Charlie Steen: ‘No sleep, no food, losing relationships ... I am a human sacrifice’

Shame frontman Charlie Steen on his festival experiences - from Alexa Chung arguments backstage at Glastonbury, to horribly hot long drops

People often describe your live show as being angry and full of rage. But would you change your tune if you made eye contact with a small baby mid-set at a festival?
No. A lot of people interpret the gigs as being aggressive but humour is the underlying element. It’s like a joke that’s gone too far. So to make eye contact with a baby would make us smile and continue our entertainment for the public.

If you could curate your own festival lineup using only former boyband members, who would be the three headliners?
Are Vengaboys a boyband? No. I’d bring ’NSync back to life but we wouldn’t get them to play, we’d get them to do a public safety announcement. So the audience can go back to their tents and enjoy their evenings respectably. Everyone in the band has a deep love for Robbie Williams. I’m a fan of him physically, so I wouldn’t get him to sing, just to stand still on stage. In a vest. Something revealing but not exposing. Lastly, Charlie from Busted. I had a poster of them when I was a kid. Charlie had very impressive hair.

Who’s the worst person you’ve ever met at a festival?
I once got in an argument with Alexa Chung about the Libertines. I said they were shit and I didn’t know who she was until she left. She said I had a “negative aura”. But I don’t know if she’s a bad person, just [got] bad music taste.

How do you find the long drop toilet situation at festivals?
I hate it. We did a festival in Australia in January called Laneway. It was 40 degrees. Nothing good can come out of that. Literally.

You are the hottest band in Britain. Do you think the Arctic Monkeys are scared of you?
I don’t think they’d have any reason to be. They were around at a time when you actually made money.

Alex Turner has a tiny beard now.
I don’t really admire facial hair so can’t share any respect for him.

Beyoncé played Glastonbury while pregnant and Jessie J did a festival on a throne after breaking her leg. What adversity have you overcome at a festival?
No sleep, no food. Driving thousands of miles. Not being paid properly, losing relationships, losing friends, losing family.

Worth it?
Probably not. I am a human sacrifice.

Shame play All Points East, Reading & Leeds and Citadel festivals


Harriet Gibsone

The GuardianTramp

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