INHEAVEN: An Interview

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It’s too loud to talk back-stage at Scala, so London four-piece INHEAVEN and I move to the run-down metal steps next to a fire-exit to chat. We’re still inside, but you can smoke here like the old days. Days of wild abandon and political movement. Days none of us saw, but that these cult prodigies are bringing back to the forefront.

“We’re inspired by the counter-culture of the late nineteen-sixties,” says front-man James. It’s an idea that seeps through every angle of their released debut LP, which alternates between hell-bent fury and soaring love songs. An ode to retro coming-of-age youth movements. “We wanted to have our own revolution; spark that scene. Why can’t that happen again now?”

After a decade of so-called ‘landfill indie’, Chloe, James, Jake and Joe are just one of several young bands using their art to change the world: “it would be irresponsible not to” as Chloe puts it. “It’s a political awakening. We’ve seen a lot of younger kids and teens talking about politics at [our] shows and we want to encourage that, and for people to speak up.”

Along with the LP, the band produced their own zine – bursting with Leftist imagery, including a striking picture of Theresa May and Donald Trump, bastardised by marker pen. Though songs like ‘Stupid Things’ drift into realms of escapism, it’s clear that the main thrust of this debut album is to function as a manifesto for young people.

Later, the band take to the stage in front of a sell-out crowd of mainly-late-teens. Flowers twine James and Chloe’s microphones, mirroring the flora placed on their tongues for the eponymous LP cover art. It’s a confident use of “repetition of images” made popular by “Andy Warhol and The Factory.” It’s also in line with the revolutionary movement they’re initiating: “the flower on the tongue is supposed to be a blossoming of speech,” they say.

An hour-long set has the audience circulating and chanting lyrics, crescendoing with ‘Regeneration’ in which James is swept up by the crowd and carried around the room. Though INHEAVEN acknowledge the “throwaway” culture of a world obsessed with the Internet, they’re confident in a “younger, hungry fan base” keen for change, both in the music business and general status quo.

“Young people are excited about music again and it’s great,” James says, “Anger is a powerful tool. Anger and love. I guess it’s a bit of freedom, a bit of love, a bit of hate,” he clarifies, addressing the anatomy of the LP. The revolution’s happening right now and INHEAVEN are a voice that young people are crying out for.

Shame at Scala

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2017 has had its Lesser Free Trade Hall moment.

It’s 9pm in the smoking area of Scala on the 18th October 2017, the galley space is wall to wall, and there’s so much anticipation in the air you could chew on it.

It’s coming up to Shame’s homecoming, headline set and there’s a hum and a buzz unlike anything I’ve felt before.

A young crowd of men and women: politically active, angry and subverting the norm, they’re using music as an outlet. Art project-cum-Punk New Romantics HMLTD are here. As are members of Fat White Family. Hotel Lux are here, naturally, and The Rhythm Method. Dead Pretties have pulled out at the last minute, for personal reasons, but it’s their intention to be here and that’s another (alongside Goat Girl) to add to the movement.

Because this is a movement. Of guitars. Of politics in music. Of a new kind of punk?

Shame pinball on stage. Frontman Charlie is wearing a Stetson and a mask made out of tinfoil. A madness descends as the frenetic light show lead the five young iconoclasts into a crazed rendition of yet-to-be-released Dust on Trial.

Filthy, caked in noise and fucking very very angry, the songs spill out one after the other, melodic despite the decibels and (dare I say it?) commercially-promising despite the subversion.

Angie, a huge anthem, is presented to the crowd as the first performance of its final version. It’s one for the radio.

Charlie climbs, ape-like and topless, onto the tallest speaker as the crowd turn to him, chanting the words to Gold Hole. He spins into the throng on his back and stands atop their outstretched hands. Bassist Josh thrashes across the stage.

If we’re heading back towards guitar domination (and at Scala on 18th October 2017, who could suggest otherwise?), Shame are leading the charge.

Mid-set, The Lick peals out with that Apocalyptic bass-line and the crowd know the words…”this is how it starts.”