Text: Arjen Bloem
Translation : Bente van der Zalm
Cover picture : Holly Whitaker

With Drunk Tank Pink Shame presents us a grown up album with a recognisable sound. The first pleasant news of 2021 is the release of Drunk Tank Pink on January 15th, the second studio album of British post-punk band Shame. A year after the album was done in the famous French studios La Frette. CHAOS had a chat with the band about how they look back on the recording process.

The album’s name is Drunk Tank Pink, how did this name come to life?
“Charlie’s room where he was living and where we wrote the album had a pink interior. Bacon mellow pink. Charlie did research about what this term meant and found out that the colour of pink is used in  cells at police stations, prisons and asylums. The colour makes people naturally calm. We thought that made sense, with a wink.”

When you release your second album, people always compare it to the debut, for Shame this is Songs of Praise. How does this cliché: ‘the second album is always the most difficult to make’ apply to Drunk Tank Pink?
“In the end it’s only as difficult as you make it for yourself. It’s always a challenge to make the new album as you had it in mind to turn out. What mostly makes it difficult is not getting the pleasure out of the making process and not applying creative ideas.
It was a challenge for the band to change the course. The surroundings we were in to record the album was completely new for us.”

Was this pressure caused by the success of Songs of Praise?
“In a way it was, mostly because of there was this expectation at media and the audience what the new album would sound like. A change of sound was criticised, while in the end it’s about the music you make as a band. That’s also the core: growing as musicians and not making a different version of the first album; that was the most important.”

Photo by Bente van der Zalm

In the previous interview with CHAOS we found out that the band needed more time to be together and take the time to think for making Drunk Tank Pink. In what way did this influence the recording of the album?
“It mostly was very refreshing to get more time in the creative way we wanted to go with this album. For Songs of Praise we just got together and started jamming, which of course is fine, but it reduces the amount of thinking about what you really want to play. For the process of making Drunk Tank Pink we really asked ourselves: what do we want to play? This led to recording jam sessions and listening back to it with a critical view. Because we worked in this more accurate way we feel like we made more of this album.”

What did you do differently?
“For the first time we actually had the money to buy recording equipment so we could make a decent sounding demo of it. Especially the transition from jamming to recording has turned out to make a big difference. If someone had an idea we made a demo of it; that’s very different than just playing. Reflecting and thinking about what we were making gave the recording process a whole new angle we weren’t used to. It was nice to work in this way. Of course it’s a lot less ‘typical guitar band’, but it turned out to work good for us.”

The record is recorded in the famous La Frette studios near Paris. Why did you choose this studio?
We heard good stories about this place by other artists, and also our producer James Ford had worked there more often. The space and opportunities the studio gave was an amazing experience.”

James Ford produced the album. What did you get out of that?
“We were at the point where we wanted to experiment with different musical genres, but we didn’t really know how to exactly do that. We especially didn’t know what the possibilities of all the gear we wanted to use were. James was the link for this. He taught us what we could do with it and add these in a suiting way to what we wanted to make. He is a typical very thoughtful producer, who really helped the band with his advice. He kind of was a part of Shame for a few weeks and he played a big part in the new direction the band is heading towards.”

What are newly used instruments?
“There were so many possibilities that we really had to make tough decisions. Mostly the Gibson 355 and Fender Squier VI and some pedals are new on the album.”

Do you want to say with this that Shame has grown up?
“Possibly, Songs of Praise was very youthful. Think about the themes and the vibes around it. We took everything we learned during two years of touring into the studio. Maybe we are adults now, but it doesn’t feel like that yet. We remain this jamming group of friends from London.”

Photo by Sam Gregg

In the past interview with CHAOS you said that percussion gets a more important place in the new record and that this adds a sixth band member. Who is the new member and did he add what you expected he would add?
“With Songs of praise we sounded differently live than how the songs sound on the album. With the complexity of Drunk Tank Pink we want to be able to perform the same music live as how it sounds on the album. We needed a sixth band member to cover this gap. Kyle Morrison, the sixth member, fits the band very well. He also got us on the track of thinking about new musical styles.”

So now the question about song titles, because I think we can agree that they could be called unique; 6/1, Born in Luton. Where did you get the inspiration for this?
“Some of the songs comes from names we thought off. We found strange names to identify the song, like Born in Luton and 6/1. Other titles have more relation to the lyrics. We like to get a bit of humour me to in the titles, just because it’s nice to not take everything too serious.

An UK tour has already been announced. Does this mean that the European dates are following soon?
“It would be too early to say anything about that because it’s an insecure time. What is for sure, is that there will be shows!”

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