Updated: Jul 6
From across the pond, this band's up-tempo style is the only product you need to get
through these unprecedented times.
The group consists of three members, which are Rachel Aggs (guitar/vocals), Billy Easter (bass/vocals), and Andrew Milk (drums/vocals). Having been around since 2012, they've released four albums and built a fan base all across the globe. In 2018, the band claims to have had the biggest year to date. Touring around the world in support of their third release The Official Body, they've brought even more styles into the group's already impressive repertoire.
Part of what makes them a great band is that the sound changes up with each record, yet they deliver what the fans have come to expect and love by now. Being such an energetic presence on stage, there really aren't too many bands matching them at the moment.
They spent most of 2019 working on their latest record, All Or Nothing, which was released earlier this year; yet plans to go on a North American tour were quickly wiped out by the virus. Automatic would have been joining them on the journey and the tour was sure to be prosperous for them. Sadly, only 6 out of 27 shows booked were played. We are glad everyone is safe at home at the moment, but we can't wait for these incredible human beings to get back out there.
I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with Shopping recently.
Here's what they had to say:
Q: Where is everyone in the band from?
A: (Rachel) I grew up in the countryside in the the south of England an hour outside of London, nearer to Brighton.
(Andrew) I am from Sunny Dunny aka Dunstable. It’s about an hour and 15 mins north of London.
(Billy) I grew up in a small town called Tring just outside of London, my dad lived in London so I spent part of my time there.
Q: How did you guys all meet?
A: (Rachel) I met Andrew through Myspace, he heard my first bands demos on there and then offered to put on our first gig at his house. I met Billy through her other band Wet Dog. We all used to hang out and play gigs together
(Billy) As above, I think Andrew was booking shows for my band Wet Dog and put us on with Trash Kit.
Q: Is it usually a joint collaboration when it comes to writing music?
A: (Rachel) Yeah we always write music in the room together, doing it any other way has never really worked out for us.
Q: I really love the artwork for all the albums, do you guys use the same artists for them or branch out to others for each album?
A: (Rachel) We make most the artwork ourselves. Sometimes we work with a guy called Dave
Thomas who does really great design work for bands on our label (FatCat Records). He also works for Rock Action records in Glasgow and designs most of the Mogwai records and merch. He's very prolific.
(Billy) I have worked on all the album
covers. The first one “Consumer Complaints” was cobbled together by Andrew and I using scanner in my flat in
London. The second “Why Choose” was a collaboration between Dave Thomas and us, I took the photos on the front cover.
The 3rd album “The Official Body” was a photo that I took in Joshua Tree, CA and
the most recent was also a pic I took in California, at the poppy bloom in Lake Elsinore. I really love how Dave managed to pull of my vision of a gatefold LP for this release, its my favourite artwork of all.
Q: Where did the name ‘Shopping’ come from?
A: (Rachel) Andrew came up with it! Either taking inspiration from a Pink Section song or from Pet Shop Boys, not too sure which one.
(Andrew) From Pink Section yeah, but it only helped the name more that it is also a PSB song.
(Billy) The Pet Shop Boys song 'Shopping' is one of my faves so I instantly lived that for the suggestion of a band name.
Q: Did that inspire the name of the first album “Consumer Complaints”?
A: (Rachel) Yes definitely when we started out we liked referencing commerce with our song titles and lyrics, less so now.
Q: Do you guys feel like you have a bigger fan base or more sold out shows in the UK or America?
A: (Rachel) I feel like its kind of equal? Although there are just so many more people in the states so sometimes it feels like its easier to get people to come out to shows there. Also perhaps people are more interested in a band when they are from a different country, its a little more exotic.
(Billy) I feel like we have a bigger fan base in the US.
Q: Did you guys ever have to spend the night anywhere unusual while on tour?
A: (Rachel) We’ve definitely stayed in our share of dodgy motels.
(Andrew) Some places were definitely unconfirmed haunted. We’ve stayed in few creepy squats in our time. Also one Air BNB was definitely a hot house for wife-swapping middle-class suburbanites. It had a sauna and every surface was a bed.
(Billy) I remember we once stayed in a really strange place somewhere in Europe, possibly Germany. The promoter had set it up. We arrived, it took us ages to find the entrance. I think the door was just open which was really spooky. It was like an abandoned…. hmmm I don’t know how to describe it, it was very clinical with a few dorm like rooms full of bunk-beds. Each room had a locking door, there was very strange noises all night long. There was no people to be found anywhere. It was SCARY!
Q: While continuing to deliver great music, your style has changed and developed over the years. Is that because you guys want to challenge yourselves or something you guys decided to do as your popularity grew?
A: (Rachel) We always want to challenge ourselves and I think we’d get bored if we didn’t try to switch things up a bit. I don't think there’s been a drastic change in our sound but I do think the more people are listening to your music the more self conscious you become. We sometimes catch ourselves worrying that a song doesn’t sound ‘like shopping’ but I think its important not to think about that too much. We just keep trying to make music that we find exciting and fun and that we hope people will want to dance to.
Q: What else has changed for you guys during this pandemic besides the tour with Automatic being cancelled?
A: (Rachel) We’ve had to reschedule months of shows so kind of everything's changed. We were all mentally preparing to be away till June so it is very weird to be home now… but i imagine it's weird for everyone right now!
(Andrew) Yeah every one is in a similar situation. Work is cancelled or drastically different so its not so different to anybody else. I guess the fact we were all set to be in a different place every night for a couple of months is mentally an extra "wtf."
(Billy) It’s a big downer to have worked hard on an album for 2 years and then not be able to tour and play all the songs to our fans. Touring and interacting with people is a massive part of Shopping. We just hope people will still want to come and see us when this is all over and we do get to tour the album.
Q: How was the last show before the cancellation at 1720 Los Angeles?
A: (Rachel) Luckily it was a really wild, special show. Automatic were incredible and we got to play with a band called 'Kevin' who were so much fun. It was an amazing crowd too. I remember a group of people in particular who were standing right in front of me singing along to every song and dancing so much. Its a pretty great memory to have of the last show we’re probably going to play for a while.
(Andrew) And we got to see a bunch of pals which was really cool.
(Billy) It was actually one of my favourite shows of all time! I always love playing LA, it’s always really fun. It was a great way to have to abruptly end a tour. I’m thankful that we got to play the handful of West Coast dates that we did, it was shaping up to be a really great tour.