November 17 | 19:30£15
shame have today announced that their long-anticipated new album, Drunk Tank Pink, will be
released on 15th Jan via Dead Oceans. Alongside, the band have shared a Pedro Takahashi
directed video for brand new single ‘Water in the Well’ and announced brand new UK tour
dates for November 2021.
Watch the ‘Water in the Well’ video
There are moments on Drunk Tank Pink where you almost have to reach for the sleeve to check
this is the same band who made 2018’s Songs Of Praise. Such is the jump shame have made
from the riotous post-punk of their debut to the sprawling adventurism laid out in the bigger,
bolder James Ford produced follow-up.
This creative leap, in part, was sparked by the band’s recent crash back down to earth, having
spent their entire adult life on the road. It stems from their beginnings as wide-eyed teenagers,
cutting their teeth in the pubs and small venues of South London, to becoming the most
celebrated new band in Britain, catapulted by the success of their breakthrough debut album.
Readjusting to a new normal back home with – for the first time since the band’s formation – no
live shows on the horizon, frontman Charlie Steen attempted to party his way out of psychosis.
“When you’re exposed to all of that for the first time you think you’re fucking indestructible,” he
notes. “After a few years you reach a point where you realise everyone needs a bath and a
good night’s sleep sometimes.”
An intense bout of waking fever-dreams convinced Steen that self medicating his demons
wasn’t a very healthy plan of action and it was probably time to stop and take a look inward.
“You become very aware of yourself and when all of the music stops, you’re left with the
silence,” reflects Steen. “And that silence is a lot of what this record is about.”
In a room (well, more of a cupboard that used to house a washing machine until it was lugged
outside and replaced with a bed) painted in a shade of pink used to calm down drunk tank
inmates, Steen cocooned himself away to reflect and write. In the room dubbed ‘the womb’ –
through the prism of his own surrealistic dreams – he addressed the psychological toll life in the
band had taken on him. The disintegration of his relationship, the loss of a sense of self and the
growing identity crisis both the band and an entire generation were feeling.
“The common theme when I was catching up with my mates was this identity crisis everyone
was having,” reflects Steen. “No one knows what the fuck is going on.”
“It didn’t matter that we’d just come back off tour thinking, ‘How do we deal with reality!?’”
agrees guitarist Sean Coyle-Smith. “I had mates that were working in a pub and they were also
like, ‘How do I deal with reality!?’ Everyone was going through it.”
Coyle-Smith took a different tac to Steen and barricaded himself in his bedroom. Barely leaving
the house and instead obsessively deconstructing his very approach to playing and making
music, he picked apart the threads of the music he was devouring (Talking Heads, Nigerian
High Life, the dry funk of ESG, Talk Talk…) and created work infused with panic and crackling
“For this album I was so bored of playing guitar,” he recalls, “the thought of even playing it was
mind-numbing. So I started to write and experiment in all these alternative tunings and not write
or play in a conventional ‘rock’ way.”
The genius of Drunk Tank Pink is how Steen’s lyrical themes dovetail with the music. Opener
Alphabet dissects the premise of performance over a siren call of nervous, jerking guitars, its
chorus thrown out like a beer bottle across a mosh pit. Nigel Hitter, meanwhile, turns the
mundanity of routine into something spectacular via a disjointed jigsaw of syncopated rhythms
and broken wristed punk funk. The result is an enormous expansion of shame’s sonic arsenal.