NYC hardcore trio Uniform are just a few short weeks away from the release of their new album Shame, and today they’re sharing one final preview in the form of the title track. As well as hearing the song itself below, beneath we have an essay on the topic of ‘shame’ penned by the band’s singer Michael Berdan.
Firstly, on the song “Shame” itself, Berdan informs us it “is the song that sets the thematic tone for the rest of the record, which seems appropriate for a title track. It is a portrait of someone riddled with regret in the process of drinking themselves to death. Night after night they sit in dark reflection, pouring alcohol down their throat in order to become numb enough to fall asleep. I took inspiration from a few stories of alcoholic implosion, namely Sam Peckinpah’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and John O’Brien’s Leaving Las Vegas. The line “That’s why I drink. That’s why I weep,” appears in homage to Rod Sterling’s Twilight Zone episode “Night of the Meek.”
“Shame” absolutely sets a palpable tone of decay and pessimism from its earliest moments, as Uniform draw a taut cloak of buzzing synth and grey guitar squall over proceedings while Berdan begins his description of desolation. The song maintains a stately pace, building into a cavern of curdled shoegaze as the trio’s playing intensifies in unison with the singer’s rapid decline into illness. “I fade into sunlight / that’s why I drink,” he pronounces with a snarl that would turn any potential Samaritans away, instead leaving him to drown in his own misery, perfectly painted by Uniform’s rabid combination in the song’s furious finale.
Check out “Shame” below and scroll down to read Michael Berdan’s short essay on the topic and how it relates to Uniform’s new album.
Michael Berdan shared some deeper feelings about the topic of ‘shame’ and Uniform’s evolution as a band with us:
A common belief is that cynicism comes with age and experience. We develop defense mechanisms to cope with the world around us. We see how we have been exploited, and inadvertently learn the personal benefits in exploiting others. A lifetime of degradation tempers our armor. Justified anger gives way to frozen indifference. Pain becomes a commodity to be capitalized upon. We start to treat those around us the way that we have been treated. We become what we profess to hate. I’ve spent a good deal of time attempting to go through my life with the proverbial fine-toothed comb, finding the lice and trying to pluck them out. This process has led to many a sleepless night spent in morbid self reflection, but that only goes so far. It is one thing to write yourself off, to merely accept that you are fully capable of being exactly who you don’t want to be. It is another thing entirely to know you’ve been that person and to attempt to reconcile that; to try and learn from your darker self.
This record concerns the birth of cynicism and its chronic effects. The songs are as much about the formative – where things first went wrong, as they are the cumulative effect of a lifetime of selfishness. From the dysfunctional household to the neighborhood bullies. From the relief that comes with self medicating to a life of active addiction. From blaming the world at large for your problems to the horrible impulse to throw yourself in front of a train out of guilt. From the malicious devil who lives on one side of your soul to the terrified child who occupies the other. The record is called Shame.
Lyrically and thematically, “Shame” may read like an antihero’s bile-fueled inner monologue from any number of noir, pulp, and hard boiled stories. The blunt introspection of Raymond Chandler meets the nihilism of Jim Thompson and the depravity of Matthew Stokoe in a dark alley, resulting in a horrible sense of clarity and purpose. The immortal character of ‘The Judge’ from Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian lives here as malignant self-will personified, ever reminding you that he will never sleep and he will never die. God is war. War Endures.
Uniform have never been the same band twice. What started out as two guys with a guitar and sampler recording from bootlegged software on a home computer has slowly developed into a fully-realized, functional band. The synths and samples are still there, but now they accompany the blasts and tight, driving beats from our new drummer, Mike Sharp. He, Ben Greenberg, and I created a work that has brought each of us a sense of purpose. It is an album that exists as a means of personal exorcism as much as a tool for relating to others. It is for anyone willing to listen and it is also just for us.