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"Being Perfect Is Not Important": Shopping Talk New LP 'The Official Body' And Defying Expectations

Thursday, 11 January 2018 Written by Laura Johnson

Photo: CJ Monk

The office. The bank. The government. “There is no ‘official body’, in any sense of the term, it’s just society has made it so that there is,” Shopping’s Billy Easter says. “And it’s not even like there’s this one person, we’ve ended up in this place where we somehow believe that there’s the correct way to do things, the correct way to look, or you have to go through the official channels and stuff. And it’s all just not real.”

That’s how the bassist explains the thought process behind the DIY punks calling their forthcoming third album ‘The Official Body’. Having only just arrived at Antwerp venue Het Bos, the trio, completed by guitarist Rachel Aggs and drummer Andrew Milk, are huddled around a speakerphone to talk the follow up to 2015’s ‘Why Choose?’.

From the pointed title down, the record does not shy away from politics. Milk is quick to note that their protests remain peaceful and are underpinned by their songs, which are fundamentally vehicles for dancing and a good time rather than lengthy screeds.

“We haven’t decided to go less political, or try and be less political,” he says. “I think we make music the same way we’ve always made music, which is quite immediate and in a room and whatever is on our minds at the time comes out in the songs. That’s always going to be influenced by political climate and personal circumstances.

“We don’t ever want to be dogmatic [though] and we don’t want to be forcing our politics down people's throats. If people feel frustrated in the same way that we do then we encourage you to come and vent and dance.”

Easter adds: “If you can identify then that’s great, then it’s good for people to hear us singing about things they can identify with, but we’re not spokespeople. We’re not trying to promote a particular way of life or anything like that. It’s just not what it is.”

Then what is it? Previously, Aggs has said that Shopping could be classed as more emotionally detached than Sacred Paws, her other band. But it seems that’s only part of the story. “It’s not necessarily totally detached, but I think we have more fun with characters and silly ideas. We try not to be too serious,” she says. “The things we think about can be read in a political way [and] it’s important not to be too earnest about it, because it becomes really dry and depressing. We’re laughing at ourselves and that’s where the detachment comes in handy, I suppose. But there is still emotional content to it otherwise it would also be boring.”

That sense of detachment may also stem from the writing process. There is no one creative voice in the band and Aggs maintains that no-one writes outside the practice room. Everything is constructed during jam sessions and off the cuff. “We’re not so worried about it being technically brilliant,” Easter explains. “It’s a song that we want people to sing along to and dance to and jump around. It being perfect is not important.”

The collaborative, live approach was also applied to recording the new LP. Any other method raised concerns about loss of energy and groove. But alongside that was a desire to try new things, with synths creeping in more so than on any previous release. Easter admits this was an attempt to introduce bass in a different way and not follow expectations.

“We’re not big pedal people, we’re not changing the sound of my bass with pedals or anything like that,” she says. “We just thought it would be exciting. Because we write dance music as well it kinda made sense.” It really does. Listen to New Values and Wild Child and you’ll see how the development has only furthered their toe-tapping reach.

Alongside their musical progression, the band members’ personalities have also flourished. “I need music, I need to play in bands to feel confident. Playing in bands has helped me meet people and do better socially,” Aggs confides. “But before I was in bands I was the shyest person, cripplingly shy. I think it’s definitely something that’s helped me overcome shyness. Also, I feel very different on stage than off, and in recording. It’s a persona, a character. Not a fully different character,  but when you’re singing it’s not always you. I feel more powerful on stage.”

Much like the dance-influenced pop-punk on ‘The Official Body’, the band’s positivity and self-assuredness is infectious and has played a part in improving something close to their hearts: the glaring lack of diversity at shows.

It’s something that has also spilled over into their music. On My Dad’s A Dancer, Aggs sings: “This is such a simple thing, you don’t like me, I don’t look like you.” She believes change is on the horizon, though. There is hope that in the future audiences at gigs will reflect the inclusivity of the music being played.

“There’s a good collective based in London called Decolonise Fest, and they’re doing a festival in June - the first one was in June this year- and that’s a really positive change,” Aggs enthuses. “I’ve met people through that collective that I didn’t even know before so it’s a very fresh community.

“I’m just talking about the punk DIY scene, but that has been our audience. A couple more people come to shows and feel like they want to come and say hello and let me know that it meant something to them that I was on stage, I think that’s positive. Because it used to be that people of colour wouldn’t really talk to each other. Now there’s more communication, which has to be a positive thing and inspire some change.”

‘The Official Body’ is out on January 19 via FatCat Records

Shopping Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows

Thu February 01 2018 - GLASGOW Mono
Fri February 02 2018 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Cluny2
Sat February 03 2018 - MANCHESTER Eagle Inn
Sun February 04 2018 - NOTTINGHAM Maze
Mon February 05 2018 - OXFORD Cellar
Tue February 06 2018 - LONDON Moth Club
Wed February 07 2018 - BRISTOL Exchange
Thu March 01 2018 - ALLSTON Massachusetts - Great Scott (USA)
Fri March 02 2018 - PROVIDENCE Rhode Island - Columbus Theatre (USA)
Sat March 03 2018 - BROOKLYN New York - Market Hotel - NY (USA)
Sun March 04 2018 - PHILADELPHIA Pennsylvania - Johnny Brenda's (USA)
Tue March 06 2018 - WASHINGTON District of Columbia - Union Stage (USA)
Wed March 07 2018 - ASHEVILLE North Carolina - Mothlight (USA)
Sun March 11 2018 - HOUSTON Texas - Walter's Downtown (USA)
Fri March 16 2018 - EL PASO Texas - Lowbrow Palace (USA)
Sat March 17 2018 - PHOENIX Arizona - Rebel Lounge (USA)
Sun March 18 2018 - SAN DIEGO California - Whistle Stop (USA)
Tue March 20 2018 - SANATA ANA California - Constellatino Room (USA)
Wed March 21 2018 - LOS ANGELES California - Resident (USA)
Thu March 22 2018 - SAN FRANCISCO California - Rickshaw Stop (USA)
Fri March 23 2018 - PORTLAND Oregon - Bunk Bar (USA)
Sat March 24 2018 - SEATTLE Washington - Vera Prject (USA)
Tue March 27 2018 - MINNEAPOLIS Minnesota - 7th St Entry (USA)
Wed March 28 2018 - CHICAGO Illinois - Beat Kitchen (USA)
Thu March 29 2018 - DETROIT Michigan - Deluxx Fluxx (USA)
Fri March 30 2018 - TORONTO Ontario - Baby G (Canada)

Click here to compare & buy Shopping Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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