like riding a bike for the first time, it can be chaotic and you’re bound to have a few falls.
“We love the studio, we’re just not very good at it.”
“There was a couple of songs that we must have done like 50 or 60 takes of. The other process people can flit in and out, like people can go in other rooms, not everyone needs to be in the room playing the song. [Recording live] If one of you fails, you fail together. It’s got to be a collectively good take.”
Food For Worms has also signaled a transitional period for Shame’s sound. Their debut record Songs Of Praise and follow up Drunk Tank Pink lean heavily into the world of post-punk. Gritty British vocals used to lay atop imposing riffs and propulsive drums. Food For Worms sees Shame turn a corner into “the realm of 90s alternative”. Sean explained to Lindsay that he felt that the band had grown out of it. Going as far as expressing his disinterest in the term ‘post-punk’, as an umbrella term used to lump a whole bunch of bands together.
“With the whole post-punk thing. We kind of got that out of our system a little bit with our second record… It didn’t feel that exciting anymore.”
A fresh sound and process also saw Shame delve into an unexpected collaboration on their third record. American singer-songwriter and one third of Indie supergroup boygenius Phoebe Bridgers’ makes an appearance on a track. Sean doesn’t want people to get their hopes up though, telling Lindsay that Phoebe’s vocals blend into the background.
“She’s on ‘Adderall’. Just a complete happenstance, that was a song we wanted to get someone to sing on, like an american. She was the name that kind of floated around, she’s obviously on the same label and happened to be recording downstairs, the new boygenius stuff.”
“She just came to say hello and he [Flood] was like, ‘Do you want to do some singing on this track?’ And she was like, ‘Yeah.’ She was completely up for it… She gave us a very expensive bottle of champagne. Still yet to be drunk but thank you Phoebe.”
Food For Worms has a bright and mischievous visual identity. The albums cover is designed by acclaimed artist Marcel Dzama and has brighter and more cartoonish elements than their previous albums. Their videos have also taken a humorous turn (see ‘Six-Pack’). Lindsay quizzed Sean as to whether the changes Shame has gone through for this record feel like a ‘rebirth’ or a ‘cleansing’.
“It does feel like a bit of a new chapter I think. I think it’s the most excited I’ve been for a Shame album to come out. Hopefully my hopes aren’t dashed by the savage critics.”
With the album on it’s way, Lindsay expressed his hopefulness for seeing Shame down in Australia soon, to which Sean responded in a longing:
“Oh please! For the love of God”
Listen back to Sean Coyle-Smith’s full chat with Lindsay Riley up top! Or check out their latest sing ‘Six-Pack’ below: