Backstage at the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles, Shame frontman Charlie Steen – still slicked with sweat after the south London five-piece’s thrillingly visceral set – is reeling off stories about how strange their first ever cross-country tour across America has been. They’re a band who collect outlandish tales like other bands collect hangovers and STDs.
“We were in Louisville, Kentucky,” he tells me. “Me and Eddie, our guitarist, went to the liquor store to get cigarettes and there was a guy stood next to us who was completely blue. We got carded, and the blue guy went: ‘Are you boys German or sumthin’?’ We said no, we’re British. Then he said: ‘Oh we’ve got a lot of them stationed here.’ He started going on about how North Carolina made the wrong decision. We didn’t know what he was talking about.”
It turns out they’d had an encounter with one of the Blue Fugates of Kentucky, an Appalachian mountain family who all carry the rare skin condition methemoglobinemia which turns their skin a shade of blue.
“The band we were on tour with, Protomartyr, said they look out for them every time they’re in Kentucky. We just stumbled upon him in the liquor store,” says Steen, still sounding as if he hadn’t quite believed his own eyes. “It’s like seeing a unicorn.”
Steen takes a pull on a beer while the rest of the band – guitarists Sean Coyle-Smith and Eddie Green, bassist Josh Finerty and drummer Charlie Forbes – prod at the wreckage of a birthday cake on the dressing room table.