Interview: Suede

With Blur and Pulp getting chummy again, and Oasis growing a Beady Eye, where does that leave Brett Anderson and the beautiful ones known as Suede? As one of the most hyped bands of the ’90s (the Brit music press were practically built around them), it was all too tragic when relationships went sour leading the band to dissolve after 5 albums. Roll out the reunion carpet! With indie anthems like ‘Attitude’, ‘Obsessions’, ‘Positivity’, ‘Trash’ and ‘The Beautiful Ones’ still fresh in the minds of fans old and new, Brett and co-creative head, Bernard Butler, have patched things up (kinda) and are ready to trash it out on stage and possibly in the studio. JUICE makes a call to Brett to find out if this reunion bug is gonna go viral.

Image Warner Music

Hi Brett, where are you now?
I’m in London.

How’s it like going back on the road?
We just got back from Australia, and the Festival Estrella Levante SOS in Spain. We were in Portugal the day before. We’re sort of in the middle of a festival tour at the moment. Yeah, we did some shows since 2010, but it’s not a solid touring. We’ve been doing a couple of festivals and a small European tour last year, but not like the sort of touring we used to do in the 90s. But it’s been fun, I really enjoyed it.

What triggered the reunion tour?
Being on stage and playing the songs and feeling the energy.  Some of the Suede songs that I think are pretty amazing like ‘Trash’ and ‘She’. I really enjoyed playing them, you know. I haven’t played them for quite a while, and I think that the world should hear them.

Do your songs resonate the same way they did in the past with your fans now?
It depends on the level of the fans. There’s the kind of hardcore fans whose favourite songs are the obscure or B-sides, and there’s the sort of fans who don’t really know the work in detail, but really love the big hits. But if you have to ask what the most requested songs are, they would be the bigger hits like ‘Animal Nitrate’ and ‘Beautiful Ones’.  That’s what’s interesting about Suede actually; we have quite a lot of very well loved songs that aren’t necessarily our big hits as well. For me, lots of my favourite Suede songs are the more obscure ones.

What did you miss from touring with Suede?
I suppose the energy of the songs, you know. The songs are different from what I’m doing as a solo artist. The Suede songs are very special.

How’s your relationship with Bernard (Butler) these days, and does music, as corny as it sounds, help to mend relationships?
Well, it’s something that you have to accept. You need to be challenging each other, and to be sort of fighting in a way to create. That’s how some creative relationships work. And without that, you’ll miss a dimension in the music. Tension can be part of a healthy relationship.  So, I don’t know if getting back together again as artists necessarily heals that because I think there’s always naturally an element in the makeup of the relationship.

So no Sunday tea then?
Well, we get on well at the moment. Yeah, we see each other quite a bit, working together on the Suede remastering. I suppose we are friends, which is nice.

Awww… How’s going solo coming along?
I’ve just finished making my 4th solo album, which is going to be out in end of September. I haven’t got a title yet, but it’s kind of an alternative rock album.  And I created it via a sort of slightly strange process; we basically went into a studio with some musicians for three days and just jammed. We didn’t have any songs written beforehand so we just improvised and then I took all the jams and the improvised sections, cut them and arrange them into songs, and I wrote songs on top of them. It’s sort of a live dynamic sounding record, so I’m very excited of that.

Do you have any plans for an Asian Tour, specifically in Malaysia?
Yeah, we’re touring Asia in August. We’re going to Korea, then Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan. I haven’t gotten the dates with me, but yeah, we’re touring in Asia.

Looking back, do you feel that media sensationalising has played a hand in Suede’s success, and could you guys have done it otherwise without the help of the British press?
You have to look at why the media got excited about Suede, and the media got excited because we were writing very interesting songs and performing them with passion. It wasn’t like the media just decided to find a band that couldn’t play and turn them into some sort of sensation. It just wouldn’t have worked. We had to have the content, ability and talent in order for it to actually work. Looking back at it, I don’t think it was particularly good for the band, being spotlighted by the media like that. I think it was quite harmful in the long term, to be honest.

What do you think of new Brit indie sensations like The XX or Arctic Monkeys? Have Brit pop musicians got something extra against their American counterparts?
I don’t think of music as a nationalistic battle. I don’t really care whether a band is from Birmingham or Baltimore. It’s irrelevant because I think music is an international language. There’s a lot of interesting bands around at the moment, some of them American, some English, and some from all sorts of different countries. I think it’s quite healthy. And strangely enough, there’s a lot of good music being made at the moment.

Do you have any plans to make a new album with Suede?
I think we’d like to make a new record. But I don’t think we’re going to make another record unless it’s amazing. I don’t want to just make a record for the sake of making a record. If a Suede record isn’t amazing, then no one would hear it. If we like what we write, we’ll release it and carry on as a band. If we don’t, we’ll probably call it a day and do separate things again. But yeah, we’ll try and see how it goes. J

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