Who said punk music isn’t for dancing? Certainly not the members of UK trio Shopping, because, well, that’s exactly what their fast-paced, bass-heavy music is meant for.
Formed in 2012, the band released its debut album, Consumer Complaints, last year, and followed it up this year with Why Choose, an even stronger sophomore effort. We chatted with the disco-inspired punkers ahead of their Saturday, August 13 show, about making the album, their favorite venues to play at, and that time they won over a group of football-obsessed bros.
Catch Shopping at 9 p.m., Saturday, August 13, at Brick and Mortar. More info here.
SF Weekly: So, whatsup? Where are you guys right now?
Andrew Milk: We’re at Baby’s All Right in the backstage of the venue in Brooklyn. We’re going to do sound check later.
SFW: Cool. You have a show tonight?
Rachel Aggs: Yes.
SFW: Have you played at Baby’s All Right before?
RA: Yeah, we played CMJ here last year.
SFW: Cool. What are your guys’ preferences in terms of where you play? Do you guys like particular venues or stages more than others?
RA: We love to play DIY venues and all ages places, in general. But we also think it’s nice to play somewhere like here, because some of our friends were saying there’s certain people who are a bit scared by more punk venues and they just won’t come. So we do open it up to people who may not hear us otherwise. We want to reach as many people as possible and not limit ourselves to one type of space.
SFW: Do people mosh at your shows?
RA: They more just boogie, you know? They actually do cool shit.
AM: They kind of wiggle.
SFW: I’m curious about your guys’ name and where it comes from. Because I love shopping, and I’m coming from the standpoint of thinking, ‘Wait a minute, maybe they love shopping, too?’ But I don’t think that’s really the origin of your name, is it?
RA: I think it’s meant to be an anti-capitalist statement. Like it’s an ironic name. But also we do like shopping. At the time that we formed the band, none of us had jobs, so we didn’t have money to go shopping. But there is that side to our personalities where we’re all quite fond of shiny, new things and like to go to vintage shops.
AM: If I have any money, I’ll spend it. If I have any money, it’s gone straight away.
SFW: You said the band formed when you guys didn’t have any money, but now, by creating a band called Shopping, you guys have money to go shopping. So it’s perfect.
RA: Yeah. We probably shouldn’t be spending that money shopping, though. We should be spending it on surviving.
AM: Or paying back the many people we are in debt to.
SFW: OK, but let’s pretend you each got $500 to go shopping. Where would you guys spend that money?
AM: I might get another tattoo. That’s a nice vanity spend. After that, what else would I realistically get? Probably a bunch of new shirts. I do like a good shirt.
RA: I would definitely spend most of it on food. I’m very greedy and I like eating out all the time. I’d like to just eat out like every single day.
AM: $500 worth of eating out?
RA: Yeah. And I’d really try to make it stretch and last as long as possible.
SFW: Is there anything that you guys wish people would know about the band that just doesn’t get reported a lot?
AM: We get asked questions every once in a while that we really enjoy being asked. Stuff about being queer is always a good one that we enjoy answering and couldn’t answer enough.
RA: On the way here someone asked us about dance music, like why we want to make people dance. And he referenced the roots of disco and most dance music being from queer spaces. That really resonated with us.
AM: Like, dance music from the ’70s, and Chicago house, and Detroit dance music and how all of that stuff is intrinsically linked to queer history, especially dancing in America. It’s just really interesting thinking about it, and I haven’t really thought about our potential part in that lineage of dance music and queer politics.
RA: But we love all that music and we definitely listen to it all the time, so it makes sense. Andrew also does a drag karaoke night. We never really get to talk about that very much do we?
AM: No. I had a weekly drag night in London for five years that was super fun to do. It was in an established old-school gay pub in the east end. And I’ve recently moved to Glasgow and I’m carrying it on once a month. But I’m putting live bands on so I’m kind of bringing in music into the drag thing that I’m doing. That’s something I don’t talk about much.
SFW: That’s cool. Now, to change gears, Why Choose is such a good album. Where did you guys work on it? Any interesting stories behind its creation?
AM: After making the first record, we liked what the guy who mastered it had done, and we felt that we understood each other, so we just ended up working with him for the whole thing. He recorded and mixed the whole record. Nothing that exciting. It was just a natural progression with this record. We did it in a very small space in Glasgow while there was torrential rain outside. So I’m glad it didn’t come out sounding depressing.
SFW: Is it ever hard to bring the energy required for the songs either for recording or to shows?
RA: Yeah, definitely. But not really shows because it’s always exciting, even when there’s five people there, or especially when there’s five people there. You feel this sense of responsibility to bring the energy because otherwise some people are going to go away and be like, ‘Oh, that band was boring.’ I always feel like we need to keep it up.
AM: If there’s like a few people in the audience, we should definitely make sure that those people that have actually come out for whatever reason when everyone else didn’t, we should really make sure they have a good time. Because they deserve it. When everyone else was saying ‘No,’ they were saying, ‘Yes, let’s go shopping!’ They deserve the best show.
SFW: Do you guys get smaller audiences a lot?
AM: Yeah. It depends where we are. We kind of tour quite a lot so we take in a lot of off-the-radar places that I’ve never heard of before. Those places are sometimes quite quiet. Last time we came around America, we went along the West coast and then kind of skimmed across the South and there were some towns that we played where literally five people had turned up and some of them didn’t know what was going on. Sometimes the venue didn’t know what was going on either.
RA: It’s also pretty fun.
AM: Generally everyone there has a great time. All four people.
SFW: Are you ever surprised by who’s in the audience? Like, ‘Wow, I didn’t expect the dude in the cowboy hat to be here?’ type stuff.
AM: Yeah. A few years ago we played a town that’s really close to my hometown in Bedfordshire. There was no one there. No one was interested in what we were doing. But there was a group of football fans in bright orange football jerseys that said Lutan Football Club. They were rowdy and taking the piss out of us and making fun a little bit. But they saw our merch and at the time, we had an orange T-shirt with “Shopping” printed on it and the image from our record. And, because they were wearing the color orange, they were like ‘Oh, oh! Let’s get this!’ So they kind of jokingly bought our merch.
RA: And we were like, ‘Oh, thank you!’
AM: It was like, ‘You are giving us money, so fine whatever. That’ll be 20 pounds.’
RA: I think they were quite into it, too. One guy was like, ‘You should go on X Factor.’
AM: Yeah. he was like, ‘You should go on American Idol.’ That kind of stuff. So we won those football fans over. I think they genuinely wear those shirts as fans now. We converted them.
SFW: That’s pretty cool. So you guys are touring now, do you have another album planned? Or in the works?
AM: We basically just started writing it. So it’s very very very much in the early stages. But there will definitely be another record. As soon as we can write it and have it ready, it will be out.
SFW: Do the three of you write songs together?
AM: Yeah, we all just write together in the practice space.
SFW: That’s cool. Okay, last question: Is Why Choose available on vinyl and will it be for sale at your show in SF? Because I’m coming and I want one.
RA: Yes. Buy five! Buy ten!